The Code of Hammurabi

Parables attributed to Jesus and parables from the Old Testament (such as the one Nathan tells David after he kills Uriah for Bathsheba), are what we normally may think a parable should be like. But the art of writing parables was also a technique that was used to create “plain spoken” (non allegorical) ancient literature.

Other than the prologue and epilogue, the
Code of Hammurabi really does not even appear to be literature since it contains a long list of laws, however, just like Old Testament law, there is actually a storyline that runs throughout the entire text, as well as comparisons for deeper meaning. The Code of Hammurabi, written before biblical texts, was written just like the biblical texts. (This would mean that the Song of the Sea found in Exodus, was not the origin of the parable blueprint.) The literary structure, a type of ring composition, perhaps made it easier for scribes to create and commit their text to memory before committing the texts to stone, clay or parchment.

Parables attributed to Jesus, and the one from Nathan are, in my opinion, the epitome of a parable. They are full of wisdom teaching that pierce the heart. But what does the actual literary structure mean for readers of the Bible today? It means that the texts were crafted by men. So please take the truly wise teachings to heart, and feel the freedom to let go of anything else. It’s your life to live.