Posted by: edhensley | June 14, 2009

Slavery Rules in Exodus and Leviticus

Exodus 21:1 “These are the laws you are to set before them:

Hebrew Servants
2 “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything. 3 If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him. 4 If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.
5 “But if the servant declares, ‘I love my master and my wife and children and do not want to go free,’ 6 then his master must take him before the judges. He shall take him to the door or the doorpost and pierce his ear with an awl. Then he will be his servant for life.

7 “If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as menservants do. 8 If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. 9 If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. 10 If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. 11 If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money.

20 “If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, 21 but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.

Lev 25:1 The LORD said to Moses on Mount Sinai…

Lev 25:39 ” ‘If one of your countrymen becomes poor among you and sells himself to you, do not make him work as a slave. 40 He is to be treated as a hired worker or a temporary resident among you; he is to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. 41 Then he and his children are to be released, and he will go back to his own clan and to the property of his forefathers. 42 Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. 43 Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.

44 ” ‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 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. 46 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.

47 ” ‘If an alien or a temporary resident among you becomes rich and one of your countrymen becomes poor and sells himself to the alien living among you or to a member of the alien’s clan, 48 he retains the right of redemption after he has sold himself. One of his relatives may redeem him: 49 An uncle or a cousin or any blood relative in his clan may redeem him. Or if he prospers, he may redeem himself. 50 He and his buyer are to count the time from the year he sold himself up to the Year of Jubilee. The price for his release is to be based on the rate paid to a hired man for that number of years. 51 If many years remain, he must pay for his redemption a larger share of the price paid for him. 52 If only a few years remain until the Year of Jubilee, he is to compute that and pay for his redemption accordingly. 53 He is to be treated as a man hired from year to year; you must see to it that his owner does not rule over him ruthlessly.

54 ” ‘Even if he is not redeemed in any of these ways, he and his children are to be released in the Year of Jubilee, 55 for the Israelites belong to me as servants. They are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt. I am the LORD your God.

The bible permits slavery with direct commandments from God. The rules are somewhat complicated, with differences between Hebrews vs. gentiles and men vs. women. The verses above are not all the rules on slavery, but they are direct quotes from God if you believe the bible to be literal.

For Hebrews, slavery was a way to pay off a debt. After 6 years of work, a Hebrew slave would be set free in the year of Jubilee – as long as the slave is male. A father has the right to sell his daughter into slavery. Exodus 21:7-11 describe rules for selling a daughter as slave, but the verses seem to interchange female slavery and marriage.

Exodus 21:20-21 permit slave owners to beat their slaves so that they are unconscious for 2-3 days!

Leviticus 25:44-45 describes how gentile slaves are to be treated, which is very different from Hebrew slaves. Gentile slaves are not to be set free in the year of Jubillee but are passed from father to son as an inheritance.

Another thing to point out is the Exodus 21 is one chapter after the 10 commandments in Exodus 20. Most American Christians who promote displaying the 10 commandments with taxpayer money have no idea where the 10 commandments are located, much less any idea that slavery is endorsed only a few sentences after these commandments. If we have the right to display Exodus 20 with tax money, then don’t we have the right to display Exodus 21 with tax money?



  1. Brother, I’d love to see Ex21 displayed.

  2. You need to put these verses in context to the cultural climate of the day. Here’s a good place to start:

    • Gina,

      You have demonstrated the purpose of my blog. The website you refer to has many verses on it from Exodus 21, including verses 2, 12, 16, 26-27. What verses from Exodus are highlighted in this blog? Verses 4, 7, and 20! Why does the Christian apologist omit these verses?

      Again, let’s look at the verses from Leviticus 25 from the Christian apologist: verses 39-43. Gina, why did he stop at verse 43? I included those verses and added verses 44-55 highlighting verses 44-46. Why does the Christian apologist omit these verses?

      The reason the apologist omits these verses is that HE WANTS TO DECEIVE YOU!

      There were various types of slavery in the bible with many contradictory rules. The rules that the deceptive Christian apologist omitted permit slave owners to beat their slaves until they are unconscious and they permit the purchase of foreign slaves that can be owned for lives. The Christian apologist’s website contradicts the Bible!

      First of all, the apologist deceives by claiming all forms of slavery in the bible were of the more gentle form of Hebrew owning a Hebrew. The rules are different if a Hebrew owns a foreigner! Your deceptive apologist omits this clear fact! Look at Leviticus 25:39-43 (the verses mentioned by your apologist). These verses pertain to “one of your countrymen.” These verses do NOT pertain to foreigners! Look at the very next verses, 44-46. These refer to slaves from the “nations around you.” The rules are completely different! The foreign slaves are NOT indentured servants but are owned for life and can be passed down to children as an inheritance!

      You have been FOOLED by this DECEPTIVE apologist! I have read some of his other sections, and once again he is purposefully deceptive. I encourage you to write to him and ask him why he omitted the verses from the bible that I listed here. I also encourage you to be HONEST with yourself. That is the start of enlightenment. Answer this question to yourself honestly. Is it (or was it ever) good to beat a slave until they are unconscious as long as he does not die (permitted by your God in Exodus 21:20-21)? Is it (or was it ever) good to buy foreign slaves that you can own for life (permitted by your God in Leviticus 25:44-46)?

      I hope you soon realize that the Bible is not the word of God.

      • There goes ed, trying to convert people… just another religious fanatic proselytising to encourage the pursuit of enlightenment and be skeptical about all other viewpoints … except his. 🙂

        You go, Ed! When are you going to write your own bible!

        Here’s an other good website touching only the surface of the culture and period of history to which these laws were intended:

      • Your website mentions Lev 25:44, but it stops there. Later it clams there is a timeline and that all slaves would be set free and that slaves were treated well. Let’s see what the bible says:

        Lev 25:46 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.

        So the bible contradicts the claim that slavery was only temporary. How about the claim that slaves were treated well?

        Exodus 21:20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.

        So you can own slaves bought in other lands FOR LIFE and then beat them until they are unconscious as long as you do not kill them. That is directly from the bible. Christian apologists like to ignore these verses and take other verses on slavery to say “it wasn’t so bad.” Maybe it was not so bad for poor Hebrews paying off their debt to other Hebrews. But the bible CLEARLY gave Israelites the right to buy slaves from other lands, own them for LIFE, and to beat them until they were unconscious. Anyone who says otherwise is being dishonest.

      • Ed, If your intrepretation is correct. God was talking to the Hebrews not Gentiles. Therefore, a Hebrew can enslave you and beat you until you pass out. Are you ready for that.

        Thank God for Jesus Christ who fulfilled the law and paid the penality for the sins of man.

    • @Gina

      So your admitting that those laws were inserted by men and not god. So how do you explain that prophets of later ages did not get revelations from God of this blasphemy ?

    • I thought the rules in the bible were universal. If you put this in context with time and place, what else can be put into context. The whole book crumbles.

  3. So I guess you’re saying that, because this passage does not show God instituting a full 21st-century workers bill of rights, with mandatory socialized health care, workers compensation, workplace safety initiatives, maternity and paternity leave, etc. we can conclude that this is not the word of God?

    What does Exodus 21 claim to be? It claims to be a set of laws that God set before the Israelites (v 21:1). I don’t see anywhere that it claims to be God’s final statement on what is good. And in fact Jesus makes it clear (Matt 5:38) that these laws represent God’s minmum standards for that time and that God will with time expect even better behaviour.

    I am struck in reading these verses (thank you for bringing them to our attention!) how these new minimal standards are quite eye-poppingly progressive in places, compared to what the previous criminal laws and workplace regulations had been. Verses that you conveniently leave out create for example the first laws of criminal negligence (21:33) and differentiate between murder and manslaughter (21:13). Verses that you do quote are quite radical for their time – for example by establishing the criminality of an owner causing physical injury to his/her slaves (21:26).

    To the eyes of faith, this is God bringing his people a manageable step forward toward his true will. I too would have been more comfortable with God completely doing away with slavery at that time, but God is God, and he knew what was achievable and what was his highest priority for that time.

    Yes, this is the word of God.

    • In answer to your first paragraph/question, no, I did not say that.

      Your second paragraph justifies moral relativism. What was good and right today is not necessarily good and right thousands of years ago. You quote Matthew 5:38 and apply your interpretation of that verse to Exodus 21 while COMPLETELY IGNORING Matthew 5:18 – “I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.” Jesus is clearly saying that the slavery of the Old Testament should not disappear. You have provided a perfect example of selective verse picking to ignore the horrors and immorality of the bible.

      Your third paragraph once again tries to justify verses that YOU ADMIT in paragraph 4 that you “would have been more comfortable with God completely doing away with.” This shows that you agree with the concepts of humanism that led the church to condemn slavery in modern times after condoning it for thousands of years. I am glad that humanism has had this positive impact on your morality and that you no longer advocate bible-based slavery.

      These verses deal with slavery, which was the topic of this post. I did not include 2 of the verses you mention (13 and 33) because they have nothing to do with slavery. Verse 26 only provides a penalty if the slave has a damaged eye or tooth. Verse 21 permits a slave owner to beat his slave until he is unconscieous! Could not an all-good, all-perfect God do better than that! Remember it is GOD TALKING TO MOSES in verse 21 (and the entire chapter)! Why worship such a monster?

      My purpose for choosing these verses is that Christians leave them out when brainwashing younger Christians. Look at the previous comment from Gina and her link to the Chrisitan apologist website. He makes slavery sound like a picnic while omitting any references to the verses I mention. Of course, when you quote other verses from Exodus 21, you omit verse 7 that permits a father to sell his daughter into slavery. Exodus 21 is a horrific example of biblical immorality.

      Your provide absolutely no evidence for your last statement. The bible has thousands of internal contradictions. It promotes behavior so evil that bible believers like yourself wish it were not there and can only justify it with statements like “God is God…” The bible is contradicted by science, history, archeology, physics, and every other field of study.

      • “The bible is contradicted by science, history, archeology, physics, and every other field of study.”

        “Your provide absolutely no evidence for your last statement.” 🙂

      • Bible claims bats are birds and fruit trees were create before the sun – both contradicted by science.
        Bible claims Jesus was born during the reign of Herod and Quirinius. Historical records contradict this as Herod and Quirinius are known to have never reigned at the same time.
        Modern archaeology shows no evidence of Noah’s flood, and it shows that the Israelites did not conquer Canaan.
        Joshua 10 says “The sun stopped in the middle of the sky and delayed going down about a full day. ” This contradicts modern physics which says the earth rotates on its axis, giving the appearance that the sun moves about the earth. Based upon this evidence, Cardinal Bellarmine (Christian university named after him in my home town of Louisville) had Bruno tortured and killed and forced Galileo to recant the modern physics view that the earth rotates on its axis:

        ““I say that, as you know, the Council (of Trent) prohibits expounding the Scriptures contrary to the common agreement of the holy Fathers. And if Your Reverence would read not only the Fathers but also the commentaries of modern writers on Genesis, Psalms, Ecclesiastes, and Josue, you would find that all agree in explaining literally that the sun is in the heavens and moves swiftly around the earth, and that the earth is far from the heavens and stands immobile in the center of the universe. Now consider whether the Church could encourage giving to Scripture a sense contrary to the holy Fathers and all the Latin and Greek commentators.”

        Perhaps you agree with Bellarmines’s literal interpretation of genesis. However, it is contradicted by science.

        I have provided my evidence. There is much more evidence, but I do not have time to write more.

    • @M

      I dont expect the BIble to list the items you mentioned but at the very least shouldnt we expect it to be on the side of good, by banning slavery instead of being weak and commanding it in an extremely cruel manner…

  4. When my sons were young, there was a “law” that when they peed in the back yard, they were not to pee in the vegetable garden or on the flowers. Now that they are pre-teens, the “law” is that they are not to pee anywhere in the back yard. Does that mean that the first “law” was wrong, or not “the word of the Dad”?

    A sceptic might have said that the first law was an indication that Dad approved of peeing in the backyard. But read it carefully, and all it said was that Dad disapproved pf peeing in the vegetables and flowers, and was not yet revealing his full will with regard to backyard peeing.

    My later statements, which go something like “you have heard that it was said that you can pee in the bushes, but I say unto you that you cannot pee anywhere in the backyard” was not me changing my mind, but rather me more fully revealing my mind.

    • How sad that you have to resort to an analogy involving piss in order to justify the horrible laws of the God you worship.

      God would have made it much easier for you if he had said “All forms of slavery are wrong!” These laws and other noted bizarre laws (rape victims must marry their rapists) are proof that the bible is not the word of God.

      • “These laws and other noted bizarre laws (rape victims must marry their rapists) are proof that the bible is not the word of God.”

        Proof, eh? Boom! Just like that! Ed figures out God. You go, Mr. Finite.

        So, as you so boldly suggest ways that God could have made things easier for wee little people, does your “all forms of slavery” include indentured servant hood? And if so, are you saying it’s okay to stiff our lenders?

        I’ll grant that you have an impressive words-per-minute, Ed. You type so fast your mind can hardly keep up.

        And your posts do not provide so much “joy” to me, Ed. Shoring up your little pedestal of arrogance at the expense of others makes you every bit a part of what is wrong with this world. You’re not above the mud-slinging, are you Ed? You’re the little power-tripping kid on the playground getting even in some Nietzschean attempt at justifying yourself.

      • Have you ever met me? If you ever come to Louisville I will gladly have dinner with you. Until you have met me and spoken with me you have no right to hurl insults and assault my character.

      • Ed you are a good person of strong conviction, facts prevail, well sort of. I guess all of this man in the clouds or where ever he is supposed to hang out is a bit beyond me and my need for logical reasoning. As a book for those who need herding, the flock as they say, I guess the bible is a book for self pronounced followers.

        Logic as strong as it is, is nothing but a test for those who follow the written “truth”. Science is but a tool of the infamous devil who also hangs out somewhere south of the other guy. I was raised christian but soon realized that fantasy rather than fact, wishful thinking rather than cause and effect and the need to be led were not the real world experiences that I was having. It is funny there are so many who see the world through such foggy glasses.

        It is sad that such a large part of society feels the need to fear the men in the sky or where ever they are. Grasping on to old rituals all the while condemning the rituals of others. There is comfort in rituals but it is sad that the rituals should separate us so badly.

        Be positive and logical and you will find the real truth, I commend you for your efforts but I think you are preaching to a deaf crowd.

        Good job sir!

  5. So you really don’t understand the point I was trying to make?

    • @Michael

      Why didnt God have the foreknowledge and determination to ban slavery from the beginning ? If he loves everyone and sees everything shouldnt he have known that slavery might happen and should be banned because it is wrong ?

  6. And by the way, little boys “pee” not”piss.”

    You sound so angry.

  7. I see no anger in any of my responses. I truly enjoy pointing out to people the many faults of the bible. Your post about boys peeing has truly provided joy to myself and my friends! There is much joy and beauty in the discovery of truth!

  8. Michael, Ed,

    By pointing out that the Bible is riddled with ignorant, racist, misogynistic passages that people of faith conveniently ignore both individually and institutionally, Michael calls Ed angry. Michael you should be angry that your faith offers no better answer to the abominations condoned by the Bible than moral relativism. Plus Mike, I know Ed and he is a kind a man, husband and father…he blogs (I assume) because he cares for his fellow man and that it pains him to see so many people wasting the gift of life on supernatural flimflamery. Michael, might i suggest you read the Autobiography of Frederick Douglas. It describes what his life as a slave (owned by Christians) was like. It was pure misery (especially his teenage years). His preacher-masters were the worst. How did he escape slavery (I am paraphrasing the quote): “I prayed and prayed to God to release me from the bonds of slavery and nothing happened…until I prayed with my feet.” Take what is helpful and useful from the Bible but lose the “infallible word”, truth-cover-to-cover, loving book, mumbo-jumbo and see it for what it is…a book written by superstitious men 1800 years ago that understood well the human tendency to find strength in group-think.

  9. well slavery is wrong and the bible was written by assholes who WERE PEOPLE god doesn’t care if ure gay or if u have sex before being married, he just wants you to be happy and to be kind to those around, but dont take this as me being a do-gooder who couldn’t survive in the real world, sometimes violence is nessesary, slavery is wrong though

  10. Jack the bible was written by people who wished to control the people. The perfect example of this is the Catholic Church telling people that they must not use contraception. In doing so they slavishly follow a monolithic edifice which has in a number of countries decided the government from the pulpit. So right wing Americans wish to live by the bible. Somebody save us from this because it is the parts of the bible that they pick and choose from which will be how we live not the whole of the bible.

  11. Just wondering what interpretation of these passages you were using. I looked at the King James and the the New International Version on for a comparison and the translation seems to be very different.

    PS I agree with Ed and Jimbo!

    • I used the NIV. Usually I mention the version, and sometimes I include multiple versions. The meaning of the verses are the same in this case.

    • A helpful website is the ” Parallel Bible” (maintained by an apparent Christian group). For example, Lev 25:44 ( has 15 translations. A majority of them use the word “slave”. Thirteen use the word “buy” (a person), or a synonym. More interesting is this analysis by “Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the old testament” regarding Lev 25:44-46 (19th century – German/English translation 1860’s):
      “As the Israelites could only hold in slavery servants and maid-servants whom they had bought of foreign nations, or foreigners who had settled in the land, these they might leave as an inheritance to their children, and “through them they might work,” i.e., have slave-labour performed, but not through their brethren the children of Israel (Leviticus 25:46, cf. Leviticus 25:43).”. Quote:
      Of course Lev 25:43-46 clearly mandates indentured servitude for Israelites and slavery for “heathens”. Open admission of this was easy in the 1800’s.
      Personally, and I don’t believe in a god anyway, I’d like to imagine more noble sentiments from The Creator.

  12. Looks like Michael D. has nothing more to say. Yet another fine example of how in a proper debate there is absolutely no way for this kind of Christian to win or even compete based on logic and almost always resort to comments like “you sound so angry” shortly followed by silence.

  13. If slavery is wrong we are all guilty.

    Do you realize how many of the things you purchase, like food, involve slave labor? Children are forced to mine and make carpets ect. and we buy without questioning. Aren’t we hypocrites to say slavery is wrong yet buy food and other things we suspect has been tainted by what we accuse God of allowing?

    • We should all work towards eliminating all forms of slavery, especially those forms involving children.

    • @Sara

      Ed is not questioning our morality but rather why God the perfect example did not ban slavery in his word to man…How do you explain that he missed that ? SHouldnt he know that slavery would and was happening…?

  14. […] days, because the slave is their property. (For a nice summary of slavery rules in the Bible, visit Bible Verses Rarely Read on Sunday.) In other words, as long as a person was considered property, the owner could do what he wanted to […]

  15. A few modern definitions of slavery:
    -A condition of hard work and subjection
    -The subjection of a person to another person, esp in being forced into work
    -Work done in harsh conditions for low pay

    You know when someone declares bankruptcy they must pay back any of their debts that they can for the next 6 years or more, depending on their local laws (if so forgiving)? After which time they are no longer bound (enslaved) by those debts. That’s a bit like setting them free.

    Is it really that different than someone selling themselves as a slave? Well, yes, it really is very different. However my point is that, at least to our own countrymen, we in many ways still practice those ideals set down by evil cultists so long ago.

  16. @Nathaniel = theres a big difference between slavery back then and paying your debts today. For one slaves back could be beaten up providing they didnt die within 48 hours. Female slaves could also be forced to have sex with their master because they were his property. You shame their memories when you downplay just how cruel their life was compared to that of us today. Slavery and debt today are completely different.

  17. To quote myself “Is it really that different than someone selling themselves as a slave? Well, yes, it really is very different.”

    I am simply pointing out that we really haven’t moved as far as people make out we have. Beatings and random acts of violence still happen today so you can’t say we, as a people, are less cruel; if that is what you are arguing.
    Females are still treated unequally by men and there is still racism against foreigners (or overseas in America even racism against African Americans whom technically aren’t foreigners)

    Also, if a person is beaten and doesn’t die then the offender may be charged with assault but can argue provocation and even if he fails will likely avoid serious time or punishment.
    If anything you can say that the sentences the bible suggest are by todays standards too extreme.

    • YOur comments may be true, but explain Gods lack of foresight and goodness in not banning slavery ?

      • First of all, the words of the bible are not the direct words of god. The people whom wrote the bible are the same people whom warnedin which preachers not to tell the origional story of Adam and Eve (Eve was not given a name in the origional scriptures) because she often refused Adams commands and was talked of as if she was equal… not to mention she was made from the dirt, not ‘from man’ as the bible reads.
        None the less, who are we to say slavery is wrong? If morality is subjective and depends on the views of the people then we shouldn’t complain about the muslems killing their wives and daughters for ‘honour’; as that is their views. If morality is objective and never changes then who are we to say that our views are correct and not the views of the bible.
        Do you have proof that slavery is wrong? That is other than public oppinion, which god trumps public oppinion every time.
        To prove that, Jesus challanged many of the ways people worshiped god, the publics opinion, telling them that they were all incorrect.

      • If someone captured and enslaved you, then beat you so badly that you were unconscious for 2 days, then used these verses to justify his actions and told you “god trumps public opinion every time”, how would you feel?

      • *whom warned preachers

      • @edhensley
        Thankfully for me the bible doesn’t allow my neighbors to do that. And if I did sell myself as a slave I would expect them to treat me fairly as stated under the rules of the bible.
        Furthermore you offer no proof that slavery is immoral. There are many people that legally offer themselves as a slave to another in America, Australia and elsewhere. If someone freely offerers themselves as a slave, legal by the law of the land, then what is immoral in that? Are they committing a sin?

      • Assuming you are not from Israel, suppose someone from Israel enslaved you by force and took you back to their homeland. Then suppose they beat you so badly you were unconscious for 2 days, and they did this beating on a regular basis. Is this treatment “as stated under the rules of the bible” okay with you?

        Your last question is not relevant to this scripture, answers here can get philosophical, and your status of the slave is not well defined (can he/she leave any time?, what “land” are you talking about, etc). I hope this is not another attempt by a Christian apologist to justify biblical slavery by comparing it to people paying interest to banks who “own” them. I have heard that one before.

      • No. This is a question of what defines morals. There are many people today who are actualy enslaved against their will. Alos, speaking of Israel, their women are basicly treated as slaves. In fact the Israel and many countries use Christianity to justify this, so we are not talking past tense.
        If you want to be philosophical you’ve provided no proof that slavery is wrong and as I am not a Christian I see nothing else worth responding to in your posts.

  18. Proverbs 22:7 “The rich rules over the poor, and the borrower is the slave of the lender.” I think it’s a warning and not intended to be instructions to the bankers.

  19. i decided to become an athiest after i read that slavery is accepted in the bible. i never believed in god but when i read the bible, religions were starting to sound more and more like weird sects to me

    • Sadly the bible was written by people who wanted to control the population and enforce their own beliefs.
      The origional scriptures were well ahead of their times, preaching equality with women, all men being equal under god, womens right to say no to sex.
      Unfortunatly the churches of the time of the bibles writing didn’t like those ideas. Even more ideas were put into it when translated into english. The bible directly contradicts many of the scriptures it was based off.
      If you want to follow god then you must ignor everything that everyone believes or teaches. Gods church is truely, as god said, a small one.

      • Would it not be more morally good, too simple ignore anyrhing and everything found in the bible. You have yourself admitted some of the slave verses were inserted by man. This leads us to ask the question, given the ability to lie and make bold horrible claims why believe any of the book is genuinely from god. Why would god chose to reveal himself to people who corrupted his so called good name ?

        Can you find any good example in the OT where someone is kind to a neighbour, simply put of their kind heart? It seems on every other page there are perfect examples of god giving the order to kill, rape, steal etc. Why is it we never hear of god stepping in and saying this statements are lies, Moses is a
        Liar most of these laws are his invention? Amazingly he kills a man for picking up sticks but someone inserts down right evil about slavery and he never corrects or punishes the blasphemy. Even Jesus and Paul never condemn slavery but rather tell the slaves to remain loyal and obidient. Don’t you find it amazing that Jesus the son of God never wrote a definitive set of laws and never said I hate slavery. Are you sure your not inventing and putting words into mouths of those ancient men, because the words when read out loud and literally are disgusting and vile. Is this being honest ?

      • No. The churches define how the bible should be read. So to address the real issue… no, ignoring the church (or bible) would not be morally better. Though it would have advanced science centuries to ignor them.

  20. Ed,

    Not that it would make any difference , but, there is a theological background in the OT most are unaware of that helps here.

    I am a believer myself and the verse on beating bugs me as it does you, however, since the main thrust of the OT is the same as the NT(love God and your neighbor as much as yourself), I think it is explained by some background.

    W/O boring all, the background is that the existence of Jews and ancient Israel was within a paradigm where all their neighbors were almost universally bent on their destruction, were involved in various “divine creature” interfaces such that the alien populations were not 100% humans, etc.

    Every group in Joshua he is tasked with destroying for example, watch closely, there are always these “nephilim” ,”anakim”, raphaim” or “mighty men” in those populations. Those are giants of their era, half breeds, 1/2 human, 1/2 divine creatures.

    Funny as we see it today, the ancient Greeks, Sumerians and others revered these “giants”, Gilgamesh was one. In the Levant, they eventually came to worship Gilgamesh.

    We see it as all myth, I think it wasn’t myself. At any rate, these mutant creatures surrounded the Israelis back then and this might explain some of this even if you think it’s made up crap. Goliath was nephilim for example, he appears to have been 6’6″ and that’s huge compared to the average male in 2000 BC.

    I realize you’ll laugh that off, but, it is critically important to the narrative.

    The paradigm of those Jews was not what our paradigm is, even if you think it is made up. Thus, the “favoring of Jews” makes imminent good logic to that narrative as the gentiles of that era had been “given up to their desires” so to speak in Gen 10 as enemies of the creator. Then Yahweh sees Abraham and he rules the Jews, the Gentiles are ruled by various assigned divine creatures, all the while the “nations are Yahweh’s inheritance”, i.e. the Church added to believing Jews of the future.

    This is all controversial commentary within Judaism and the Church, however, after taking an OT theology course, it has been demonstrated to me this is the background of the OT. You simply cannot judge those folks in our paradigm.

    Honestly, had you and I been born in Birmingham , Alabama in 1800 it is altogether likely we both would be all for slavery. Just that short time ago, you and I most likely would support slavery such as the south employed and today we would look back in judgment on us.

    BTW, the Bible term slavery doesn’t necessarily = what we mean anyway. POWS were slaves and this was true probably up until the 18th century in Europe. Conquer a group, they’re yours.

    Owning slaves for life in the Bible when we see examples of voluntary slaves who love their owners, having to physically run off slaves(i.e. Abraham running off Hagar his “slave”) indicates to me the term doesn’t always mean what we mean in 2011 AD.

    • Yes, I did laugh off your comments regarding people not being 100% human.

      I agree that had we been raised in another place and time we could have difference standards on slaver, race, religiou, sexual orientation, etc. It is unfortunate that an ancient book (or other books such as the Koran) prevents some people from treating others in a more humane fashion.

      • The bible more specifically tells us to love our enemies neighbours the sinner not the sin. It tells us to obey the law of the land where it wont cause us to break His commandments. Slavery is now illegal in most civilized society. Christian men in UK and USA. Fought to make it so. Any one involved in slavery today is going against the bible. Lasty all sciences are now debunking evolution and accepting there is a creator or a designer of the world. Ifi was on my pc I would quote the men and articles for you. DNA is the proof darwin said would prove or disprove his theory. It disproves it. God tells us His ways are not . the ways of men. So if we don’t understand something weneed to have faith and trust in the Lord. Recently I lost my job because I tefused

      • Your comment is total nonsense. The bible permits slavery, as clearly shown by these verses. Non-Christians such as Robert Ingersoll were major forces in the movement to free slaves. The humanist movement of the enlightenment was the philosophy behind the freeing of the slaves. Those Christians who advocated the end of slavery were influenced by humanism, not the bible. The Confederate States of America and the Southern Baptists were filled with Christians who quoted the bible to advocate for continued slavery.

        Finally, your comments on science and evolution are absurd. DNA does not disprove evolution, and Darwin did not even know what it was. Scientists today accept the facts of evolution and the theory of evolution.

    • I can believe that there were other races of humans which were made extinct but to say they were other than human I dismiss.

  21. If we say that ‘what is moral’ never changes then who are we to say that we are the ones correct in saying that slavery is immoral?

    If we say that ‘what is moral’ depends on the society then who are we to judge other societies or cultures morals?

    If it comes down to either us or God is wrong, that does not prove that God is wrong, or that he lacked forsight… It might prove however that the bible is not the word of god and should be burnt. But any priest who has studied christianity can tell you that much.

  22. Slavery is an institution that has been around as far back as history takes us. Some people only see slavery as something that White European Christians did to Africans. Slavery in some form has been a part of nearly every culture whether refined or tribal Indigenous peoples. Yes Africans enslaved other Africans and do so today (Darfur). Native American peoples took slaves. Romans, Greeks, doesn’t matter. Nearly all cultures throughout history had some form of it. If you condemn the Hebrews you must condemn all peoples ancient and modern.
    Communism under the old Soviet Union and China under Mao, one could say was a form of slavery. Every one was forced to work for the government. They couldn’t leave or move when they wanted, couldn’t speak freely. The fruit of their labors went to someone else. Are the Chinese laborers working 16 hours a day in factories making IPODS (that we buy) any better off that the American slaves were in the Cotton fields? Have you bought an IPOD lately? One could argue as well that if that the alternative for the Chinese laborer is to live in poverty or starve then maybe the IPOD purchase helped him. In other words, even a bad job may be better than no job.
    You may not agree, but one could argue that America has a form of slavery. The government tells me where I may or may not build. A portion of my wages is forcibly taken from me and given to someone else. Under Obama care you must purchase health insurance. Under the Patriot Act every American becomes a suspected terrorist. A recent determination says that an American citizen can be targeted for assassination as an enemy combatant without trial. Americans citizens can now be held as detainees indefinitely without trial.
    There are always a class of people who choose to control the lives of others and live off the labors of others, whether noblemen and royalty in old Europe, or crooked politicians, or wealthy bankers today. Who is really free?
    Now where do the ancient Hebrews stand in relation to this? The treatment of slaves was highly regulated. We must remember it was never in the interest of a slave owner to harm his own property. If the slave was a countryman, then he was simply an indentured servant. If the slave was a foreigner he probably became a slave because his nation was at war Israel and he was captured. Perhaps, his family was poor and sold him into slavery. In which case his labor (indirectly would go towards providing for his family.) He owed debts that he could not pay, which means his labor went to reimburse those he had taken money from. He may have simply been poor and sold himself as a slave thinking it is better to lose freedom, but be fed and cared for, then to be free and starve.
    It is a harsh reality, but there was a time (most of history) when simple resources such as food clothing and shelter were difficult, if not impossible to obtain for some. In this modern day of agriculture and industrialization there could never be justification for slavery of any form. All men and women in America can be free because we have great resources at our disposal. We can’t judge ancient cultures by those same standards. Slavery was the last resort for a class of people who had lost their standing with society for some reason.
    Finally, It was Christian abolitionists, not renowned atheists, who brought the end of slavery, not just to America, but to the world. The civil rights movement in America was led by mostly Christian leaders. How many civil rights leaders from the sixties had Reverend as their title? How many civil rights gatherings took place in a church?

    • There were renowned atheists who helped bring about an end to slavery. First and foremost was Robert Green Ingersoll, the leading entertainer of the 19th century. People came from miles around to hear his entertaining speeches (pre-TV era) on ending slavery, giving women the right to vote, and agnosticism. Atheists Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony were both staunch abolitionists as well as the founders the movement that lead to women getting voting rights. Atheist Mark Twain wrote about the friendship between a runaway slave and a boy who’s Christian religious education led him to believe that if he helped a slave escape he would burn forever in hell. Huck chooses to burn in hell rather than betray his friend. In addition to many other passages in Huck Finn attacking Christian slavery, Twain wrote numerous other books and essays against slavery, including the following in Bible Teaching and Religious Practice from Europe and Elsewhere and A Pen Warmed Up In Hell:

      In all the ages the Roman Church has owned slaves, bought and sold slaves, authorized and encouraged her children to trade in them. Long after some Christian peoples had freed their slaves the Church still held on to hers. If any could know, to absolute certainty, that all this was right, and according to God’s will and desire, surely it was she, since she was God’s specially appointed representative in the earth and sole authorized and infallible expounder of his Bible. There were the texts; there was no mistaking their meaning; she was right, she was doing in this thing what the Bible had mapped out for her to do. So unassailable was her position that in all the centuries she had no word to say against human slavery. Yet now at last, in our immediate day, we hear a Pope saying slave trading is wrong, and we see him sending an expedition to Africa to stop it. The texts remain: it is the practice that has changed. Why? Because the world has corrected the Bible. The Church never corrects it; and also never fails to drop in at the tail of the procession — and take the credit of the correction. As she will presently do in this instance.

      Looks like Twain is describing you in your last blog comment!

      Your apologies for slavery are not consistent with the verses. Slaves could be beaten until they were unconscious for 2 or 3 days. Slaves could be PURCHASED from other countries (Lev 25:44). Yet, you wish to claim that foreign slaves were merely captured because they were at war with Israel. You are caught red handed trying to divert attention away from what the verses actually say by making claims (slaves were probably at war with Israel) that are not relevant to these verses. These verses clearyl say slaves may be PURCHASED from foreign countries, not captured as war trophies.

      Please do not reply any further unless you are going to justify the right of Israelites to buy slaves from any other foreign country, own them for life, and give them as an inheritance to their children. If you can not justify this, do not reply. I will not let you reply with any other claims that are not consistent with the clear laws and regulations stated in the scriptures mentioned in this post.

  23. Thanks for pointing out some atheists who stood against slavery. I was unaware of those you cited. I did not mean to imply that all slaves were enemies of Israel or fell under the other circumstances I listed (though there are reasons to think many did). Yes, the verses are clear. Some foreign slaves who may have been captured by force were allowed to be purchased and owned. Can I justify it? No I can’t, so I guess you got me on that one. However, I am not sure I can condemn it either because I cannot go back in time to see how slavery was carried out in ancient Israel. Was it done humanely or inhumanely? Were slaves mistreated or well treated? Were slaves relieved that they were sold in Israel instead of one of the neighboring countries or frightened by that? You see the Hebrews as a barbaric people waiting to rape pillage and burn any chance they get. I see a highly regulated culture that was much more civilized than its neighbors. Civilized to the point that much of our own legal system is based on its ethics. I know from the verses that a man had to be careful if he hit a slave. A punch to the face might knock out a tooth and the owner would lose the slave. Yes, a blow to the head may knock the slave unconscious for two days as you say, or the same blow might just as easily kill him. It would be risky and costly business for the owner to severely injure his slave, You were trying to prove a point that God allowed slavery. Your point was proved. It’s just that I am not willing to make the the moral judgment on God that you are. I assume God to be moral and I would have to see cruel treatment endorsed by God (something akin to slavery in the U.S.) to question God’s morality. The assumption on your part that such cruel and inhumane treatment took place and was endorsed by God is not enough for me to change my belief. It may hold weight and convince others. We all have our own minds. It is good to question all things but questions do not always lead us to the right answer. By the way I hope you and your family had a good and safe Christmas (oops) I mean winter festival and a happy New Year.

    • Don’t bring Christmas into this. Every branch and church of Christianity knows that Jesus was not born anywhere near Winter. Due to the shepards tending their flocks they estimate late spring. They will also admit they chose that day to replace a pagan holliday.

      Besides, Christmas now stands for Greed, Satan Claws (mispelling intentional) and Family… fights.

      lol, I jest a little.

    • Seems Jesus condemed slavery and preached equality between men and women. Why is that not in the bible I wonder?
      Probably because the bible has never been the word of god. Jesus threw tables upside down because the church had become like a market. I imagin if he saw things today he would surely say “You’re doing it wrong.”

      • Whomever reads my last post just read it as seperate.

        This is the second time my reply has ended up on the wrong comment.
        Might have something to do with my page not loading right and my hitting the reload, thus posting my comment on the reload.

  24. The main problem with the original assessment on slavery that was posited here is that the writer failed to apply the Torah by considering all the laws on a particular situation. So if a person struck a slave/servant and caused him/her to be unconscious for 2-3 days, the assailant may not be guilty of offending Exodus 21 20-21 but could be held accountable for Leviticus 19:18 or Levticus 19:34 or many other laws depending on the circumstance. It is possible that the master would receive no punishment if it was determined that the action did not violate any other Biblical laws.

    Example: Master hits slave and slave does not die. At his trial before the Preists it is determined that he hit the slave because he refused to work seven days a week. Since all slaves/workers are allowed one day off per week-the Sabbath- The master would be punished for breaking the Sabbath and forcing the Slave to work. Since the master struck the slave unjustly, he would probably be found guilty under numerous other laws including Leviticus 19:34 but not specifically under Exodus 21 20-21.

    Also, it is very difficult to apply today’s world to the ancient one in terms of labor rights and simple survival. The ancient world was extremely harsh with most people concerned about food, shelter, and water. There was little to no middle class and most people were extremely poor. It was not unusual during these times for the lower classes to freely chose to be someone else’s servant so that they could have an easier life. In Ancient China for example, the poor would line up to have their genitalia removed in order to become a Eunich slave to the emporer. This was considered a great opportunity at the time.

    Finally, Hebrew slavery/servitude was simply a way for the poor or foreign person to survive in a harsh world. These laws were a way to regulate the owning of people so that things did not get out of hand like they often do even when the hired hand is considered “free”. The error that often occurs as it has here is in determing whether something is acceptable or not in the eyes of the biblical God based upon a single verse. The Torah was to be taken as a whole not in parts as is suggested here. If you take it as a whole and apply it properly, all the laws can be understood and the justice emerges. However if you apply piecemeal it will seem harsh and unfair. I guess the way one chooses to apply it depends on their preconceived idea of whether a god could have inspired its writing.

    • Exodus 21 does not say what for reasons a slave could or could not be hit – it simply says a slave owner can beat his slave because the slave is the property of the master.

      Once again, Christian apologists apply moral relativism as justification for the immorality of the Old Testament. You are admitting that modern morality based upon Secular Humanism is superior t to the morality based upon the Torah or the bible. I think your admission shows that laws based on human reason are superior to laws based on dogma from Bronze Age mythology.

  25. No. This is not what I’m saying. You did not read my post. What I’m saying is that if you apply the Torah as a whole these laws make sense and are just no matter what age you live in. There is no relativism. Most people in the US are enslaved to their debts and bills as free hired workers. (Some own businesses) Some sell themselves into the military for a period of time or sign long term employment contracts in order to secure the income stream that pays the creditor. In the Torah, a slave could only sell himself for six years in every case. A foreign slave could be owned for life if the debts were big enough (kind of like mortgage) but if the owner took advantage of the slave and forced him to work beyond the debt he owed then he would break the torah provision of equal weights and measures. The error in your assessment is that you are blindly looking at one law at a time without understanding how the entire law was to be applied.

    Remember, the Torah laws protect a person’s basic rights in other laws stated within the first five books of the Bible. A person can be technically innocent of one law but guilty of another depending on their actions. This is no different then how our legal system works. In my example above it is true that a slave owner would not be punished for the loss of property concerning a slave they struck but could be held accountable for taking away the slave’s basic rights under other Laws. Remember a slave was considered both a person and property under the Hebrew system and was afforded the protections as per the law. If an owner struck his own slave and caused permanent damage the slave would be set free. This is actually a property provision. This same slave owner could also be punished more severely if his actions violated the basic rights of the slave which in most cases occurred.

    Also, I am using the word slave to keep the message consistent. The reality is that the type of bondage in the Bible was nothing like the slavery we experienced in US and Brasil. (Side note- My family is from Brasil- I find it interesting the similarities between the slavery that existed in the US and Brasil). Biblical slavery was really a form of indentured servitude where the servant freely sold him/herself into bondage for the sake of paying a debt. The exceptions to this are maidservants that were sold by their Father’s for the sake of marrying into a more wealthy familty. This type was well protected to the point were the daughter had to agree to the marriage to either the master of the estate or one of his sons. If the woman did not agree she could refuse to obey or run away. If she refused to obey the only thing the master could do is redeem her. If she ran away the Torah protected her from being returned to the master. The other exception was foreign slaves which were afforded all the protections of a Hebrew slave except they could be held for life. The thing to consider with foreign slaves is that they too were considered people under Torah and any transgression against those protections could result in penalities (even death) to the offending owner. Keeping a foreign slave too long could be transgression against the equal weights clause.

    Finally, the slavery/servitude found in the Bible was a way for bankrupt people to pay off their debts. In the modern world if you declare bankruptcy you don’t have to tecnically work off your debt but your credit will be shot making life difficult for the next 5-6 years. Oddly enough this is the amount of time most slaves could be held under Torah. Under Torah the way you deal with Bankruptcy is that the responsible person pay off the debt by working for his creditor. In both cases life is much more difficult after one cannot pay their debts with a loss of freedom as a consequence.

    • Your comment is too long, but I will permit it to address the common FALSEHOOD in your last paragraph.

      “Finally, the slavery/servitude found in the Bible was a way for bankrupt people to pay off their debts. In the modern world if you declare bankruptcy you don’t have to tecnically work off your debt but your credit will be shot making life difficult for the next 5-6 years.”

      This is WRONG and CONTRADICTED by the Torah. What you wrote ONLY applied to HEBREW slaves. Slaves from other countries COULD BE OWNED FOR LIFE, not 5-6 years. Please read LEVITICUS 25:44-46 again.

      44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 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. 46 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.

      It says CLEARLY in verse 46 that Israelites could own slaves from foreign nations “FOR LIFE” and that they can bequeath them to their children. This is NOT 5-6 years, as YOU FALSELY SAID. It is only the Israelites that could not be ruled over ruthlessly.

      I get tired when Christian apologists repeat the same lies over and over and over again. STOP LYING! I will not permit you to have another post if you tell again such a blatant lie.

  26. Ed,

    You are taking one law without applying the rest. On top of that you responded as if I left out the fact that foreign slaves could be held for life. Read my post again and I’ll accept your apology later for calling me a lier. Now on to the issue at hand and that is your unwilliness to accept that the way you are interpreting the Torah is both inaccurate and non-historical. Lets take a look at the following laws that apply to foreigners free and bound to servitude:

    Deuteronomy 27:19 “cursed is the one who perverts the justice due the stranger, the fatherless, and widow”

    Exodus 23:9 Also, you shall not oppress a stranger for you know the heart of a stranger, because you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

    Leviticus 24:22 “You shall have the same law for the stranger and for the one from your own country; for I am the Lord your God.”

    Exodus 12:49 “One Law shall be for the native born and for the stranger who dwells among you”

    Deuteronomy 23:16-17 “You shall not give back to his master the slave who has escaped from his master to you. He may dwell with you in the place which he chooses within one of your gates where it seems best to him; you shall not opress him.

    If you take the laws above and combine them with the laws you noted then a true picture of slavery for foreigners emerges. First, it is true that the law allows israelites to own foreign slaves for life as I noted previously, however the cost of doing so would mean that all the other laws of the Torah would have to be applied to these servants and if by chance the slave escapes God supports the protection of him from his master. This can only mean that God does not sanction slavery as a moral principal but probably allowed a regulated form of it due to the hardness of man’s heart. Divorce and appointing a king are similar to this.

    The next question will be why an all powerful, all-knowing, loving God would allow immoral practices without punishment. Do you want me to answer this one?

    • You are a liar. Your sentence in the last paragraph says “Finally, the slavery/servitude found in the Bible was a way for bankrupt people to pay off their debts.” This is a lie. Israelites could own foreign slaves for life, during which it was not possible to pay off any debts. You tried to obfuscate this fact with lots of other double speak, but your last paragraph is so full of blatant falsehoods that it does not matter what you might have said several paragraphs earlier.

      Your latest post is like someone saying “I told one truth in my 4 paragraph post, so it does not matter that my concluding paragraph contains a lie.” It might not matter to you that your conclusion contained a lie, but it matters to those seeking the truth.

      Please apologize for lying on this post. Please admit that Israelites could own foreign slaves for life and that these foreign slave had no chance to pay back any debts to get their freedom. Please admit that there is nothing in the bible that says foreign slavery has anything to do with paying off debts. Until you do, all further posts by you will be blocked.

      • Ed, Are you a born again Christian?

      • No, I am an atheist, a humanist, and a realist. I once was a born again Christian, but having always been a humanist I could not believe in such an evil being as the god of the bible. Having always been a realist, I constantly evaluate my beliefs in light of evidence, and the evidence that Judaism and Christianity are man-made religions was overwhelming.

    • edhensley is right. Foreign slaves were war captives and were property for life, their children too, with no chance of release.
      As it happens until the Americans started going over to Africa with the express purpose of catching slaves this sort of slavery was somewhat rare throughout Christian history.
      I will argue that this act forever changed the meaning of the word slave and this is why people are so outraged to see it in the bible.
      I’m in real financial problems myself as it happens. Might sell myself to the Airforce for 6 years. Better than 6 years of bankrupsy, lol.

  27. I believe that it was the way of life back in those days and God put in the rules to control this rediculous idea of slavery until slavery was done away with (well in some countries) and I base this on the Bible verse “Give to God was is Gods and to Ceasar what is Ceasars.” I thank boths sides opinions to this subject because it really has me thinking.

  28. I apologize for my speliing error on the word “ridiculous”

  29. Slavery was permitted in the Bible because of sin in the world. It existed before the Jews were formed as a nation and it existed after Israel was conquered. God allows many things to happen in the world such as storms, famine, murder, etc. Slavery, like divorce, is not preferred by God. Instead, it is allowed. Where many nations treated their slaves very badly, the Bible gave many rights and privileges to slaves. So, even though it isn’t the best way to deal with people, because God has allowed man freedom, slavery then exists. God instructed the Israelites to treat them properly.

    The Bible acknowledged the slave’s status as the property of the master (Ex. 21:23; Lev. 25:46),
    The Bible restricted the master’s power over the slave. Ex. 21:20).
    The slave was a member of the master’s household (Lev. 22:11)
    The slave was required to rest on the Sabbath (Exodus 20:10; Deut. 5:14)
    The slave was required and to participate in religious observances (Gen. 17:13; Exodus 12:44; Lev. 22:11).
    The Bible prohibited extradition of slaves and granted them asylum (Deut. 23:16-17).
    The servitude of a Hebrew debt-slave was limited to six years (Ex. 21:2; Deut. 15:12).
    When a slave was freed, he was to receive gifts that enabled him to survive economically (Deut. 15:14)
    The reality of slavery cannot be denied. Slaves were “slave labor played a minor economic role in the ancient Near East, for privately owned slaves functioned more as domestic servants than as an agricultural or industrial labor force.”1

    • And, of course, you omit the evil verses of your bible when you want to apologize for it.

      “The Bible restricted the master’s power over the slave. Ex. 21:20).”
      Let’s revisit ex 21:20 and ex 21:21.
      20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.
      The verse YOU cited permits a slave owner to beat his slaves until they are unconscious! My how loving and compassionate! Why did you leave off verse 21? Because, like most apologists, you know this is evil.

      “The Bible acknowledged the slave’s status as the property of the master (Ex. 21:23; Lev. 25:46)”
      Not complete. The bible acknowledges that slaves from foreign lands are property of the master FOR LIFE AND CAN BE GIVEN TO CHILDREN AS AN INHERITENCE.
      46 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.
      Remember, Hebrews could not rule over their fellow ISRAELITES ruthlessly, but they were permitted to rule over foreing slaves ruthlessly.

      Then you do the apologist deception of mingling Hebrew-Hebrew debt slavery with Hebrew-Foreigner slavery without explaining the detailed differences.

      I think your deceptions have been exposed.

      • First off, the conditions of slavery of foreigners is a mute point. God has never afforded any protections to those who are not “one of his people”. As well as that he demands the killing of many, even his own people e.g. “A priest’s daughter who loses her honor by committing fornication and thereby dishonors her father also, shall be burned to death.” (Leviticus 21:9 NAB)
        So god don’t give a crap if it’s not one of his chosen people.
        As for being allowed to beat but not kill… well Gods no soft handed daisy lover.
        Remember, saying “Don’t treat Isralite slaves too badly or be punished” is not the same thing as saying “I endorse slavery and say it is good.”

      • P.S. Your question about the treatment of Hebrew-Hebrew debt slavery with Hebrew-Foreigner slavery is an interesting one and I honestly don’t know how to address it at all.

  30. […] to do with the Bible. If they had their way Matthew 7:12 would end up on the cutting room floor and Exodus and Leviticus would be the law of the land. And while there’s no danger of them gaining real power any time […]

  31. […] old testament also teaches that in some circumstances you can sell your daughter into slavery, and it includes instructions on the best way to do that and remain a just and […]

  32. Exodus 21:18-19
    If people quarrel and one person hits another with a stone or with their fist and the victim does not die but is confined to bed, the one who struck the blow will not be held liable if the other can get up and walk around outside with a staff; however, the guilty party must pay the injured person for any loss of time and see that the victim is completely healed.

    In the previous verse, the punishment for hurting someone else was to pay for loss of wages. So it is equally relaxed law for both slaves and non slaves.

    In the following verses:

    Exodus 21:26-27 An owner who hits a male or female slave in the eye and destroys it must let the slave go free to compensate for the eye. And an owner who knocks out the tooth of a male or female slave must let the slave go free to compensate for the tooth.

    • I do not beleive Exodus 21:20 should be a law today. Slavery should NEVER have been permitted, especially in what is supposed to be a moral book. Look at how you are twisting other verses to justify a master beating a slave until he is uncounscious.

      20 “If a man beats his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies as a direct result, he must be punished, 21 but he is not to be punished if the slave gets up after a day or two, since the slave is his property.

  33. “He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.” (Exodus 21:16)

    • Exodus 21:20 is only 4 verses after that, and it not only permits slavery but permits slave owners to beat their slaves until they are unconscious.

  34. I noticed you said that the law permits owners to beat their slaves to several days of unconsciousness. That’s not really the point. It’s not there to say “Hey owners, go ahead and beat your slaves.” It’s more of a relaxation of punishment. If I kill you with my car, the punishment is much worse than if I injure you but don’t kill you, but that doesn’t mean the government says I can run you over. Don’t forget that the later laws protects slaves from mistreatment. If the owner severely hurts the slave, he is to be set free.

    Additionally, Christians are not under the Law. Christ sets us free from it, so we are free to follow and obey out of freedom. It should be noted that the whole point of the Law is to emphasize the severity of sin (thus, death is often a punishment), and to prove that it can’t possibly be kept perfectly. That way, we are willing to admit that we need to be saved and accept Christ.
    Love in Christ,

    • If you hit me with a car or kill me with a car and it is your fault, there will be punishment in either case.

      According to Exodus 21, there is NO punishment for beating a slave until a slave is unconscious.

      • Just a quick note, here. Two misconceptions from your words, “there is NO punishment for beating a slave until a slave is unconscious.” 1. No punishment. 2. Unconscious.
        1. The context (punishment for the death of a slave), as well as the Hebrew word used here both signify a punishment of death. The Hebrew word, naqam, seems to be used in practically every instance as vengeance, usually specifically killing.
        2. The Bible does not say “unconscious.”
        3. It would be more accurate to say, “There is NO death penalty if the slave doesn’t die within one or two days.”

      • 20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.” If someone is unconscious and “recovers after a day or two” then they do not die. Therefore, slave owners are permitted to beat their slaves with a rod as long as they do not die. There is no punishment listed for beating them until they are unconscious, and the bible specifically mentions that slave owners can beat their slaves so harshly that it takes them up to 2 days to recover.

      • I get that there are many things about the Law’s declarations about slavery (they are often different than normally perceived) which rankle. I’m sure when we’re done discussing it that you’ll still have tremendous problems with what the Law states, as will many other people. I’m just trying to be accurate about what it does state. This is not an attempt at prevarication. For example, I’m haven’t commented yet on “ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, … they shall be your bondmen for ever…” (Lev. 25:46) I expect to, though.

        To be clear, as I read it, Ex 21:20-21 is stating that If a man hits his slave and the slave dies then he receives the death penalty (vengeance); but if he doesn’t die right away (within 2 days) then he doesn’t receive the death penalty.
        It is my opinion that the 2 day leeway is because it is assumed in that case that death was an unintended consequence.

        Any issues with whether my understanding of it is accurate? Again, I’m just trying at this point to make sure we are on the same page regarding what it intends.

      • No further comments are needed.

      • @Matthew Eyer There is no punishment if the slave is standing again before the end of 2 days. Sometimes people faint from pain or fear in which case they will wake up within 2 days, exonerating the owner or wrong doing.
        If the slave is unconscious for 3 days, even if the slave doesn’t die, the owner is still punished.

  35. Also, God is completely in control of everything that happens. Slavery has come to an end in most places, and fought against in others.

    • So God was completely in control of Hitler killing millions? God was completely in control of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001? God was completely in control of Sandusky and Catholic priests raping little boys?

      Giving credit to God or the church for ending slavery is ridiculous. The credit goes to humanism, which has even spread into some Christian churches. As Mark Twain said about the church and slavery in both Europe and Elsewhere and A Pen Warmed Up In Hell:

      In all the ages the Roman Church has owned slaves, bought and sold slaves, authorized and encouraged her children to trade in them. Long after some Christian peoples had freed their slaves the Church still held on to hers. If any could know, to absolute certainty, that all this was right, and according to God’s will and desire, surely it was she, since she was God’s specially appointed representative in the earth and sole authorized and infallible expounder of his Bible. There were the texts; there was no mistaking their meaning; she was right, she was doing in this thing what the Bible had mapped out for her to do. So unassailable was her position that in all the centuries she had no word to say against human slavery. Yet now at last, in our immediate day, we hear a Pope saying slave trading is wrong, and we see him sending an expedition to Africa to stop it. The texts remain: it is the practice that has changed. Why? Because the world has corrected the Bible. The Church never corrects it; and also never fails to drop in at the tail of the procession – and take the credit of the correction. As she will presently do in this instance.

    • God gave us free will. Thus he is not in control of everything, by his own choice.
      He makes a law saying do not kill but then he allows us to kill. He makes a law saying you may not have slaves… oh wait, why didn’t he?

      • To reword that… by “allows us to kill” I simply ment “doesn’t stop us from commiting the sin of murder by using his divine power”

      • He gives us free-will!! If we choose to reject him and not trust in Jesus, we go to Hell!!

      • Do you know the 4 words translated as Hell in the bible? Where is Hell located?

  36. The problem I have with this thread is that you show a smattering of verses out of context from the law of moses and then reject the entire of colection of books that we call The Bible. If you reject it then you should regect it based on what it states in it’s entirety. Jesus explained why moses allowed some of the practices in the torah when he explained about divorce. It was because of the hardness of the hearts of the israelites. Furthermore, it seems to me that when the bible trys to regulate and limit an abusive practice like slavery you call God evil and say he is condoning sin, and when he jugdes nations for their sin you call him evil and genocidal.

    • “Out of context” is an excuse used by many Christians to put on blinders and ignore the evil deeds and laws of the god of the bible. Theses verses are not taken out of context. The verses of the bible clearly permitted Israelites to own slaves from other countries for life, pass these slaves as an inheritance to their children, and to beat these slaves until they were unconscious. Anyone who denies what I wrote in that last sentence is denying the reality of the words of the bible.

      • Theses verses are not taken out of context.

        Yeah, they actually are!! If they weren’t taken out of context, people wouldn’t have a problem with! Like us Christians! We don’t have a problem with it! We understand it! Non-believers on the other hand, don’t!!

      • These verses are not out of context. The verses clearly mean that Israelites can buy slaves from foreign countries, keep them for life, will them as property to their children, and beat their slaves until they are unconscious because “the slaves are the property of the master”.

  37. Ed,
    What happened to Greg Elliot’s next post? Did you cut him off? I was really looking forward to your reply to his comments. I think he may have had a legitimate point, your last post to him did not answer the points he was mentioning. Instead you seemed to get caught up in the fact that he did not fully understand Hebrew slavery and may have lied. This to me just seems like a mistake on his part and just shows me that he is human. Can you answer his rebuttal? I would also wonder if Deuteronomy 19:21 could be held as a standard of slave treatment as well?

    • Nothing happened to Greg’s post. He had lost of long comments which are contradicted by the bible. His claim that someone who knocks a slave unconscious in following Exodus 21 could be violating verses like Leviticus 19 (or as you pointed out Deut 19) only shows how the bible contradicts itself. You could easily say that all slavery is contradicted by Matt 7 and Luke 6, paraphrased “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” (from Confucius and others long before the New Testament).

  38. I enjoy reading through a post that can make people think.
    Also, many thanks for permitting me to comment!

  39. WARNING!! Sarcasm ahead! “There is no punishment listed for beating them until they are unconscious, and the bible specifically mentions that slave owners can beat their slaves so harshly that it takes them up to 2 days to recover”. I guess if we follow your methods of interpretation, then the passage (Vs. 12-36) teaches the following: you can kill someone, as long as you don’t hit them. Use a knife instead! (vs 12 only says you can’t “smite” someone to death.) If you hurt anyone by “smiting” them, then you have to pay for his lost wages, doctor bills, etc… So, once again, use a knife! (vs. 18-19) No punishment is listed for knives! If you “smite” your servant/slave, and they die, then you’re put to death, but it doesn’t say you can’t stab them! (Vs. 20). If they don’t die from “smiting” in one or two days, then your OK, and I guess you can ignore any of the other punishments listed. (Vs. 21). So, beat them almost to death, or better yet, stab them. If you knock out your servant’s tooth or put an eye out, they’ll go free, but it doesn’t say you can’t cut off their legs, or cripple them; so that’s OK, too. (Vs. 26-27). And, by all means, don’t interpret eye for an eye and tooth for a tooth in terms of the verses right before where it lists burning for burning, stripe for stripe, etc… (Vs. 23-25).
    I guess if you ignore anything else the Law says except for the exact verse (Verses weren’t put in until more modern times), ignore the verses before and after, ignore other statements from within the Law on the treatment of slaves, ignore the actual Hebrew words used (’cause everyone knows it was originally written in English, right?), and pretend that anything it doesn’t specifically forbid is promoted by God, then you can make it say anything you want. But that’s not very logical, honest, or true to the text.

    • Thank you for clearly pointing out that bible contradicts itself.

      • Thank you for clearly pointing out that bible contradicts itself.

        Oh really!?? It doesn’t! There are no contradictions! Saying there are contradictions is just an excuse to not believe! “If we can prove that the Bible has contradictions then we can give a good reason to not believe in it!” Thats what non-believers think(most likely).

      • The bible is full of contradictions. The stories of the birth of Jesus and the stories of the death and resurrection of Jesus are filled with contradictions. The latter is arguably the most important story of the New Testament, and it has numerous contradictions. I have highlighted numerous other texts, as have numerous other people.

    • Why would u ignore verses!??

  40. I’m not sure why it seems so hard to understand that Exodus 21:20-21 is not giving anyone permission for anything; and it’s not an isolated text with no context. It is protecting servants in a time when slaves were treated inhumanely. It is giving the death penalty (revolutionary) for anyone that “smites” their servant to death, making sure that it is understood that servants are included in the legal protection regarding “smiting”. (Vs. 12, 15, 18, 19, 20-21, 26-27). There is a difference between permission and prohibition. It states that there is no death penalty (note that it does not exclude any other form of reparations) if the servant doesn’t die within a day or two. In other words, the judgment falls under vs. 13; as, it could be assumed it wasn’t intentional. And, yes, it did not directly prohibit hitting (“smiting”) your servant. The law did, though, require that take are reparations by taking care of the medical care of anyone whom you had “smitten” (which would include servants), and make sure you “cause him to be thoroughly healed” in the verses immediately before 20-21. (As well as pay for any lost wages). This passage also declared a servant free from his legal contract if you had done any significant harm to them. The passage as a whole works to show the difference between intentional harm and unintentional harm, and to account for both.

    Verses 20-21 are only about the determination of whether the death penalty is applicable. They are not giving permission for anything. (Notice the logical if … then construction).

    • 20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.

      These verses state that slave owner CAN beat their slaves and not be punished as long as they don’t die. I am sorry that you are too blind to admit what the bible clearly says.

  41. *The law did, though, require that take are reparations — I meant to say, “The law did, though, require reparations to be made…”

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  43. […] Exodus 20 with tax money, then don’t we have the right to display Exodus 21 with tax money? source Reply   Reply With […]

  44. I agree with Gina. Presentism is the practice of judging people and laws from thousands of years ago with present day standards. Also, the slavery was an act of kindness that allowed the poor to keep from starving to death. Laws were in place to ensure slaves were treated with dignity and respect, and if not the owner could be brought to judgment before the Nation.

    • The owner of the slave could beat the slave until they were unconscious, because “the slave is the property of the master” according to the bible. The slave owner could keep non-Israeli slaves for life and will them as inheritance to the slave owner’s children. If these verses were in the Koran, you and your fellow fundamentalists Christians would be using these verses to condemn the Koran and Islam. You would not let Muslims get away with making the pathetic excuses for condoning slavery as you have done. I think your defense of biblical slavery is ridiculous and immoral.

  45. What impresses me is how much moralizing this generation does in the face of its own atrocities. Your arguments have, truth be told, no merit whatsoever. Slavery could not have happened without the depravity of the people – the scripture places limits on this depravity.

    Stop slandering God and look in the mirror.

    • ” the scripture places limits on this depravity.”

      Exodus 21:20 “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, 21 but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.

      Your right. The scriptures say you cannot beat your slaves to death. The scriptures do permit slave owners to beat their slaves until they are unconscious.

      Leviticus 25:44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 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. 46 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.

      Your right again, the scriptures limit how long Hebrews can own Hebrew slaves. But the scriptures permit Hebrews to own non-Hebrew slaves for life and to give them as an inheritance to their children.
      Sorry Laurie, but the scriptures are a horrific cesspool of immoral filth.

      • In your opinion!! They are! But since you can only give a subjective basis for morality as to why that is wrong, it is nothing but your opinion!!

      • Empathy is the basis of humanistic morality. Because I would not want to be a slave, I should not enslave others. Confucius said this 500 years before Jesus quoted Hillel.

  46. Seems like Hebrews a can always b free sounds like he favors Hebrews. Even if their slaves theres always an out. .god bless the Hebrews… would b nice if it was that way today

    • It is an interesting observation that the Hebrew slave MUST be released after seven years. And by the same token, the Hebrew had discretion to free or not to free his Gentile slave.

      Of course, if the Hebrew “slave owner” were gracious in character he did have the liberty to free his Gentile slave.

      The fact is that there is no account, to my knowledge, in scripture (as I make it my daily habit to read it, and I confess i may have missed it) that there was any record of Hebrew slaves being freed either, in all of scripture.

      In fact, as sacred as the Mosaic law was, it was not kept, which is why the later prophets (e.g. Isaiah 5) indicted the people of Israel who were eventually as predicted by Moses (Dt. 28-30) driven from the land.

  47. One must consider the fact that our “western culture” is fairly well impervious to the barbarism that’s all around us. The Chicken you buy in a store was brutally murdered as one in a million on a very dispassionate assembly line.

    Slavery and barbarism were commonplace in the time of Moses, and I think our culture is becoming more and more aware that other parts of the world are not quite as civil as we assume.

    By contrast, Mosaic Law required captured women slaves, in particular to be treated far more kindly than any of the civilizations of that era, and dare I say, many of the civilizations of our era as well. I site one scripture which has NOT BEEN MENTIONED on this web-site… Deuteronomy 21:10-14 as an example.

    10 “When you go out to battle against your enemies, and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take them away captive, 11 and see among the captives a beautiful woman, and have a desire for her and would take her as a wife for yourself, 12 then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and trim her nails. 13 She shall also remove the clothes of her captivity and shall remain in your house,AND MOURN HER FATHER AND MOTHER A FULL MONTH, and after that you may go in to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. 14 It shall be, IF YOU ARE NOT PLEASED WITH HER, THEN YOU SHALL LET HER GO WHEREVER SHE WISHES; BUT YOU SHALL CERTAINLY NOT SELL HER FOR MONEY, YOU SHALL NOT MISTREAT HER, because you have humbled her. (My emphasis added)

    I might also add that the offspring of such a resulting marriage WAS allowed the full right of citizenship as a child of the estate.

    • I can improve upon that morality by saying all slavery are evil. No human being should ever own another person so that they could whip them or force a woman into marriage. Since I have just improved the moral code of the bible, I have shown the bible not to be the utmost moral authority and not to be the perfect word of god.

      • Slavery is evil!? According to what!? Is that a subjective basis of an objective basis of Morality!??

      • Empathy is the basis of humanistic morality. Because I would not want to be a slave, I should not enslave others. Confucius said this 500 years before Jesus quoted Hillel.

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