Questions about slavery in the Bible

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Questions about slavery in the Bible

#1

Post by Gman » Sun Jul 25, 2010 6:49 pm

Where does the bible specifically abolish slavery?
It doesn't.. Slavery was a integral part of the Bible practiced in both Old AND New testaments..

Please review this article.. Does God Approve of Slavery According to the Bible?
More here.. http://discussions.godandscience.org/vi ... it=slavery

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."
What was it like for the Jewish race in Egypt where they was enslaved, why was the Pharaoh so hostile to what was his workforce?
It was a different type of slavery. This type of slavery is close to how the whites treated the blacks.. Exodus 3:7
There are still slaves in the new testament, how did their treatment get improvement?
There are different types of slavery best explained here. http://bibleapologetics.wordpress.com/s ... -bible-25/
What about the Masters of these slaves? B) Some of those were christians, correct? C) Is it okay for a christian to own slaves?
It depends on what type of slavery it is.. In essence slavery exists today too. As an example, I'm a slave to my work. My boss tells me what to do, and if I wish to stay with the company, I must follow the orders of my boss. If not, I could very well lose my job.
I remember reading that it is OKAY to beat a slave aslong as he does not die within two days, is it in anyway possible to justify this? If you beat a slave and he dies after 3 days it is still that persons fault isn't it!
We went over this in this part of the forum. Please review..

http://discussions.godandscience.org/vi ... ave#p64857
A master who kills a slave, what happens to that person? Lets assume the Slave was not a Member of the Jewish race, seeing as the Jewish laws seem to apply only to them in the old testement...
The same law applies for both parties.. God does not distinguish between slaves and freemen. See Galatians 3:28, Ephesians 6:8.

"Injuring or killing slaves was punishable - up to death of the offending party.1 Hebrews were commanded not to make their slave work on the Sabbath,2 slander a slave,3 have sex with another man's slave,4 or return an escaped slave.5 A Hebrew was not to enslave his fellow countryman, even if he owed him money, but was to have him work as a hired worker, and he was to be released in the year of jubilee (which occurred every seven years).6 In fact, the slave owner was encouraged to "pamper his slave".7"

Source: http://www.godandscience.org/apologetic ... bible.html
B) Would the result still be "An eye for an eye", would a Master be Executed for killing his slave?
For killing a slave? Yes.. Exodus 21:12 Eye for an eye is best explained here..

http://www.godandscience.org/apologetic ... n_eye.html
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Re: Questions about slavery in the Bible

#2

Post by Kristoffer » Mon Jul 26, 2010 1:48 am

I'm a slave to my work. My boss tells me what to do, and if I wish to stay with the company, I must follow the orders of my boss. If not, I could very well lose my job.
If you are a "Wage slave", then i am a "Wage Master", the reason being is that I pretty much control the working fate of a small army of people. I would really prefer to think of them as Workers and not as Slaves, but I do know how harsh i can have to be.

So I would prefer if you didn't call this slavery, you get paid reasonably right? You can go up and quit when you want? Well how is it slavery? You are free! :mrgreen:

Ps. I really enjoyed some of the explanation to the points on slavery but a bit downhearted to hear that it was never abolished in biblical times.

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Re: Questions about slavery in the Bible

#3

Post by CeT-To » Mon Jul 26, 2010 4:57 am

What he is saying is that its similar to having a job back then. Hmmm do the slaves also get everything like food and clothes from the master? im just asking because i remember the story that Jesus said about the son returning to the father and how the son was saying that the servents/slaves had food to spare.
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Re: Questions about slavery in the Bible

#4

Post by jlay » Mon Jul 26, 2010 8:45 am

Kris,

Did you know that many of these slaves could quit when they wanted?

The law plainly states that Hebrew slaves were to be freed after serving six years (Ex 21:2, Dt 15:12). If a slave wished to remain, it was his free choice. Since Hebrews typically became slaves only due to poverty, some may have felt they were better off working for a rich family and being provided for rather than struggling to make it on their own (cf. Dt 15:16).

Slaves weren't forced to say they loved their masters if they wanted to stay; the speech given in Exodus 21:5 is only an example. A parallel passage in Deuteronomy 15:16 only has the slave saying he doesn't want to leave.

As for whether slaves could be forced into lifelong slavery, Exodus 21:6 says the ceremony for lifelong slaves was to take place in front of a judge. Slaves had to publicly state their intention to remain as slaves; their master couldn't lie and say they'd expressed their intentions privately. While an evil master could force his slaves to make the proclamation by threatening them, it was the responsibility of the priests/judges and the community at large to observe masters' treatment of their slaves (cf. Lev 25:53). This observation was also in their best interests, since one person's disobedience brought guilt on those who knew what was going on and failed to do anything about it (Lev 19:17), which in turn would result in adverse consequences for the entire community (Dt 11:26-28).

Source:http://www.rationalchristianity.net/sla ... forcedLife
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Re: Questions about slavery in the Bible

#5

Post by Gman » Mon Jul 26, 2010 9:19 pm

Kristoffer wrote:
I'm a slave to my work. My boss tells me what to do, and if I wish to stay with the company, I must follow the orders of my boss. If not, I could very well lose my job.
If you are a "Wage slave", then i am a "Wage Master", the reason being is that I pretty much control the working fate of a small army of people. I would really prefer to think of them as Workers and not as Slaves, but I do know how harsh i can have to be.

So I would prefer if you didn't call this slavery, you get paid reasonably right? You can go up and quit when you want? Well how is it slavery? You are free! :mrgreen:

Ps. I really enjoyed some of the explanation to the points on slavery but a bit downhearted to hear that it was never abolished in biblical times.
Kris, again it was a different type of slavery.. People back then would literally sell themselves to their masters, and their masters ordered their works. However, in return, their masters SUPPORTED them providing food, shelter, clothes, and yes, even money.. The masters could not beat them or hold them against their will.. Surely you can understand this... Right? ;)
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Re: Questions about slavery in the Bible

#6

Post by Kristoffer » Tue Jul 27, 2010 4:54 pm

I wouldm't want to be a slave even if i was supported, i do not see how it is a different kind of slavery, it is not freedom is it? I guess some people might like to not be in control, I am just not "some people"

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Re: Questions about slavery in the Bible

#7

Post by Byblos » Tue Jul 27, 2010 5:41 pm

Kristoffer wrote:I wouldm't want to be a slave even if i was supported, i do not see how it is a different kind of slavery, it is not freedom is it? I guess some people might like to not be in control, I am just not "some people"
Think of it as a binding contract. Both parties agree to the terms and both parties adhere to them, just like any other contract we sign today. It is not one-sided in the traditional sense of slavery like you know it.
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Re: Questions about slavery in the Bible

#8

Post by jlay » Wed Jul 28, 2010 7:27 am

I wouldm't want to be a slave even if i was supported
So what? You don't want to be a slave compared to your current circumstances. That is a very self-centered, shallow way to view a broad issue. I'm sure the children starving in some 3rd world country as we speak, don't want to be starving. I bet they would gladly be a servant, to know that their service would provide food, shelter and a provisional way of life. This has nothing to do with the 'control' that you covet. I call that self-soveriegnty. This has to do with the harsh realities that you are ignoring.

I suspect that if a biblical model of servitude were implemented today, we could end much of the problems in the world today.

I work with inner-city youth, and let me tell you, in most cases these people feel bound. Bound by their circumstances. They live in government housing, buy their food with government food stamps, and receive government welfare. And though they receive all these things, they feel like slaves to a system. We have a system of servitude, yet it is faulty. In that there is no give for the take. It requires nothing of the servant. The servant receives, yet furnishes NOTHING back to the system. Thus it is wrong, and is why it does not work.
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Re: Questions about slavery in the Bible

#9

Post by smiley » Fri Jul 30, 2010 6:04 am

I remember reading that it is OKAY to beat a slave aslong as he does not die within two days, is it in anyway possible to justify this?
I haven't seen any solid responses to this.
jlay wrote:Kris,

Did you know that many of these slaves could quit when they wanted?

The law plainly states that Hebrew slaves were to be freed after serving six years (Ex 21:2, Dt 15:12). If a slave wished to remain, it was his free choice. Since Hebrews typically became slaves only due to poverty, some may have felt they were better off working for a rich family and being provided for rather than struggling to make it on their own (cf. Dt 15:16).
It is interesting how it singles out "Hebrew" slaves. And it also later says (in Lev 25, where a clear constrast is made between Hebrew and non-Hebrew slaves) that Hebrew slaves are not to be treated "ruthlessly". The implication is that non-Hebrew slaves are to be treated ruthlessly.
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Re: Questions about slavery in the Bible

#10

Post by narnia4 » Fri Jul 30, 2010 7:53 pm

I'm not really up to date on the arguments concerning this, but I'll bite. I think the posts that point out that there are massive differences between slavery in the OT by the Jews and slavery in America that most people are familiar with. It's also important to remember that slavery was never condoned. I will also readily admit that some of the things written could still make readers with "modern sensibilities" pretty uneasy.

I think slavery, kind of like polygamy or divorce, is one of those things that was going to happen in that period of history. I'm reminded of when the Israelites clamored for a King. God didn't want that to happen either, but he allowed it. I would have a lot less trust in the historical accuracy of the Old Testament accounts if they reported everything that happened back then was all peachy and sweet and appealed to 21st century humanitarians. God commanded that slaves be treated fairly, not to be injured, and to be set free after a certain period of time, but there were still going to be slaves at that point in time (and there still are today, actually).
smiley wrote:
I remember reading that it is OKAY to beat a slave aslong as he does not die within two days, is it in anyway possible to justify this?
I haven't seen any solid responses to this.
The verse that I see is Exodus 21:20-21. The translation I have at hand (looking at the original language is always good to clear up any possible misunderstandings) says, "When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod, and the slave dies under his abuse, the owner must be punished. However, if the slave can stand up after a day or two, the owner should not be punished (alternate translation, or 'not suffer vengeance') because he is his owner's property."

This doesn't say that it's "OKAY", it says that the slave owner "will not suffer vengeance". And looking further on, there are further rules about serious or permament injuries. In fact, this is the "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" passage. For example, in verses 26-27, it says, "When a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave and destroys it, he must let the slave go free in compensation for his eye. If he knocks out the tooth of his male or female slave, he must let the slave go free in compensation for his tooth." A knocked out tooth means that the slave goes free. So there's more to it than

smiley wrote: It is interesting how it singles out "Hebrew" slaves. And it also later says (in Lev 25, where a clear constrast is made between Hebrew and non-Hebrew slaves) that Hebrew slaves are not to be treated "ruthlessly". The implication is that non-Hebrew slaves are to be treated ruthlessly.
I don't think that's the implication here. Unless it says "Treat non-Hebrew slaves ruthlessly", why assume that's what it's saying? All we can take from it is that there were special rules to protect Hebrew slaves, God's chosen people.
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Re: Questions about slavery in the Bible

#11

Post by smiley » Sun Aug 01, 2010 11:37 am

narnia4 wrote:I
The verse that I see is Exodus 21:20-21. The translation I have at hand (looking at the original language is always good to clear up any possible misunderstandings) says, "When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod, and the slave dies under his abuse, the owner must be punished. However, if the slave can stand up after a day or two, the owner should not be punished (alternate translation, or 'not suffer vengeance') because he is his owner's property."

This doesn't say that it's "OKAY", it says that the slave owner "will not suffer vengeance".
First, this is the definition of "okayness":

The state or condition of being okay; adequateness, tolerableness

God tolerated this. He could have had it removed completely from Israel with one simple command. And yet, He had all kinds of seemingly pointless rules like prohibiting wearing clothes made up of two different types of material, but nothing against beating slaves. Now I'm not saying that the mere fact the Bible never says "do not beat your slaves" means that God approved of it--but the fact that the issue of the treatment of slaves was addressed, and the only restriction that was made is not to beat them so hard that they die.
nd looking further on, there are further rules about serious or permament injuries. In fact, this is the "eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth" passage. For example, in verses 26-27, it says, "When a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave and destroys it, he must let the slave go free in compensation for his eye. If he knocks out the tooth of his male or female slave, he must let the slave go free in compensation for his tooth." A knocked out tooth means that the slave goes free.
They were allowed to beat them so hard that they were incapable of getting up for two days. Do you honestly think this is morally justifiable behavior?
I don't think that's the implication here. Unless it says "Treat non-Hebrew slaves ruthlessly", why assume that's what it's saying? All we can take from it is that there were special rules to protect Hebrew slaves, God's chosen people.
Why single out "Hebrew" slaves at all? If all slaves are not to be treated ruthlessly, then why not say "do not treat any slaves at all" ruthlessly--but instead single out Hebrew slaves?

Read this paragraph:

"Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 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. 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"

First, He describes the treatment of non-Hebrew slaves, and then at the end of the same passage He adds that Hebrew slaves are not to be treated ruthlessly. Why, if this was a rule for all slaves? Again, be intellectually honest.
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Re: Questions about slavery in the Bible

#12

Post by TallMan » Wed Aug 04, 2010 4:30 pm

Some take this as a prophecy that the slave trade, though evil, would bring heathen people in contact with Israelites who had become Christians, in the USA especially:

"Thus saith the Lord, The labour of Egypt, and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee; in chains they shall come over, and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee; and there is none else, there is no God." (Isaiah 45:14)

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Re: Questions about slavery in the Bible

#13

Post by narnia4 » Wed Aug 04, 2010 8:00 pm

smiley wrote:
narnia4 wrote:I
The verse that I see is Exodus 21:20-21. The translation I have at hand (looking at the original language is always good to clear up any possible misunderstandings) says, "When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod, and the slave dies under his abuse, the owner must be punished. However, if the slave can stand up after a day or two, the owner should not be punished (alternate translation, or 'not suffer vengeance') because he is his owner's property."

This doesn't say that it's "OKAY", it says that the slave owner "will not suffer vengeance".
First, this is the definition of "okayness":

The state or condition of being okay; adequateness, tolerableness

God tolerated this. He could have had it removed completely from Israel with one simple command. And yet, He had all kinds of seemingly pointless rules like prohibiting wearing clothes made up of two different types of material, but nothing against beating slaves. Now I'm not saying that the mere fact the Bible never says "do not beat your slaves" means that God approved of it--but the fact that the issue of the treatment of slaves was addressed, and the only restriction that was made is not to beat them so hard that they die.
Something being "okay" and "not punishable by law" are two completely different things. The fact that there aren't laws against adultery in America doesn't make adultery "okay" in the eyes of God. I've already said that I consider slavery to be wrong, even slavery as practices in Israel wasn't right. So you could say that God "tolerated" it in the same way that he tolerated things like polygamy I suppose. Why weren't the laws made much more strict so that NO evil of any kind was allowed without legal punishment? I couldn't say, but my main point here is one that you apparently agree with, that this verse hardly proves that God approved of beating slaves so that they could hardly walk.

They were allowed to beat them so hard that they were incapable of getting up for two days. Do you honestly think this is morally justifiable behavior?
if you look at the verses following this one, it isn't that simple. This is where "an eye for an eye" and "a tooth for a tooth" comes in, meaning if there was serious damage the owner would be punished accordingly. And again, of course I don't think beating slaves is a good thing, but there's a difference between "approved by God" and "not punishable by law". Also, the "do not treat Hebrew slaves ruthlessly" part that you mentioned could apply to this as well, could it not?

Why single out "Hebrew" slaves at all? If all slaves are not to be treated ruthlessly, then why not say "do not treat any slaves at all" ruthlessly--but instead single out Hebrew slaves?

Read this paragraph:

"Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 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. 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"

First, He describes the treatment of non-Hebrew slaves, and then at the end of the same passage He adds that Hebrew slaves are not to be treated ruthlessly. Why, if this was a rule for all slaves? Again, be intellectually honest.
I'm being as intellectually honest as I can by reading what's there. Why should we take a reminder not to treat Israelites harshly as an implication that other slaves SHOULD be treated harshly? That's like reading a passage that tells wives to respect their husbands and then saying, "Wow! So is that a command that husbands should disrespect their wives?"

No, it's simply a special reminder to God's chosen people about God's chosen people. There were special rules to protect them, that's completely true. I don't know why we should take anything else from that however, maybe someone else with more knowledge could tell me if I'm mistaken.


As I've said here, I'm not an expert on this topic or anything. Looking into original translations and hearing from experts in Old Testament law could be more helpful.
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Re: Questions about slavery in the Bible

#14

Post by Gman » Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:45 pm

smiley wrote:They were allowed to beat them so hard that they were incapable of getting up for two days. Do you honestly think this is morally justifiable behavior?
What's this? Are you reading the text? It clearly says "When" or "If" a man strikes another person... Not that they should... Exodus 21:20-21 It's the same thing as saying if you drive your car into a wall.. Not that you "want" to drive your car into a wall or "should" drive your car into a wall. Do you understand the difference?

Also read Deuteronomy 24:14-15 where the Israelis were told not to treat their slaves harshly.
smiley wrote:Why single out "Hebrew" slaves at all? If all slaves are not to be treated ruthlessly, then why not say "do not treat any slaves at all" ruthlessly--but instead single out Hebrew slaves?
Because the text is addressing Hebrew slave ownership.. There are different conditions for Hebrew and gentile slaves..
smiley wrote:Read this paragraph:

"Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 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. 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"

First, He describes the treatment of non-Hebrew slaves, and then at the end of the same passage He adds that Hebrew slaves are not to be treated ruthlessly. Why, if this was a rule for all slaves? Again, be intellectually honest.
Intellectually honest? The majority of non-Hebrew slaves were war-captives of the overly aggressive Canaanite tribes Numbers 31:26. Many were also obtained by purchase from foreign slave-dealers, Leviticus 25:44,45 or may have been resident foreigners who were reduced to this state by either poverty or crimes.

Why single Hebrew slaves? Because they are not the ones who waged war on you. Again the Canaanites were highly anti-Jewish who would do anything to destroy the Hebrew culture. These Canaanite tribes forfeited their rights when they attacked the Jewish state to become slaves.. And in hindsight, after they became slaves, they actually had more rights than slaves in other cultures..
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Re: Questions about slavery in the Bible

#15

Post by smiley » Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:51 am

Narnia, I'll respond to your post later.
Gman wrote: What's this? Are you reading the text? It clearly says "When" or "If" a man strikes another person... Not that they should... Exodus 21:20-21
And what's this? Are you reading my posts?

I said that they were allowed to beat them. And this is true. And not just "beat them", but beat them so hard that they were incapable of getting up for two days.

The fact that it gives laws for situatons "when" a man strikes his slave with a rod means that this was a common way slaves were treated in Israel. If there was enough room in the Old Testament for all sorts of seemingly pointless rules, like "do not boil a young goat in its mother's milk", then I see absolutely no reason why God would tolerate this horrible violence, when He could have prohibited it with one simle command.
Also read Deuteronomy 24:14-15 where the Israelis were told not to treat their slaves harshly.
Read your own link. The "oppression" this verse speaks of is not giving them wages, not that they should not use violence on them.
Because the text is addressing Hebrew slave ownership.. There are different conditions for Hebrew and gentile slaves..
I agree absolutely, that's my point. Hebrew slaves are not to be treated ruthlessly, and that's exactly why they are singled out. Gentile slaves are not to be treated the same.
Intellectually honest?
Yes.

I'm sorry, but it's really sad seeing you do mental cartwheels trying to explain away the plain meaning of these verses.
he majority of non-Hebrew slaves were war-captives of the overly aggressive Canaanite tribes Numbers 31:26. Many were also obtained by purchase from foreign slave-dealers, Leviticus 25:44,45 or may have been resident foreigners who were reduced to this state by either poverty or crimes.
And that makes it okay? Are you on drugs?
Why single Hebrew slaves? Because they are not the ones who waged war on you. Again the Canaanites were highly anti-Jewish who would do anything to destroy the Hebrew culture. These Canaanite tribes forfeited their rights when they attacked the Jewish state to become slaves.. And in hindsight, after they became slaves, they actually had more rights than slaves in other cultures..
First, thank you for conceding that the Bible does approve of harsh treatment of non-Hebrew slaves.

But you seek to avoid the problem by saying that "most" non-Hebrew slaves were Canaanites who were an aggressive culture. First of all, prove it. I see absolutely no reason to assume that "most" non-Hebrew slaves were Canaanites. The Israelities were surrounded by many nations and cultures of which the Canaanites were only one.

In any event, I find it absolutely hilarious that you accuse the Canaanites of being "an aggressive culture who would do anything to destroy the Hebrews", when it was the Hebrews who slaughtered the Canaanites, not the other way around. And they also routinely engaged in all sorts of other pointless butchering of other nations.

Face it - the reason why Hebrew slaves are singled out is because they worshiped Yahweh - which is what made them unique in God's sight.
"Imagine if we picked the wrong god. Every time we go to church, we're just make him madder and madder." - Homer Simpson

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