Slaves and servants (Sir 7:20-7:21)

“Do not abuse slaves

Who work faithfully.

Do not abuse hired laborers

Who devote themselves to their task.

Let your soul love intelligent slaves.

Do not withhold from them their freedom.”

Sirach continued with his recommendations about slaves. First, you should not abuse slaves. However, this is only for those who work faithfully. It might be okay to abuse the ones who are not working. Secondly, you should not abuse the hired laborers either. But once again there is a caveat that this applies only to those who do their tasks. Otherwise, it was okay to abuse the stragglers. You should love intelligent slaves like yourself. In fact, you should free them. This seems to indicate that the smart slaves should be set free, but the dumb ones should remain in bondage.