Gallery E
"Just Don't Kill 'Em"
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The Bible Condones Slavery

By James Donahue

As offensive as the practice of slavery is regarded by society today, the Christian Bible actually condones it. In fact, the Bible gives explicit instructions on how slaves should be treated, how severely they can be beaten, and even when slave owners can have sex with them.

God loves the slaves so much he made sure his holy book sets the rules for slave owners to follow. So don’t wince at the thought of being captured, sold into slavery and owned by others. As long as they are Christian or Jewish believers and are following the rules, being someone’s slave might be just fine.

The Jewish slaves are singled out for special treatment in Deuteronomy 15:12-14: "If your brother, a Hebrew man or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you. And when you let him go free from you, you shall not let him go empty-handed. You shall furnish him liberally out of your flock, out of your threshing floor, and out of your winepress."

In other words, a Jewish slave is expected to be paid well for his or her six years of servitude. (Could this be that the Old Testament was written by Moses for Hebrews who were already keeping slaves?)

But what about the treatment of slaves from other races outside of the Hebrew circle?

Leviticus gives us free reign on the enslavement of people from other lands. Verses 44-46 read: "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 bequeath them to your children as inherited property and make them slaves for life. . ."

The Bible even explains how to deal with sex slavery. Exodus 21:7-11 reads: "If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as male servants do. If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money."

Exodus 21 also sets limits on how severely a master can beat a slave. Verses 20 and 21 read: "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, is not to be punished for the slave is his own property."

There is an escape clause for slaves if the beating causes the loss of either an eye or a tooth. Exodus 21: "An owner who hits a male or female slave in the eye and destroys it must let the slave go free to compensate for the eye. And an owner who knocks out the tooth of a male or female slave must let the slave go free to compensate for the tooth."

Teeth and eyes are apparently equal in value according to God. Many older folks who have lost teeth but still have their vision might disagree.