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Defending the Christian Worlview, Creationism, and Intelligent Design » Bible / Christian faith / Apologetics » Slavery & the Bible

Slavery & the Bible

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1Slavery & the Bible Empty Slavery & the Bible Fri Mar 08, 2019 5:17 am

Otangelo


Admin
Slavery & the Bible

https://reasonandscience.catsboard.com/t2823-slavery-the-bible

Slavery was universal 4th ABE cultures and God was the first one to regulate it with humanitarian laws where the master can be held responsible for mistreatment of his,servants.

The KJV translation is very poor in Ex 21 & 22.
The Hebrew word [EBED] can be translated as slave, servant, or attendant depending on the context but the KJV ignores the context and uses slave where the context dictates otherwise.
The context in Ex 21:2, 5, and 7 is "indentured servitude" which was a voluntary agreement between the servant and the master where the servant agrees to serve the master for 7 years and is PAID for that service. It's not the traditional slavery that yuo are envisioning.
If you go to Ex 21:16 you will see that the penalty for traditional slavery, as you are envisioning it, is DEATH !
The same goes for the word rape used in Ex 22: 16. The Hebrew word is [PATAH] and means to seduce. It is not rape, the young girl is consenting to the sexual relationship.
It's the same Hebrew word used in Dt 22:28.

Ancient Israel:  Slavery, Servanthood, and Social Welfare
The Hebrew word עֶבֶד (ebed) can mean a slave, a servant, or even a highly ranked subordinate.2  Even a king's officials were called "slaves."3
Slave/servanthood was a safeguard against the destitution of poverty.  Rather than face starvation, the poor could sell themselves as indentured servants to others.  But the law was designed so that if all safeguards regarding social welfare were practiced, then poverty should not exist among ancient Israelites and this practice would be unnecessary (Deut 15:4).
If every command of the Old Testament were followed, it becomes impossible for masters to treat Israelite or foreign servant-slaves inhumanely:
Kidnapping people to be servant/slaves was punishable by death (Ex 21:16).
"You shall not oppress a resident alien" (Ex 23:9), "You shall also love the stranger" (Deut 10:19), "you shall love the alien as yourself" (Lev 19:34), and "love your neighbor as yourself" (Lev 19:18).
If a servant is released, masters were required to send them away with generous supplies (Deut 15:13-14).
It was illegal to force escaped slaves to return to their masters (Deut 23:15-16).

The Bible & slavery
Atheists are always claiming that because Christians owned slaves at various times in history, the whole Christian religion is hypocritical. But that’s nonsense. Slavery was practiced for centuries all over the world before Christianity came on the scene. No one ever criticized or opposed slavery in any systematic way—until Christianity. From its very beginning, Christians discouraged the enslavement of fellow Christians. And many early Christians purchased slaves for the sole purpose of setting them free. Because human dignity is at the heart of Christian doctrine, it was only a question of time before Christians began to realize that the very idea of “owning” another human being was contrary to their faith. By the Middle Ages, the institution of slavery—which provided the whole foundation for Greek, Roman, and Egyptian civilizations—was largely replaced by serfdom, a system which at least guaranteed basic human rights to all workers—such as the right to marry and to own property.

Later it was Christians who started the first antislavery movement in history. It wasn’t Democrats who did that. It wasn’t Republicans. It wasn’t politicians or unions or any other kind of socially conscious group. And it certainly wasn’t atheists. It was the church. Slavery came to an end in Europe mainly because of the work of Christian activists such as William Wilberforce, the famous British evangelical philanthropist. And the successful antislavery movement in England—made up overwhelmingly of religious groups—took the lead in the international campaign to end slavery as well. By the early 1800s, two-thirds of the members of the American abolition society were Christian ministers. We see this same positive influence in every area of social reform. Take economic freedom. The ancient world—built on the backs of slaves—had no real concept of the value of labor; yet Christianity—with its emphasis on human equality and dignity—revolutionized the workplace. The concept of private property, property rights, workers’ rights, and unionization all flow from the Judeo-Christian understanding of work and its proper relationship to social justice.

https://reasonandscience.catsboard.com/t2823-slavery-the-bible



Isn't it remarkable that atheists, who did virtually nothing to oppose slavery, condemn Christians, who are the ones who abolished it?

Consider atheist Sam Harris, who blames Christianity for supporting slavery. Harris is right that slavery existed among the Old Testament Jews, and Paul even instructs slaves to obey their masters. During the civil war both sides quoted the Bible. We know all this. (Yawn, yawn.)

But slavery pre-dated Christianity by centuries and even millennia. As we read from sociologist Orlando Patterson's work, all known cultures had slavery. For centuries, slavery needed no defenders because it had no critics. Atheists who champion ancient Greece and pre-Christian Rome somehow seem to forget that those empires were based on large-scale enslavement.

Slavery was mostly eradicated from Western civilization--then called Christendom--between the fourth and the tenth century. The Greco-Roman institution of slavery gave way to serfdom. Now serfdom has its problems but at least the serf is not a "human tool" and cannot be bought and sold like property. So slavery was ended twice in Western civilization, first in the medieval era and then again in the modern era.

In the American South, Christianity proved to be the solace of the oppressed. As historian Eugene Genovese documents in Roll, Jordan, Roll, when black slaves sought to find dignity during the dark night of slavery, they didn't turn to Marcus Aurelius or David Hume; they turned to the Bible. When they sought hope and inspiration for liberation, they found it not in Voltaire or D'Holbach but in the Book of Exodus.

The anti-slavery movements led by Wilberforce in England and abolitionists in America were dominated by Christians. These believers reasoned that since we are all created equal in the eyes of God, no one has the right to rule another without consent. This is the moral basis not only of anti-slavery but also of democracy.

Jefferson was in some ways the least orthodox and the most skeptical of the founders. Yet when he condemned slavery he found himself using biblical language. In Notes on the State of Virginia Jefferson warned that those who would enslave people should reflect that "the Almighty has no attribute which can take side with us in such a contest." Jefferson famously added, "And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are the gift of God? That they are not to be violated but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just: that His justice cannot sleep for ever."

But wasn't Jefferson also a man of science? Yes he was, and it was on the basis of the latest science of his day that Jefferson expressed his convictions about black inferiority. Citing the discoveries of modern science, Jefferson noted that "there are varieties in the race of man, distinguished by their powers both of body and of mind...as I see to be the case with races of other animals." Blacks, Jefferson continued, lack the powers of reason that are evident in whites and even in native Indians. While atheists today like to portray themselves as paragons of equal dignity, Jefferson's scientific and skeptical outlook contributed not to his anti-slavery sentiments but to his racism. Somehow Harris and Shermer neglect to point this out.

In the end the fact remains that the only movements that opposed slavery in principle were mobilized in the West, and they were overwhelmingly led and populated by Christians. Sadly the West had to use force to stop slavery in other cultures, such as the Muslim slave trade off the coast of Africa. In some quarters the campaign to eradicate slavery still goes on.

So who killed slavery? The Christians did, while everyone else generally stood by and watched.

https://townhall.com/columnists/dineshdsouza/2008/01/14/how-christians-ended-slavery-n962085



Last edited by Otangelo on Thu Mar 25, 2021 7:24 am; edited 8 times in total

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2Slavery & the Bible Empty Re: Slavery & the Bible Tue Apr 02, 2019 4:00 pm

Otangelo


Admin
The new atheist crowd commonly critiques, mocks, derides the God of the Old Testament as evil, genocidal, which condones rape and slavery. , But at the same time, Islam gets a free pass. How often have you seen them complaining about the atrocities committed in the name of Allah? If they care so much about women’s rights, human rights, gay rights, then they should oppose Islam in a far more vehement way then Jahweh. And I am not even portraying Islam for what it really stands for, since the Islamic state demonstrated Islam in its purest form.... btw. have you seen a new atheist singing victory over the fact that the Islamic state has in its greatest part been defeated, and a big number of women who were held as slaves, freed? There is some big hypocrisy going on in our midst.

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3Slavery & the Bible Empty Re: Slavery & the Bible Tue Apr 02, 2019 4:01 pm

Otangelo


Admin
The Bible & slavery
Atheists are always claiming that because Christians owned slaves at various times in history, the whole Christian religion is hypocritical. But that’s nonsense. Slavery was practiced for centuries all over the world before Christianity came on the scene. No one ever criticized or opposed slavery in any systematic way—until Christianity. From its very beginning, Christians discouraged the enslavement of fellow Christians. And many early Christians purchased slaves for the sole purpose of setting them free. Because human dignity is at the heart of Christian doctrine, it was only a question of time before Christians began to realize that the very idea of “owning” another human being was contrary to their faith. By the Middle Ages, the institution of slavery—which provided the whole foundation for Greek, Roman, and Egyptian civilizations—was largely replaced by serfdom, a system which at least guaranteed basic human rights to all workers—such as the right to marry and to own property.

Later it was Christians who started the first antislavery movement in history. It wasn’t Democrats who did that. It wasn’t Republicans. It wasn’t politicians or unions or any other kind of socially conscious group. And it certainly wasn’t atheists. It was the church. Slavery came to an end in Europe mainly because of the work of Christian activists such as William Wilberforce, the famous British evangelical philanthropist. And the successful antislavery movement in England—made up overwhelmingly of religious groups—took the lead in the international campaign to end slavery as well. By the early 1800s, two-thirds of the members of the American abolition society were Christian ministers. We see this same positive influence in every area of social reform. Take economic freedom. The ancient world—built on the backs of slaves—had no real concept of the value of labor; yet Christianity—with its emphasis on human equality and dignity—revolutionized the workplace. The concept of private property, property rights, workers’ rights, and unionization all flow from the Judeo-Christian understanding of work and its proper relationship to social justice.

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4Slavery & the Bible Empty Re: Slavery & the Bible Sun Jan 19, 2020 7:44 pm

Otangelo


Admin
Since God regulated slavery in the Old Testament, does this automatically mean that He approves of slavery? Just as some today answer "yes," the Pharisees in Matthew 19 also wrongly assume that regulation equals approval when they ask Jesus this question:

"Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?" And [Jesus] answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?...What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."

They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?" He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way."
Notice what happens here. The Pharisees come with a legal question about which regulations ought to govern divorce, and Jesus responds in a very unexpected way, saying there shouldn't be any divorce. The Pharisees are immediately confused. "But how could it be that there shouldn't be any divorce if God regulated it? Doesn't that mean He thinks it's hunky-dory as long as it's done right?"

Jesus makes it clear that this is not the case.

The Pharisees had missed something very important about law: there's a difference between what's legal and what's moral—between the practical need to deal with reality and the existence of an ideal. The Law was not meant to be a list of everything moral and immoral. It functioned as every national set of laws functions—as reasonably enforceable rules to govern their society.

Deeply ingrained cultural patterns don't change overnight, but must be redeemed over time. Slavery was intricately woven into the cultures of the day, so, as with divorce (neither being the situation God desired), God made rules to keep the evil of the practice to a minimum.

https://www.str.org/articles/did-god-condone-slavery#.XiUUPTZ3qUk

Slavery in the OT was usually voluntary; poor people sold themselves into servitude. There’s a huge difference between this kind of slavery and the kind where people are kidnapped (against their will.)
Kidnapping and selling someone as a slave or possessing such a slave was a capital offense.
Exodus 21:16

“Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death.
Irish people sold themselves as indentured servants to enable them to come to America during times of poverty.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indentured_servitude


Doesn’t the Bible Support Slavery?
https://answersingenesis.org/bible-questions/doesnt-the-bible-support-slavery/



Last edited by Admin on Mon Jan 20, 2020 3:08 am; edited 1 time in total

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5Slavery & the Bible Empty Re: Slavery & the Bible Sun Jan 19, 2020 7:55 pm

Otangelo


Admin
Leviticus 19:34 The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.


YOu have no standard on your worldveiw. People can't be the standard, since they don't agree and are morally flawed themselves, and even majority can't be standard since you need a standard to say the majority should be the standard, and also what standard says what majority or at what time. Thus, no standard on your worldview, that means slavery is not ultiamtely wrong, just preferentially not preferred by some, but then slavery at any point, or even biblical servantry isn't ultimately wrong, thus we can't accuse God of being evil, unjust on such grounds, meaning the critique is self refuting. It is only on theism the critique can have relevance, but that is what atheists deny



Last edited by Otangelo on Wed Feb 24, 2021 5:18 pm; edited 1 time in total

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6Slavery & the Bible Empty Re: Slavery & the Bible Mon Jan 20, 2020 2:30 pm

Otangelo


Admin
(Exodus 21:2-6)
If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing. If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out by himself.
And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.
1. God allowed slavery because they were to be treated like good employees,almost like family, brethren, with few exceptions, like enemies in the camp trying to destroy Israel. They even had Jubilee for it.
2. We are slaves to employers, same thing, just free to quit, but slaves if we cannot afford to or there is no other jobs, and employers abuse and take advantage all of the time. Governments ("atheistic") who over tax and over spend enslave the populous. Mostly "atheistic" ones
3. Atheism has no moral standard and cannot say a SINGLE thing against God since, in their mind, He does not even exist, so it is speaking about which molecules determine what is right and what is wrong. Of course,. atheists do not exist and they all know (ignorantly deny) and hate (atheopaths) the God they claim does not exist, and strive against the God who they say does not exist, making it an irrational religion, then hypocritically use His moral standards, even though they deny He exists.
4. Slaves were treated like employees worldwide until Darwinism decided they are not "fully human" and "possessions" and "animals to be caged".
5. Slavery is still worldwide, very nasty and mostly done by atheistic/evolutionary countries(Communist), pagan countries (Middle East), and no jubilees, just escapees
Slavery is not bad in God's eyes........until we treat them badly, then it is wickedness (like "atheism" is)
But no atheist has any business ever speaking about "morals", since they have none, have shown it, and have no source for them, since we are not born "inherently good", but evil. They hate hearing it, but that is too bad because that is the truth and a characteristic of their religion, "Survival of the Fittest", which they justify in their "lower animal kingdoms", calling us "a species", "naked apes", "higher ANIMALS" ,then expect people not to act like it. It is their religion that causes most worldwide problems, not Christianity. But it is an irresponsible religion
(Romans 3:11-12)
There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.
They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

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7Slavery & the Bible Empty Re: Slavery & the Bible Thu Feb 06, 2020 9:44 am

Otangelo


Admin
Since God regulated slavery in the Old Testament, does this automatically mean that He approves of slavery? Just as some today answer "yes," the Pharisees in Matthew 19 also wrongly assume that regulation equals approval when they ask Jesus this question:

"Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for any reason at all?" And [Jesus] answered and said, "Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'?...What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate."

They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give her a certificate of divorce and send her away?" He said to them, "Because of your hardness of heart Moses permitted you to divorce your wives; but from the beginning it has not been this way."
Notice what happens here. The Pharisees come with a legal question about which regulations ought to govern divorce, and Jesus responds in a very unexpected way, saying there shouldn't be any divorce. The Pharisees are immediately confused. "But how could it be that there shouldn't be any divorce if God regulated it? Doesn't that mean He thinks it's hunky-dory as long as it's done right?"

Jesus makes it clear that this is not the case.

The Pharisees had missed something very important about law: there's a difference between what's legal and what's moral—between the practical need to deal with reality and the existence of an ideal. The Law was not meant to be a list of everything moral and immoral. It functioned as every national set of laws functions—as reasonably enforceable rules to govern their society. 

Deeply ingrained cultural patterns don't change overnight, but must be redeemed over time. Slavery was intricately woven into the cultures of the day, so, as with divorce (neither being the situation God desired), God made rules to keep the evil of the practice to a minimum.

https://reasonandscience.catsboard.com

8Slavery & the Bible Empty Re: Slavery & the Bible Fri Oct 16, 2020 2:22 pm

Otangelo


Admin

Does the Bible condone slavery?-Clearing up the misconceptions


Has anyone every told you they just can’t believe the Bible because they believe that it condones the institution of slavery?  This is a favorite target area for critics, because nowhere in the Bible does it command the total abolition of slavery.  Indeed, instructions are given for proper behavior for masters and slaves, with no mention of abolition.  So does the Bible actually endorse slavery, especially the kind we are most familiar with, the oppressive slavery of the American antebellum South?
First, we need to understand the cultural context in which the Bible was written.   Then, we also need to understand the whole scope of what God is doing throughout history regarding slavery and freedom, by viewing the various scriptures on this subject as various snapshots in time along the way.

Ancient Near East slavery vs. American antebellum southern slavery:
In the ancient near east (ANE), slavery was common to just about every society.  It was an integral part of the economic systems of most nations.  Critics tend to target the Old Testament verses in the Torah that deal with slavery, without pointing out something very important.  The fact is, slavery in the ANE had some major differences from that of the American antebellum South.   Understanding these differences is key to appreciating what the commands in the Bible concerning slavery are all about.
In the American South, being a slave was not voluntary.  You were kidnapped from your homeland and taken away from your family to  a far away country.  Once a slave, you could not get out on your own.  If you escaped, you were hunted down and severely punished.  Slavery in the South was for the economic benefit of the rich slave owners, not the slaves.  A slave could own no property and could not buy or sell, but rather were treated as property themselves, like so many cattle.  Furthermore, slavery was associated with ethnicity and skin color.  And there was no codes for treatment of slaves, so owners could be as abusive as they wanted to with their slaves, with no accountability.
In the Ancient Near East (ANE), entry into slavery was generally voluntary.  Someone who was poor would sell their services and work for someone to take care of their family, or to pay off a debt that they owed. So a key difference here was that slavery was for the benefit of the poor, not the rich.
Remember, there were no credit cards in those days, so often selling oneself into slavery was the only way to pay a creditor when they didn’t have the funds available.  Rather than owning the person, what was owned by the master was the labor of the slave.  Slaves could be workers all socioeconomic levels, not just menial jobs.  They could be in households, own property, and even have slaves of their own.  Also generally, the ANE slavery was not racial, except for incidentally when prisoners of war became slaves.
Slavery in Egypt was an exception to the ANE slavery conditions, and was much more like the antebellum south, in that they were abusive, as can be seen in the Exodus accounts,  and were treated more like property.  As we shall see, when God in the Old Testament gives instructions on the humane treatment of slaves in Israel, He tells them: “Remember, you were once slaves in Egypt”, in other words, “remember how badly you were treated in Egypt? Don’t treat your slaves the way you were once treated!”

Slavery in Israel:
In Israel, God’s intentions are clear in the Law that the poor are to be provided for by the rich, if all obey the Law.  Ideally, a person with means should lend money to a poor person (Deut. 15:7-), or leave some crops in their fields for the poor people to glean (Leviticus 19:9-10).  The tithe that was collected every third year was to be provision for the poor and widowed (Deut. 14:28).
If a man or woman in Israel was poor and had no alternative but to sell themselves as a slave,  their wealthy fellow Hebrew must not refuse to take them in, and furthermore, they must be treated as a hired worker and not as a servant whose services can be bought and sold, and they would work for them until the jubilee year. (Leviticus 25:35, 39-40) If a Hebrew man or woman sold themselves into slavery, it was required that they be released every seven years during the sabbath year (Deut. 15:12). And this passage also commands that they not be sent out empty handed when freed, but with much provision, God again reminding the masters not to treat their slaves like they were treated in Egypt (Deut. 15:13-15.  And sometimes the slave actually enjoyed their setup and wanted to stay, and the master could not forbid them. (vv. 16-17).  One could not even imagine a slave in the American South loving their situation and wanting to stay!
Unlike the American South, a slave could leave an abusive master.  Deuteronomy 23:15 forbids anyone to forcibly return an escaped slave back to their master, but rather they should take the slave in and not oppress them.  In the South, an escaped slave was hunted down and severely punished.
Another major difference was that a slave could not be kidnapped and forcibly interred into slavery as in the South (Deut 24:7 pertaining to Hebrew slaves, also Exodus 21:16 includes all slaves, native or foreign, in this law).  Indeed, the penalty was death for what was called “manstealing'”
These last two laws, in particular, kept people from being forced into slavery or being bought and sold as property.
So we can see that the Bible did not condone for a minute the kind of slavery that existed in the American antebellum South, contrary to what the critics of the Bible say.  This doesn’t mean there weren’t abuses, and preventing these are what some of the Old Testament laws address.

Does the Bible condone slavery? dealing with difficult verses about slavery in the Old Testament Law


Exodus 21:20-21- Is beating a slave OK? 

This verse seems to say that if  a man beats his slave and the slave doesn’t die for a day or two, then it’s OK, because “he is his money”.    But first we must look at the context of the entire passage.  It deals in general with injuries inflicted by one man onto another.  Verse 12 teaches that a man who strikes another (not his slave) and kills him merits the death penalty.  But verse 20 says the same thing concerning a man who strikes his slave and kills him, since the word for “punished” referring to the master always implies the death penalty. (1)

We also see in verses 18-19 that if the one stricken does not die, the striker must still pay him money for his lost wages and his health care.   But again, in verse 21, we actually have a similar situation.  If the slave died right away, the master was tried and put to death.  If the slave “continued a day or two”, the master was given the benefit of the doubt that he was disciplining his slave and did not intend to kill him.    But the  master was far from getting away with it.  Any physical discipline that caused permanent injury, such as the loss of an eye or tooth would result in mandatory release of the slave debt free (verses 23-27- These verses imply the same treatment whether the person stricken is slave or free.)  And this also means,  that a slave does not have to stay with an abusive master.

So even if the master was not killed for it, he suffered heavy economic penalties.   Part of the confusion concerning this passage comes from the phrase translated “for he is his money”.   The proper translation of this part of the passage should be: “that is his money”, “that” referring to the money paid to the doctor for the injured servant, all the rest of his health care, and also the fact that the master was without the benefit of the servant’s labor.  So in the case of striking the free man, the striker had to pay for health care and loss of the man’s work time, and for the slave, the health care costs and the loss of the slave’a labor.  The fact that the master pays for these things factor into the determination of whether or not there was murderous intent on the master’s part.

Was this the final rule in the matter for God’s instruction to man?  Of course not!  Men’s hearts were still too hard for a drastic, all at once change.   But this was the beginning.   In surrounding societies there still was little to not restrictions on what a master could do to a slave, and so was a major step in God’s gradual plan to destroy the very notion of slavery.  

Leviticus 19:20-21-  The Servant Girl: a double standard?

What we have here is a man who seduces a servant girl who is engaged to another man.  The man is likely taking advantage of the superior/subordinate relationship to pressure her into doing what he wants.  The seeming problem is in this verse, it says “they shall not be put to death, because she was not free”.  But in Deut. 22:23-27,  which talks about a man committing adultery with an engaged free woman, they are both put to death.

So does he get pardoned because she was just a slave woman? Hardly!  This law was, as others in the Torah, designed to protect the vulnerable, in this case a servant girl who in her position would be  an easy mark for sexual harassment and pressure to capitulate to a superior’s will (2). The girl isn’t punished like she would have been if they were two “consenting adults”, but the man has to make some expensive restitution in the form of a sacrificial ram. This law protects young girls who are sold into slavery for their debt or that of their parents.  So God didn’t abolish slavery at this time, but again gave laws to prevent abuses.

Leviticus 25:42-49- Were Foreign slaves considered property?

If you read this passage it sounds like there is a distinction between native Hebrew slaves and foreign slaves, and that the foreign slaves are regarded as chattel, or property, as in the American South.  But this was no where near the situation.  Foreigners who came to Israel could not own land (Lev. 25:23) since it belonged to God who lent it to Israel.  Yet if they embraced the God of Israel, they went from a status of  a foreigner (nokri)  to an alien (ger)  who could eventually go from a household servant to a free person with wealth, although they would not be allowed to have Hebrew servants (Lev. 25: 42, 47-49).

Even if they didn’t embrace the God of Israel, they were to be treated with kindness:” but the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Leviticus 19:33-34).   But at the same time, it made sense that those who were prisoners of war or otherwise potentially hostile to Israel would not be put in positions of power right away, but rather start as servants.  Unlike fellow Hebrews, they were charged interest for loans (Deut, 15:3, Exodus 22: 25, Lev. 25:36-37) because rather than needing money to keep from starving or to pay debt, they were often there for business only.

But how about the verses about being bought or sold as bondslaves if they were foreigners (Lev. 25:44-46)?   The word for “acquire” does not necessarily mean to buy property.  The same word was used of Ruth when she was “acquired” by Boaz (Ruth 4:10) as his wife (3).  Boaz didn’t regard his wife as property!  The buying and selling here were of their services, more along the lines of the trading of modern sports athletes.  The foreign slave was still at a lower level than the Israelite slave, but again, as always, this is not the final decree by God in this matter.

Slaves, whether foreign or native, were to be given days off (Deut 5:13, and, unlike any other society, they ate at the master’s table with his family (Deut 12:18).

In the final article we will briefly look at slavery in New Testament times and also the overall trajectory of scripture on the slavery matter.

(1) Paul Copan, Is God a Moral Monster?, Baker Books, Grand Rapids, MI, 2011, p. 135.

(2) Ibid. p. 139.

(3) Ibid., p. 146.

Does the Bible condone slavery?  the Seeds of Abolition


Tthe Bible does not condone the kind of slavery that existed either in the antebellum South in America, or in Egypt or any other oppressive regime.  But we shall also see that the biblical texts, especially as we progress in time to the New Testament, not only do not condone oppressive slavery, but contain the seeds for the abolition of the institution of slavery altogether.

Slavery in Roman times:
Under the Roman empire slavery took somewhat of a step backwards,  but still not quite like the American South.  Some slaves in Rome were indeed considered property, without legal rights, usually not in household jobs.  Others were household slaves, who were permitted to own property and even eventually purchase their freedom.     This second type of slavery is the type that Paul typically addresses in New Testament texts.   Even the household slaves in Rome could be badly mistreated by their masters, and God again corrects these in his commands to masters in the New Testament.

For an excellent article on Old and New Testament slavery see here.
So why didn’t Paul just command that masters should immediately free all slaves, or that slaves should rise up and revolt against their masters?  For one thing, to be a good witness, Christianity was not to be seen as a faith that caused rebellion against the social structure of the day.  If Rome saw them as revolutionaries or insurrectionists, they would have been met with swift military opposition, and the messengers of the gospel would have been under even greater persecution than they already had been.  Also, if the slaves were immediately freed, many would starve, as they were no longer under the master’s roof, eating his food and partaking of his health care.  In both these cases, there would be a lot of unnecessary death and hardship.

So what was God’ strategy here?  Not social reform, but reform of the heart through the gospel.  He reminded masters and slaves in Ephesians 6:5-9 that they both should work as though serving the Lord, and not men, and by doing so to be good witnesses for Christ.  Masters, in particular (verse 9) were reminded to treat their slaves with kindness, since they were also under a Master in heaven who sees no class distinction between masters and slaves.  And so we have a further progression in scripture toward the equality of all humans.  The only owner of persons is the Creator, Jesus Himself.

Other New Testament passages show the progression as God slowly leads stubborn humans toward recognizing the equality of all people.  Galatians 3: 28: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female; for ye are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Colossians 3:11: “” there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision or uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond or free; but Christ is all, and in all.”  1 Corinthians 12:13: “For by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have all made to drink into one Spirit.”    In the body of Christ, these inequalities melt away.

This is further driven home in the Letter of Paul to Philemon.  This little book was actually used by abolitionists centuries later in Christian countries.  In the letter Paul intercedes for Onesimus, a former slave of Philemon who had apparently ran away, and had become a Christian through the ministry of Paul.  Paul pleads on behalf of Onesimus for Philemon to take him back, but not as a servant, but as a “brother beloved” (verse 16), and to receive him as he would have received Paul himself.  It’s possible that he was also asking Philemon to free Onesimus as well. Regardless, such a brotherly relationship between master and slave was unheard of in the surrounding society, and it would only be a matter of time that slavery among Christians and in countries dominated by Christianity would be abolished.

So we see how as we look at snapshots in time through the scripture, we see God’s trajectory in His Word starting with removing abuses in an inferior system, then promoting unheard of equality within this system, and finally planting the seeds for the eventual abolition of the slavery system.  Yet there is a slavery that remains, slavery to God and righteousness.  In Romans chapter 6:16-22, Paul spells out that we are slaves, one way or the other, either to sin or righteousness.  As Bob Dylan once sang, “you’ve gotta serve somebody! It may be the devil or it may be the Lord, but you gotta serve somebody!”

In serving Christ we are set more and more free (John 8:36) , because He came to set the captives free (Luke 4:18).  The end result is holiness and everlasting life (Romans 6:22-23).  And in serving Christ we also serve one another: “..you have be called unto liberty…by love serve one another.” (Galatians 5:13).
So the Bible does not condone slavery to men, but servanthood to God.

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9Slavery & the Bible Empty Re: Slavery & the Bible Wed Dec 09, 2020 12:22 pm

Otangelo


Admin
Slavery, the Bible, Exodus 21:20-21, and beat a slave with a rod
https://carm.org/bible-exodus-21-20-beat-slave-with-rod

if you are so concerned about slaves, why dont you buy a slave and set him free ?

Go to the bottom of the page:
http://www.endslaverynow.org/learn/slavery-today/sex-trafficking

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10Slavery & the Bible Empty Re: Slavery & the Bible Wed Feb 24, 2021 12:57 pm

Otangelo


Admin
Slavery & the Bible Matt_d10

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