I’ll try to keep this quick.
I’m looking for information about bible slavery. Particularly old-testament slavery.
In every discussion I’ve heard of late on this topic, the apologists’ argument seems to centre around how old testament slavery was vastly different to, say, southern US antebellum slavery – it involved fixed terms of seven years, it was humanitarian in that an injured slave was to be released, and a slave-owner that killed a slave was to receive the death-penalty for doing so, etc etc. There are a lot of differences, there’s no doubt about that. But….. it doesn’t seem to be to be telling the whole story.
The problem, for me, and the information I’m looking for, is based around the fact that I think, really, that they’re throwing up a curtain with this, and talking only about the way Israelites were to treat EACH OTHER in such an indentured servitude arrangement. Apologists can go on and on about that, with loads of biblical references to back them up.
All from Leviticus:
14 “‘If you sell land to any of your own people or buy land from them, do not take advantage of each other….
25 “‘If one of your fellow Israelites becomes poor and sells some of their property,….
35 “‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and are unable to support themselves among you,….
39 “‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves….
The offensive part of Leviticus, though, does not have to do with Israelite slaves. In fact, that last quote there is, I think, very telling. I don’t know the Hebrew well enough to know what word has been translated as “slaves” there, but if it’s the same word as is translated into this NIV passage, then I think we have a red flag.
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.
Surely by including this passage, the author of Leviticus is singling out the Israelites for ONE set of human rights, and foreigners for another. These foreigners CAN be made slaves for life, and bequeathed as property – just don’t do that to EACH OTHER!
I think you know where I’m going with this, but I’ve spent the last two hours looking for some kind of scholarly writing dealing with this, and google scholar doesn’t seem to want to help me. I’m looking for something that takes into account the difference in treatment between Israeli “indentured servants”, as apologists never tire of calling them; and foreign slaves, who are basically fucked for life, or so it seems in verses 44-46. Very much like southern-US antebellum slaves. It certainly has some nasty overtones, doesn’t it?
Can anyone point me towards some good writing that deals specifically with this contrast? It must be out there somewhere. Again, yes, I have things to say in video form about this, and I don’t want to screw anything up. I need a proper understanding of this and some good citations to boot.
I’d be in your debt if you could help me out by hitting me up with a link or two.