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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

In the Bible: Slavery (Part 2 of 2)

I am putting this separate from my main article on slavery because I don’t think it lends itself directly as my viewpoint, per say, but as a comparison of mine with that of someone else. I would like to address some stuff from a particularly anti-Biblical website.

Leviticus 25:44-46: The site uses NLT which says, “You may treat them as your property,” to infer that slaves were supposed to be treated as less than human, but in NIV and Young’s Literal Translation you can see this has nothing to do with treating them inhumanly, it is about transferal of service. Servitude, I might add they were not supposed to be stolen into. “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.” (NIV)

He gets the opposite from Exodus 21:2-6 that I did, ironically. I got that there was a provision such that a slave need not involuntarily be separated from his spouse. He got that as a mandate to coerce lifelong slavery. He doesn’t apparently think very highly of the integrity of slave owners or the intelligence of slaves.

I’m skipping Exodus 21:7-11 for now to discuss on the topic of women as my thoughts make more sense there.

Exodus 21:20-21 elicits punishment of a man who hurts his slave only if the slave dies, however, in context with Exodus 21:18-19, where the punishment for hurting a non-slave who doesn’t die is repayment of lost wages, you can see that the lost wages only affects the slave owner and such he has already lost his own wages and repaid himself equally, thus no recompense is logically required.

Ephesians 6:5, 1 Timothy 6:1-2 Jesus acknowledges the slave’s responsibility to fulfill their duty and encourages them to do such. This is probably the most direct example of the Bible condoning slavery. But remember my main article’s point, which was that the word slave does not need insinuate the atrocities related to the slavery industry of our past.

Luke 12:41-48 describes a parable explaining that we are all commissioned as servants of God and a reminder of the wrath, remember Revelation 6:15-16? It is written in Revelation 4:11 that all was created for the Lords pleasure. Because he created us, we belong to him and he will destroy us for our wickedness. When does a human create something that he does not claim ownership over it to himself? And we create from preexisting matter, which we did not create; God creates us from matter that he himself created.

There are some more verses from a particular tolerant religious site I want to mention as well. That site likes to use examples of how slavery is acknowledged or the acts of it described (in that a person was a slave) to demonstrate that the Bible condones slavery. I would remind you of my main article’s point that the word slavery and the position of being a slave does not necessarily indicate the deplorable institution of which the word slavery often reminds us. Whether or not the historical aspects of the Bible are interpreted as metaphor or not, the Bible acknowledging or describing slavery is as much promoting it as my acknowledging and describing the theory of evolution is promoting that.

Exodus 21:26-27 says that a slave should be freed if his master smite his eye or smite is tooth out. As opposed to condoning mistreatment up to a point, in perspective of Leviticus 24:19-21 (an eye for an eye…), this indicates to me that such mistreatment is so highly offensive that the master actually looses his mastership; this could account for a tremendous amount of relative value as he looses ALL the profit he could have made from the slave over the course of his life (possibly shorter if the slave was Hebrew). Proverbs 3:31 is a reminder that God wants none of us to be violent.

I know I said I wasn’t going to address women till a later topic, but I want to mention Exodus 21:11, where a female slave was to go without payment if selected as a wife then not provided her wifely benefits. As opposed to the thought that this means she should be turned away empty-handed, I believe this is indicating that she should not be required to pay the normal fee for her freedom. Deuteronomy 15:12-15 still indicates that slaves should not be sent away empty handed when freed.

With numerous references to Hebrew slaves being treated different than Gentile slaves, “Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you. That is why I give you this command today.” (Deuteronomy 15:15) It makes sense that Hebrew slaves should not be sold to Gentiles because they could not be relied upon to follow these laws. Jubilee freedom was in memory of the freedom from Egypt, where God did not free the Gentiles, but the Hebrews. This is to be a reminder for them.

As it would take a very long time to go over every each and every mention of slavery or servitude in the Bible, and there are a lot of sites out there discussing it, I am going to leave this as it is. Anyone who thinks I have missed something integral can post to me in my comments (or contact me in general).