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Exodus 21:8, sadism in the Hebrew slave code

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  • Exodus 21:8, sadism in the Hebrew slave code

    7 "If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do.
    8 "If she is displeasing in the eyes of her master who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He does not have authority to sell her to a foreign people because of his unfairness to her.
    9 "If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters.
    10 "If he takes to himself another woman, he may not reduce her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights.
    11 "If he will not do these three things for her, then she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.
    (Exo 21:7-11 NAU)
    If the reason in the text given for restricting the master from selling the female slave to foreigners, is because of his unfairness to her, then would he have lawful authority to sell her to foreigners as long as he isn't unfair to her?

    What is the point of the text blaming the prohibition against selling her to foreigners on his being unfaithful to her, if he wasn't allowed to sell her to foreigners regardless of the circumstances?

    If you agree with me that this Hebrew master could sell this girl into foreign servitude as long as he wasn't unfair to her, then...do you accept the biblical testimony that the Gentile nations surrounding Israel in the time of Moses were exceedingly corrupt and sinful?

    If so, doesn't Exodus 21:8 become divine authorization to subject a Hebrew girl to the most vile of pagan living conditions and practices?

    You can scream as long as you wish that the Hebrew slave code was more civil than others, in your never-ending quest to excuse away the divine atrocities of the Old Testament, but that argument would not seem to benefit you much here. This is allowing for very cruel treatment of a girl solely because she is a girl, no punishment for sin expressed or implied. For which reason I conclude that within this "more civil" slave code, is a rather sadistic rule putting the Hebrews on par with the brutality of the very pagans that apologists ceaselessly try to contrast them with.

    Think very carefully on this: If you observe the father in a modern American family selling his daughter to some guy whom she didn't herself pick for marriage, does your immediate revulsion to this arise from eternal absolute laws of god that are on your heart? Or do you feel revulsion merely because you've been conditioned to believe that the modern American way of life is best (i.e., relative morals)?

    If they arise from absolute morals God placed on your heart, how can you reconcile that absolute law of god, with God's law in Exodus 21:8 authorizing Hebrews to sell their slaves to idolatrous Gentiles?

    If they arise from relative morals, then aren't you saying that barbaric treatment of young girls in human trafficking can be morally justified if the conditions are right?

    I have serious problems with conservative Christian apologists who are forever twisting the Mosaic writings to make them appear more in conformity with modern American morality than they really are. You would be horrified to see America replace its current federal laws with the Law of Moses, and it wouldn't simply be because of your subjective belief that modern American morality is superior. When we feel revulsion at the thought of human trafficking and slavery, it is most likely because we are instinctively aware of how dangerous and fundamentally unfair such practices are, and how such institutions easily breed great corruption. If we lived under the law of Moses today, what exactly could your slave girl/concubine do if you gave her a black eye? The law of Moses forbids punishing a slave owner where the abuse inflicted was not fatal. Exodus 21:21.

    No amount of "but the Hebrew law code was more civilized than others in those days" will shield the conservative position from attack here. It could not be more obvious, once the realities of life in ancient Mesopotamia are taken into account, how utterly barbaric the Hebrew slave laws were.

    Naturally raising the question of why you think the bible god is far more loving of you than your own parents, when this god instituted practices that make you scream "sadism!" when you see the pagans doing the same things. Have you ever seriously considered that Christian faith has a psychological dimension despite what other dimensions it has, and that you naturally rebel against justified rebuttals solely because the rebuttals are in fact attacking your comfort zone?

    If a mom really is a crack whore subjecting her three year old to dangerous conditions, do you think you'll ever convince the toddler that her mom really is a bad person? No amount of evidence will be sufficient. There is a reason why people cling to what is comforting, and it obviously has nothing to do with desire to pursue "truth".
    Last edited by B&H; 03-17-2015, 01:13 AM.

  • #2
    Originally posted by B&H View Post
    If the reason in the text given for restricting the master from selling the female slave to foreigners, is because of his unfairness to her, then would he have lawful authority to sell her to foreigners as long as he isn't unfair to her?
    Eh, no, that's not what the text is saying. His unfairness refers back to the phrase "designated her for himself" (probably as a wife/concubine) which means that it is the very act of not taking her as a wife/concubine (because she is displeasing to him) that is considered unfair. In other words, there is no circumstance under which he has lawful authority to sell her to foreigners.

    Which means that the rest of your post simply does not follow and can be safely ignored.

    ETA: Just a clarification. Whether or not this text is talking about taking a girl as your wife/concubine, or simply as a servant has no bearing on my argument. The main point is that the man in question has designated her for himself, whether that means as a servant or something else is on the whole not relevant to the point that it is the act of reneging on his promise to designate her for himself that is considered unfair to her.
    Last edited by JonathanL; 03-17-2015, 01:27 AM.
    ~Formerly known as Chrawnus~

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    • #3
      I thought I would take a crack at your questions anyway, even though most of them are irrelevant in light of a proper understanding of the passage in question:

      Originally posted by B&H View Post
      What is the point of the text blaming the prohibition against selling her to foreigners on his being unfaithful to her, if he wasn't allowed to sell her to foreigners regardless of the circumstances?
      I don't understand the question. Are you asking what the relevance is of pointing out that breaking his promise to her is being unfair to her? He is being unfair to her by breaking his promise (to designate her for himself) so I'm not sure what your gripe is. Regardless of if the text allows for circumstances where he could sell the girl into foreign servitude (it does not) or if the passage serves to completely block off the option of her master selling her into foreign servitude (which it does) it still is the case that the master is being unfair to her, and so it's not peculiar at all that the text should point it out.

      Originally posted by B&H View Post
      If you agree with me that this Hebrew master could sell this girl into foreign servitude as long as he wasn't unfair to her, then...do you accept the biblical testimony that the Gentile nations surrounding Israel in the time of Moses were exceedingly corrupt and sinful?

      I don't agree with the first assumption, I do agree with the second about the Gentile nations being corrupt and sinful.

      Originally posted by B&H View Post
      If so, doesn't Exodus 21:8 become divine authorization to subject a Hebrew girl to the most vile of pagan living conditions and practices?
      Only if we agree with your assumption that there are circumstances where a Hebrew girl can be sold into foreign servitude, but there are no such circumstances, so your conclusion does not follow.

      Originally posted by B&H View Post
      You can scream as long as you wish that the Hebrew slave code was more civil than others, in your never-ending quest to excuse away the divine atrocities of the Old Testament, but that argument would not seem to benefit you much here. This is allowing for very cruel treatment of a girl solely because she is a girl, no punishment for sin expressed or implied. For which reason I conclude that within this "more civil" slave code, is a rather sadistic rule putting the Hebrews on par with the brutality of the very pagans that apologists ceaselessly try to contrast them with.
      Perhaps learning to properly interpret the Bible would be a better way to spend your time than to foolishly accuse apologists of defending "divine atrocities" because you couldn't be bothered to learn the necessary information and proper methodology to interpret the biblical text and so spare yourself the embarrassment of showing the whole world that even though you do not have the slightest clue on how to properly interpret a document from an ancient culture you still think you can pronounce moral judgements on it.

      Originally posted by B&H View Post
      Think very carefully on this: If you observe the father in a modern American family selling his daughter to some guy whom she didn't herself pick for marriage, does your immediate revulsion to this arise from eternal absolute laws of god that are on your heart? Or do you feel revulsion merely because you've been conditioned to believe that the modern American way of life is best (i.e., relative morals)?
      My objection would be that we (speaking as a member of the modern West, not as an American) are no longer under the same circumstances that the ancient Israelites were under, and that the conditions under which it would be justified to concede to the kind of system where a father has the kind of legal right over his daughter that allows him to pick a husband for her simply does not exist in modern Western civilization anymore (or atleast not that I'm aware of).

      Originally posted by B&H View Post
      If they arise from absolute morals God placed on your heart, how can you reconcile that absolute law of god, with God's law in Exodus 21:8 authorizing Hebrews to sell their slaves to idolatrous Gentiles?
      No reconciliation needed, the reason why should be quite clear.

      Originally posted by B&H View Post
      If they arise from relative morals, then aren't you saying that barbaric treatment of young girls in human trafficking can be morally justified if the conditions are right?
      They don't arise from relative morals though.

      Originally posted by B&H View Post
      I have serious problems with conservative Christian apologists who are forever twisting the Mosaic writings to make them appear more in conformity with modern American morality than they really are. You would be horrified to see America replace its current federal laws with the Law of Moses, and it wouldn't simply be because of your subjective belief that modern American morality is superior. When we feel revulsion at the thought of human trafficking and slavery, it is most likely because we are instinctively aware of how dangerous and fundamentally unfair such practices are, and how such institutions easily breed great corruption. If we lived under the law of Moses today, what exactly could your slave girl/concubine do if you gave her a black eye? The law of Moses forbids punishing a slave owner where the abuse inflicted was not fatal. Exodus 21:21.
      And I have serious problems with rabid anti-theists twisting the Mosaic writings to make them appear more atrocious than they really are. I guess that makes us even. And no one is arguing that we should replace any nations law with the law of Moses (except maybe a few crackpots). The law of Moses was written specifically for the kind of time and culture that the Israelites at the time found themselves in, which means that there are sometimes necessary concessions to ancient customs there that wouldn't necessarily have been given if the Law had been written in a culture more similar to ours.

      And to answer your question about hitting a slave girl: If the injury to the eye in question was permanent, the slave owner had to let the girl go free. Of course, given that corporal punishment was a common occurrence for that time, even for free persons (such as teachers disciplining students for example) the fact that the Mosaic law regulates (rather than permits) corporal punishment for slaves isn't really that morally outrageous as you seem to think it is. If the Mosaic Law had said nothing about this issue then the slave/servant would have had literally no legal protection when it came to the issue of corporal punishment. The fact that permanently damaging a body part of the servant would mean having to let that servant go free would mean that any slave owner would probably be quite careful not to inflict punishment on any easily damaged part of the body (such as the eyes and teeth). Unless the master in question is a complete moron of course, and does not mind letting perfectly good labor walk away without him (the master) getting any recompensation for lost workforce whatsoever.

      Originally posted by B&H View Post
      No amount of "but the Hebrew law code was more civilized than others in those days" will shield the conservative position from attack here. It could not be more obvious, once the realities of life in ancient Mesopotamia are taken into account, how utterly barbaric the Hebrew slave laws were.
      Actually, once the realities of ancient Mesopotamia are taken into account it becames much more apparent why the laws of Moses are written in the way they are.

      Originally posted by B&H View Post
      Naturally raising the question of why you think the bible god is far more loving of you than your own parents, when this god instituted practices that make you scream "sadism!" when you see the pagans doing the same things. Have you ever seriously considered that Christian faith has a psychological dimension despite what other dimensions it has, and that you naturally rebel against justified rebuttals solely because the rebuttals are in fact attacking your comfort zone?
      He didn't institute these practices though, what He did was regulate them so that their damaging effects wouldn't be as pervasive and deep as they otherwise would have been.

      Originally posted by B&H View Post
      If a mom really is a crack whore subjecting her three year old to dangerous conditions, do you think you'll ever convince the toddler that her mom really is a bad person? No amount of evidence will be sufficient. There is a reason why people cling to what is comforting, and it obviously has nothing to do with desire to pursue "truth".
      Your problem of course, is that you fail to realize that if the Mosaic law really was as atrocious as you anti-theists twist it into appearing to be, hardly anyone would find reading the Bible comforting.
      Last edited by JonathanL; 03-17-2015, 02:30 AM.
      ~Formerly known as Chrawnus~

      Comment


      • #4
        Chrawnus

        I agree with your interpretation.The daughter was sold to be a wife or concubine, and if her master did not want her in that capacity, he was to let her go free. The Hebrews were quite protective of Hebrew slaves (not so much gentile slaves).
        Originally posted by Chrawnus View Post
        My objection would be that we (speaking as a member of the modern West, not as an American) are no longer under the same circumstances that the ancient Israelites were under, and that the conditions under which it would be justified to concede to the kind of system where a father has the kind of legal right over his daughter that allows him to pick a husband for her simply does not exist in modern Western civilization anymore (or atleast not that I'm aware of).
        Your position is that these laws are dependent on the culture, then? Or more specifically, the circumstances of the culture?

        Most Christians seem to shy away from moral relativism (and I must admit, I do too). If something is wrong, then it is wrong no matter what culture you are in.
        They don't arise from relative morals though.
        Oh. So the laws apply across all cultures, no matter the circumstances? Perhaps you could clarify...
        The law of Moses was written specifically for the kind of time and culture that the Israelites at the time found themselves in, which means that there are sometimes necessary concessions to ancient customs there that wouldn't necessarily have been given if the Law had been written in a culture more similar to ours.
        And back to moral relativism.

        If we lived under the law of Moses today, what exactly could your slave girl/concubine do if you gave her a black eye? The law of Moses forbids punishing a slave owner where the abuse inflicted was not fatal. Exodus 21:21.
        And to answer your question about hitting a slave girl: If the injury to the eye in question was permanent, the slave owner had to let the girl go free.
        He specifically said a black eye, which is not permanent. So in that case, no punishment is due, right?
        Of course, given that corporal punishment was a common occurrence for that time, even for free persons (such as teachers disciplining students for example) the fact that the Mosaic law regulates (rather than permits) corporal punishment for slaves isn't really that morally outrageous as you seem to think it is.
        So your argument is that corporal punishment was okay back then because everyone did it?

        Can you confirm that I have understood you correctly?
        If the Mosaic Law had said nothing about this issue then the slave/servant would have had literally no legal protection when it came to the issue of corporal punishment. The fact that permanently damaging a body part of the servant would mean having to let that servant go free would mean that any slave owner would probably be quite careful not to inflict punishment on any easily damaged part of the body (such as the eyes and teeth). Unless the master in question is a complete moron of course, and does not mind letting perfectly good labor walk away without him (the master) getting any recompensation for lost workforce whatsoever.
        And so you consider the Mosaic laws to be perfectly moral?
        Actually, once the realities of ancient Mesopotamia are taken into account it becames much more apparent why the laws of Moses are written in the way they are.
        Again, you are arguing that the Mosaic laws are perfectly moral because everyone else behaved worse at that time, right? Or is your position that they were perfectly moral back then?
        He didn't institute these practices though, what He did was regulate them so that their damaging effects wouldn't be as pervasive and deep as they otherwise would have been.
        He may not have invented the practices, but getting them put into a holy book is instituting them.
        My Blog: http://oncreationism.blogspot.co.uk/

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by B&H View Post
          If the reason in the text given for restricting the master from selling the female slave to foreigners, is because of his unfairness to her, then would he have lawful authority to sell her to foreigners as long as he isn't unfair to her?

          What is the point of the text blaming the prohibition against selling her to foreigners on his being unfaithful to her, if he wasn't allowed to sell her to foreigners regardless of the circumstances?
          If you read the text in context. For Hebrew slaves, a male serves for six years and then is free to go without payment. For a female slave the context seems to intimate that she will also serve six years and at the end of that if the master hasn't decided to take her on as a wife then he has to let her be redeemed (I assume that means her family gets her back). The master also has the option of keeping the female slave for his son but then he has to treat her as a daughter and this has to be maintained even if the son takes another woman. If not then the female slave-who-became-a-daughter is free to go.

          Originally posted by B&H
          If you agree with me that this Hebrew master could sell this girl into foreign servitude as long as he wasn't unfair to her, then...do you accept the biblical testimony that the Gentile nations surrounding Israel in the time of Moses were exceedingly corrupt and sinful?

          If so, doesn't Exodus 21:8 become divine authorization to subject a Hebrew girl to the most vile of pagan living conditions and practices?
          No I don't agree

          Originally posted by B&H
          You can scream as long as you wish that the Hebrew slave code was more civil than others, in your never-ending quest to excuse away the divine atrocities of the Old Testament, but that argument would not seem to benefit you much here. This is allowing for very cruel treatment of a girl solely because she is a girl, no punishment for sin expressed or implied. For which reason I conclude that within this "more civil" slave code, is a rather sadistic rule putting the Hebrews on par with the brutality of the very pagans that apologists ceaselessly try to contrast them with.

          Think very carefully on this: If you observe the father in a modern American family selling his daughter to some guy whom she didn't herself pick for marriage, does your immediate revulsion to this arise from eternal absolute laws of god that are on your heart? Or do you feel revulsion merely because you've been conditioned to believe that the modern American way of life is best (i.e., relative morals)?
          No one chose their wives then and in fact when you see how quickly people seem to fall in and out of love today it is questionable whether picking ones own marriage partner is the route to happiness and bliss (that's an observation too)

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
            Chrawnus

            I agree with your interpretation.The daughter was sold to be a wife or concubine, and if her master did not want her in that capacity, he was to let her go free. The Hebrews were quite protective of Hebrew slaves (not so much gentile slaves).
            I'm quite interested what you're referring to by your comment about gentile slaves.

            Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
            Your position is that these laws are dependent on the culture, then? Or more specifically, the circumstances of the culture?

            Most Christians seem to shy away from moral relativism (and I must admit, I do too). If something is wrong, then it is wrong no matter what culture you are in.

            Oh. So the laws apply across all cultures, no matter the circumstances? Perhaps you could clarify...

            And back to moral relativism.
            It isn't really a question of moral relativism, but rather how much you're able to upturn the customs and institutions of an ancient civilization before you plunge it into chaos. My argument is this: God decided to work within the framework of the ancient Middle-Eastern culture and therefore tailored the laws to that situation. If the culture had looked different then He would have probably tailored the laws differently. These laws are not moral rules intended for all civilizations and cultures, rather they're intended specifically for that particular culture and civilization. You could possibly see them as the application of the absolute moral laws of God to that particular situation, with the implication that in a different situation, God's moral laws would express themselves differently.

            Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
            He specifically said a black eye, which is not permanent. So in that case, no punishment is due, right?
            Yes, but who is going to punch their servant/slave in the eye if they know that by doing it they risk having to let that slave go free?

            Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
            So your argument is that corporal punishment was okay back then because everyone did it?

            Can you confirm that I have understood you correctly?
            My point was more that since corporal punishment was issued to people other than slaves it's quite odd to complain that slaves were beaten, as if they were the only ones who were subject to such treatment. If I wanted to defend the practice of corporal punishment I would have argued something similar to this article, namely that disciplining people in that age was not only an issue of teaching them to behave properly, it was a question of society's survival.

            Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
            And so you consider the Mosaic laws to be perfectly moral?
            I consider them to be perfectly reasonable within the cultural context under which they were written.

            Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
            Again, you are arguing that the Mosaic laws are perfectly moral because everyone else behaved worse at that time, right? Or is your position that they were perfectly moral back then?
            I'm arguing that the question of whether or not they're perfectly moral is a misguided one. The reality of this fallen world is such that it simply isn't realistic to expect to be able to create a legal system that is perfectly moral.

            Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
            He may not have invented the practices, but getting them put into a holy book is instituting them.
            I fail to see how setting restrictions on a practice equals instituting them.
            ~Formerly known as Chrawnus~

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Chrawnus View Post
              I'm quite interested what you're referring to by your comment about gentile slaves.
              It is based primarily on this:

              Leviticus 25:39 "‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves. 40 They are to be treated as hired workers or temporary residents among you; they are to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. 41 Then they and their children are to be released, and they will go back to their own clans and to the property of their ancestors. 42 Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. 43 Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.

              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.


              Hebrew slaves were released after a while, gentile ones were not, and there was a special law saying not to treat Hebrew slaves "ruthlessly".
              It isn't really a question of moral relativism, but rather how much you're able to upturn the customs and institutions of an ancient civilization before you plunge it into chaos.
              So God was not unable to do any better? Strange, I thought he was all-powerful.

              Why did God allow these customs to become so firmly embedded in the culture before creating these laws?
              My argument is this: God decided to work within the framework of the ancient Middle-Eastern culture and therefore tailored the laws to that situation. If the culture had looked different then He would have probably tailored the laws differently. These laws are not moral rules intended for all civilizations and cultures, rather they're intended specifically for that particular culture and civilization. You could possibly see them as the application of the absolute moral laws of God to that particular situation, with the implication that in a different situation, God's moral laws would express themselves differently.
              How is this different to moral relativism?
              Yes, but who is going to punch their servant/slave in the eye if they know that by doing it they risk having to let that slave go free?
              Hence, slaves are traditionally whipped I guess.

              Not sure what your point is. The original question was about a black eye. A master giving his slave a black eye would not be punished according to Mosaic Law. I know you insist that this is based on "the application of the absolute moral laws of God to that particular situation", but I do ponder what that absolute moral law is.
              My point was more that since corporal punishment was issued to people other than slaves it's quite odd to complain that slaves were beaten, as if they were the only ones who were subject to such treatment. If I wanted to defend the practice of corporal punishment I would have argued something similar to this article, namely that disciplining people in that age was not only an issue of teaching them to behave properly, it was a question of society's survival.
              Really?

              You think a society that uses corporal punishment is moral fine if it allows slaves to be whipped? Again, I wonder what "the absolute moral laws of God" is here.
              I consider them to be perfectly reasonable within the cultural context under which they were written.
              The question is why that is not moral relativism.
              I'm arguing that the question of whether or not they're perfectly moral is a misguided one. The reality of this fallen world is such that it simply isn't realistic to expect to be able to create a legal system that is perfectly moral.
              So are you saying it is not possible for God to create a perfectly moral legal system?

              So let us suppose he could only create a superior moral system. Do you think it is possible for God to create a legal system that is morally superior to any created by man?

              Do you think the Mosaic Law was created by God?

              Do you think the Mosaic Law is a legal system that is morally superior to any created by man?
              I fail to see how setting restrictions on a practice equals instituting them.
              To institute something is to establish a policy. Slavery already existed, but the Mosaic Law regulated it, it established a policy for slavery, it instituted slavery. Take a look at the definition of the word.
              http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/de...lish/institute

              Anyway, it is a minor semantic issue, and I have said enough on it already.
              My Blog: http://oncreationism.blogspot.co.uk/

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
                It is based primarily on this:

                Leviticus 25:39 "‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves. 40 They are to be treated as hired workers or temporary residents among you; they are to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. 41 Then they and their children are to be released, and they will go back to their own clans and to the property of their ancestors. 42 Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. 43 Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.

                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.


                Hebrew slaves were released after a while, gentile ones were not, and there was a special law saying not to treat Hebrew slaves "ruthlessly".
                I think the point is that a person could only keep a Hebrew 'slave' for as long as it took to pay off the debt owed (hence a workers wage), no more and I think this was capped to six years. This was a special protection dictated by God because they were His people and it made a distinction between His and the rest.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
                  It is based primarily on this:

                  Leviticus 25:39 "‘If any of your fellow Israelites become poor and sell themselves to you, do not make them work as slaves. 40 They are to be treated as hired workers or temporary residents among you; they are to work for you until the Year of Jubilee. 41 Then they and their children are to be released, and they will go back to their own clans and to the property of their ancestors. 42 Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. 43 Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.

                  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.


                  Hebrew slaves were released after a while, gentile ones were not, and there was a special law saying not to treat Hebrew slaves "ruthlessly".
                  Eh, to say that gentile slaves were not released after a while is a bit misleading. The text gives you permission to buy the slave (or, rather his labor, output of his work) for an indefinite period of time. Another point to consider is that these "temporary residents" were probably disgraced exiles from the surrounding nations with no hope of ever returning to their homes, so it's mainly a difference of letting someone go free who has a home to return to vs. keeping someone in servitude who doesn't have that option.*

                  Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
                  So God was not unable to do any better? Strange, I thought he was all-powerful.
                  I'm not sure how God's omnipotence is relevant in this discussion.

                  Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
                  Why did God allow these customs to become so firmly embedded in the culture before creating these laws?
                  I'm not sure that there ever was a time when these customs weren't embedded in the ANE culture.

                  Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
                  How is this different to moral relativism?
                  I'm arguing that there are absolute moral principles that needs to be applied differently and sometimes less rigorously depending on the situation you find yourself in, not that there are different ethical systems for different cultures. A different legal framework is not the same as a different ethical framework.

                  Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
                  Hence, slaves are traditionally whipped I guess.
                  Or beaten with a rod. Not that that's any different from how "free" person were disciplined.

                  Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
                  Not sure what your point is. The original question was about a black eye. A master giving his slave a black eye would not be punished according to Mosaic Law. I know you insist that this is based on "the application of the absolute moral laws of God to that particular situation", but I do ponder what that absolute moral law is.
                  My point is that the situation that B&H describes isn't very likely to occur given the law about permanent damage to a slave. A prudent master isn't going to risk injuring the eye of his slave if it means having to let that slave go.

                  Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
                  Really?

                  You think a society that uses corporal punishment is moral fine if it allows slaves to be whipped? Again, I wonder what "the absolute moral laws of God" is here.
                  I would say that the absolute moral law is that ideally there should be no slavery, or indentured servitude, but in the cases where this is unavoidable there needs to be checks that ensure that the intendured servant is not treated cruelly.

                  Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
                  So are you saying it is not possible for God to create a perfectly moral legal system?
                  No, I'm saying it's impossible for us fallen human beings to live under a perfectly moral legal system.

                  Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
                  Do you think the Mosaic Law was created by God?
                  Yes.

                  Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
                  Do you think the Mosaic Law is a legal system that is morally superior to any created by man?
                  I think it was the best for the specific circumstances under which it was written and that any alternative is going to be inferior.






                  *https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDWtLHJt8Do
                  Last edited by JonathanL; 03-17-2015, 03:34 PM.
                  ~Formerly known as Chrawnus~

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Chrawnus View Post
                    Eh, to say that gentile slaves were not released after a while is a bit misleading. The text gives you permission to buy the slave (or, rather his labor, output of his work) for an indefinite period of time. Another point to consider is that these "temporary residents" were probably disgraced exiles from the surrounding nations with no hope of ever returning to their homes, so it's mainly a difference of letting someone go free who has a home to return to vs. keeping someone in servitude who doesn't have that option.*
                    The text makes a clear distinction.

                    Hebrew slaves: "they are to work for you until the Year of Jubilee"
                    Gentile slaves: "make them slaves for life"

                    So I am wondering why you claim "to say that gentile slaves were not released after a while is a bit misleading". The text says they could be made slaves for life, hence it is quite reasonable to say they were not released after a while.

                    It is interesting that you make a distinction between buying a slave and buying his labour. With regards to gentile slaves, it says "they will become your property". While you could make the case that, with Hebrew slaves, it was their labour that was purchased, the Bible says otherwise for gentile slaves.

                    On what basis do you think all gentile slaves were disgraced exiles? Is it not possible that some were prisoners of war or debtors?
                    It isn't really a question of moral relativism, but rather how much you're able to upturn the customs and institutions of an ancient civilization before you plunge it into chaos.
                    So God was not unable to do any better? Strange, I thought he was all-powerful.
                    I'm not sure how God's omnipotence is relevant in this discussion.
                    Then I shall attempt to explain.

                    Your argument here seemed to be that God was unable to do something, i.e., God would not be able to abolish slavery without turning the civilisation into chaos. This would seem to limit the power of God. Sure he can create the universe, but he cannot stop Hebrew civilisation turning to chaos after abolishing slavery.
                    I'm not sure that there ever was a time when these customs weren't embedded in the ANE culture.
                    Really?

                    Do you believe in a global flood? When Noah emerged from the ark, there were no slaves.
                    I'm arguing that there are absolute moral principles that needs to be applied differently and sometimes less rigorously depending on the situation you find yourself in, not that there are different ethical systems for different cultures. A different legal framework is not the same as a different ethical framework.
                    We will get to this the absolute moral principle in a bit...
                    Or beaten with a rod. Not that that's any different from how "free" person were disciplined.
                    And that makes it acceptable?
                    My point is that the situation that B&H describes isn't very likely to occur given the law about permanent damage to a slave. A prudent master isn't going to risk injuring the eye of his slave if it means having to let that slave go.
                    Seems reasonable.

                    Now can you confirm that a slave owner giving a slave a black eye is not against Biblical Law, even if it is not very likely to happen?
                    I would say that the absolute moral law is that ideally there should be no slavery, or indentured servitude, but in the cases where this is unavoidable there needs to be checks that ensure that the intendured servant is not treated cruelly.
                    That is an absolute moral law? Ideally you must not do something, but if you really have to...

                    That is like saying ideally you will not murder anyone, but in cases where it is unavoidable, try to do it painlessly.

                    See my absolute moral law is that slavery is wrong. It seems a little more... absolute than yours.

                    Who gets to decide if slavery is unavoidable? Was the slavery of blacks in America unavoidable? Would you say that what was wrong with slavery was that there were not checks in place to ensure they were not treated cruelly? I think many people would disagree with that, but I must say it is brave of you to go on record saying this.
                    No, I'm saying it's impossible for us fallen human beings to live under a perfectly moral legal system.
                    Can you talk me through that?

                    Let us start with the supposedly perfectly moral law on slavery. Why do you think it is impossible for humans to live under a law that says ideally there should be no slavery, but if it is unavoidable, just go for it? See, to me that sounds like the sort of weasel-worded law that is very easy to live under. Just do not keep slaves unless you feel you really, really need to.
                    My Blog: http://oncreationism.blogspot.co.uk/

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
                      Who gets to decide if slavery is unavoidable? Was the slavery of blacks in America unavoidable? Would you say that what was wrong with slavery was that there were not checks in place to ensure they were not treated cruelly? I think many people would disagree with that, but I must say it is brave of you to go on record saying this.
                      It is notable that you make the comment that Chrawnus is brave to say what he did, because even though nowadays we say we do not have slavery, we really do and this can be seen when people make comments that powerful (or organized) people do not like - they are bullied and villified in very pernicious and brutal ways. Slavery comes in many guises and yes valuing your fellow man as yourself will render it powerless. Legally the Hebrews were allowed to take stranger slaves permanently but that does not mean that they had to or should and how they treated their slaves could well have been the test of their metal - especially when they themselves were the recipients of God's good treatment. Under the New Covenant and the law of the heart, slavery is rendered powerless in a way that no law of the letter could. Further if you really believe no one should ever have their freedom curtailed then you should start opening prisons right now and especially not allow ISIS fighters to be jailed or curfewed in any way.

                      And just for the record. Black slavery in America (and elsewhere) was wrong because innocent people were treated badly and as less than equals and used as workhorses and the law of the heart should have told people that.
                      Last edited by Abigail; 03-18-2015, 07:53 AM.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Abigail View Post
                        It is notable that you make the comment that Chrawnus is brave to say what he did, because even though nowadays we say we do not have slavery, we really do and this can be seen when people make comments that powerful (or organized) people do not like - they are bullied and villified in very pernicious and brutal ways. Slavery comes in many guises and yes valuing your fellow man as yourself will render it powerless.
                        Slavery is a real problem still today, even though it is not legal (some estimates say there are more slaves today than at any time in history).

                        I appreciate that is not what you meant, however. To be honest, I am not too sure what your point is. Slavery is a touchy subject, and to say that enslaving blacks in America was not inherently wrong (only wrong because it did not have suitable checks on the cruelty) was brave of Chrawnus as I can imagine quite a backlash from that. Bullying and vilifying are wrong, but are not the same as slavery.
                        Legally the Hebrews were allowed to take stranger slaves permanently but that does not mean that they had to or should ...
                        The point is the the Mosaic Law supposedly came from God, and it clearly condoned keeping slaves permanent. Whether that happened in practice is not so important.
                        Legally the Hebrews were allowed to take stranger slaves permanently but that does not mean that they had to or should and how they treated their slaves could well have been the test of their metal - especially when they themselves were the recipients of God's good treatment. Under the New Covenant and the law of the heart, slavery is rendered powerless in a way that no law of the letter could.
                        Are you actually arguing that slavery was good for the slave? Or have I misunderstood?
                        Further if you really believe no one should ever have their freedom curtailed then you should start opening prisons right now and especially not allow ISIS fighters to be jailed or curfewed in any way.
                        I think there is a difference between imprisoning criminals and keeping slaves. Do I need to spell it out to you?
                        And just for the record. Black slavery in America (and elsewhere) was wrong because innocent people were treated badly and used as workhorses and the law of the heart should have told people that.
                        See, that is the difference right there. Imprisoning criminals is entirely different to using innocent people as workhorses.

                        In fact, I agree with you. Slavery is "wrong because innocent people were treated badly and used as workhorses". Like you, I reject Chrawnus' supposedly objective moral law that slavery is "ideally" wrong, but actually is okay if you have to do it.
                        My Blog: http://oncreationism.blogspot.co.uk/

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by The Pixie View Post
                          Slavery is a real problem still today, even though it is not legal (some estimates say there are more slaves today than at any time in history).

                          I appreciate that is not what you meant, however. To be honest, I am not too sure what your point is. Slavery is a touchy subject, and to say that enslaving blacks in America was not inherently wrong (only wrong because it did not have suitable checks on the cruelty) was brave of Chrawnus as I can imagine quite a backlash from that. Bullying and vilifying are wrong, but are not the same as slavery.
                          Bullying (which is not the same as not agreeing with other people on issues or behaviours) is slavery since the victims are often subjected to tyranny just like the tyranny of master who has no regard for the personhood of the slave.

                          Originally posted by Pixie
                          The point is the the Mosaic Law supposedly came from God, and it clearly condoned keeping slaves permanent. Whether that happened in practice is not so important.
                          I think you have missed my point. I am not arguing that it didn't happen but rather that just because God said non-Hebrews could be kept permanently it does not mean He was saying they had to do it. The Law was for God's people to tell them how to live and also in lots of ways to offer protection to them from other members of their group. So the law set limits on what a Hebrew could do to another and how long they could keep another Hebrew as a slave etc. God seems to have done this to impress upon them how they were released from slavery in Egypt by His hand etc. The law was not about non-Hebrews and they did not have that same national Egyptian experience. I am sure God did help non-Hebrews in ways we have no records of but the Hebrews were God's special people and He was showing it in ways which could well have not only made this apparent to non-Hebrews but made those others want to be part of the group.

                          Originally posted by Pixie
                          Are you actually arguing that slavery was good for the slave? Or have I misunderstood?
                          You have misunderstood - I am not arguing whether slavery is good or bad for the slave but rather that it was a fact of life in the ancient world and that God put protections in place for Hebrew slaves. They were His people. He seems to have allowed the Hebrews to treat non-Hebrews slaves with what was possibly the norm amongst surrounding nations. His protection was for Hebrews, however I think that He would have expected Hebrews to treat non-Hebrews with a certain amount of kindness since that is a theme we see over in the Bible (do unto others etc, mercy not sacrifice).

                          Originally posted by Pixie
                          I think there is a difference between imprisoning criminals and keeping slaves. Do I need to spell it out to you?
                          The problem is that back then you only went to jail till your case was heard and then you were sentenced to a punishment or released - nowadays we lock up war criminals and people who want to attack and harm the nation. Back then if you didn't kill your enemies you had to make sure they could not harm you. The difference seems to be very blurry

                          Originally posted by Pixie

                          See, that is the difference right there. Imprisoning criminals is entirely different to using innocent people as workhorses.

                          In fact, I agree with you. Slavery is "wrong because innocent people were treated badly and used as workhorses". Like you, I reject Chrawnus' supposedly objective moral law that slavery is "ideally" wrong, but actually is okay if you have to do it.
                          How is a person captured in war different from say an Isis fighter. An Isis fight who is captured will be deprived of his freedom. Where is your evidence that Hebrews just went out and captured slaves to be workhorses?

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                          • #14
                            Deut. 23:15 said to give foreign runaway slaves asylum in any Hebrew town they wished.
                            Watch your links! http://www.theologyweb.com/campus/fa...corumetiquette

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Abigail View Post
                              Bullying (which is not the same as not agreeing with other people on issues or behaviours) is slavery since the victims are often subjected to tyranny just like the tyranny of master who has no regard for the personhood of the slave.
                              Two things can have something in common without being the same.
                              I think you have missed my point. I am not arguing that it didn't happen but rather that just because God said non-Hebrews could be kept permanently it does not mean He was saying they had to do it.
                              Okay, I was imagining something deeper than that. Of course not all Hebrews kept slaves, many would not be able to afford to. So what?
                              The Law was for God's people to tell them how to live and also in lots of ways to offer protection to them from other members of their group. So the law set limits on what a Hebrew could do to another and how long they could keep another Hebrew as a slave etc. God seems to have done this to impress upon them how they were released from slavery in Egypt by His hand etc. The law was not about non-Hebrews and they did not have that same national Egyptian experience. I am sure God did help non-Hebrews in ways we have no records of but the Hebrews were God's special people and He was showing it in ways which could well have not only made this apparent to non-Hebrews but made those others want to be part of the group.
                              There were instructions in the Mosaic Law that covered gentile slaves.

                              Those slaves could be treated ruthlessly and were considered property on the basis, you say, that they came from nations that had not been rescued from slavery by God. I would love for you to talk me through the reasoning there.

                              It is ironic that a big chunk of the Bible is God rescuing the Israelites from slavery, and then, not long after, he is giving them laws on how to keep their own slaves. Very much one rule for his chosen people, another rule for the other races.
                              You have misunderstood
                              Just went back and reread what you posted. Somehow I read it as testing the slave's metal, not the owner's. Apologies.
                              I am not arguing whether slavery is good or bad for the slave but rather that it was a fact of life in the ancient world and that God put protections in place for Hebrew slaves. They were His people. He seems to have allowed the Hebrews to treat non-Hebrews slaves with what was possibly the norm amongst surrounding nations. His protection was for Hebrews, however I think that He would have expected Hebrews to treat non-Hebrews with a certain amount of kindness since that is a theme we see over in the Bible (do unto others etc, mercy not sacrifice).
                              The bit in bold is pretty damning.

                              God, the all-powerful and all-loving, allowed slavery of gentiles to continue under his law in the same way it did for those not under his law.

                              He could have stopped it. He could have protected gentiles like he did Hebrews. He chose not to.
                              The problem is that back then you only went to jail till your case was heard and then you were sentenced to a punishment or released - nowadays we lock up war criminals and people who want to attack and harm the nation. Back then if you didn't kill your enemies you had to make sure they could not harm you. The difference seems to be very blurry
                              I am not sure what your point is. Which are you saying is better?

                              Just to be clear here, imprisoning a criminal is a punishment for breaking the law. Slavery is not. Some slaves would be law-breakers, certainly, but others would be debtors and plenty would be slaves purely because their parents were.
                              How is a person captured in war different from say an Isis fighter. An Isis fight who is captured will be deprived of his freedom. Where is your evidence that Hebrews just went out and captured slaves to be workhorses?
                              The Hebrews were permitted by law to buy slaves from their neighbours. The question then is where did their neighbours get slaves? Are you sure that their neighbours never captured innocent people, turned them into slaves and then sold them to the Hebrews? Can you find anything in the Bible that prohibits such a thing?
                              My Blog: http://oncreationism.blogspot.co.uk/

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