The laws relative to slaves (Ex 21:1-21:11)

“These are the ordinances that you shall set before them.  When you buy a male Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out a free person, without debt. If he comes in single, he shall go out single.  If he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out alone.  But if the slave declares, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children.   I will not go out a free person,’ then his master shall bring him before God.  He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost.  His master shall pierce his ear through with an awl.  He shall serve him for life.”

Next come the ordinances about slavery, that was commonly accepted as a way of life in the Middle East, just as it was accepted in Europe and America until a couple of hundred years ago.  You could buy slaves or sell people from your own family.  Ending slavery was a radical idea.  As for the male Hebrew slave, you had to let him go after six years with no debt, the Sabbath concept.  If he was bought in single or married, he stayed the same. However, if his master gave him a wife and they had sons or daughters, the wife and her children would belong to the master.  Nevertheless, if the slave said that he loved his master, wife, and children and did not want to be a free person, he could becomes a slave for life with a pierced ear.

“When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall go out as the male slaves do. If she does not please her master, who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed.  He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt unfairly with her.  If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter.  If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife.  If he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out without debt, without payment of money.”

Young girls were a slave group since marriage was seen as a form of slavery. A man could sell his daughter as a slave.  Then she was like the male slaves.  However, he could buy back his daughter, but he could not sell her to a foreign people.  The master could designate the slave girl for his son, but then he had to deal with her like a daughter.  If someone took more than one wife, they could not diminish the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife.  Women were seen as a possession.  However, a first wife could leave without paying anything if they were not properly cared for.

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