An atheist, I presume, commenting on an article I wrote about slavery in Bible from Leviticus 25:44-46, wrote,
I guess you are ignoring the many Old Testament passages where God commands the Israelites to sack a city and take the inhabitants as slaves. I do not see the consent of the sacked there.
Deut 20:10-15 ″when you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. 15This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.” So they could either consent to slavery or death- that’s a great choice!
Or Exodus 21:4- speaking of Hebrew slaves, “if his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.” Again, no consent. The children born into slavery are to remain slaves even if the father is set free.
Or Exodus 21:7- “if a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free and male servants do.” Again, the daughter has no consent and she is not to be freed later.
Trying to explain away these passages is a game fundamentalists such as yourself cannot win although you certainly do like to try!
So let me first answer the passages from Exodus 21:4 and 7.
Both Exodus 21:4 – “if his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.” And Exodus 21:7 – “if a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free and male servants do”; are in context of Exodus 21:16 that says, “Whoever kidnaps someone, either to sell him or to keep him as a slave is to be put to death.”
It is imperative for us to understand both verses (4 and 7 of Exodus 21) contextually, not pick and choosing them to satisfy our fantasy. Both these passages don’t suggest any kind of forcing people into slavery; it’s their own choice to sell themselves. What we see here is the Law or contract of sale; in other words, if you disagree with them, don’t sell yourself to be slave. This is a choice! So I don’t understand what he means by “no consent”. Yes, they consented to be sold as slaves by accepting this Law or contract of sale. The daughter has no consent? Take your argument with the parents, not the Law. It’s like saying, children didn’t consent to be adopted by other family, and therefore the Law of adoption is to be blamed.
They consented in selling their children because they had no other choices in making it in life. No one forced them to sell themselves; this is why in verse 16 the Law makes it clear that forcing people into slavery is prohibited. These passages are in context of the article he posted this comment from, but I guess he didn’t even read it, otherwise he would have known.
A “slave” in those days was a person who had incurred an un-payable debt to another and had sold himself into that person’s employment. (Thus the phrase: “He is his money” – Exodus 21:21)! Furthermore, contextually, in Exodus 21, slaves usually had a set limit of time they served. Hebrew slaves could work no longer than 6 years, and after that, had to be released from their contract for nothing (Leviticus 25 and 27). Some people actually became slaves forever (by choice), simply because they would have bonded with their “masters,” and would have preferred to stay with them. They didn’t want to be freed in some cases. In the following passage, the Bible gives instructions for such a case: “5 And if the servant shall plainly say, I LOVE MY MASTER, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free: 6 Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him forever” (Exodus 21:5-6)
Surely this verse proves that slavery was not an evil activity like how we think of the brutal slavery of Africans. Rather, this type of slavery was different. They worked for you in exchange for bread, a roof, and the payments of their debts. They could walk away after 6 years if they wanted, but many probably stayed on as hired hands forever by choice.
What about Exodus 21:20-21? Doesn’t this imply that beating a slave is okay?
When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money. – Exodus 21:20-21
This doesn’t suggest that God condones beating of slaves; otherwise why would He say, “If the slave dies, he shall be avenged”. Why? That’s because slaves had right. What this passage implies is that, perhaps if there were masters who were short-tempered and beat his slaves out of anger, and unintentionally kill him or her in process, he himself must be killed (v.23-24) but not if the slave survived (or, at least for a few days). Why? First, if the slave survived, it shows the master’s intent was not to kill or seriously harm the slave. Either way, it was a simple case of domestic violence, not pre-meditated murder. There is a big difference between those two. This doesn’t in any way suggest that God condoned them to go ahead and beat their slaves at will.
It was forbidden by God to oppress slaves:
“THOU SHALT NOT OPPRESS AN HIRED SERVANT THAT IS POOR AND NEEDY, whether he be OF THY BRETHREN, OR OF THY STRANGERS that are in thy land within thy gates” (Deuteronomy 24:14)
“Thou shalt NEITHER VEX A STRANGER, NOR OPPRESS HIM: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 22:21)
That’s clear, so if the children of Israel oppressed their hired servant; then they disobeyed God’s commend. Any skeptic who tries to isolate these commands to “prove” that God condones beating a slave just reveals their own sheer desperation.
Next, the Bible clears up the meaning when it says this, “he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money.” What does that mean? That, slaves are cheap property and worthless? No, not at all!
The text isn’t saying slaves are worthless property. What the text is saying is this: He was under contract to the master (his “employer”), and as such, had a financial obligation to him. Therefore, the master will owe nothing. They had to go to court and let the judge assess the damage done to the slave: “26 And if a man smite the eye of his servant, or the eye of his maid, that it perish; HE SHALL LET HIM GO FREE for his eye’s sake. 27 And if he smite out his manservant’s tooth, or his maidservant’s tooth; HE SHALL LET HIM GO FREE for his tooth’s sake” (Exodus 21:26-27)
What is really going on in the entire chapter 21 of Exodus is that God is giving penalties based on certain crimes. God isn’t saying whether or not the action is moral – it’s already understood that it is not; otherwise He wouldn’t have given these penalties. From the context of the chapter, it’s clear these are all immoral activities (striking your parents, killing people, etc.).
So don’t get confused and think God accepts beating your slave. This section is not making statements as to the moral nature of the crime, but rather, what the punishment should be for such a crime. It is similar to our laws of today, where we may have law books that state the punishment for various crimes (i.e., domestic abuse is XX days in prison and a XX fine; or murder in the 1st degree is death penalty).
It doesn’t mean the law makers condone those crimes. But when you take everything out of context, of course you’ll only see what you want to see in order to fulfill your little fantasy.
Finally, to further prove that the biblical slavery was contractual and consensual; let me quote what Leviticus 25:47 says,
And if A SOJOURNER OR STRANGER WAX RICH BY THEE, and thy brother (Israelite) that dwelleth by him WAX POOR, and SELL HIMSELF UNTO THE STRANGER OR SOJOURNER BY THEE, OR TO THE STOCK OF THE STRANGER’S FAMILY…
As you can see, the strangers too had right to buy poor Israelites. This isn’t a forced slavery at all, “…and thy brother (Israelite) that dwelleth by him WAX POOR, and SELL HIMSELF unto THE STRANGER OR SOJOURNER BY THEE…”
This practice still occurred during Paul’s days and see what he said to them (Masters and Servants or Slaves), “SERVANTS, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; 6 Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; 7 With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: 8 Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free. 9 And, ye MASTERS, DO THE SAME THINGS UNTO THEM, FORBEARING THREATENING: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him” (Ephesians 6:5)
Does that sound like someone condoning, ordering the masters to beat up their slaves? Judge for yourself.
Now, the next one he wrote, “Deut 20:10-15 ″when you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. 15This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.” So they could either consent to slavery or death- that’s a great choice!”
What we see here is Israel fighting against their enemies; in other words, what other choices were there to choose from? Of course, be our slaves or die fighting. This is exactly what the king of Assyria did to Judah (2 Kings 18:17-37); but atheists have to be inconsistent otherwise they have no arguments at all.
Fact is, this goes both ways; their enemies could have enslaved them if they won the battle as well (Proof of that, read what Nebuchadnezzar did to them in 2 Kings 24). That’s the rule of war against your enemies, not God’s only! This has nothing to do with enslaving people by force for no reason; which was the point of my article. The Israelites themselves were enslaved by the Egyptians for 400 years. So it was right then when they were enslaved but wrong for them to enslave their enemies if they ‘consent’? How consistent!
But Atheist and Skeptics would object and say, but isn’t He a God of mercy? Isn’t He supposed to have a higher moral standard? Why the fight?
Yes He is merciful and has both the highest and best moral standard, but He is also a God of Judgment (don’t ever forget that). If fact; He showed His mercy towards them when He gave them 400 years to repent from their idolatrous practices (Genesis 15:16). So when He told the children of Israel to destroy them; that was the execution of His judgment!
But this judgment wasn’t only applied to Israel’s enemies; God laid out to them (Israel) both the blessing (salvation) and cursing (judgment) of the Law (Deuteronomy 28), in other words; if they disobeyed the Law, just like their enemies, they too were going to be judged (punished, destroyed…). In fact, God, in some instance, used these very Amorites and Midianites to execute His judgment on Israel’s disobedience (Judges 61-6). But again, Atheists either didn’t know this or just deliberately ignore it.
So, the destruction of the enemies at that time was God’s Judgment for them. But today, we aren’t told to fight our enemies anymore because God, out of love for everyone, sent His Son Jesus to die for all our sins. This is why Jesus said, “43 Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. 44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; 45 That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:43-45). We now live under the New Testament era where those laws have been abolished (Ephesians 2:13-16; Romans 6:14; 10:4…). God will execute His Judgment in the Day of Judgment, so repent while there’s time!
Again, atheists and skeptics alike have no arguments that make sense at all when they try to attack the Bible. Like always, inconsistency and distortion are the names of the game. Give it up and accept God’s love and be at peace. Click here and give your life to Him, don’t waste your time. God bless you.
P.S.:In the comment section below, there’s an atheist (I presume) says that the fact that God condoned slavery in itself suggests that He was immoral; referring to the theme passages of this article.
What he tried so hard to portray is that this slavery was so harsh, it involved whipping, beating, raping, chaining, forced labors…
But that’s not what happened, the passage in Deuteronomy 24:14 above prove that. Modern slavery denied the justice and rights the Bible teaches should be practiced in the institution of slavery. Modern slaves were kidnapped, brutalized, and treated like cattle…The word translated slave by some Bible versions is the Hebrew עבד (‛ebed); and it can also mean servants (not necessarily by hard or forced labor). Just like, as Christians, we are called slaves of God; but that doesn’t mean He’s forcing us to do hard labor…
In Exodus 21, it was a regulation or contract of employment. Those who consensually sold themselves as slaves (servants) got paid for their services. They were given the right to marry. No masters (of modern slavery) respected their slaves; they had no right whatsoever but the ones in the Bible had right. Right to choose, right to get paid…Nowhere in the entire Bible suggests that they were forced, whipped, raped and so on; even if that happened, it was against God’s commend (Deuteronomy 24:14).
Even the captives they captured during the war in Deuteronomy 20, they were told to marry them if they wanted to. If slavery in the Bible is the slavery he tries to portray it to be, then why were they told to marry them? Why didn’t they just force, beat, chain and throw them in the dungeon if they refused to obey? Moses said they can marry them but nowhere does it say they MUST marry them; in other words, it’s possible that they took them as maidservants.
Please read our exchanges in the comment section for more because I’ve debunked every objection he presented but he tends to ignore some of my responses and brings back the same arguments over and over again.