The Bible and slavery


The Bible and slavery

The Bible contains several references to slavery.

The Hebrew Bible does not promote slavery, but neither does it condemn it. [ [http://www.bbc.co.uk/religion/religions/judaism/history/slavery_1.shtml Slavery and the Torah] - bbc.co.uk] Slavery was customary in antiquity and taken for granted, as part of the economy and society of the time. The Torah neither encourages nor discourages slavery. However, in the event that a person has a slave, it sets minimum rules on their treatment (eg )

A father could sell his unmarried daughters into servitude, with the expectation that the master or his son would eventually marry her. Apparently the resulting period of servitude took the place of a dowry.

:"And if a man sells his daughter to be a female servant, she shall not go out as the male servant do. If she does not please her master, who has betrothed her to himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt deceitfully with her. And if he has betrothed her to his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters. If he takes another wife, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, and her marriage rights. And if he does not do these three for her, then she shall go out free, without paying money." ( and )

If, however, verses 20 and 21 are referring only to blood vengeance, then unspecified judicial punishments would still apply to the slave owner.

Many modern translations (such as the New Living Translation, New International Version, New Century Version, etc.) show verse 21 to mean "if the slave lives and returns to health in a day or two, then the owner is not to be punished."

A slave who suffers permanent injury as a result of the master's beating is released from servitude.

:"And if a man strikes the eye of his male servant, or the eye of his female servant and destroys it, he shall let him go free for his eye's sake. And if he knocks out his male servant's tooth, or his female servant's tooth, he shall let him go free for his tooth's sake." (bwe|Exodus|21|26-27)

Jewish captives

Jewish communities customarily ransomed Jewish captives according to a Judaic mitzvah regarding the redemption of captives ("pidyon shvuyim"redeemed person). [ [http://www.myjewishlearning.com/daily_life/GemilutHasadim/Social_Welfare/PidyonShvuyim.htm Ransoming Captive Jews. An important commandment calls for the redemption of Jewish prisoners, but how far should this mitzvah be taken?] by Rabbi David Golinkin] Knowing this, slave traders preyed on Jews. [http://www.kulanu.org/links/slavery.html Jewish involvement in the slave trade. From a post to Kulanu's listserv] by Anne Herschman December 2001] In his "A History of the Jews", Paul Johnson writes:

Jews were particularly valued as captives since it was believed, usually correctly, that even if they themselves poor, a Jewish community somewhere could be persuaded to ransom them. If a Jew was taken by Turks from a Christian ship, his release was usually negotiated from Constantinople. In Venice, the Jewish Levantine and Portuguese congregations set up a special organization for redeeming Jewish captives taken by Christians from Turkish ships, Jewish merchants paid a special tax on all goods to support it, which acted as a form of insurance since they were likely victims. [Paul Johnson: "A History of the Jews". 1987. p.240]

The payment of a ransom in such a situation was not the purchase of the redeemed person, but the buying of their freedom.

Against the keeping of slaves

Against forced Hebrew enslavement::"Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death." (bwe|Exodus|21|16)

A Jew is forbidden to return a runaway slave::"You shall not give back to his master the slave who has escaped from his master to you. He may dwell with you in your midst, in the place which he chooses within one of your gates, where it seems best to him; you shall not oppress him." (bwe|Deuteronomy|23|15-16)

References


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