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Thread: Slavery in the Bible? Responding to Common Objections to the Bible

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    Slavery in the Bible? Responding to Common Objections to the Bible

    Slavery in the Bible?

    Hebrew servitude in biblical times was very different from the slavery that was practiced in the past few centuries in many parts of the world.1/2 to 2/3 of white immigrants to America in colonial times served as indentured servants or biblical slavery.The slavery in the Bible was not based on race. People were not enslaved because of their nationality or the color of their skin. In Bible times, slavery was more a matter of social status. People sold themselves as slaves when they could not pay their debts or provide for their families. In New Testament times, sometimes doctors,lawyers, and even politicians were slaves of someone else. Some people actually chose to be slaves so as to have all their needs provided for by their masters. In addition, both the Old and New Testaments condemn the practice of “man-stealing” which is what happened in Africa and the slave trade. Africans were rounded up by slave-hunters, who sold them to slave-traders, who brought them to the New World to work on plantations and farms. This practice is abhorrent to God. In fact, the penalty for such a crime in the Mosaic Law was death: “Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death” (Exodus 21:16). Similarly, in the New Testament, slave-traders are listed among those who are “ungodly and sinful” and are in the same category as those who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers,adulterers and perverts, and liars and perjurers 1 Timothy 1:8-10.Biblical servitude was also a form of welfare.

    If the Those people who were very financially irresponsible, and had accumulated so much debt that they could not possibly pay it off,could request to become the slave of a wealthy individual (Leviticus25:39; Genesis 47:19).if the wealthy individual agreed, he would payoff all the person’s debts and provide for him, and then the servant would work for the individual for some period of time apparently proportional to the amount of debt (Leviticus 25:50) but not to exceed seven years (Exodus 21:2; Deuteronomy 15:12). When the period of time had expired, the servant was set free, and the wealthy person was required to give him enough start up supplies so that he could begin his own business (Deuteronomy 15:13-14). The Israelite slave was to be treated respectfully (Leviticus 25:43) and was immediately granted freedom if mistreated (Exodus 21:26–27).It’s really a very generous system. Help a financially irresponsible person to become responsible by (1) paying off his debts and providing for him, (2) training him by having him work for a period of time, (3) giving him sufficient startup capital to start his own business. It’s not quite what most people think, is it? I would suggest that the biblical system is far superior to our modern welfare system.

    The Bible teaches all are created equal slave and free [Galatians 3.28 Ephesians 6.8 6.9 Colossians 3.11] Job 31 13-15 shows servants and masters are no different from each other. Courts were to rule fairly with Jew or gentile slave Deuteronomy 1 16-17. The servitude period was no longer than 6 years [ex 21.2 Deuteronomy 15.12] and a slave could buy his freedom at any point that he had enough money. when a slave was freed, he was to receive gifts to enable him to survive economically Deuteronomy 15.14. Slaves were to be treated as being hired from year to year, and were not to be ruled over ruthlessly Lev 25 53-54. In Deuteronomy 15 13-14 it says when a slave is released, the more money and wealth the former owner gives to the slave, the more god will bless them Deuteronomy 15.18. No physical harm was to be done to a slave or they would be let go ex 2126-27. If a master kills a slave he is to be put to death ex 21.20.

    The bible tells owners to take care of “slaves” so they will be as sons. Sounds more like adoption.
    21He who pampers his servant from childhood
    Will have him as a son in the end.

    Proverbs 29.21

    In Exodus 21. 5-6 says “But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’6 then his master must take him before the judges.[a]He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life. This is not at all what we think of in America as slavery. Jesus is refereed to as a slave as is the apostle Paul. If anyone has a job they work under someone else and for them and can be considered a slave. A great book in the bible of what OT slavery/servant hood was like is the book of Ruth. Boaz marries his slave/ Ruth. 1 chronicles 2 34-35 sheshan gave his daughter in marriage to his Egyptian servant jarha.

    Was Servitude ideal?

    There were many biblical laws existed to prevent this form of servitude in the first place. Many laws that help the poor. In Deuteronomy 151-18 it shows slavery and poverty were to be battled against and not preferred institutions. Israel was commanded to offer safe havens for foreigners run away slaves Deuteronomy 23 15-16. Many of the laws are case laws, such as if a man sells his daughter in slavery if two man quarrel etc these are working with inferred conditions in ancient near east. The OT laws are not Gods perfect plan,but for a specific time and people coming from a ancient near eastern culture Matt 19.8.we cannot apply today's western standards to OT near eastern Jews. OT law is not the way god wants, its a way for ancient Israel to live by in a fallen world.
    Last edited by 1stvermont; 10-01-2017 at 06:55 AM.

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