It was remarked to me recently that the Bible (specifically, the Old Testament) says very little about slavery, with the implication that it is one of those “silent issues” that we cannot particularly judge. I did a little searching, and I found some interesting things about slavery in the Torah. Perhaps you’ll find them interesting too…

First off, the Israelites were absolutely forbidden to make slaves of fellow Israelites. If an Israelite wished to sell his labor as an indentured service this was permissible, but the purchaser was not allowed to treat him like a slave, period. Furthermore, he should be released after seven years (Deut. 15:12) or during the Year of Jubilee.

Leviticus 25:39 & 42 :: If one of your countrymen becomes poor among you and sells himself to you, do not make him work as a slave.

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…

Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves.

Exodus 21:12 :: 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.

Anyone who violently kidnapped a slave of any nationality was considered a criminal with a death warrant.

Exodus 21:16 :: Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death.

Deuteronomy 24:7 :: If a man is caught kidnapping one of his brother Israelites and treats him as a slave or sells him, the kidnapper must die. You must purge the evil from among you.

Any runaway slave was required to be freed, he could neither be taken as property by another owner nor handed back to the old master. Whether the original owner was an Israelite or not seems not to matter.

Deuteronomy 23:15,16 :: If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand him over to his master. Let him live among you wherever he likes and in whatever town he chooses. Do not oppress him.

However, it was permissible to purchase a slave from a non-Israelite – and yet they were still required to treat them kindly.

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

But most of all, all slaves were to be released during the Year of Jubilee. At this time, I can only conclude that all slaves of any nationality were to be released, otherwise the law doesn’t really make sense, since Israelites could not be slaves at all. Furthermore, other scholars have come to this conclusion for a quite a while.

Now, another interesting point emerges if one considers incorporation into Israel. You see, anyone who was willing to come under the rule of Yahweh was permitted to literally become a part of Israel, God’s chosen people. Case in point – the prostitute Rahab becomes part of Israel (Joshua 6:25) and even is included in the lineage of Jesus Christ! (Matthew 1:5)

So, what would happen if a slave converted to the Israelite faith and adhered to the rule of Yahweh? Simple, he now falls under the rule that he must be released in 7 years.

This presents an interesting set of conclusions. In summary:

  1. Israelites were not ever to be slaves, only indentured servants that must be released in seven years and in the Year of Jubilee.
  2. Those who kidnapped anyone to be a slave were to be killed as criminals.
  3. Runaway slaves were protected in Israel, even if the owner was an Israelite.
  4. Israelites could own non-Israelite slaves, but they were required to be released in the Year of Jubilee.
  5. If a slave converted to the Israelite faith, he falls under the seven year release rule.

Apparently, if you were a slave in ancient times, your best bet would probably have been to be sent to Israel! I find it fascinating how God provided through the Levitical and Deuteronomic law a concrete way for slavery to be curbed in Israelite society – God clearly thinks this is important stuff! In fact, one of the indictments of the nation of Israel when they were exiled to Assyria and Babylon was that they treated their brothers ruthlessly by making them slaves.

I admit that slavery in the Old Testament is a little fuzzy. But any careful observer would also have to admit that God’s law was actually quite favorable to slaves and provided a way out for them. Perhaps in today’s world, we see a little more clearly than the Israelites would have that slavery is wrong, but even then God was working to set captives free.

Yahweh’s people were meant to be free from bondage. That’s why he brought them out of Egypt and gave them the Torah, which instructed them in how to treat one another. How, then, can we not announce freedom to everyone everywhere?

“Proclaim liberty throughout the land!” (Leviticus 25:10)

Dr. Norman Horn

Norman founded LibertarianChristians.com and the Libertarian Christian Institute, and currently serves as its President and Editor-in-Chief. He holds a PhD in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin and a Master of Arts in Theological Studies from the Austin Graduate School of Theology. He currently is a Postdoctoral researcher in Chemical Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
  • Great post, Norm. I won’t stop now for a substantive comment, but just wanted to drop in to say I’m really enjoying your blog.

  • Great post, Norm. I won’t stop now for a substantive comment, but just wanted to drop in to say I’m really enjoying your blog.

  • Henry H.

    Isn’t this a long-winded, logically twisted way of saying God condoned slavery? If God was so concerned with “working to set captives free,” couldn’t he just do it? If he’s going to make rules, how about: “No person shall ever own any other person, irrespective of race, national origin . . .”?

    As far as the year of jubilee, doesn’t the requirement to set slaves free extend only to Israelites who sold themselves as indentured servants, and not, as you write, “all slaves”?

    You write that Israelites were required to treat slaves kindly (while ignoring the laughable contradiction contained therein), but you didn’t cite Exodus 21:20-21, which seems to contradict your assertion: “When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.”

    Finally, I noticed you ended with the oft-quoted Leviticus 25:10. But you left out Exodus 21:7-11:

    “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again . . .”

    Sweet liberty!

  • Henry H.

    Isn’t this a long-winded, logically twisted way of saying God condoned slavery? If God was so concerned with “working to set captives free,” couldn’t he just do it? If he’s going to make rules, how about: “No person shall ever own any other person, irrespective of race, national origin . . .”?

    As far as the year of jubilee, doesn’t the requirement to set slaves free extend only to Israelites who sold themselves as indentured servants, and not, as you write, “all slaves”?

    You write that Israelites were required to treat slaves kindly (while ignoring the laughable contradiction contained therein), but you didn’t cite Exodus 21:20-21, which seems to contradict your assertion: “When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.”

    Finally, I noticed you ended with the oft-quoted Leviticus 25:10. But you left out Exodus 21:7-11:

    “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again . . .”

    Sweet liberty!

  • Norman

    This is a legitimate concern, and I hope to address these issues in an updated version of this article. Keep in mind the difference between “debt slaves” and “forced slaves”.

    The short answer is that there *is* a significant departure from the slave practices of other ancient near east nations, and thus one cannot simply say as many have claimed that the Bible has nothing to say about slavery. But I’ll save the rest for the updated article.

  • Doug Douma

    Norman,

    Do you see any relationship between these Biblical ideas of slavery, and that hypothesized by some anarcho-capitalists? Specifically, is the slavery legitimate only when the slave agrees to the arrangement because of his poverty? Or can a slave come into such a state via another method, such as being captured in a war, or sold to the Israelites after being forced to be a slave?

    Also, do you support voluntary slavery in an anarcho-capitalist state (er, non-state)?

    -Doug

  • Doug Douma

    Norman,

    Do you see any relationship between these Biblical ideas of slavery, and that hypothesized by some anarcho-capitalists? Specifically, is the slavery legitimate only when the slave agrees to the arrangement because of his poverty? Or can a slave come into such a state via another method, such as being captured in a war, or sold to the Israelites after being forced to be a slave?

    Also, do you support voluntary slavery in an anarcho-capitalist state (er, non-state)?

    -Doug

  • @Doug: I haven’t done any substantial research into the topic, but I imagine that in theory some similarities might exist such as the first one you listed.

    The trick is parsing out the differences between what we often *conceive in our mind* as slavery versus what would be permitted in an anarcho-capitalist society. Obviously, it would not be permitted to *force* someone into slavery, as those who did so would be a massive liability from whatever private protection agency or private law firm to which they subscribe. However, I suppose it is conceivable that a situation like that of ancient Israel could come about.

    The only permissible “slavery” would be the ability to employ oneself to pay off a debt, but even this — if it even existed in the first place — would be handled carefully via contract law to handle bad situations.

    Possible? Yes. Likely? That’s something else…

  • @Doug: I haven’t done any substantial research into the topic, but I imagine that in theory some similarities might exist such as the first one you listed.

    The trick is parsing out the differences between what we often *conceive in our mind* as slavery versus what would be permitted in an anarcho-capitalist society. Obviously, it would not be permitted to *force* someone into slavery, as those who did so would be a massive liability from whatever private protection agency or private law firm to which they subscribe. However, I suppose it is conceivable that a situation like that of ancient Israel could come about.

    The only permissible “slavery” would be the ability to employ oneself to pay off a debt, but even this — if it even existed in the first place — would be handled carefully via contract law to handle bad situations.

    Possible? Yes. Likely? That’s something else…

  • peter taylor

    Duet 24:7 does not appear to refer specifically to slaves; but to Israelites which were kidnapped:

    If any man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh marchandise of him, or selleth him, that thief shal die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you (1599 Geneva translation with updated spelling)

    Exo 21:16 does not refer specifically to slavery:

    And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, if it be found with him, shall die the death (1599 Geneva Bible with updated spelling)

    It appears that slaves of foreigners were not required to be released:

    Lev 25:46 And you shall take them for inheritance to your sons after you, to hold for a possession; you may lay service on them forever. But on your brothers, the sons of Israel, one over another, you shall not rule over him with severity (LITV).

    Israelite slaves were to be released every sabbatical year (7th year), and every 50th year (Jubilee):

    Here is a comment from John Gill’s commentary (free from e-sword), which shows how many of our founders would have looked at slavery (note that his references were from ancient Jewish sources):

    Lev 25:46 And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you,…. Which they might leave them at their death to inherit, as they did their estates and lands; for such servants are, with the Jews (y), said to be like immovable goods, as fields, vineyards:

    to inherit them for a possession; as their property, as anything else that was bequeathed to hem, as negroes now are in our plantations abroad:

    thy shall be your bondmen for ever; and not be released at the year jubilee, nor before nor after; unless they obtained their liberty, either by purchase, which they might make themselves, or by the means of others, or else by a writing under their master’s hand dismissing them from his service (z); or in case they were maimed by him, then he was obliged to let them go free, Exo_21:26,

    but over your brethren, the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour; which repeated for the confirmation of it, and for the fuller explanation and description of the person not to be ruled over with rigour; and that it might be the more taken notice of, and to make them the more careful in the observance of it and though this peculiarly respects masters’ treatment of their servants, yet Jarchi thinks it comprehends a prince over his people, and a king over his ministers, whom he may not rule with rigour.

    (y) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Kiddushin, c. 1. sect. 3. (z) Misn. Kiddushin, ib.

    However, slaves could be released under the following conditions:

    Exo 21:26 And if a man smite his seruant in the eie, or his maide in the eye, and hath perished it, hee shall let him goe free for his eye (1587 Geneva).

    Exo 21:27 Also if he smite out his seruants tooth, or his maides tooth, he shall let him goe out free for his tooth (1587 Geneva).

    Something else to consider; female Israelite slaves:

    Exo 21:7 Likewise if a man sell his daughter to be a servant, she shall not go out as the men servants do.

    JFB Commentary says:

    Exo 21:7-11
    Exo_21:7-36. Laws for maidservants.
    If a man sell his daughter — Hebrew girls might be redeemed for a reasonable sum. But in the event of her parents or friends being unable to pay the redemption money, her owner was not at liberty to sell her elsewhere. Should she have been betrothed to him or his son, and either change their minds, a maintenance must be provided for her suitable to her condition as his intended wife, or her freedom instantly granted.

    So we can conclude that liberty meant different things to the Israelites under God’s Law: There are degrees of liberty; either to be the Lord’s freeman/freewoman, or the Lords bondmen/bondmaid, and each required complete dedication to God, but different roles and responsibilities, whether free or slave, Jehovah is the LORD of all!

  • peter taylor

    Duet 24:7 does not appear to refer specifically to slaves; but to Israelites which were kidnapped:

    If any man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh marchandise of him, or selleth him, that thief shal die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you (1599 Geneva translation with updated spelling)

    Exo 21:16 does not refer specifically to slavery:

    And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, if it be found with him, shall die the death (1599 Geneva Bible with updated spelling)

    It appears that slaves of foreigners were not required to be released:

    Lev 25:46 And you shall take them for inheritance to your sons after you, to hold for a possession; you may lay service on them forever. But on your brothers, the sons of Israel, one over another, you shall not rule over him with severity (LITV).

    Israelite slaves were to be released every sabbatical year (7th year), and every 50th year (Jubilee):

    Here is a comment from John Gill’s commentary (free from e-sword), which shows how many of our founders would have looked at slavery (note that his references were from ancient Jewish sources):

    Lev 25:46 And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you,…. Which they might leave them at their death to inherit, as they did their estates and lands; for such servants are, with the Jews (y), said to be like immovable goods, as fields, vineyards:

    to inherit them for a possession; as their property, as anything else that was bequeathed to hem, as negroes now are in our plantations abroad:

    thy shall be your bondmen for ever; and not be released at the year jubilee, nor before nor after; unless they obtained their liberty, either by purchase, which they might make themselves, or by the means of others, or else by a writing under their master’s hand dismissing them from his service (z); or in case they were maimed by him, then he was obliged to let them go free, Exo_21:26,

    but over your brethren, the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour; which repeated for the confirmation of it, and for the fuller explanation and description of the person not to be ruled over with rigour; and that it might be the more taken notice of, and to make them the more careful in the observance of it and though this peculiarly respects masters’ treatment of their servants, yet Jarchi thinks it comprehends a prince over his people, and a king over his ministers, whom he may not rule with rigour.

    (y) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Kiddushin, c. 1. sect. 3. (z) Misn. Kiddushin, ib.

    However, slaves could be released under the following conditions:

    Exo 21:26 And if a man smite his seruant in the eie, or his maide in the eye, and hath perished it, hee shall let him goe free for his eye (1587 Geneva).

    Exo 21:27 Also if he smite out his seruants tooth, or his maides tooth, he shall let him goe out free for his tooth (1587 Geneva).

    Something else to consider; female Israelite slaves:

    Exo 21:7 Likewise if a man sell his daughter to be a servant, she shall not go out as the men servants do.

    JFB Commentary says:

    Exo 21:7-11
    Exo_21:7-36. Laws for maidservants.
    If a man sell his daughter — Hebrew girls might be redeemed for a reasonable sum. But in the event of her parents or friends being unable to pay the redemption money, her owner was not at liberty to sell her elsewhere. Should she have been betrothed to him or his son, and either change their minds, a maintenance must be provided for her suitable to her condition as his intended wife, or her freedom instantly granted.

    So we can conclude that liberty meant different things to the Israelites under God’s Law: There are degrees of liberty; either to be the Lord’s freeman/freewoman, or the Lords bondmen/bondmaid, and each required complete dedication to God, but different roles and responsibilities, whether free or slave, Jehovah is the LORD of all!

  • peter taylor

    Duet 24:7 does not appear to refer specifically to slaves; but to Israelites which were kidnapped:

    If any man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh marchandise of him, or selleth him, that thief shal die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you (1599 Geneva translation with updated spelling).

    Exo 21:16 also does not refer specifically to slavery:

    And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, if it be found with him, shall die the death (1599 Geneva Bible with updated spelling).

    It appears that slaves of foreigners were not required to be released:

    Lev 25:46 And you shall take them for inheritance to your sons after you, to hold for a possession; you may lay service on them forever. But on your brothers, the sons of Israel, one over another, you shall not rule over him with severity (LITV). Israelite slaves however were to be released every sabbatical year (7th year), and every 50th year (Jubilee).

    Here is a comment from John Gill’s commentary (free from e-sword), which shows how many of our founders would have looked at slavery (note that his references were from ancient Jewish sources, which important to the understanding of Mosaic Law):

    Lev 25:46 And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you,…. Which they might leave them at their death to inherit, as they did their estates and lands; for such servants are, with the Jews (y), said to be like immovable goods, as fields, vineyards:

    to inherit them for a possession; as their property, as anything else that was bequeathed to them, as negroes now are in our plantations abroad:

    they shall be your bondmen for ever; and not be released at the year jubilee, nor before nor after; unless they obtained their liberty, either by purchase, which they might make themselves, or by the means of others, or else by a writing under their master’s hand dismissing them from his service (z); or in case they were maimed by him, then he was obliged to let them go free, Exo_21:26,but over your brethren, the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour; which repeated for the confirmation of it, and for the fuller explanation and description of the person not to be ruled over with rigour; and that it might be the more taken notice of, and to make them the more careful in the observance of it and though this peculiarly respects masters’ treatment of their servants, yet Jarchi thinks it comprehends a prince over his people, and a king over his ministers, whom he may not rule with rigour.

    (y) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Kiddushin, c. 1. sect. 3. (z) Misn. Kiddushin, ib.

    However, slaves could be released under the following conditions:

    Exo 21:26 And if a man smite his seruant in the eie, or his maide in the eye, and hath perished it, hee shall let him goe free for his eye (1587 Geneva).

    Exo 21:27 Also if he smite out his seruants tooth, or his maides tooth, he shall let him goe out free for his tooth (1587 Geneva).

    Something else to consider; female Israelite slaves:

    Exo 21:7 Likewise if a man sell his daughter to be a servant, she shall not go out as the men servants do.

    JFB Commentary says:

    Exo 21:7-11
    Exo_21:7-36. Laws for maidservants.
    If a man sell his daughter — Hebrew girls might be redeemed for a reasonable sum. But in the event of her parents or friends being unable to pay the redemption money, her owner was not at liberty to sell her elsewhere. Should she have been betrothed to him or his son, and either change their minds, a maintenance must be provided for her suitable to her condition as his intended wife, or her freedom instantly granted.

    So we can conclude that liberty meant different things to the Israelites under God’s Law: There are degrees of liberty; either to be the Lord’s freeman/freewoman, or the Lords bondmen/bondmaid, and each required complete dedication to God, but different roles and responsibilities, whether free or slave, Jehovah is the LORD of all!

    The earth is the LORD’s and the Fullness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein. This adds an important insight into the Christian model of Libertarianism from the standpoint of God’s law. In this respect then, let us enjoy our liberty and God-given priviledges of physical freedom:

    For the one called while a slave in the Lord is a freed man of the Lord. And likewise, the one called while a free man is a slave of Christ.

    Question: Is physical freedom under God’s Law a priviledge or a right for all men? Scripture does not support physical liberty as a God-given right for all people (sorry Mr Locke, and Mr Jefferson; you were close, but no cigar). The are important requisites to True Liberty and they often require bondage (Israel’s 215 years in Egypt/430 years in Egypt and Caanan).

    The truth is: In christ, true liberty is defined as where the Spirit of the LORD is, no matter your current conditions or estate:

    Eph 6:8 Knowing that whatever good thing any man does, the same shall he receive from our LORD, whether he be a slave or a freeman.

    Conversly, true bondage and true tyranny can been defined Biblically as spiritual bondage, leading to physical, social and economical bondage:

    Rev 13:16 and to cause that all, great and small, rich and poor, bond and free, should receive a mark on their right hands, or upon their foreheads; Rev 13:17 so that no one might be able to buy or to sell, except those who had the mark of the name of the beast of prey, or the number of his name(Murdock translation). Just a side note: This sounds a little like non libertarian (statist) social security numbers and centralized planning on steroids to me.

    The bottom line: Liberty is first spiritual; it comes by God’s Grace, which is unconditional (TULIP), but physical, and social liberty is conditional, and is of the same type which had been established under our U.S. Constitution at its founding, and that same liberty was only for those who were priviledged enough to have it because they were part of the free society called the United States.

    Some thoughts:
    Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: henceforth it is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life which now I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

    Live free (whether slave or free) and die well (OK, I admit, I stole this from Scorpion King); But die indeed!

    Grace be With You.

  • peter taylor

    Duet 24:7 does not appear to refer specifically to slaves; but to Israelites which were kidnapped:

    If any man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh marchandise of him, or selleth him, that thief shal die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you (1599 Geneva translation with updated spelling).

    Exo 21:16 also does not refer specifically to slavery:

    And he that stealeth a man, and selleth him, if it be found with him, shall die the death (1599 Geneva Bible with updated spelling).

    It appears that slaves of foreigners were not required to be released:

    Lev 25:46 And you shall take them for inheritance to your sons after you, to hold for a possession; you may lay service on them forever. But on your brothers, the sons of Israel, one over another, you shall not rule over him with severity (LITV). Israelite slaves however were to be released every sabbatical year (7th year), and every 50th year (Jubilee).

    Here is a comment from John Gill’s commentary (free from e-sword), which shows how many of our founders would have looked at slavery (note that his references were from ancient Jewish sources, which important to the understanding of Mosaic Law):

    Lev 25:46 And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you,…. Which they might leave them at their death to inherit, as they did their estates and lands; for such servants are, with the Jews (y), said to be like immovable goods, as fields, vineyards:

    to inherit them for a possession; as their property, as anything else that was bequeathed to them, as negroes now are in our plantations abroad:

    they shall be your bondmen for ever; and not be released at the year jubilee, nor before nor after; unless they obtained their liberty, either by purchase, which they might make themselves, or by the means of others, or else by a writing under their master’s hand dismissing them from his service (z); or in case they were maimed by him, then he was obliged to let them go free, Exo_21:26,but over your brethren, the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one over another with rigour; which repeated for the confirmation of it, and for the fuller explanation and description of the person not to be ruled over with rigour; and that it might be the more taken notice of, and to make them the more careful in the observance of it and though this peculiarly respects masters’ treatment of their servants, yet Jarchi thinks it comprehends a prince over his people, and a king over his ministers, whom he may not rule with rigour.

    (y) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Kiddushin, c. 1. sect. 3. (z) Misn. Kiddushin, ib.

    However, slaves could be released under the following conditions:

    Exo 21:26 And if a man smite his seruant in the eie, or his maide in the eye, and hath perished it, hee shall let him goe free for his eye (1587 Geneva).

    Exo 21:27 Also if he smite out his seruants tooth, or his maides tooth, he shall let him goe out free for his tooth (1587 Geneva).

    Something else to consider; female Israelite slaves:

    Exo 21:7 Likewise if a man sell his daughter to be a servant, she shall not go out as the men servants do.

    JFB Commentary says:

    Exo 21:7-11
    Exo_21:7-36. Laws for maidservants.
    If a man sell his daughter — Hebrew girls might be redeemed for a reasonable sum. But in the event of her parents or friends being unable to pay the redemption money, her owner was not at liberty to sell her elsewhere. Should she have been betrothed to him or his son, and either change their minds, a maintenance must be provided for her suitable to her condition as his intended wife, or her freedom instantly granted.

    So we can conclude that liberty meant different things to the Israelites under God’s Law: There are degrees of liberty; either to be the Lord’s freeman/freewoman, or the Lords bondmen/bondmaid, and each required complete dedication to God, but different roles and responsibilities, whether free or slave, Jehovah is the LORD of all!

    The earth is the LORD’s and the Fullness thereof; the world and they that dwell therein. This adds an important insight into the Christian model of Libertarianism from the standpoint of God’s law. In this respect then, let us enjoy our liberty and God-given priviledges of physical freedom:

    For the one called while a slave in the Lord is a freed man of the Lord. And likewise, the one called while a free man is a slave of Christ.

    Question: Is physical freedom under God’s Law a priviledge or a right for all men? Scripture does not support physical liberty as a God-given right for all people (sorry Mr Locke, and Mr Jefferson; you were close, but no cigar). The are important requisites to True Liberty and they often require bondage (Israel’s 215 years in Egypt/430 years in Egypt and Caanan).

    The truth is: In christ, true liberty is defined as where the Spirit of the LORD is, no matter your current conditions or estate:

    Eph 6:8 Knowing that whatever good thing any man does, the same shall he receive from our LORD, whether he be a slave or a freeman.

    Conversly, true bondage and true tyranny can been defined Biblically as spiritual bondage, leading to physical, social and economical bondage:

    Rev 13:16 and to cause that all, great and small, rich and poor, bond and free, should receive a mark on their right hands, or upon their foreheads; Rev 13:17 so that no one might be able to buy or to sell, except those who had the mark of the name of the beast of prey, or the number of his name(Murdock translation). Just a side note: This sounds a little like non libertarian (statist) social security numbers and centralized planning on steroids to me.

    The bottom line: Liberty is first spiritual; it comes by God’s Grace, which is unconditional (TULIP), but physical, and social liberty is conditional, and is of the same type which had been established under our U.S. Constitution at its founding, and that same liberty was only for those who were priviledged enough to have it because they were part of the free society called the United States.

    Some thoughts:
    Gal 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: henceforth it is not I who live, but Christ who lives in me; and the life which now I live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

    Live free (whether slave or free) and die well (OK, I admit, I stole this from Scorpion King); But die indeed!

    Grace be With You.

  • peter taylor

    All have God-given rights, but all do not have the same rights:
    1. Slavery was allowed in levitical law (2 of the ten commandments contain it)

    2. Owning a slave under Levitical law was allowed, but not required

    3. Adultry etc. was sin, but slavery ownership was not

    4. Slave ownership was equal to property rights

    5. Mosaic Law required the humane and regulated slavery

    6. escaped slaves were not to be returned to their owners

    7. Israelite servanthood was voluntary,and could only last for 7 years

    9. Liberty, property rights depended on the citizenship rights in the commonwealth of Israel

    10. Moabites and Ammonites had no citizenship or property rights, and therefore,they has restricted Liberties

  • peter taylor

    All have God-given rights, but all do not have the same rights:
    1. Slavery was allowed in levitical law (2 of the ten commandments contain it)

    2. Owning a slave under Levitical law was allowed, but not required

    3. Adultry etc. was sin, but slavery ownership was not

    4. Slave ownership was equal to property rights

    5. Mosaic Law required the humane and regulated slavery

    6. escaped slaves were not to be returned to their owners

    7. Israelite servanthood was voluntary,and could only last for 7 years

    9. Liberty, property rights depended on the citizenship rights in the commonwealth of Israel

    10. Moabites and Ammonites had no citizenship or property rights, and therefore,they has restricted Liberties

  • peter taylor

    Sorry on point 7, the 7 years could be extended indefinately if the sefrvant made a vow to do so.

  • peter taylor

    Sorry on point 7, the 7 years could be extended indefinately if the sefrvant made a vow to do so.

  • peter taylor

    Please note that slavery is in two of ten Commandments:

    (a) Exo 20:3 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
    Exo 20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
    Exo 20:10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

    (b) Exo 20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

    Ok, just to be clear, Im not advocating slavery in today’s society and American culture; not because it is or was sinful, but because its time has passed.

  • peter taylor

    Please note that slavery is in two of ten Commandments:

    (a) Exo 20:3 Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.
    Exo 20:9 Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work:
    Exo 20:10 But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:

    (b) Exo 20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.

    Ok, just to be clear, Im not advocating slavery in today’s society and American culture; not because it is or was sinful, but because its time has passed.

  • peter taylor

    Oh yes, I did want to say that John Gill was a calvinist scholar;like our New England founders, and as an Englishman has additudes toward the slavery of negros was not unlike the founding generation.

  • peter taylor

    Oh yes, I did want to say that John Gill was a calvinist scholar;like our New England founders, and as an Englishman has additudes toward the slavery of negros was not unlike the founding generation.

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  • Robby

    How can a Christian who follows the principles taught by Christ, his own Lord and Master, hold another human being, whether or not a brother or sister in the Lord, in bondage?
    If the “slave” decides to leave, he “holds the key” to his collar. Looking at the law of Moses, which some advocates of human bondage invoke, the Israelites were forbidden to return the escaped slave, so-called, to his master, so-called. This hardly qualifies as slavery at all!
    If I am called a slave, yet am free to walk off at any time, where is the slavery? As a laborer for wages, I can quit at any time, be paid my accrued wages, and go away as I please. If my former boss is angered, he may refuse to hire me again, that is all.
    The only slavery of which I am aware, other than as punishment for crime duly convicted, is the claim my fellow citizens make, through their elected representatives, on my labor. They claim it all, less whatever portion they, in their gracious pleasure, generously allow me to keep. Every morsel I lift to my mouth belongs to my neighbors in their collective capacity. They generously allow me to keep a certain portion for myself. All else belongs to the collective.