Slavery as presented in the Bible (written prior to modern day slavery)

Slavery as presented in the Bible (written prior to modern day slavery)

Used to enslave by the white slave holders and. Used as a path for freedom for Blacks

Exodus 21, Ephesians 6:5, and Leviticus 25:44-46

The Scripture passages chosen for the service included Isaiah 58, which calls “to loose the chains of injustice . . . To set the oppressed free and break every yoke,” and Psalm 137, which refers to being captured and exiled to a foreign land and yet still asked to sing songs of praise to the Lord.

Getting the Terminology Straight

A major cause of confusion for contemporary readers is the assumption that the word “slave,” as it is found in Old Testament legal passages, meant the same thing in ancient Israel as it does for us today. The Old Testament was written in Classical Hebrew, and so it is not surprising that certain words do not have perfect equivalents in modern English. The difficulty felt by Bible translators in rendering the Hebrew terms relating to slavery is fairly well-publicized.[1] Strictly speaking, the Old Testament does not call an individual bound to the service of another a “slave;” it calls him an ʿebed (pronounced eved), and a woman in such a role is called an ʾāmâ. While these terms can connote very harsh slavery, comparable to that which was found in the Antebellum South (e.g., the Hebrews as Egyptian slaves), it often does not, as is the case in most of the words’ appearances in the so-called Old Testament “slave laws.” The most that can be said about in general about these two terms, especially the first, is that they are used to denote a social class that is relatively lower than another. Thus, it is common in Old Testament speech for people to refer to themselves as “your servant” (Heb. ʿabdekā) when addressing someone submissively.

So just how similar was Israelite slavery to our conception of the institution that bears the same name? Not much. Consider first that Israelite slavery was voluntary. Exodus 21:16 says, “Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death.” Found among the earliest cluster of slave laws, this speaks directly to the issue of slavery, and forbids anything resembling a slave trade among the ancient Israelites. This verse alone should make it clear that “slavery” in Old Testament law is vastly different than anything that we commonly associate with slavery. By contrast, Leviticus 25:39 and 47 speak of the poor Israelite as “selling himself” into servitude, suggesting what we will soon discover—that Israelite slaves were debt-servants, not human chattel deprived of freedom and basic rights.

They could return to their household. If this is chosen, the master would be obligated to follow Deuteronomy 15:12–14:
If your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, sells himself to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. And when you let him go free from you, you shall not let him go empty-handed. You shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, out of your threshing floor, and out of your winepress. As the LORD your God has blessed you, you shall give to him.

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