Slavery in the Bible

Discussions about the Bible, and any issues raised by Scripture.
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Gman
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Slavery in the Bible

#1

Post by Gman » Wed Apr 15, 2009 7:05 pm

Folks,

I've been on the debate in other forums, and there seems to be a consensus among the disbelievers that the Bible endorses slavery or uses people as property in an inhuman manner. Most notably these verses (or others).

Leviticus 25:44-46

44 " 'Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can will them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly

1 Timothy 6

1 All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God's name and our teaching may not be slandered. 2 Those who have believing masters are not to show less respect for them because they are brothers. Instead, they are to serve them even better, because those who benefit from their service are believers, and dear to them. These are the things you are to teach and urge on them.

I would like to take the time to bridge off our godandscience article Does God Approve of Slavery According to the Bible?

Being specific from what I've read, the Bible does not directly condemn slavery, but neither does it accept slavery either... Slavery was accepted as a part of life in ancient times but it was a different kind of slavery.. Nothing like the slavery we saw in early America with the blacks. People in ancient times would sell themselves into slavery not only to work, but also for food, debts, shelter, and clothing provided by their master.

"As to the moral status of slavery in ancient times, it must be recognized that it was practiced by every ancient people of which we have any historical record: Egyptians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Assyrians, Phoenicians, Syrians, Moabites, Ammonites, Edolllites, Greeks, Romans, and all the rest. Slavery was as integral a part of ancient culture as commerce, taxation, or temple service."

Hebrew slaves also had many rights unlike how the blacks were treated.. Best described in the article below.

"Several laws in the Law of Moses which applied to servitude are unique, having no counterpart in any other ANE society:

* Servants were protected from injury by their masters, and were set free if they were injured

* Murdering a slave incurred the death penalty

* It was illegal to capture individuals and place them in coercive servitude as property (chattel slavery)

* Any servant who ran away from their master automatically gained their liberty and were free to live wherever they chose; not only was it illegal to return them to their master, it was also forbidden to oppress them in any way"

This article examines which of the various forms of servitude (slavery) common to the Ancient Near East existed under the Law of Moses, and how they were regulated...

* Chattel slavery - A dehumanising form of servitude. (not Biblical)

* Indentured servitude - A mutually contracted servitude into which the individual entered voluntarily.

* Bride sale - Woman's custody status changed so that she belonged the household to which she was sold rather than belonging to her parents.

* Vassalage - Powerful states placed the entire population of weaker states under vassalage, a form of servitude which bound the subordinate state to serve the dominant state.

http://bibleapologetics.wordpress.com/s ... -bible-25/

http://bibleapologetics.wordpress.com/c ... lavery-13/

Or here:

http://www.christian-thinktank.com/qnoslave.html

One could sell himself into slavery, that's true, but kidnapping was punishable by death according to the Bible.

Exodus 21:16 "He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death."

Any thoughts?
The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false - Galileo

We learn from history that we do not learn from history - Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

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Re: Slavery in the Bible

#2

Post by jlay » Thu Apr 16, 2009 10:22 am

Context.

Slavery was the norm in those days. The bible is revolutionary in the treatment of slaves and endentured servants. It had specific laws for slaves. Slaves were to observe the sabbath, and slaves were to be set free in the 7th year. In the context of those times, it was absolutely revolutionary and miraculous. Slave abuse is wrong. The bible is crystal clear on that. The OT makes provisions for caring for slaves. No culture in those days made provisions for such things. Slave traders are condemned in the new testament.

These knuckleheads don't get it, but they love welfare and homelessness.

When we think of slavery we think of it from a perspective of today. We have no real grasp on the past, and what life was like 3,000 years ago. In fact servitude could remedy a lot of the worlds problems. hunger and starvation is a huge problem. Unfortunately slavery was abused and became a horror, and that's essentially what people remember or think of.

If people in history had followed the old testament code, then the abuses and horrors we know of, would have never happened. We would have thriving economies, a fraction of homelessness, and a fraction of government programs to support them.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: Slavery in the Bible

#3

Post by Gman » Thu Apr 16, 2009 12:15 pm

Agreed jlay...

Here is a tougher one many bring up.

Exodus 21:20-21

20 "If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, 21 but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.

But just a few verses later it states that if someone beats a slave (over doing it) and they destroy their eye or tooth, then they have to compensate for it.

Exodus 21: 26

26 "If a man hits a manservant or maidservant in the eye and destroys it, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the eye. 27 And if he knocks out the tooth of a manservant or maidservant, he must let the servant go free to compensate for the tooth."

I truly believe that the "eye" and "tooth" are not literal eyes and teeth. It's just another way to say that judgment will be served meaning if you hurt someone, then corporately you, in turn, could be hurt also.. I believe these are simply figures of speech coming from the phrase "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." Leviticus 24:19-20, Matthew 5:38-39, 43-44.
The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false - Galileo

We learn from history that we do not learn from history - Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

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Re: Slavery in the Bible

#4

Post by waynepii » Thu Apr 16, 2009 12:35 pm

I truly believe that the "eye" and "tooth" are not literal eyes and teeth. It's just another way to say that judgment will be served meaning if you hurt someone, then corporately you, in turn, could be hurt also.. I believe these are simply figures of speech coming from the phrase "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." Leviticus 24:19-20, Matthew 5:38-39, 43-44.
This could be taken as "cherry picking" - taking Bible verses either literally or metaphorically as suits the point being made.

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Re: Slavery in the Bible

#5

Post by jlay » Thu Apr 16, 2009 12:49 pm

This could be taken as "cherry picking" - taking Bible verses either literally or metaphorically as suits the point being made.
No he sited Exodus 21 as a contextual example. Lose and eye, go free. Lose a tooth, go free. This is eye for eye justice. As what good would it serve for the offender to have his eye gouged out? It is appropriate measure of justice fitting the crime. Jesus did not condemn justice as many want to misrepresent.

In fact it is a much better system than what we have. Someone steals your donkey, you buy him another donkey. Today, someone steals your car, they put him in jail, he doesn't pay for your car, your insurance company gets the bill, and everyone's premiums go up.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: Slavery in the Bible

#6

Post by BavarianWheels » Thu Apr 16, 2009 1:09 pm

Gman wrote:I truly believe that the "eye" and "tooth" are not literal eyes and teeth. It's just another way to say that judgment will be served meaning if you hurt someone, then corporately you, in turn, could be hurt also.. I believe these are simply figures of speech coming from the phrase "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth." Leviticus 24:19-20, Matthew 5:38-39, 43-44.
To me, it brings out the meaning and consequence of the beating a slave (or anyone really) all the more. The slave owner would therefore be very careful to not punish a slave in a manner in which it would cause him to loose a slave. Being a "slave" meant you worked for someone and in return were compensated with a living and/or shelter, food, and safety.

Having slaves = good
Not having slaves = not so good
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Re: Slavery in the Bible

#7

Post by Gman » Thu Apr 16, 2009 6:00 pm

BavarianWheels wrote:To me, it brings out the meaning and consequence of the beating a slave (or anyone really) all the more. The slave owner would therefore be very careful to not punish a slave in a manner in which it would cause him to loose a slave. Being a "slave" meant you worked for someone and in return were compensated with a living and/or shelter, food, and safety.

Having slaves = good
Not having slaves = not so good
Yes... This apparently confirmed in Deuteronomy 23:15-16

"Under the Law of Moses, any servant who ran away from their master automatically gained their liberty and were free to live wherever they chose. Not only was it illegal to return them to their master, it was also forbidden to oppress them in any way:"

Deuteronomy 23:
15 You must not return an escaped slave to his master when he has run away to you.
16 Indeed, he may live among you in any place he chooses, in whichever of your villages he prefers; you must not oppress him.

If anything, this doesn't even sound like slavery. Nothing like the slavery we encountered in early America...
The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false - Galileo

We learn from history that we do not learn from history - Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

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Re: Slavery in the Bible

#8

Post by Gman » Thu Apr 16, 2009 6:28 pm

waynepii wrote:This could be taken as "cherry picking" - taking Bible verses either literally or metaphorically as suits the point being made.
I wouldn't think so waynepii... The law of "an eye for an eye" and a "tooth for a tooth" was usually called the "law of retribution" in ancient times, or the latin "lex talionis." "Lex" meaning law and "talio" being like or the punishment is like the injury. The "lex talionis" is found in three passages in the Old Testament (Ex. 21:23, 24; Lev. 24:19, 20; and Deut. 19:21). Also a similar law is found in the ancient Mesopotamian code of Hammurabi meaning that it was more of an ancient phrase for that area. Of course they wouldn't say "law of retribution" back then, saying "an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth" would certainly get the message across. There is nothing I see in ancient Hebrew history of someone gouging someone elses eye or breaking their teeth if they disobeyed. And if they did, they would certainly fall under the law of Exodus 21: 26 thus repeating the law until all Israel was eyeless and toothless. :roll:

More explained here: http://biblicalresearch.gc.adventist.or ... foreye.htm
The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false - Galileo

We learn from history that we do not learn from history - Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

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Re: Slavery in the Bible

#9

Post by BavarianWheels » Fri Apr 17, 2009 2:25 am

That's an Adventist link!! *gasp* :)

It's actually an interesting place for reading on different topics.
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Re: Slavery in the Bible

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Post by Gman » Fri Apr 17, 2009 7:16 am

BavarianWheels wrote:That's an Adventist link!! *gasp* :)

It's actually an interesting place for reading on different topics.
.
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You might have gotten me there... ;)

My logic is if it is truthful then post it.
The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false - Galileo

We learn from history that we do not learn from history - Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

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Re: Slavery in the Bible

#11

Post by Gman » Fri Apr 17, 2009 7:24 am

I want to go back to this passage...

Exodus 21:20-21

20 "If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, 21 but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.

First of all I would like to make this crystal clear... Many say that the Bible says that you can hit your slave if they disobey. This is INCORRECT. Exodus 21:20 says "IF" a man beats his male or female slave with a rod. The word is "IF". Nowhere in the Bible does it ever say that you should beat up a slave... Nowhere does the Bible endorse hitting a slave.
The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false - Galileo

We learn from history that we do not learn from history - Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

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Re: Slavery in the Bible

#12

Post by jlay » Fri Apr 17, 2009 8:32 am

Absolutely Gman.
Good point.

These rules are rules for a fallen world. And in the context, they are absolutely great evidence of God. From history we know just how cruel these times were. To have a civil law that even made appropriations for the treatment of slaves, much less for them having legal position, is miraculous.
-“The Bible treated allegorically becomes putty in the hands of the exegete.” John Walvoord

"I'm not saying scientists don't overstate their results. They do. And it's understandable, too...If you spend years working toward a certain goal and make no progress, of course you are going to spin your results in a positive light." Ivellious

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Re: Slavery in the Bible

#13

Post by BavarianWheels » Fri Apr 17, 2009 8:52 am

Gman wrote:You might have gotten me there... ;)

My logic is if it is truthful then post it.
Not trying to "get" you at all. :)
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Re: Slavery in the Bible

#14

Post by waynepii » Fri Apr 17, 2009 10:26 am

Gman wrote:I want to go back to this passage...

Exodus 21:20-21

20 "If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, 21 but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.

First of all I would like to make this crystal clear... Many say that the Bible says that you can hit your slave if they disobey. This is INCORRECT. Exodus 21:20 says "IF" a man beats his male or female slave with a rod. The word is "IF". Nowhere in the Bible does it ever say that you should beat up a slave... Nowhere does the Bible endorse hitting a slave.
It seems to me to be saying "hitting your slave is OK so long as you don't kill or seriously injure him or her" (you get punished only if he/she survives and is able to "get up" in a day or two.)

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Re: Slavery in the Bible

#15

Post by Gman » Fri Apr 17, 2009 3:03 pm

waynepii wrote:It seems to me to be saying "hitting your slave is OK so long as you don't kill or seriously injure him or her" (you get punished only if he/she survives and is able to "get up" in a day or two.)
I don't think so... The word is "if" not "you should." Like if you hit someone, then the consequences are this.." Also if you look up a verse it appears to be in the context of quarreling or fighting. Also reiterated in the next passage Exodus 21:22.

Exodus 21:18 "If men quarrel and one hits the other with a stone or with his fist..."

Exodus 21:22 "If men who are fighting hit a pregnant woman..."

Now if the Bible said " Masters can beat their slaves until the brink of death, and if he lives, then the master will go unpunished," then you might have a point. But it doesn't say that at all....
The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false - Galileo

We learn from history that we do not learn from history - Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

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