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What is Slavery?
        SLAVE or SLAVERY
        Slavery is contrary to the constitution and destination of man and to the spirit of the Bible, which begins and ends with freedom, and represents man as made in the image of God, and places him, as lord, at the head of the whole creation. God gave Adam an equal and only partner in Eve. Slavery, like polygamy and war, was the consequence of sin, and spread with sin among all ancient nations. The Bible tolerates, regulates, moderates, and restrains this abnormal institution, but provides also for its ultimate extinction. "The manner in which Christ and the apostles dealt with an institution so universally prevalent in its worst forms, and so intimately interwoven with the whole public and private life in the Roman empire, is a strong proof of their divine wisdom. Christianity accomplished what no other religion has even attempted before or since. Without interfering with slavery as a political and economical question, without encouraging any revolution or agitation, without denouncing the character or denying the rights of the slave-holder or creating discontent among the slaves, without disturbing the peace of a single family, without any appeal to the passions and prejudices of men on the evils and abuses of slavery, without requiring, or even suggesting, immediate emancipation, in one word, without changing the outward and legal relation between the two parties, but solemnly enforcing the rights and duties arising from it to both, - Christ and the apostles, nevertheless, from within, by purely spiritual and peaceful means, by teaching the common origin and common redemption, the true dignity, equality, and destiny of men, by inculcating the principles of universal justice and love, and by raising the most degraded and unfortunate classes of society to virtue and purity, and to spiritual freedom in Christ, produced a radical moral reformation of the system, and prepared the only effectual way for its gradual, legitimate, and harmless extinction." - Schaff: Slavery and the Bible (1861). A. Hebrew Slavery. - There were only two conditions known among the Jews - independence and servitude. Whenever a man was too poor or otherwise unable to be independent, he became a slave. Slaves, among the Hebrews, were of two general classes: 1. Hebrews; 2. Non-Hebrews. 1. Hebrews. - There were three ways whereby liberty could be taken from a Hebrew: (1) Poverty. He might sell himself in default of payment of debt. Lev 25:39. (2) Theft, when he could not pay the amount required. Ex 22:1, Num 1:3. According to Josephus, he could only be sold to a Hebrew. (3) Parents could sell their daughters as maid-servants, but they were ultimately to be their masters' concubines. Ex 21:7. There were three ways by which the servitude might end:(1) When the debt or other obligation was met: (2) When the year of Jubilee had come. Lev 25:40; (3) At the conclusion of six years of service. Ex 21:2; Deut 15:12, Indeed, no servitude could last longer than six years. In case, however, the slave did not wish to go at the expiration of the time, either because he loved his master or his wife - presumably a foreigner - and children, who must be left behind, as they were the master's property, the master announced this fact to the judges, and then bored his ear through with an awl. Ex 21:6; Deut 15:17. That this was done speaks volumes for the mildness of Hebrew slavery. Indeed, the Law made the condition of a slave very tolerable. The owner was expressly forbidden to "rule over him with rigor." Lev 25:43. Nor was he suffered to go away empty, but must be furnished liberally out of the flock, out of the floor, and out of the wine-press. Deut 15:14. A slave might even marry a daughter of his master. 1 Chr 2:35. In the ease of a female Hebrew slave, there was not the release at the end of six years; but if marriage with the owner or his son did not take place, she was not to be sold to a foreigner, but "he shall cause her to be redeemed" - i.e., he should return her to her father or find her another Hebrew master, or else free her absolutely. Ex 21:7-11. When Hebrews became the slaves of non-Hebrews, they might be redeemed or redeem themselves, or else go free at the year of jubilee. Jewish Hebrew slavery terminated at the Captivity. 1. Non-Hebrews. - These constituted the majority of the slaves among the Hebrews. They were mostly captives made in war from the neighboring tribes, but besides were purchased of dealers. Lev 25:45, foreigners reduced to this condition, or else the children of such slaves. Gen 14:14; Eccl 2:7. This sort of slavery survived the Captivity, but was opposed by the Pharisees. Thirty shekels seems to have been the average price of a slave. Ex 21:32. The slaves' lot was comparatively happy. Their persons were protected against violence; for if they lost an eye or a tooth from rough handling, they got their liberty. Ex 21:26-27. To kill one was murder. Lev 24:17, Josh 11:22. They had full religious privileges, since they were circumcised. Gen 17:12. Slavery at best is bondage, and hence we find the service of these slaves was menial. They ploughed the fields, did the housework, ground the corn, took off and put on their master's sanda1s, washed his feet, and performed all the services expected of those in their condition. But slaves, by their industry and ability, could raise themselves to positions of trust, becoming stewards, as was Eliezer, Gen 15:2, or independent freemen, as was Ziba. 2 Sam 9:2, 2 Sam 9:10. B. Roman Slavery. - The Gospel of Jesus Christ, declaring freedom from the slavery of sin, was preached unto them who were literally bound. The early Christian Church was largely composed of slaves, and around them were thrown none of the protections which rendered a Hebrew slave so safe. On the contrary, the Roman master regarded his slaves as his absolute property. He might treat them kindly - and doubtless many did - but no law compelled him to do so. The Roman proverb, "So many slaves, so many foes," tells a pitiful story of wrong. This was the sort of slavery mentioned incidentally in the N.T. It is remarkable that nothing is said about its abolishment. On the contrary, the slaves were enjoined to be obedient to their masters, and to prove their Christian character by their patience under suffering. The Bible has furnished the defenders of slavery with proof-texts, but yet the study of the Bible has led to the abolishment of the system. The Mosaic legislation on the subject induced such mildness that the very idea could not be tolerated, and so, in Christ's day, Hebrew slavery of both kinds was utterly extirpated. The N.T. directions had a similar result. A Christian could not hold souls in bondage for whom the blood of Christ was shed. And so slavery ended in the empire among Christians. Today it is acknowledged throughout Christendom as a crime; while Mohammedanism holds fast to slavery and polygamy - the two twin-sisters of barbarism. The liberty in Christ Jesus extends to the body as well as to the soul. The gospel, in emancipating from the bondage of sin, breaks the backbone of every other kind of bondage, and substitutes for it the service of God, which is perfect freedom.

Bibliography Information
Schaff, Philip, Dr. "Biblical Definition for 'slavery' in Schaffs Bible Dictionary". - Schaff's

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