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Slavery

Discussion in 'Biblical Debates' started by Earthling, Jul 13, 2018.

  1. Earthling

    Earthling David Henson

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    Various Words Translated Slave And Their Meaning

    The Hebrew word evedh can mean a person owned by a fellow man (Genesis 12:16 / Exodus 20:17), subjects of a king (2 Samuel 11:21 / 2 Chronicles 10:7), subjugated people who paid tribute (2 Samuel 8:2, 2 Samuel 8:6), and persons in royal service such as cup bearers, bakers, seamen, military officers, advisers etc. (Genesis 40:20 / 1 Samuel 29:3 / 1 Kings 9:27 / 2 Chronicles 8:18 / 2 Chronicles 9:10 / 2 Chronicles 32:9). It was also common in Hebrew to respectfully address another as a servant (Hebrew evedh) of another. (Genesis 33:5 / 1 Samuel 20:7-8)

    Evedh was also used to refer to a servant or worshiper of Jehovah God in this way. (1 Kings 8:36) especially to special representatives of God such as Moses (Joshua 1:1 / 2 Kings 21:10) or even those who were not worshipers but performed a service in harmony with divine will such as King Nebuchadnezzar. (Jeremiah 27:6)

    The Greek word doulos corresponds to the Hebrew word evedh. As persons owned by another (Matthew 8:9 / Matthew 10:24), devoted servants of God and Christ, both human (Acts 2:18 / Galatians 1:10), and angelic (Revelation 19:10) and in a figurative sense applying to persons in slavery to sin. (John 8:34 / Romans 6:16-20) or corruption (2 Peter 2:19).

    The Hebrew word naar and Greek pais can mean boy or youth but can also designate a servant or attendant. (1 Samuel 1:24 / 1 Samuel 4:21 / 1 Samuel 30:17 / 2 Kings 5:20 / Matthew 2:16 / Matthew 8:6 / Matthew 17:18 / Matthew 21:15 / Acts 20:12) and the Greek term oiketes refers to a house servant or slave (Luke 16:13) whereas the Greek word paidiske refers to a female slave or servant. (Luke 12:45)

    How They Became Slaves

    Before the common era war, poverty and crime were the factors which reduced people to slavery. Captives of war were sold into slavery (2 Kings 5:2 / Joel 3:6). If a person became poor they could sell themselves and their children into slavery to pay indebtedness. (Leviticus 25:39, Leviticus 25:47 / 2 Kings 4:1) and a person found guilty of thievery who was unable to compensate was sold for slavery to pay for the things he stole, regaining his freedom once the amount was paid in full. (Exodus 22:3)

    It was not uncommon for slaves to hold a position of great trust and honor in a household. Abraham’s servant Eliezer (Genesis 24:2 / Genesis 15:2-3) and Joseph, as a slave in Egypt ended up being in charge of everything belonging to Potiphar - the second in command and second wealthiest in all of Egypt. (Genesis 39:1-6) The family of a slave could buy him back from his owners and if he became rich he could buy himself back as well. (Leviticus 25:49)

    Laws Regarding Slaves

    It was a crime punishable by death to kidnap another person, either to sell or use him as a slave. (Exodus 21:16 / Deuteronomy 24:7) This law was, however, prior to Joseph having been sold into slavery.

    The laws of the Bible protected the slave a great deal than slavery in more recent times, in Europe and The United States, for example; though the Hebrew slave had it much better off than the foreigner, alien resident or settler. The non Hebrew slave could be passed on from father to son (Leviticus 25:44-46) whereas the Hebrew slave was set free either on the Jubilee year (every 50 years) or after six years of slavery, which ever came first.

    The Hebrew slave was to be treated as a hired laborer. (Exodus 21:2 / Leviticus 25:10) When a Hebrew sold himself as a slave to an alien resident he could be bought back by his family or himself. The price was dependent upon the number of years remaining until the Jubilee year or until the seventh year of servitude.

    When a Hebrew slave was granted his freedom the master was to give the slave a gift to give him a good start. (Deuteronomy 15:13-15) If the slave came in with a wife the wife left with him, but if the master had given him a wife it would have been a foreign woman and she wouldn’t have been entitled to freedom in the seventh year.

    A Hebrew slave could choose to remain with his master, and when doing so he would pierce his ear with an awl as a legal recognition of his choice. (Exodus 21:2-6 / Deuteronomy 15:16-17)

    Female Hebrew Slaves

    Female Hebrew slaves had certain special regulations. She could be taken as a concubine by the master or as a wife for his son. As a wife of the master’s son she was to be treated with the due right of daughters. Even if the son took another wife the female slave’s rights would not diminish. Her sustenance, clothing and marriage due. If the son failed in this respect the woman was granted her freedom. (Exodus 21:7-11)

    Protected From Abuse

    If a slave was mistreated he was to be set free if the abuse resulted in the loss of a tooth or an eye. The value of a slave was set at 30 shekels (Exodus 21:32) so it would have been a considerable loss to the master. A master could beat his slave but if it resulted in the death of the slave the it would be avenged by the death of the master if the slave died right away. The lingering of a slave indicated that the master didn’t intend to kill him, but only discipline him. (Exodus 21:20-21-27 / Leviticus 24:17) The master was not allowed by law to administer discipline with a lethal instrument as that would indicate intent to kill. (Numbers 35:16-18)

    Male slaves were circumcised (Exodus 12:44) could eat the Passover, and slaves of the priest could eat holy things, (Exodus 12:43 / Leviticus 22:10-11) and they were exempted from working on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:10 / Deuteronomy 5:14)

    Christianity On Slavery

    Slavery was much more common in the Roman Empire than in the time of the ancient Hebrew scriptures. Individuals could own hundreds or thousands of slaves. The imperial government’s position on the institution of slavery in the time of the first century Christians was not challenged by Christians. They respected the legal rights of others, including other Christians, to own slaves.

    The apostle Paul sent back the runaway slave Onesimus, who had become a Christian and willfully returned to his master, also a Christian. (Philemon 10-17) Paul admonished Christian slaves not to take improper advantage of their Christian masters (1 Timothy 6:2) Christian masters were obligated to deal fairly with their slaves. (Ephesians 6:9 / Colossians 4:1)

    All Christians, regardless of their social status, slave and free man, were the same and of equal standing. (1Corinthians 12:12-13 / Galatians 3:28 / Colossians 3:11)
     
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