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Post by UsagiTsukino »

How should we look at Slavery in the bible?
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Re: Slavery


Post by Philip »

Usagi: How should we look at Slavery in the bible?
Usagi, that's a great question! First thing, this "slavery," in ancient Israel, was NOT like that of slavery in the Americas of the 18th and 19th centuries. Instead, it was a system designed to help the poor and it had strict rules and regulations as to how the "slave" was to be treated. A better term for the practice would not be "slavery," but instead, "Hebrew debt servanthood." Christian Scholar Paul Copan writes extensively about this in his excellent book, "Is God a Moral Monster" - a book all Christians should own!

Copan also addresses the questions about the Bible's references to slavery in this video:

Outtakes from Copan's book, "Is God a Moral Monster?":

"... Hebrew (debt) servanthood could be compared to similar conditions in colonial America. Paying fares for passage to America was too costly for many individuals to afford. So they'd contract themselves out, working in the households - often in apprentice-like positions - until they paid back their debt.

"Likewise, an Israelite strapped for shekels might become an indentured servant to pay off his debt to a "boss" or "employer "('adon). Calling him a "master" is often way too strong a term, just as the term "ebed" ("servant, employee") typically shouldn't be translated "slave."

This servitude were "formal contractual agreements, which is what we find in the Old Testament servanthood/employee arrangements." It was voluntary - "this servanthood wasn't imposed by an outsider, as it was by slave traders and plantation owners in the antebellum South." Also, this servanthood / so-called slavery in Israel wasn't permanent, but only for a specific and agreed-upon contractual period. "Once a servant was released, he was free to pursue his own livelihood without any further obligations within that household. Her returned to being a full participant in Israelite society."

Also, "lifelong servant hood was prohibited." And, "an Israelite servant's guaranteed release within seven years was a control or regulation to prevent the abuse and institutionalizing of such positions.

"No bodily abuse of of servants was permitted." And all of these specifics were laid out in Mosaic law, which also condemned kidnapping a person to sell as a "slave," an act punishable by death! "This ban against kidnapping is a point lost on, or ignored by, those who compare servanthood in Israel with slavery in the antebellum South, let alone the Ancient Near East."
And "Israel was commanded to offer safe harbor to foreign runaway slaves (Deuteronomy 23:15-16).

Get Copan's book!
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