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Old 06-29-2010, 05:34 PM
11 posts, read 16,130 times
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Originally Posted by Sid235 View Post
Nothing to condemn about slavery? Slaves were viewed as cattle and sheep?

Not exactly.

Regarding Old Testament “slavery”:
Modern thinkers (rightfully, I think) advocate for better understanding of native and aboriginal cultures; how about some love for the Ancient Near East’s culture?

Like many of you, I have done (just a little) reading about Old Testament life and have come to believe that the term "Slavery" is, understandably, evocative, rather than analytical, and perhaps should be handled with more precision as it pertains to this discussion, or be discarded altogether. Slavery in the OT was not the same as the chattel slavery we are familiar with in the New World, Africa and the Caribbean (the term itself seemed to be rather relative in the ANE . . A king’s subjects were called his slaves, even though they were free, and the king himself, if a vassal, was the slave of his emperor.Even a social inferior, when addressing a social superior, referred to himself out of politeness as "your slave.")

New World slavery differs substantially from most ANE institutions labeled 'slavery'; debt servant would seem to be a better description, according to the following (these quotes are from the History of Ancient Near East Law):
  • Most slaves owned by Assyrians in Assur and in Anatolia seem to have been (originally) debt slaves--free persons sold into slavery by a parent, a husband, an elder sister, or by themselves." (1.449)
    Most of the recorded cases of entry of free persons into slavery [in Emar] are by reason of debt or famine or both…A common practice was for a financier to pay off the various creditors in return for the debtor becoming his slave."
In both the European and Islamic slave trade, slavery was overwhelmingly involuntary. In the ANE, and especially the OT, the opposite was the case: the impoverished chose to enter this dependency state, in return for economic security and protection. Again, from the HANEL: "A person would either enter into slavery or be sold by a parent or relative. Persons sold their wives, grandchildren, brother (with his wife and child), sister, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, nephews and niece…Many of the documents emphasize that the transaction is voluntary. This applies not only to self-sale but also to those who are the object of sale, although their consent must sometimes have been fictional, as in the case of a nursing infant."
Only an insignificant part of captured war prisoners were enslaved in the ANE. For Israel, regarding wars on foreign soil (e.g., Deut 20.10): if a city surrendered, it became a vassal state to Israel, with the population becoming serfs (mas), not slaves (ebed, amah). They would have performed what is called 'corvee' (draft-type, special labor projects, and often on a rotation basis--as Israelites later did as masim under Solomon, 1 Kings 5.27). This was analogous to ANE practice, in which war captives were not enslaved, but converted into vassal groups.
Most slavery was done through self-sale or family-sale; it was likewise voluntary (at least as voluntary as poverty allows), cf. Lev 25.44 in which the verbs are of 'acquisition' and not 'take' or 'conquer' etc.
The idea of a slave as exclusively the object of rights and as a person outside regular society was apparently alien to the laws of the ANE. " Slavery, Ancient Near East" …notes: the idea of a slave as exclusively the object of rights and as a person outside regular society was apparently alien to the laws of the ANE."
In the ANE:
a) slaves owned land, houses, and considerable amounts of movable property.
b) They actively participated in all spheres of economic activity, were engaged in trade, ran taverns and workshops, taught other persons various trades,
c) pawned and mortgaged their property, and they themselves received the property of others as security for loans…
d) In the legal sphere such slaves could appear as witnesses, plaintiffs, and defendants in court. They also could have their own personal seals and take oaths.
e) Moreover, there were apparently no differences in the ways in which the interests of slaves and freemen were defended.
And perhaps most importantly:
“More usually, individual autonomy has meant exposure to danger and predation; safety lay precisely in the protection afforded by the bondage of dependence on groups and patrons. What was desirable was not freedom but belongingness
What about the Hebrews, though, in particular?
  1. Most, though not all, Hebrew slaves were a) native slaves b) and debt slaves
  2. Forced slavery of Hebrews was punishable by death Ex 21.6 Deut 24.7
  3. The majority were voluntary, note the term selling himself Lev 25.39 Lev 25.47 Deut 15.12
  4. There is an AUTOMATIC EXIT SYSTEM Deut 15.12
  5. An indentured servant could VOLUNTARILY extend the relationship Ex 21.5 Deut 15.16ff
  6. Poverty shouldn’t have existed if Israel in an obedient, righteous nation Deut 15.4
  7. Since there was poverty, because of disobedience, God made provisions for it, and encouraged generosity Deut 15.7ff
  8. No lame excuses for not being generous Deut 15.9
  9. Merchants and farmers were to provide special help for the disadvantaged (fewer people would then perceive the need to be sold for debt relief) Ex 23.10 Lev 25.10 The entire 7th year harvest was for the poor and servants! Margins around the fields were to be unharvested, and fields were to be gone over once, again for the poor Lev 19.10; 23.22 Deut 24.19ff
  10. The poor were to be exempt from interest Lev 25.35ff (what a concept)
  11. The entire Levitical tithe of every third year was to be shared with the poor Deut 14.28ff
  12. The sacrificial system had “substitutions” available to the poor Lev 15.7,11 Lev 27.8
There are, I think some additional special cases, such as a father acting for a dependent daughter, rather than an independent self-selling female, but it appears to be about marriage and childbearing, instead of simple domestic service labor. In the ancient world, a father, driven by poverty, might sell his daughter into a well-to-do family in order to ensure her future security, but the sale presupposes marriage to the master or his son.

Just my opinion, of course, but the institution sounds like it’s more about “preserving and taking care of the tribe”, than oppressing people.
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Old 06-29-2010, 06:02 PM
1,898 posts, read 6,137,853 times
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Originally Posted by ted08721 View Post
Oh please some of you will go to no ends to justify slavery because the bible says it was ok.
In Roman times it was legal to kill babies born to slaves.

Archaeologists investigating mass infant burial at Roman villa - CNN.com
No kidding... it's hypocritical to say "oh, that's not what the Bible meant for that term" for one thing but turn around and say "no no no, this is what the Bible says right here, word for word" for something else (like homosexuality)
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Old 01-25-2011, 08:40 AM
29,451 posts, read 26,447,165 times
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The subject of slavery came up in a conversation I was having recently about "cherry-picking" the Bible.

For example, in many passages the Bible seems to emphatically endorse slavery.

"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 bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly." -- Leviticus 25:44-46

"Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ. Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart. Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free." -- Ephesians 6:5-8

"All who are under the yoke of slavery should consider their masters worthy of full respect, so that God’s name and our teaching may not be slandered. Those who have believing masters should not show them disrespect just because they are fellow believers. Instead, they should serve them even better because their masters are dear to them as fellow believers and are devoted to the welfare of their slaves. These are the things you are to teach and insist on. If anyone teaches otherwise and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, they are conceited and understand nothing." I Timothy 6:1-4.

Obviously, however, almost all of us consider slavery a terrible evil. So the question we had was, can you treat the Bible as the literal word of God in all respects, and still reconcile it with what we think of as decency and morality? If the Bible is the literal word of God in all respects, how do we justify disregarding or "tweaking" these very powerful teachings? And if we can do that with some parts of the Bible, why not with others?
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Old 01-25-2011, 11:24 AM
Location: Oregon
3,066 posts, read 3,056,677 times
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Originally Posted by djconklin View Post
In the Hebrew nation even the slaves had rights. And the slaves were set free after so many years (I forget the exact number (seventh year?) And slaves could ask to made a permanent slave--hardly the thing that one would do if you were treated like an animal. See Swartley's book Slavery, Sabbath, War and Women where looks at how both sides argued the issue.

The freeing of slaves applied to Hebrew slaves only. The others were perpertual slaves, ie, all future offspring were slaves as well.
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Old 01-25-2011, 11:31 AM
Location: Oregon
3,066 posts, read 3,056,677 times
Reputation: 258
Originally Posted by DiJay View Post
I did not say that we are justifying slavery. Nor am I saying that the Bible is "justifying" slavery.

All I am saying is that slavery in the Bible times was different from the slavery that we know in American History.

The Bible specifically deals with the nation of Israel, as well as the early Christian congregation. The Romans were rulers over Jews as history and the Bible do show. But Roman law was different from the Israelite's Law and from the law later of the Jews- and different again from the principles that guided the early Christian congregation.

You seem to be confusing the view of slavery in the Bible with the law of the Romans; two differing views. The Roman view was not Christian in the least.

Lev 25: 1,44-46

"The LORD said to Moses on Mount Sinai........"Slaves, male and female, you may indeed possess, provided you buy them from among the neighboring nations. You may also buy them from among the aliens who reside with you and from their children who are born and reared in your land. Such slaves you may own as chattels, and leave to your sons as their hereditary property, making them perpetual slaves." (NAB)

This was the form of slavery practiced in the American South.

(Perpetual slaves means that all offspring are automatically slaves as well).

Last edited by ancient warrior; 01-25-2011 at 11:32 AM.. Reason: typo
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Old 01-25-2011, 12:09 PM
Location: Valencia, Spain
15,366 posts, read 10,389,224 times
Reputation: 2626
Originally Posted by Dopo View Post
If you are going to use that to say that "slavery should be legal"
then socialism should be, too.
I thought Socialism WAS legal??

Originally Posted by JS1 View Post
No kidding... it's hypocritical to say "oh, that's not what the Bible meant for that term" for one thing but turn around and say "no no no, this is what the Bible says right here, word for word" for something else (like homosexuality)
One esteemed poster here (Rifleman) describes the practice very well as "Selective Beliefs Of Convenience".

Very apt don't you think?
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