[Surprising] Ancient Laws against Dishonest trades

Let’s see Ancient Laws against Dishonest trades what the old ways were for protecting the buyer’s rights-maybe we can find a way to implement those in the modern world. Centuries ago, there were trade rules, security measures, and other ways for punishing the fraudster.

Unlike today, when consumer protection societies and other regulatory bodies protect the buyer from deception by the seller, the buyer had less protection in olden days. Although they were diverse and often unusual, it is difficult to judge whether they were effective today.

Code of Hammurabi, Babylon

The Babylonian empire ruled modern Iraq 4 thousand years ago. Despite the fact that it took place so long ago, we know more about their customs and lives than about some countries in Europe in the 18th-19th centuries. Among the literary works we now possess are the Epic of Gilgamesh, as well as Hammurabi’s laws collected on clay tablets in cuneiform.

Ancient Laws against Dishonest trades,
Code of Hammurabi, Babylon

As the wise ruler of Hammurabi, he also paid a lot of attention to the problem of fraudulent trade in his code of laws, which covered every aspect of human activity in the kingdom from trade and court to medicine. In India, it was recommended to have witnesses present for deals – from two to twelve. The more important the amount, the more people were required to attend the sale.

A contract was agreed upon by oath to king Hammurabi or to the deity Marduk. Those who violated the law became the enemy and the blasphemer of king Hammurabi.

 deity Marduk

The contract was usually drawn up on a clay tablet, using two-layer clay products which protected it from forgery when necessary.

These tablets are found in archaeology and history today, and they also contain the names of the buyer and seller as well as the place of conclusion of the transactions.

According to Babylonian law, a deal could be terminated within one month if the slave fell ill or died due to poor quality of the item. The seller was obliged to take the item back and reimburse the buyer to the penny if this happened.

There was a range of punishments available for dishonest sellers, including beating with sticks and the death penalty. In addition, the king was not particularly concerned about his subjects, so it was much easier to kill him than strike him with a pole.

Rules of Rabbi Joseph, Palestine

There is no disputing that the Jews are very knowledgeable about trade. Throughout their history, this people with a difficult history have lived in strict accordance with religious texts which created rules for any activity.

A codex called Shulchan Aruch (Laid Table) was written by Rabbi Joseph Karo of Safed in the 16th century. Rabbi Joseph’s work contains business rules that cover virtually every aspect of Jewish life, as well as Jewish laws and customs. There was no way back for either a buyer or a seller if a deposit was taken or if the buyer put his mark of approval on a product.

Rules of Rabbi Joseph, Palestine

A violation of this rule was usually punished by the curse of the rabbinical court – a curse which seemed ridiculous to us today. It is important to understand that in the Middle Ages, a person cursed by the rabbis became practically an outcast of his people, and both his family and the state denied him existence. For this reason, people tried their hardest to follow the law.

For example, when buying a horse, the buyer had to lead the animal by the bridle a few steps to become its owner. Kinyan was usually performed with every type of purchase. This type of ritual was called kinyan mesiha or simply “dragging.”

During an important transaction, both parties called several witnesses, including Jews and Gentiles, if there was no Jewish witness nearby. If there was no Jewish witness, one rabbi could serve instead. Because the rabbi’s authority indestructible, the word of a priest was highly valued.

Koran and countries of the Islamic world

On the Day of Judgment, the Muslim holy book clearly states that swindlers and traitors will appear with special marks on their bodies, allowing everyone to recognize them for what they are. A nomadic Arab tribe named the Midianites is mentioned in the Qur’an as a threat to the faithful, but for the fearless, more tangible executions were provided.

Koran, countries of the Islamic world,
ancient trade laws in Islam

The people who lived in this area did not lead a very pious life – they robbed caravans, stole from houses and shops, and weighed customers with scales made of hollow weights.

As the Prophet Shuayb attempted to reason with the wicked, they mocked him, and even threatened to murder him. Allah intervened and sent an earthquake to the Midianitish villages, killing the villains right on their own doorsteps.

Aikits was another tribe that suffered. Some of the members of this tribe joined the prophet and were saved, while the rest perished in heavenly fire and drought.

Ancient Trading rules in Russia

By the 10th century, trading platforms – markets and guests – began to be built with churches. For example, in Kiev of the 10th century, there were about 40 churches in 8 markets. A princely flag and a cross were erected near the market.

ancient Trading rules in Russia

According to this, the trading place was guarded by both God and the state, and those who violated it would be punished harshly. There must have been a weighing witness at the shopping arcade. All goods were weighed on his certified scales, which were locked in one of the temples during the night, so that they would not be contaminated by sins.

The mytnik might function as a guarantor in a major transaction, with the job of collecting a tax of 10% of each product’s price and remitting it to the prince’s treasury. If there were any disagreements between the parties, Mytnik may act as a judge.

ancient Trading rules in Russia, 
Ancient Laws against Dishonest trades

It was not common practise in Russian principalities to conclude written agreements, therefore everything was done orally. Of course, it was simple to dismantle them, citing issues such as poor hearing or miscommunication. As a result, the carelessness with which we conduct business today was passed down from our forefathers.

In spite of this, it is best to conduct business with them more attentively and not to be moved by emotions. Look at these international traders from around the world – they exude dignity, but also goodwill.


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