What did Jesus Say About Slavery?

[This post is a Beagle’s Bark. It is part of a series on biblical slavery.]

Jesus was a great reformer. In an age of extreme class division and status-consciousness, he identified with the poor and urged us to do the same. During a time when the Holy Land was occupied by a foreign power, he taught his countrymen how to maintain their dignity. When the religious leaders were corrupt, he called them to account.

So I find it puzzling that he never spoke a word against slavery, as far as we know.

If he was divine, he knew it would be nearly 2,000 years until most of the world would realize how immoral slavery is. He also knew that slave-owners would use the Old Testament to justify the practice. One clear word from him could have prevented the misery of millions. Why did he not speak it? (And it’s hard to believe that if the Bible is inspired, God would not have inspired at least one of the four gospel-writers to record Jesus’ words on so important a topic.)

It’s not as if there was no slavery around to speak against. Jesus often illustrated his points with stories about slaves and masters. Everybody was all too familiar with the concept, and it was as brutal as ever.

Slavery Was Brutal, and Jesus Knew It

Since Jesus never condemned slavery, we might hope that he thought of slavery in the relatively benign forms that are sometimes found in the Old Testament. Not so. When he spoke about the relationship between slaves and masters, he assumed that violence and abuse were the order of the day. Typical is Luke 12:47-48, where even a servant who doesn’t know what he ought to do gets beaten.

The servant who knows the master’s will and does not get ready or does not do what the master wants will be beaten with many blows. But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows.

That passage is part of a larger parable that is supposed to scare us into submission to God. Like a slave or servant, we will be physically harmed if we’re not good enough.

There are several parables like this in the gospels. Matthew 18:23-35 says we will be jailed and tortured. Matthew 25:14-30 says we will be cast into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Matthew 24:45-51 says we will be cut in pieces. All of these indicate how Jesus pictured masters treating their slaves.

Jesus held no illusions about slavery, yet did not decry the practice. In fact, in his parables, he cast God as a slave-owner!

[20-Nov-2016: Prompted by commenter Ray, I wish to add that even though Jesus did use the harsh master-slave language above, and even though the passages certainly refer to the relationship between God and humans, Jesus also described his relationship with his disciples in more tender terms. In John 15:15, he said, “I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.” The friendship seems to be a complicated one, however: Jesus is still in charge and there are dire-sounding consequences for disobedience (verse 6 of the same passage). Paul said that believers are adopted children, not slaves, and do not need to live in fear (Romans 8:15). I leave it to the reader to piece all this together. In the meantime, the passages I cited in this section do tell us that Jesus’ conception of slavery was one of brutality.]

The Golden Rule Evidently Did Not Apply to Slaves

[This section was revised on 14-Nov-2015 after an exchange with commenter “anonymous”. I encourage you to read anonymous’s comments starting here and here. Although he and I disagree, he is intelligent and well-versed (excuse the pun) in the scriptures, and the seeker of truth should consider all sides.]

One might say that when Jesus gave the Golden Rule (“love your neighbor as yourself,” or “do to others what you would have them do to you“) he implied that slavery was wrong. If we should treat others as we want them to treat us, that means we shouldn’t enslave them, right?

This is obvious to us in the 21st century, and had even become obvious to abolitionists by the 19th century, but let us remember that it wasn’t obvious to large swaths of “Founded as a Christian Nation” America for over 200 years. And it certainly wasn’t obvious in Bible times — the context of Jesus’ address.

To see why, remember that Jesus did not invent the Golden Rule. He was quoting it from verse 18 of the passage Leviticus 19:11-18, where the same principle, “love your neighbor as yourself” sums up the other commands in the passage, just as Jesus said that the Golden Rule sums up the Law and the Prophets (Matthew 7:12 and Matthew 22:36-40).

Jesus’ audience, well-versed in their scriptures, would have known that he was quoting from Leviticus, one of the “Five Books of Moses.” They would also have known that these books include Deuteronomy, which commands Israel to invade and enslave distant cities, and Exodus, which says that slaves are just “property” and may be beaten so severely that they can’t even get up for just shy of two days. Unless we are prepared to say that one book of the Pentateuch contradicts another, it’s hard to see how the Golden Rule in Leviticus overrides the slavery passages Deuteronomy and Exodus — at least not for Jesus’ audience.

For that matter, Leviticus itself grants Israel permission to buy foreign slaves. Would Jesus’ audience have thought Leviticus could contradict itself? Would Jesus? Would today’s Bible-believing Christians? I think not.

So, in the minds of Jesus’ audience, and possibly for Jesus himself, it would have been far from obvious that the Golden Rule outlawed slavery. In their minds, the two concepts had coexisted in the scriptures, presumably without contradiction, for centuries.

If Jesus had intended his statement of Leviticus 19:18 to override the slavery commands and regulations also found in the Five Books of Moses, surely he would have made that more obvious to an audience for whom those books were a central feature of spiritual life.

But in fact, Jesus’ explicit statements about the Hebrew scriptures were overwhelmingly supportive, as when he said, “…anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands [of the Law] and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:19).

At a minimum, we can say that if Jesus meant the Golden Rule as a command to abolish slavery, then millions of slaves in the next 1800 years would wish he had made his intent far more obvious.

Jesus Was a Reformer, But Not with Slavery

Might Jesus have thought it was not yet the time to speak against slavery? Was he afraid of upsetting the social order and bringing persecution on his followers?

On the contrary, Jesus did not hesitate to turn society upside-down. Sometimes he did so literally, as when he upset the tables of the money-changers in the temple (John 2:13-17). At other times, he made radical demands such as giving away all one’s money (Matthew 19:16-24). He did not hesitate to speak boldly to those in power (Matthew 23:13-36). Nor was he afraid of persecution, calling it a blessing (Matthew 5:10-12).

Jesus did not hesitate to speak his mind, yet he never condemned slavery. Clearly he either thought it was just fine or he didn’t care much about it one way or the other. Maybe he just took it for granted.

I am tempted to leave it at that. Even Jesus might have been a man of his times to a certain extent. He was a moral revolutionary, but abolishing slavery didn’t quite make it into his manifesto. If you are a Bible-believing Christian, however, I think you are forced into a much darker position.

An Even Darker Take

According to John 10:30, Jesus and God the Father are one. John 1:1-3, with verse 14 says that Jesus was with God from the beginning. In John 5:19, Jesus says that he does whatever God the Father does. Someone who takes these verses as Gospel Truth must believe some disturbing things:

  • Jesus was present and nodding in approval when God gave the command to take 32,000 virgins as plunder in Numbers 31 (discussed in the last part of this post).
  • Jesus was present and gave a hearty “Amen” when God commanded Moses to enslave distant cities.
  • Jesus was present and gave his blessing for Moses’ soldiers to force their most beautiful captives into rape-marriages (discussed here).

No wonder he never spoke against slavery or its brutality in the New Testament. He had already encouraged it in the Old!

Eternally present and of one mind with his Father, he approved every genocide; every stoning of man, woman, child and animal; every burning-alive; every death sentence for a trivial offense; and, yes, every enslavement that God himself commanded. That may seem far-fetched. I don’t believe it myself. But I don’t see how a Bible-believer can deny it.

Next in this series: Are God’s ways higher than our ways?

[Postscript on December 9, 2012] In the year+ since I published this post, it has proven to be one of the most-read on my blog. I suspect many readers are interested in the topic of slavery and the Bible generally, and land here through a search engine because what’s uppermost in their minds is what Jesus said about it. Although he didn’t say much, the Bible says quite a lot — most of it disturbing. Evangelical apologists, in turn, offer many rationales. To get the lay of the land, I invite you to begin with the Introduction to this series. There, I summarize all the arguments I’ve heard and provide links to my responses.

146 responses to “What did Jesus Say About Slavery?

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  2. Educative although strong

  3. Thanks. Your comments are thought provoking, I do disagree with your interpretation of the bible. Thank you for the work you put into your website. I well be a follower of your site. Keep it up!

  4. A simple case of a misunderstanding of semantics. You have to understand that in the bible, primarily the new testament that the word “slavery” does not mean what it does to us today. People would indenture themselves when they could not provide for themselves or their families. It would be comparable to a hired worker of today. There was rarely a concept of a labor force such as corporations or small business’s hiring people to do work for them. In those times there were no mcdonalds or wal-marts etc. Much the same as the term angel. The original hebrew and greek texts used a word which meant messenger. So instead of a messenger of god we now today have the word angel. Hence labor force to slavery.

    • Mohican, you are in good company making this argument. I have heard it from several evangelical apologists. Unfortunately, “indentured servitude” often does not equate to what we see in the biblical text.

      I’ve responded to exactly this argument here: Was Biblical Slavery All That Bad — https://pathofthebeagle.com/2011/09/14/was-biblical-slavery-all-that-bad-2/

    • Mohican I so disagree with you the Greek word for slavery means exactly that: forced labor against ones will! At some point people are going to need to realize that the bible is in some parts corrupt and rewritten!

    • Are you saying that the bible talks about Slavery as a normal way of life or living? because the slaves in Egyptian times was torture and servants of Egyptian decent were also considered slaves or did they get pay for their work? I guess ancient historian might answer this.

    • Slaves, sex slaves, child sex slaves….the lay of the land is horrific on its best day. Sex with goats? The original texts shows gods. (sic) sanctioning these event as well. They even had rules on who you could and could not sell your goats too after the act. There isn’t much to even about these people or their gods.

      • re: “Sex with goats? The original texts shows gods. (sic) ”

        I’m afraid you’re gonna have to post the Hebrew texts on this one, because this sounds like absolute BS to me.

        And ” They even had rules on who you could and could not sell your goats too after the act”? I think you’re gonna have to show some documentation on that one as well.

    • Why r u lying to it self?

  5. What the Old testament says about what we call slavery today.
    Exodus 21:16 Whoever steals a man and sells him, and anyone found in possession of him, shall be put to death.

    • True. The Israelites were supposed to *buy* their slaves, not steal them (Leviticus 25:44-46). Except that God *commanded* the Israelites to steal whole cities full of slaves, as the plunder of war (Deuteronomy 20:10-15 and 21:10-14).

      If you believe that God’s command in Deuteronomy was his righteous judgment, please read my response here: https://pathofthebeagle.com/2011/10/07/was-slavery-gods-righteous-judgment/

      Slavery in Old Testament Israel took a variety of forms ranging from indentured servitude (as you pointed out in your other comment) to sex-slavery, to buying slaves, to stealing them. Amazingly, the more horrific the form of slavery, the more actively Jehovah encouraged it. Please see my post, “Did God Command Slavery or Merely Tolerate it?” here: https://pathofthebeagle.com/2011/09/21/did-god-command-slavery-or-merely-tolerate-it/

      In fact, since you were interested enough to leave two comments, you might want to check out my whole series on biblical slavery. Here’s the introduction, with links to the other articles. https://pathofthebeagle.com/2011/09/10/invitation-to-a-dialog-on-biblical-slavery/

    • The Christian god sanctions child sex slavery. Why aren’t you ashamed?

      • What Would Jesus Do?
        Advocate child abuse, murder, and other cruelties.

        Christians are always claiming, “he’s the lamb”, “our savior”, “the king of peace”, “the embodiment of love”, and many other names they associate with a loving, merciful nature. Jesus a nice guy? Not in my book. Nor in any other person’s who is capable of compassion and rationality. Let’s examine who the hell the Jesus character really is. These verses will show not only that Jesus’ loving nature a joke but so are the Christians who worship him.

        Jesus’ real mission to come to earth

        Jesus says that he has come to destroy families by making family members hate each other. He has “come not to send peace, but a sword.” Matthew 10:34

        Jesus says, “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace on earth! No, rather a sword lf you love your father, mother, sister, brother, more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. “The real beauty of this verse is that Jesus demands people truly love him more then they love their own family. I ask you how can we love someone that we can not see or interact with? Love is an emotion pertaining to physical existence not to faithful ideologies, yet God threatens you with death just because your love for your mother maybe stronger than your love for him. (Matthew 10:34)

        Families will be torn apart because of Jesus. “Brother shall deliver up the brother to death, and the father the child: and the children shall rise up against their parents, and cause them to be put to death.” (Matthew 10:21)

        Jesus strongly approves of the law and the prophets. He hasn’t the slightest objection to the cruelties of the Old Testament. (Matthew 5:17)

        Jesus advocates murder and death

        Jesus condemns entire cities to dreadful deaths and to the eternal torment of hell because they didn’t care for his preaching. (Matthew 11:20)

        Jesus, whose clothes are dipped in blood, has a sharp sword sticking out of his mouth. Thus attired, he treads the winepress of the wrath of God. (The winepress is the actual press that humans shall be put into so that we may be ground up.) (Revelations 19:13-15)

        The beast and the false prophet are cast alive into a lake of fire. The rest of us, the unchosen, will be killed with the sword of Jesus. “An all the fowls were filled with their flesh.” Revelations (19:20-21)

        Jesus says he is the only way to salvation yet he purposely disillusions us so that we will go to hell

        Jesus explains that the reason he speaks in parables is so that no one will understand him, lest . . . they . . . should understand . . . and should be converted, and I should heal them. (Matthew 13:10-15)

        Jesus explains why he speaks in parables to confuse people so they will go to hell. (Mark 4:11-12)

        Jesus advocates child abuse

        Jesus is criticized by the Pharisees for not washing his hands before eating. He defends himself by attacking them for not killing disobedient children according to the commandment: He that curseth father or mother, let him die the death. (Matthew 15:4-7)

        Abandon your wife and children for Jesus and he’ll give your a big reward. Jesus asks that his followers abandon their children to follow him. To leave your child is abuse, it’s called neglect, pure and simple. (Matthew 19:29)

        Jesus criticizes the Jews for not killing their disobedient children according to Old Testament law. (Mark 7:9)

        A few other things about Jesus

        Jesus says that those who have been less fortunate in this life will have it even worse in the life to come. (Mark 4:25)

        Jesus sends the devils into 2000 pigs, causing them to jump off a cliff and be drowned in the sea. Clearly Jesus could have simply sent the devils out, yet he chose instead to place them into pigs and kill them. This is called animal abuse. (Mark 5:12-13)

        Jesus kills a fig tree for not bearing figs, even though it was out of season. Jesus must not be as smart as Christians would have us believe, for he was dumb enough to do something this silly. You’d think the son of god (god incarnate) would know that trees don’t bear fruit in dry season. (Mark 11:13)

        Jesus okays beating slaves. (Luke 12:47)

      • Inquisitee #91-621

        This is an interesting topic and analysis. I searched “Jesus Slavery” after watching the hearing of the Tennessee 3 and got this. Awesome! Saved me from having to pick a bible. – One comment I had was that it appears from my memory and from these posts that ‘Jesus’ asked people to leave their families in order to follow him, yet I don’t recall that ‘Jesus’ left his Father. Matter of fact, when he “died” he got an express ticket back to heaven, with no waiting in line at the second coming. I think ‘The Lords Prayer’ is also evidence of the obedience and connection of ‘Jesus’ to ‘God’. Even modern Chrsitian imagery consistently depicts ‘Jesus’ and ‘Mary’ together.

  6. Pingback: Why I Left Evangelical Christianity, Part 6: The God of the Bible | Path of the Beagle

  7. Pingback: Did God Intend to End Slavery by Changing People’s Hearts? | Path of the Beagle

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  9. You bring up some good points but you are still missing the mark. Our Lord didn’t come to change society’s injustices and our social defects. He came to bring lost souls into the kingdom of God. His kingdom was not of this world. Our Lord spoke to the heart and soul not to their social issues.

    • The world was already a fallen world beacuses of our sin and slavery along with all the other fallen social things we were doing. God couldn’t change that! All he could do is restore us in the the eternal life to come by accepting him as Lord and savior. It’s obvious you are not a believer or you would know these things.

      • I’m having a lot of trouble with these two posts. What I get from the first one is that this god, whom you seem to feel is worth worshiping, doesn’t give a damn about how people live or treat each other while they’re alive. That a slave-owner whipping a slave until the skin is stripped off his back is A-OK in this god’s eyes as long as the owner agrees to worship correctly. Your god speaks “to the heart and soul”, but never once tells the heart and soul to stop thinking that owning other people is perfectly acceptable?
        Then, in your second post you say that this god, that every other Christian is absolutely convinced is all-powerful, “couldn’t change” the social ills which were and still are rampant in the world. You said “couldn’t”, not “wouldn’t”, though both are horrible. The only thing you believe he’s capable of (and apparently the only thing he cares about) is soul-collecting.
        It’s very comforting to me that there is absolutely no evidence that your god, out of all the thousands of other gods mankind has made up over the centuries, actually exists. Because the one you describe in your posts, and which the Bible describes at great length, is an abomination. If you’re going to insist on praying, I think your best bet would be to pray that you’re wrong.

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  11. thanks this actually helped because I am doing a slave project at school 😀

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  13. “There is a tendency to look at slavery as something of the past. But it is estimated that there are today over 12 million people in the world who are subject to slavery: forced labor, sex trade, inheritable property, etc. As those who have been redeemed from the slavery of sin, followers of Jesus Christ should be the foremost champions of ending human slavery in the world today. The question arises, though, why does the Bible not speak out strongly against slavery? Why does the Bible, in fact, seem to support the practice of human slavery?

    The Bible does not specifically condemn the practice of slavery. It gives instructions on how slaves should be treated (Deuteronomy 15:12-15; Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1), but does not outlaw slavery altogether. Many see this as the Bible condoning all forms of slavery. What many fail to understand is that slavery in biblical times was very different from the slavery that was practiced in the past few centuries in many parts of the world. The slavery in the Bible was not based exclusively on race. People were not enslaved because of their nationality or the color of their skin. In Bible times, slavery was more a matter of social status. People sold themselves as slaves when they could not pay their debts or provide for their families. In New Testament times, sometimes doctors, lawyers, and even politicians were slaves of someone else. Some people actually chose to be slaves so as to have all their needs provided for by their masters.

    The slavery of the past few centuries was often based exclusively on skin color. In the United States, many black people were considered slaves because of their nationality; many slave owners truly believed black people to be inferior human beings. The Bible most definitely does condemn race-based slavery. Consider the slavery the Hebrews experienced when they were in Egypt. The Hebrews were slaves, not by choice, but because they were Hebrews (Exodus 13:14). The plagues God poured out on Egypt demonstrate how God feels about racial slavery (Exodus 7-11). So, yes, the Bible does condemn some forms of slavery. At the same time, the Bible does seem to allow for other forms. The key issue is that the slavery the Bible allowed for in no way resembled the racial slavery that plagued our world in the past few centuries.

    In addition, both the Old and New Testaments condemn the practice of “man-stealing” which is what happened in Africa in the 19th century. Africans were rounded up by slave-hunters, who sold them to slave-traders, who brought them to the New World to work on plantations and farms. This practice is abhorrent to God. In fact, the penalty for such a crime in the Mosaic Law was death: “Anyone who kidnaps another and either sells him or still has him when he is caught must be put to death” (Exodus 21:16). Similarly, in the New Testament, slave-traders are listed among those who are “ungodly and sinful” and are in the same category as those who kill their fathers or mothers, murderers, adulterers and perverts, and liars and perjurers (1 Timothy 1:8-10).

    Another crucial point is that the purpose of the Bible is to point the way to salvation, not to reform society. The Bible often approaches issues from the inside out. If a person experiences the love, mercy, and grace of God by receiving His salvation, God will reform his soul, changing the way he thinks and acts. A person who has experienced God’s gift of salvation and freedom from the slavery of sin, as God reforms his soul, will realize that enslaving another human being is wrong. A person who has truly experienced God’s grace will in turn be gracious towards others. That would be the Bible’s prescription for ending slavery.”


    • Thank you for that copy of the article from gotquestions.org, Shona. Unfortunately, it suffers from exactly the misconceptions that I have addressed in this series on slavery. Specifically:

      >> People were not enslaved because of their nationality or the color of their skin.

      Because of the color of their skin? True. Because of their nationality? Absolutely false. In Leviticus 25:44-46, God makes a specific distinction between buying foreign slaves (OK) and enslaving other Israelites (not OK). This is to say nothing of God’s *command* to enslave foreign cities in Deuteronomy 20:10-15.

      The distinction based on nationality, then, was that one could and even should enslave members of other nations, but not fellow israelites (at least for the worst forms of slavery).

      >> In Bible times, slavery was more a matter of social status. … The key issue is that the slavery the Bible allowed for in no way resembled the racial slavery that plagued our world in the past few centuries.

      Aided by half-truths such as these, conservative Christians have failed to face up to what’s actually in the Bible. Please see my post, Was Biblical Slavery All That Bad? (https://pathofthebeagle.com/2011/09/14/was-biblical-slavery-all-that-bad-2/)

      >> In addition, both the Old and New Testaments condemn the practice of “man-stealing” which is what happened in Africa in the 19th century.

      Really? What should we call invading a distant city and, when it chose to fight back, killing all the men and taking the women and children as plunder? This is what God *commanded* in Deuteronomy 20. Again, please read my post, Was Biblical Slavery All That Bad?

      >> Another crucial point is that the purpose of the Bible is to point the way to salvation, not to reform society. … A person who has experienced God’s gift of salvation and freedom from the slavery of sin, as God reforms his soul, will realize that enslaving another human being is wrong.

      I have dealt with this, too, in my series on biblical slavery. Please read my post, Did God Intend to End Slavery by Changing People’s Hearts? (https://pathofthebeagle.com/2011/10/13/did-god-plan-to-end-slavery-by-changing-peoples-hearts/).

      Shona, I would be very interested in your thoughts upon reading the posts I have mentioned above. Do you agree that they rebut the points in the gotquestions.org article?

      • That is called war. It’s what happens when there is a low amount of food. They moved to Egypt, were inslaved, God freed them through Moses. They then had to fight for the land that was rightfully theirs. The promised land on Earth is a representation of heaven and the new earth. The battle represents the battle against sin. The Holy Bible uses history to teach lessons. If you read this you know why they had slaves. They were tricked into a peace treaty, so instead of breaking the treaty, they kept them as slaves.

      • Did Egyptians enslave Israelite hard work because they were Jews and gave others light work because they were not Jewish believers?

        • According to Genesis and Exodus, the Jews were in Egypt for years before becoming slaves. In fact, you might have heard how Joseph, a Hebrew, was favored by the Pharaoh and became his second-in-command. But then, as told in Exodus 1, a new pharaoh (king) rose to power in Egypt who did not know Joseph. He saw how fruitful and successful the Hebrews were and feared them, so he decided to enslave them to keep them down.

          I don’t know how Egypt’s treatment of the Jews compared to their treatment of other slaves.

    • After posting my first reply, I followed the link to your site and saw that you have posts about many of the scripture verses that bother me the most (Numbers 31, Deuteronomy 20 and 21, etc.). I would love to correspond with you about them after you’ve read my entire series on slavery. The introduction at https://pathofthebeagle.com/2011/09/10/invitation-to-a-dialog-on-biblical-slavery/ is a good starting point.

      You’re one of the few people I’ve ever “met” who even acknowledges these passages in the context of slavery, let alone attempts to deal with them. Would you please read my posts and leave comments? While I appreciate links to articles (or copies of them, as above), I would be most interested in your specific rebuttals to what I’ve said. Articles like the one above tend to make claims that I think I’ve adequately refuted. That’s why I’m interested in someone like you refuting my refutations — taking it to the next step.

    • Inquisitee #91-621

      Hmmm… so the slaves that ‘God’ commanded Pharaoh to free and that Moses led from Egypt were just essential workers going for vacation to the promised land?

  14. Andrew Curtis

    Holy shit, Beagle you must be smarter than God… or just maybe God allowed these awful things for reasons beyond our human understanding. God is eternal, remember, he sees an infinitely bigger picture than we ever could. As a committed Christian I have no trouble in believing that God allows all manner of evil to take place – dark for the body, light for the soul.

    • God allowed.. no, commanded these primitive practices to take place, they’re just beyond our understanding.. That’s it.

  15. For one thing, slavery in those days was just as “HORRIBLE” as being a maid. They would live in that person’s house, would be well cared for, and treated with respect. Jesus was saying that our lives on earth are nothing but tests, so if you were a slave you should be a good one. He becoming a man was his way of showing you that even as a poor carpenter, he wouldn’t sin. Another thing, is that the only valid Holy Bible in English is the KJV. “For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.(Revelation 22:18-19)

    • Sure if you could beat your maid and trade them. In fact even slavery in the OT wasn’t that great, women had no freedom and the master kept their children.

      BTW your quote is only talking about the book of Revelation.

  16. Actually I’ve read that verses like Colossian 4:1 and Galatians 3:28 actually implies fairness and opportunity of rights towards slaves. Slavery, while archaic, actually could work in theory but in reality it doesn’t. So I supposed these verses were to enforced behavior where slavery would be functional rather than abolishing it.

  17. Thank you sir for your article. You said “Jesus made a point of saying that he supported the Old Testament Law 100%, and nothing he taught should be interpreted as contradicting or negating the Old Testament.” But I have not seen this? Where is this in the Bible? Thanks

    • Gary, I was thinking of Matthew 5:17-19, where Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished. Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.”

      • Beagle, you claim in your article that this is a “problem” because “the Old Testament not only allowed but in some cases commanded slavery” and since Jesus “supported” the OT He therefore “supported” slavery. As you correctly re-worded your response taken from Matt 5, Jesus “fulfilled” the OT law which does not equate to Him “supporting” its application to society as it was applied in ancient Israel. Case in point, in Leviticus 20 God commanded the death penalty for adultery. This was part of the old Law, the old covenant with Israel. It is not part of the new covenant (New Testament). This is evidenced in John 8, when a woman caught in the act of adultery was brought to Jesus by the religious leaders and they asked him what should be done with her. Per the old law, as in Leviticus 20, she should have been stoned. Jesus, knowing that all are sinners and fall short of the glory of God, stated “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” With this statement He effectively abrogated the OT punishment for adultery under the old law. Does this mean he condoned adultery? Absolutely not, as He commanded her to “go and sin (including adultery) no more.” In the same fashion, Jesus destroyed any idea of slavery being permissible to believers in commanding “love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:39; Mark 12:31; Luke 10:27).

        • @anonymous, in this comment and the other one you were kind enough to leave two minutes earlier, you seem to say that Jesus’ command to “love your neighbor as yourself” constituted a clear prohibition against slavery. But the exact same command appears in Leviticus 19:18. In fact, it is the grand summation of a host of commands that start in verse 9. Yet Leviticus is part of the same “Five Books of Moses” as Deuteronomy and Exodus, in which we have the horrible commands and “regulations” I have written about in this series on slavery. Unless we are prepared to say that Leviticus contradicts Deuteronomy and Exodus, I don’t see how “love your neighbor as yourself” can be said to have canceled out slavery. Maybe it does for us in the 21st century, but evidently it did not for the authors of the Bible.

          As for my quotation from Matthew 5, I was not “re-wording” my response. The quotation included much more than the word “fulfilled.” The final sentence was, “Therefore anyone who sets aside one of the least of these commands and teaches others accordingly will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever practices and teaches these commands will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” How could Jesus have been more clear in his endorsement of every last one of the OT commands? I am aware of the Christian teaching that the ceremonial laws no longer apply because Jesus fulfilled them (certainly true for ceremonies like Passover!), and I can accept that. However, wouldn’t you agree that he endorsed the moral law? And would you say laws on slavery are part of the ceremonial law, or the moral law?

          As you probably know, scholars dispute the authenticity of the story of the woman caught in adultery. Nevertheless, it is beloved and for good reason. In the story, Jesus did not technically abrogate the OT punishment. In fact, he invited it. But he did so in such an artful way that nobody dared to carry it out. You call this “effectively abrogating” the punishment, and I see your point, but what he did is a far cry from saying, “The OT Law no longer counts. I hereby abolish it.” Wouldn’t you agree?

          • Given His omniscience Jesus knew it was impossible for those present to accept His “invitation”/that they would not accept it. Regardless, He Himself could have carried out the stoning, being completely free of sin. He did not, therefore it is acceptable to state the He thereby effectively abrogated the punishment of the old covenant.

            I do not take issue with the authenticity of the story of the woman caught in adultery. But since you do, let’s look at a similar story whose authenticity is not questioned like John 7. We will look at John 4. Jesus acknowledges the adulterous relationship in John 4:18: “for you have had five husbands, and the one you now have is not your husband..” Once again, despite the adultery, Jesus does not call for her stoning. He in effect demonstrates that certain OT practices are no longer applicable. This is not a “far cry” from stating “I hereby abolish [enter specific OT practice].”

            We are under a period of grace in which punishment for sin is withheld until the final judgment for those who reject Jesus. Based on the deeper revelation of the character/will of God (as revealed in Jesus), Jesus’ quoting of Leviticus 19:18 (love your neighbor as yourself) can be directly applied to the abolition of slavery. Ultimately we believe that NT writers who did indeed promote the abolition of slavery, influenced by the Holy Spirit, revealed God’s will in this regard.

          • This is very interesting. Jesus certainly had the spiritual authority (even if not the public office) to call for this woman’s stoning, and he did not. Did this mean that he thought stoning was an unjust punishment? Or that he wanted to “stay on-message” as we would say today, and not be a policeman? Or that he thought that modeling grace and encouraging humility were more important in these particular situations than going for the jugular? Or, as you suggest, that we are in a new “period of grace in which punishment for sin is withheld until the final judgment”? It’s not clear to me from the text, but I do understand why you interpret it the way you do.

        • Inquisitee #91-621

          I think it is safe to admit that the Bible is nothing more than a good ol’ Shakespearian comedy.

  18. I thought that first part of the verse when he says I have come to “fulfill” them was referring to him living a life without sin. And when Jesus was on the cross he said “it is finished” which carries the connotation that he was perfectly obedient to God and had fulfilled the law. I thought “until everything is accomplished” was referring to quite the accomplishment to actually live a life without breaking any of these laws and also taking on the sin of others. I thought the last part of the verse was referring to him telling his disciples not to teach against the law until everything is accomplished. To me it sounds like a timeline, in which after earth and heavens disappear people are judged by God based on an old covenant (mosaic law) and after the accomplishment (sinless life + crucifixion/payment for others sins) people are judged by a new covenant Jesus made with mankind. I guess one question is when he says “therefore anyone” is he referring to any person say alive today or is “anyone” referring to the people he is addressing (his disciples or people alive concurrently with Jesus). I would tend to think he’s referring to people alive before his crucifixion because he specifically says “until everything is accomplished”. Until heaven and earth disappear would seem to indicated you must obey the mosaic law until the universe fizzles out. But I actually think this is referring to a well known Jewish belief that after you die, your life will be reviewed (rights and wrongs sin etc) after the the world ends, not at the time of death.
    (John 11:23-24 references this in regard to Lazarus. -> Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” 24 Martha answered, “I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”). But the concept is referenced in many other areas of the Bible (Sadduces vs. Pharisees beliefs) This is all certainly open to interpretation though and thank you for your very thoughtful web page. Taking the bible as a whole though and in the context above, I would think Jesus does not expect us to be judged under the mosaic law else what was his purpose even have been? I definitely see your point though and it is very thought provoking.

  19. In response to your statement “Jesus did not hesitate to speak his mind, yet he never condemned slavery. Clearly he either thought it was just fine or he didn’t care much about it one way or the other.” This is faulty logic. You could also say that Jesus nowhere in the New Testament ever directly condemned bestiality or pedophilia either but that certainly does not mean he thought such practices were “just fine or he didn’t care much about it.” Ultimately, His statement, that you casually brush off in one of your responses, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” inherently discourages slavery of any kind. Seeing that the word “shall” turns this statement into a command, it could be argued that Jesus clearly forbids slavery of any kind. As another responder already mentioned, in a letter to Timothy, Paul, inspired by the Holy Spirit, clearly equates those who hold slaves with murderers and others who live “contrary to sound doctrine” (1 Timothy 1:10).

    • @anonymous, your raise a good point about Jesus never condemning bestiality or pedophilia, either. Pedophilia was even widely practiced among wealthy Romans (bestiality, AFAIK, was not.), so I agree that we should ask why Jesus didn’t mention it. Perhaps it was because he came primarily to preach to the Jews (Matthew 15:24), who did not have pedophilia as part of their culture, let alone in their sacred scripture. Slavery, on the other hand, figured prominently enough in the culture of Jesus’ audiences that he used slavery metaphors frequently in his parables, and it WAS part of Jewish scripture. So, I remain surprised/troubled that he did not mention slavery, but it’s easier to see why pedophilia was not on his agenda.

      Most scholars do not accept a Pauline authorship for 1 Timothy. (Have you read any of their works to learn why? I have, and their arguments are more convincing than I was led to believe when I was in the church.) In any case, you and I can certainly agree that Jesus did not write 1 Timothy, so, as refreshing at the author’s statement is, it does not enlighten us as to why Jesus was silent on the subject.

      • “Most scholars do not accept a Pauline authorship for 1 Timothy. (Have you read any of their works to learn why….” BLUF: The pastoral letters state that they are written by Paul and we have no sound reason to believe otherwise. The “most scholars” comment has its origins in Collins’ book “1 & 2 Timothy and Titus: A Commentary” and I disagree agree with his assessment for the reasons listed below. I would accept the following statement: “most skeptic New Testament scholars…”

        The main arguments against the authenticity of the Pastorals are, as you are aware, 1) the difference between the language/style 2) characteristics of ecclesiology/theology and 3) “irreconcilable” differences between the situation in the Pastorals and the known chronology of Paul (in Acts). In my opinion, these literary speculations carry little force…but they are very useful for seeding people’s minds with needless doubts.

        1) Whether Paul or someone else, scholars have acknowledged that all three Pastoral letters (1Timothy, 2 Timothy, and Titus) come from the same author due to the same style and vocabulary. Those who disagree with Pauline authorship point to the extent of the number of words not found elsewhere in Paul’s letters and the number of words in the Pastorals not found elsewhere in the New Testament. But such a mechanical view of the Pastorals cannot be accepted, just like it cannot be accepted for any written work as can be seen from other examples. For example, authors have long known that Cicero’s works have divergent styles. Even my own writing style varies depending on, what, why and to whom.

        2) In regards to the differences in theology and ecclesiology characteristics, Paul is writing not to a community like he does in the rest of his letters (except for the brief Philemon), but to a friend with the subject matter of ecclesiastical matters and how to handle correct doctrine and the clergy. Of course he would not necessarily foot-stomp the role of the congregation in the church. Furthermore, the theology overall does not present a great divergence from Paul. The main Pauline concepts are there: salvation through Christ (1 Tim. 1:15-16), revelation of the grace of God through Christ’s appearance (2 Tim. 1:9-10), justification by faith (Titus 3:5), faith as the way to eternal life (1 Tim. 1:16).

        3.) Chronological issue: Critics charge that the book of Acts does not mention the situation where Paul goes to Macedonia and leaves Timothy at Ephesus (1 Tim 1:3). With the belief that the chronological references of 1 Timothy do not correspond with the book of Acts, critics have assumed that 1 & 2 Timothy were written by a later author. This contention is eroded when evaluating the epistle 2 Corinthians, which is undisputedly a letter from Paul. In 2 Corinthians 11:23-27, Paul mentions his experience of frequent imprisonments, 5 whippings, 3 beatings with a rod, 1 stoning, and 3 shipwrecks. None of these events are mentioned in the book of Acts.

        Obviously much more could be said about these issues, especially on the topic of chronology, but much has already been written. Plus, I am not writing a book here.

        On second thought, I too agree that my use of pedophilia was a poor example. Bestiality, which you did not really address, was also a poor example since it was already condemned in the OT. A better example can be drawn from the ritual of animal sacrifice. The OT condones it, even requires it, but it is condemned in the Christian worldview despite Jesus being silent on the issue (the parallels with slavery are clear). Animal sacrifices were only properly offered to God before the death of Jesus on the cross. Once His blood was shed, it was offered before God, opening the way to heaven for all who believe (Heb. 9:11-12; 10:19-20). In all four gospels there is no outright rejection of sacrifice to be found. Scholars have sometimes pointed to Jesus’ violent actions in the Temple (Matt 21:12–13; Mark 11:15–17; Luke. 19:45–46) as an example of his rejection of the Temple rituals, but such an interpretation is far from clear. The scene depicts Jesus objecting to buying and selling in the Temple, but he makes no objection to the rituals themselves. The observation that buying, selling, and changing money were necessary to the operation of the Temple does not change the fact that the scenes do not include any explicit rejection of the Temple sacrifices themselves.

        Per your logic, Jesus’ silence in regards to animal sacrifice would mean that He either thought it was fine or did not care about it. However Christians reject this because, despite the lack of open condemnation, we have Matt 26:28 (this is My blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for forgiveness of sins) and John 3:36 (He who believes in the Son has eternal life; but he who does not obey the Son will not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him). Not even considering the rest of the NT, from Jesus’ words alone we understand animal sacrifice, while once condoned, is now outside of the will of God. The same can be said about slavery. By the way, I will insist chattel slavery did not exist under the Law of Moses. There was no form of servitude under the Law of Moses which placed them in the legal position of chattel slaves (while I will insist on this, I will not debate it here because the following site provides a much more in-depth scholarly explanation than I willing to give: https://bibleapologetics.wordpress.com/slavery-in-the-bible-25/#vassal).

        Again, the lack of direct/open condemnation does not equate to condoning/acceptance/approval/etc. Based on the deeper revelation of the character/will of God (as revealed in Jesus), Jesus’ quoting of Leviticus 19:18 (love your neighbor as yourself) can be directly applied to the abolition of slavery. Ultimately we believe that NT writers who did indeed promote the abolition of slavery, influenced by the Holy Spirit, revealed God’s will in this regard.

        I am interested on reading your take on the lack of condemnation of animal sacrifice. I am more interested in you repenting of your sin and clinging to Jesus as the propitiation for your sin. You claim that for 40 years, starting at the age of 11 you had a “relationship” with Christ (on your page “Why I became a Christian”). I would argue that if you had a relationship (had you truly known Jesus) you are now rejecting the One you know to be true. Otherwise I would argue that you were never truly a Christian. You claim that the most important reason you left Christianity was the moral bankruptcy of the Bible. I would argue that true morality cannot exist without God. One clump of cells cannot decide for another clump of cells what is right and wrong (your worldview, not mine). In other words “if the solar system was brought about by an accidental collision, then the appearance of organic life on this planet was also an accident, and the whole evolution of Man was an accident too. If so, then all our thought processes are mere accidents—the accidental by-product of the movement of atoms. And this holds for the materialists’ and astronomers’ as well as for anyone else’s. But if their thoughts—i.e., of Materialism and Evolution—are merely accidental by-products, why should we believe them to be true? I see no reason for believing that one accident should be able to give a correct account of all the other accidents” (CS Lewis). I will not discuss morality further on this site as William Lane Craig and Sam Harris among others have debated this in detail and their debates can be found on youtube. To address your questions about evolution I can refer you to http://creation.com/15-questions. Also, look into articles/ videos by the renowned geneticist John Sanford (inventor of the gene gun and the modeling program Mendel’s Accountant; former atheist; did not fully reject Darwinian evolution until the year 2000; now advocates intelligent design and creationism).

        Hope to see you in heaven and worship our good and faithful God together.

        • >> I am interested on reading your take on the lack of condemnation of animal sacrifice.

          My take is that Jesus was perfectly OK with it. Why wouldn’t he have been? It was part-and-parcel of the Jewish religion, and today’s vegan and animal-rights movements had not yet taken place. Plus, if Jesus saw himself as the ultimate and final sacrifice for sin (open to debate, but let’s say he did), he would have regarded animal sacrifice as prefiguring his own sacrifice. When I was in the faith, I thought that was quite glorious, and I can believe he did, too.

          >> I would argue that true morality cannot exist without God. … I will not discuss morality further on this site…

          If you don’t want to argue about morality existing apart from God, I’ll only invite you to read the many, many posts on this site on exactly that topic.

          I sense that our conversation would start to go in circles if I were to respond to the other points you raised, so I will end by thanking you for taking the time to leave such thoughtful, lengthy comments. You have helped me to sharpen my thinking on Jesus and slavery. In the next few days, I will revise the post to bring in the Leviticus 19:18 argument, which I think is worthy although you disagree. In the post, I’ll also direct readers to your comments, so they can consider your counter-arguments.

        • I read your comment and my main problem is your statement that there is “no true morality without God”. Even culters that practiced Christian beliefs had different morals then each other. So saying that God sets our morals is basicly saying that God’s morals change from person to person. I personally believe that Jesus was real and that he was a philosopher and teacher, but I also think that Christianity has a cult like structure, its basically “love me and beg me to be nice or I’m going to burn you forever” which doesn’t seem like something a loving God would do. I mean a eternity of pain and suffering because you wanted proof of something that is supposed to have unlimited time and power, seems like an unfair punishment especially with no way to redeem yourself after you die. Its like “Oh you believe that the universe was created by what science shows you is the most logical explanation? FUCK YOU! NOW BURN!” Does that really seem like benevolent God to you? Is that the moral guide humans should follow? And one last question that I never really found an intelligent answer to, who or what created God? I asked my pastor this question when I was in confirmation class and I’ll never forget it because it a big reason I left religion after getting confirmed. He said “We did. We create God by our faith in him.” And I find that to be a pretty strange answer considering that that would mean that the whole Bible is either 1; a book to teach kids morals 2; a book by people who worshiped a guy who was a savant 3; an exaggeration of stuff that happened. Its not that I don’t want to believe in God, its just the fact that science is something that can be objectively observed, were as all we have for God is a 2,000 year old book that has other books that aren’t in it because the rulers of the church said what was right and wrong. There is a Christian scroll saying that Jesus asked Judas to be the one to turn him in because he trusted Judas the most. All these things are just a small pile of things that put big holes in the religion in general. I am happy that you seem like a fairly rational person and aren’t just “You’re wrong because Jesus!” I enjoyed reading your veiws on this subject even if I don’t totally agree and don’t take any I said as an attack I realize that I come off aggressive at times but know that it’s nothing personal or anything, its just how I am used to talking on these types of topics, most times it devolves into to get a straight answer Slinky. So I hope you don’t take personal offence to my ramblings and questions. And if you have links to something that answers some of these questions I’d be happy to check them out. Thanks for your time

    • if bestiality and pedophilia were as rife as slavery, then not saying anything against them either would mean Jesus was fine with them.

  20. Slavery no doubt is a difficult subject. Wish it were not so. But one thing that has significantly helped me understand this better, not fully, but better, is what Dr. John Piper has to say about the OT Jewish theodicy and slavery. He has a post entitled “Why did God permit slavery?” here: http://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/why-did-god-permit-slavery

    • Thank you for the link to Dr. Piper’s post, tjguy. I can understand why it would assure a Christian that there are answers out there even if they are not all in hand yet. However, from my perspective, Dr. Piper sidesteps a few critical points. Having done so, what he says is so well-put that the believer is lulled into an unwarranted complacency on the this subject. Specifically:

      1) He contrasts God’s theocratic reign with the governments of men that followed, saying that genocide and slavery were OK under theocracy, even if not under later governments. Why? Because “In the context of a theocracy [the Canaanite genocide] was legitimate and right for God to do, even though the people themselves may have been sinful in the execution. And it was similar with things like slavery, God saying, in essence, ‘You’re my people. Those people I have a right to judge. You may own them,’ and so on.” In other words, God’s theocracy has a right to enslave, as a form of judgment, but kingdoms not ruled by God have no such right.

      There are three problems with this.

      First, Romans 13, obviously written well after the theocratic days, and in fact when the governing authority was not even Judeo/Christian, says, “[The governing authorities] are God’s servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.” The plain meaning of Romans 13 refutes Dr. Piper’s comforting assertion that the slavery passages can’t apply anymore because Jehovah no longer governs through a theocracy. Romans 13 says that God continues to judge through Earthly governments.

      Second, wouldn’t we expect God’s direct government to be better than any other? Shouldn’t we all wish for the good old days when God governed people directly? Indeed, doesn’t 1 Samuel 8 warn that this would be the case? If so, then we should wish for God’s permission and command to enslave wayward nations. …unless we are willing to admit that this was wrong, even in the theocracy.

      Finally, my biggest problem is the self-serving nature of this Hebrew Exceptionalism. Isn’t it the least bit suspicious that “God’s judgment” involved things like distributing 32,000 virgins as “plunder” in Numbers 31, with half going to the soldiers who served under the very man (Moses) who had supposedly received the command, and one in fifty going to the priesthood Moses had established? (The accounting was slightly more involved, but you get the idea.) President George W. Bush famously said that God told him to invade Iraq. That’s questionable enough, but can you imagine how outraged we would all have been if Bush had taken the Iraqi Republican Guard as slaves for his generals, and distributed their virgin daughters as plunder to his loyalists — all under the banner of American Exceptionalism, and because God told him to do it? If this is unthinkable for a born-again president operating under God’s command, why should it not be unthinkable for Moses?

      2) Dr. Piper asserts that Paul’s admonition to Philemon initiates a “kind of spiritual dynamic that is intended to explode the system” of slavery. IMHO, this is too optimistic. I agree that a slave whose master rules by love instead of threats will be a happier slave, and for this Paul is to be applauded. However, making slaves happier is not the same as “intending to explode the system.” In fact, Dr. Piper’s very next paragraph gives the lie to this notion when he says that this new policy for masters “transforms slavery into employment.” If it’s now no different from employment, why should it be abolished?

  21. Logic is not one of your strong suits, is it? You tirade about slavery is full of holes, fallacies, and bad conclusions. You begin almost every paragraph with a hasty assumption. It’s an old trick in debate competition. If you don’t know what you are talking about, don’t speak. I’m sorry, where did Jesus speak in the Old Testament?

    • >> I’m Sorry, where did Jesus speak in the Old Testament?

      I assume you’re referring to the final section of this post, An Even Darker Take. Perhaps you are not an evangelical Christian and that is why the logic of this section didn’t connect with you. Evangelicals believe the things I said in the first paragraph of that section: that Jesus and God the Father are of one essence, co-existent from eternity past as two Persons in the Trinity. The thoughts, actions and commands of the one are the thoughts, actions and commands of the other. The exception is that while on Earth, Jesus laid aside some of the powers and knowledge he had had in heaven (Philippians 2:6-7). But in Old Testament times, Jesus was still “in the form of God” (Philippians 2:6) and had not yet “emptied himself” (2:7). He was completely one with God the Father. Whatever the Father did, the Son was part and parcel of, at least according to evangelicals. That’s why I said that Jesus “was present and nodding in approval”, “gave a hearty ‘Amen'” and “gave his blessing” for the acts of God in the Old Testament.

      >> Your tirade about slavery is full of holes, fallacies, and bad conclusions. You begin almost every paragraph with a hasty assumption.

      This series on slavery has been on my blog since 2011 and so far nobody has been able to point out any fallacies. I even invited several professional apologists to comment and none of them had any rebuttals for the record. If you will point out the alleged holes, fallacies and bad conclusions, I will publicly retract the relevant posts. This series on slavery is by far the most regularly visited on this blog, so you have the chance to influence many people. I only ask that you read all the posts in this series before asserting that I have neglected an aspect of the topic.

      >> Logic is not one of your strong suits, is it?

      Actually it is. As a professional software developer, and a damn good one, I work with logic all day long. I can assure you that a computer doesn’t let anyone get away with “holes, fallacies, and bad conclusions” so I have lots of practice learning to be rigorous!

  22. What an excellent piece.

    It’s wonderful and heartwarming to read how red-faced and hot under the collar the god-believers get when this subject is raised.
    They always seem to behave like puppies sitting next to a dark patch on the carpet.

    Let’s face it, the biblical character, Jesus of Nazareth, was simply a plot device and as so many articles point out, a poor one at that.
    Thus, there was little need to enter into minutiae as such details were not what Jesus of Nazareth was ”here” for.

    And for those that believe this literary construct to have been a real historical figure, miracles and all, then he was nothing but a self-centered ego-driven little tit.

  23. The most important point of this discussion on slavery is that Jesus called for harmony between slave and master….(pray for them which despitefully use you) ….Life which is so short as to be almost irrelevant must be addressed on those terms…We are all called upon to serve our Master and to love our Master and to perform such that our earthly masters will love and respect us for we know from the start our Heavenly Master loves us. Also we know it is our duty to help with the conversion of our earthly

  24. Jesus did speak about slavery.

    Matthew 6:24
    “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

  25. Jesus did speak about slavery.

    Matthew 6:24
    “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

  26. Gregory Belcher

    As an outsider YOU would not understand what Jesus was all about. He was about changing lives one person at a time, changing them from inside out, then putting them corporately in a new grouping (the Church) to make what He says work, if they will do what He says. In the Church all are the same- no free vs bond-servant, male or female, Jew or Gentile, whatever differentiates one from the other, yet each has his role to play in support of the rest. Outside the Church nothing changes unless the members do as He says and win those outside to His ways, one person at a time.

    When the State (as all States tend to do) absorbed certain aspects and forms of Church leadership, birthing Catholicism, the State controlled the outcome. Church leaders capitulated. Christianity was deformed and forced into a new (human natured) mold, BUT what Jesus was all about continued, even if everyone was forced, by the State, to conform to Catholicism, and later to Lutheranism, Calvinism, etc. Somewhere in all that mess and much are people who still do Church right, who, no matter the outward condition, see no differences and treat everyone the same.

    • >> As an outsider YOU would not understand what Jesus was all about.

      Did you know that I was a devout Christian for 40 years? You can read my story by clicking on the Most Important Posts tab.

      >> …people who still do Church right … and treat everyone the same.

      Yes, of course most Christians today would take a strong stand against slavery, but that is not what this post was about. It was about whether Jesus took such a stand.

      • no ones an outsider. you quote jesus but fail to listen. stop the ego god dont care how many years you believe. 10.20 ,40 or just right now in this moment

  27. Pingback: Where Did The Abolition Of Slavery Take Place | Drowkiller3

  28. Google “Jesus, Freedom from bondage” and it may help you to understand that he did not approve of his people in bondage.

  29. poor jesus he must have felt so alone he tried to tell us we have free will but we know when we regret or hurt so we dont need to make life harder on each other and harder on ourselves. That was it forgive forget wake up and walk on your own dont follow god aint some petty woman or man that needs approval

  30. Thank you for this blog/page. Not only the bible. Slavery is perfectly acceptable in all abrahamic religions. Christianity, islam and judaism. The master and the servant, this is the underlying comparison to everything in these books. I’m a proud Deist, I refuse to turn a blind eye to the evils of these scriptures!…

  31. Hi, while I have read a number of these posts I must provisionally agree that it seems the Bible does condone slavery. I would like to point out a couple of things that I have come to understand after some prayerful research. By that last sentence it is evident I believe in a creator, and God is the only term I have to describe Him. Please bear with me, I have come to believe the modern translations of the Bible are corrupt in many ways. For example this word slavery, as pointed out, meant servant or bondsman and suchlike back then, as apposed to its modern meaning. Christians are supposed to become slaves to christ,(1 Corinthians 7:22) But I’m sure that didn’t mean he could beat them to an inch of their lives, as that was clearly not what he taught. It’s obvious society would have been so different back then as it is now, so understanding how people lived in the OT times and the NT times should help us to understand what God is telling us.
    I have learned even the words !Ike fornication , fornicate and fornicators are modern words with a modern meanings. With some research you will find they are about seven hundred years old and cannot possibly be in the original scriptures. it’s interesting to note that the word fornication is used nowadays instead of the word prostitution, (the original word) and while today the word conjures up the idea of women standing on street corners and such, in the hebrew scriptures prostitution appears to refer to people with idolatrous practises, clearly not the same meaning as today. Try reading the new testament after replacing the words fornication with the words idolatrous practices, or Idolator, ( fornicator=idolator, or the plural of).
    Adultery is another misused word, it too has different meaning now, but in the old testament it seemed to refer to Israelites breaking the covenant between them and God with their idolatry. So it seems that Gods meaning of adultery meant the breaking of a covenant, thats what was wrong in God’s eyes. In biblical times isrealites were allowed more than one wife, if adultery meant back then as it does now they were all ‘fornicators’; how many wives did king David have? My point is, God shows us in the bible, by his dealings with the isrealites, things for us to lead from. 2 Tim 3:16.
    sadly for us, corrupt and misunderstood doctrine doesnt make it easy for us today to decipher apparent contradictions. To help with this problem we need to understand who the Bible was written for. I have concluded the entire OT was for the Israelites, the commands and rules are clearly about them and the people who chose to live among them. Exodus 19:6 was recorded to show God’s chosen people, through prophecy, and that those who accepted Jesus as their saviour, could be redeemed. ( Matt 10:5-6 Matt 15:23-24). Hope your still reading as I’m setting up a thought pattern about slavery.
    Basically the OT appears to be a record about God’s thoughts and feelings on all matters, using the isrealites nation as an example. The israelite prophets were used to both condemn their continual disobedience to God’s commandments and exalt individuals who proved faithful. we all need to learn about the consequences to our actions and this is what the Bible shows, but mostly it was God’s way to have recorded his promise to put things right in his due time. the NT is about Jesus ministry, prophesied death, and what that promise meant to the faithful patriarchs of old, like Moses and Abraham. But it also says that gentiles who heard and accepted salvation through jesus, by faith, could be redeemed too.
    As regards the slavery issue, i believe reading the Bible, in its original context and meaning, shows that humankind does not have God’s way of thinking or understanding of the big picture, logically that would make sense; and while there have been many alleged ‘contradictions’ I have found that the ones I have researched so far proved not to be so, and gave a greater understanding to how our creator thinks, assuming you except the Bible (without too much being lost in translation) as the inspired word it claims to be. 2 Tim 3:16-17.
    I can understand why someone, including myself, would not want to worship a God that allowed such harsh treatment of a servant, or slave, especially if the slave was a believer. it certainly seems contradictory to the God of love we are taught about. So I would say it comes under the question of, why does God allow suffering of any kind? even his chosen people in biblical times were not exempt from sickness, disease and death. While I’m still working on some other seeming ‘contradictions’ , I think the bible is our window into the past and will give us answers, even if we don’t like them. proverbs 9:10 will help. Despite being the miserable sinner I am, i believe understanding about why God allows suffering, of all kinds, is available to anyone who will humbly ask for it.
    Even though I might disagree, from my human standpoint, why He seems to be dragging his heels putting things right, and suffering seems to be worse than ever, 2 Peter 3:8-9 reminds me how different our thinking is, and John 16:12 reminds me even Jesus apostles would not get all their questions answered straight away. Hope your still with me.
    So, did Jesus know about the abuse of slaves and servants?…..I have to say yes, in the same way he would have known about the sickness and death from the original sin. Did he condone it?…..no. the Bible showed Jesus felt compassion for the people suffering during his time on earth, but he hadn’t come to put things right at that time. He came to fulfill prophecy, and teach about his rulership of God’s kingdom and God’s grace, that we all might have hope when his appointed time comes.
    My credentials are that I do not believe the Bible teaches that all the good people go to heaven when they die, how can that be so when the Bible makes it clear we have all sinned and call short of the glory of God, and hell is not a pit of eternal fiery torment, how can that be so if God is love, would a sane parent throw his disobedient child in a bonfire? Both these teachings I have concluded are false doctrine from badly translated scripture, leading to confusion and doubt about the Bible.

    • Thank you for your comment, Ray. Yes, I did read the whole thing. 🙂

      I definitely take your point about words’ meanings changing over the centuries. Slavery has been practiced in many forms, so it’s important, when we read the word “slavery” in the Bible, to remember that it does not necessarily refer to the types of slavery we see today, or saw in pre-Civil War America. But it’s easy to see what it does refer to. All we must do is see the practices the Bible records. That’s what I have attempted to do in this series. In fact, many if not most of the passages I have tried to interpret don’t use the word at all. Rather, they speak of “forced labor” (Deuteronomy 20:11, NIV) or taking humans as “plunder” to be “used” (Deuteronomy 21:14, Numbers 31, NIV). The sunniest outcome of being “plunder” is spelled out for us very clearly in Deuteronomy 21:10-14, which I discussed at length in the post Was Biblical Slavery All That Bad?. I have used the word “slavery” in places like the title of this post because it’s the best word we have to describe what’s in the Bible, and it’s the word my readers would use. (This post is one of the most-read that I have ever written. WordPress tells me that the most popular search that found my blog this weeek was “what did jesus say about slavery” and the third-most-popular was “what did Jesus think of slavery”.)

      You said that, even though the Bible describes believers as “slaves of Christ”, Jesus didn’t say that involves harsh treatment. I hadn’t intended to convey that the relationship between Jesus and his followers was solely that of master and slave. I’ve added a paragraph to the post, citing your comment.

      In the first sentence of your comment, you said, “I must provisionally agree that it seems the Bible does condone slavery.” However, in your second to last paragraph, you said that Jesus knew about slavery but did not condone it. Are you saying that Jesus was not on-board with some things in the Old Testament?

      You seem like an open-minded, dogged searcher for truth (a beagle?). Like I did, you are doing your utmost to maintain your faith in the face of difficult passages. I wish you all the best in your hunt for truth.

  32. You’re quite right – Jesus should have stood up and told all the slaves to shake off their shackles and seize their freedom. There is the epistle where St. Paul tells a slave called Onesimus to go back to his master who he had run away from (having stolen as well) – Paul gave the slave a letter for the master instructing the master to be kind and forgiving. Why didn’t Paul instead tell Onesimus to go to the local employment exchange and apply for a job – presumably he has some qualifications or even a degree to help him get a good career. Even if Oneismus had to wait for a job to come up, he could have lived off state benefits until a suitable position was found (it might have been a while as Onesimus was getting on a bit).. And if he fell on really hard times, he could go to the local Salvation Army centre for a place to sleep and some decent food. But telling the poor man to go back to life as a servant – what was St. Paul thinking of??

  33. phariseeinrecovery

    In defense of God, who needs know defending he did make provision for slaves who sought their freedom.

    Deuteronomy 23:15 If a slave has taken refuge with you, do not hand them over to their master. 16 Let them live among you wherever they like and in whatever town they choose. Do not oppress them.

    people need to do their home work

  34. Here is the bottom line… Many people have tried to cast the guilt for the actions of others or society in general on historical figures many recognize as being particularly moral people. I’ve heard people accuse Lincoln of being a horrible racist and segregationist. I’ve heard people accuse every person in history who contributed of all kinds of outlandish things. But what they are doing, is showing their own dissatisfaction that the world is not perfect. They are complaining in a childlike way that superman has not solved all the world’s problems in one fell swoop. And yet, these same childlike creatures have not and will never contribute a grain of sand compared to those they falsely accuse…

    Neither Jesus, nor Superman, nor Martin Luther King, nor Lincoln, or anyone can cure all the world’s ills. That doesn’t make them personally guilty, because they existed in society, of everything in society. That doesn’t make them complicit in an act they did not support or participate in, for speaking in the context of the society they lived. Even when forced to PARTICIPATE, that doesn’t necessarily mean they SUPPORTED any particular act. I have to take the train to work. I don’t support the train though. I’d rather take a space ship to work. I hate the train. But society only has trains… I guess in a thousand years people may say I was the biggest proponent of evil polluting, dehumanizing trains…

    For all your jaded and childish arguments, not once have you presented a single actual act or word of SUPPORT of slavery from Jesus, ever. What you have presented is the obvious reality that Jesus lived in a society. YOU live in a society. And by your simplistic and frustrated logic, you support everything society does since you exist in a context. In fact, FAR more so, because YOU have contributed NOTHING to improve morality. You actually try to DETRACT from it by accusing the MOST moral of all societies ills; for not curing them all at once.

    But the very best illustration of how wrong you are, is in the reality, that for all your obfuscation, Christians have NEVER been confused about where Jesus stood on slavery… After all, it was the religious right that was the strongest opposition to slavery.

    So, though it is quite sad that Jesus, Lincoln, Gandhi, EVERYONE who ever actually contributed to society, did not heal EVERYTHING in society in one magic act, that is not on them.That is on those who commit the acts which are wrong. The real problem you have, is at some point Jesus did not grant you a cookie, or a bigger penis, or let you be bullied. So you have to make totally illogical statements like, because Jesus spoke in the context of society, he condoned anything he mentioned. Jesus didn’t come here, if you believe what the bible said, to fix things himself. he came to give humans the tools to understand what morality is, to make things better themselves. In fact, he was SO good at understanding what utter screw-ups people are, he KNEW they would often FAIL, and have to keep trying!

    Forcing a cure for everything, isn’t teaching those with free will, it’s creating a dictatorship. And since his disciples have fought slavery, and every other injustice faithfully, it seems YOU are the opposition to morality, in your sick and twisted logic… Jesus was moral, contributed, and left a legacy of humanity that did many things, such as end slavery. But all you can do, is lie to defame that morality. You have contributed nothing but lies… In fact, you are the prime example of the hypocrisy and childish ignorance Jesus had to contend with when teaching morality. And that’s why he had to try and speak in a way YOU could understand. Even still it wasn’t simplistic enough for you to get.

    For the record, I don’t consider myself a Christian nor do I wish to convert people. However, I believe, as I believe Lincoln did, that enemies of Christianity have some deep seated issues and are very harmful to society.

    Christianity ended slavery. And nothing you can say changes that. Nothing you can say changes that you have done nothing for society. Nothing you can say changes his disciples somehow understood what you cannot… The most simple Christian got it. But not you… You are too smart for school son.

    I personally think you, like many people who consider themselves intellectuals, need to argue about anything BUT morality. It’s too simple for you to understand.

    • You think you know a lot about me. Have we ever met? Maybe we have, but I doubt it. I think that if you knew me in person you would never level the charges in your comment. (“The real problem you have, is at some point Jesus did not grant you a cookie, or a bigger penis, or let you be bullied.” and “…you have done nothing for society.”) If you would like to understand where I’m coming from, I invite you to read the posts listed on the Most Important Posts tab at the top of this blog. If you don’t have that much time, just read the post on Shaphat. If you come away agreeing that shaphat is a high virtue, then I invite you to consider how it applies to slandering unobserved aspects of someone you’ve never met.

      If someone believes (as you apparently do) that Jesus was no more than another good guy in the mold of Martin Luther King, Lincoln and Ghandi then that person has every right to be OK with the fact that Jesus said nothing against slavery — for the reasons you cited.

      However, a large portion of America believes that Jesus was much more than another good guy. They believe he was God. What’s more, based on their religion, they make life difficult for the rest of us by promoting a host of social ills such as evolution-denial (which is already causing the United States to fall behind other nations in science), climate-change denial (a Christian I know told me that sea levels are not going to rise because God promised Noah that he would never again flood the Earth; she also said it’s “hubris” to think that puny man could have such an effect on the climate), homophobia, and a general attitude of “you deserve to go to hell” (a socially divisive statement if there ever was one). If they’re going to push society toward their supposedly higher standards, then people like me have every right to hold Jesus, the source of their beliefs, to standards befitting a God-man. Surely it is not unreasonable to expect a God-man, the fount of all morality, to say at least one sentence against slavery.

  35. This is click bait! I came here for Beagles!

  36. John Reynolds

    I think Jesus was a spiritual teacher who taught for the purpose of preparing people to live in the next world, not how to live in this one. I don’t think he had the same idea of the God of the old testament as proved by the God that he portrayed was nothing like the God of the old testament. Like any teacher of spirituality he used the teaching of the old testament that the people he was teaching knew best. If not he would have taught them to kill. But he portrays a totally differnt God and an inspired fresh testament of love.

  37. This article, scholastically, is really cute. Uninformed, but cute.

    For starters, the author seems to think a slave “so severely that they can’t even get up for just shy of two days.”

    Doubtless, this is based on some English translation, such as this:

    “Anyone who beats their male or female slave with a rod must be punished if the slave dies as a direct result, but they are not to be punished if the slave recovers after a day or two, since the slave is their property.” (Exo 21:20-21)

    Unfortunately, our author doesn’t seem to read Hebrew. You see, in Hebrew, what this verse ACTUALLY says is this:

    “And should a man strike his manservant or his maidservant with a rod, and [that one] die under his hand, he shall surely be avenged. But if he survives for a day or for two days, he shall not be avenged, because he is his property.”

    Now, how is the word “avenged” understood in Hebrew? We find, in the very famous Rashi commentary (of which our author is seemingly equally ignorant), that the proper “avengement” for killing someone is *death*. In other words, what this scripture says is that if a slave owner beats a slave and kills him, the slave owner is liable for the death penalty for murder. If the slave lives for a couple of days – and then dies – the charge against the slave owner cannot be “murder”, but would be more like a charge of manslaughter or aggravated assault.

    But, one really needs to study Hebrew law to know that.

    Our author evidently doesn’t study Hebrew law, because he clearly doesn’t know that. Hence, this is a cute article, based largely on ignorance..

    I could go on (and on, and on). Perhaps I should also mention something about slavery in Israel, during the first century:

    Historically, we know that slavery was virtually non-existent among the Hebrews of that time. However, slaves were still owned by Romans, and by those of the Greek societies. Jesus says nothing at all in regards to slavery, as it relates to Hebrew law, because by that time, it was, among his people, virtually unknown. But, the treatment of slaves by Romans and by Greek masters *was* known, and that is the slavery that Jesus refers to.

    But, our author doesn’t seem to know any of that, because he evidently doesn’t do much research in the topics about which he is writing.

    So, again, it’s a cute article. But at it’s core, it’s based on ignorance.

    I think I’ll stop here. There is just so much wrong with this article that I could write an entire article just dismantling this authors arguments…

    • If I understand your argument about Exodus 21:20-21, you are saying that the slave-owner would be charged with something like “manslaughter or aggravated assault” if his beaten slave gets up before two days have elapsed. Because the slave-owner is not getting off scot-free, the Bible’s morality in this passage is more palatable.

      There’s only one problem: even with your translation, the text does not say anything at all about punishing the master if the slave arises. In fact, it implies the opposite when it justifies the lack of punishment/avengement by pointing out that the slave is the master’s property.

      You are right that I don’t speak or read Hebrew. Even if I did, I would have the humility to leave the specialized task of translating from ancient Hebrew to modern English to the experts. In fact, even the experts generally don’t translate the text by themselves, but work in committees. So, I decided to see how the experts have translated the word punished/avenged. I checked the translations that, as far as I know, are the most highly regarded in Protestant Christianity, namely the King James, New International, New American Standard, Revised Standard, and Amplified, as well as the Douay-Rheims (for Catholics), and the Orthodox Jewish Bible. Interestingly, all five of the Protestant versions translate the word as “punished”; the Catholic version is completely different, saying “he shall be guilty of the crime”; and only the Jewish version uses your word “avenged.” I don’t know what to make of this. Certainly Orthodox Jews ought to know how to translate Hebrew; on the other hand, Christian scholars of Hebrew from 1611 through modern times have consistently used “punished.” In any case, whether the master is to be punished or the slave is to be avenged, I repeat that the text does not say anthing about taking action against the master if the slave gets up in a day or two.

      As to your suggestion that Jesus said nothing against slavery because it was not practiced among first-century Jews, I repeat what I said in my post. If Jesus was God, he knew that his followers would enslave millions upon millions of Africans (among others) over the coming centuries. Why did he think this was not worth saying one word about?

      If you believe that Jesus was with God from the beginning (John 1:1) I would be interested in your take on the last part of my post (An Even Darker Take).

      • You are correct in saying the bible – in the Exo passage – does not mention anything about the master being charged with anything, if the slave arises.

        But, for example, neither does the bible say anything about a slave being beaten, and losing the use of a hand (although, it mentions what should happen if the slave should lose a tooth or an eye).

        One must remember: legal cases were decided by panels of judges. The law of Moses was the *basis* for legal decisions. Specific decisions about specific cases had to be *extrapolated* from existing laws. These decisions became known as “Oral Law” – like, “case law”. We follow a very similar process in law in the US.

        So, if a slave had been beaten – and had not lost an eye or a tooth, but rather, the use of a hand – the judges would, of course, confer. One might say “he didn’t lose an eye or tooth”, but another might say “yeh, but ‘eye or tooth’ is just a reference to ‘body parts’, as in ‘an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth’, and another might say ‘remember, the same laws that apply to free men, regarding assault, also apply to slaves”, and so on. There were potentially *many* laws that might be applicable in deciding a case, just as there is in US law.

        This is why, if you actually study Judaism, you’d find that the list of “unacceptable damages”, for which a slave owner could be criminally charged, was quite extensive.

        Now, regarding your last paragraph, and your question: I myself don’t believe that the “person” which we call Jesus Christ was with God from the beginning. I believe the LOGOS was with God, and was God, and that LOGOS “became flesh” – Jesus Christ. But, I am not a Trinitarian. I believe strongly in the very-Hebrew concept of the “God Who is One”. Make no mistake, though: I do indeed believe that Jesus was “God Incarnate”: Whereas every man has a created spirit, I believe that Jesus embodied the spirit of the Creator.

        As best as I can make out, the whole Trinity concept comes more from some type of Greek “dualism” of “body and spirit” in which the “spirit” is somehow the “real person”, and the body is more like a prison for the spirit. This is a concept that is totally foreign in normative Judaism…

        In short, I probably have no answer to your specific question, not being a Trinitarian. However, I would comment on your Numbers 31 “interpretation”. In Num 31:2, the very simple command of God was “Take vengeance on the Midianites for the Israelites. After that, you will be gathered to your people.” That’s it.

        Moses did indeed get PO’ed that the soldiers hadn’t done X, Y and Z (as in Num 31:15-18), but, that was Moses, not God. If you studied Judaism, and read the Rashi commentary, you’d find that it was for this very anger of Moses that God prohibited Moses from entering the Promised Land.

        One *must* differentiate between what Moses said and what God actually commanded. Sometimes, they’re two different things, and sometimes, it was a real “Moses issue” that had very negative consequences.

        • If the Christians of my tradition could be like the Jews (and you) and let “case law” modify the Mosaic law, I would have far fewer bones to pick with them!

          You said that in Numbers 31:2 “the very simple command of God was ‘Take vengeance on the Midianites…’ That’s it.” You also said, “One *must* differentiate between what Moses said and what God actually commanded.” You seem to think that God’s command was more restrained than the plundering Moses ordered. However, verse 25 clearly states that “the Lord said to Moses…” and the verses that follow detail the way Moses was to plunder the Midianites, including taking 32,000 virgins as spoils of war (verse 35). Verse 31 says, “Moses and Eleazer did as the Lord had commanded” in all this. Verse 47, speaking of giving one-in-50 virgins and animals to the Levites, said Moses acted “as the Lord had commanded.” Maybe the “vengeance” in verse 2 was vague but evidently the very specific and (in the case of the virgins) appalling commands that follow were also from the Lord, according to these verses.

          Once again, if a Christian or Jew were to say, “But the Lord did not really command those things. The Bible just says he did,” then I would let it go. However, in all the evangelical churches I attended, if the Bible said, “The Lord commanded…” then that really was what the Lord commanded.

          Because you said you are not a Trinitarian, I already know you are cut from a different cloth, which is great as far as I’m concerned. Your specific insights also set you apart. Thank you for sharing them. I hope you’ll drop by again.

          • Short comment on Num 31:25, and following verses: It’s true that in Num 31:26, the Lord tells Moses “You and Eleazar the priest and the heads of the fathers’ households of the congregation take a count of the booty [l]that was captured, both of man and of animal; 27 and divide the booty between the warriors…” (and blablabla). But, this was NOT the Lord telling Moses to “Now therefore, kill every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known man intimately. 18 But all the girls who have not known man intimately, spare for yourselves.” That was Moses, back in v 17, 18…

            What’s happened here is that God gave his initial command, Moses got PO’ed about how the army handled things and went way overboard, but, once things were done, God says “OK… here’s how I want you to divide the spoils”. I guess maybe we would all have had a greater satisfaction had God struck Moses dead at that point, but, the fact of the matter is – for anybody who “believes in God” – there are things that we, as people do, that are NOT what God wants, and, basically, God has to come in and deal with the carnage we ourselves have created.

            But, I’m getting theological there… Not meaning to preach…

            A few historic (*historic*, please note) notes about slavery in Judea, first century: Slavery – of “foreign slaves” (not the Hebrew “indentured servants”) – was virtually non-existent in the time of Jesus. (Not even Josephus mentions slavery practiced among the Hebrews, although, he does mention that there were Hebrews that were slaves of Romans, etc).

            There may be a number of reasons for this, with the first and foremost being the “right of redemption” of every foreign slave: At any time, a foreign slave could “redeem” themselves (or be redeemed by a friend or family) out of slavery for (usually) 30 shekels (sometimes 40) – and this effectively meant you could never sell a foreign slave for more than that, because the buyer was going to *know* that the slave could potentially buy him/herself out of slavery the next day. It is probably for this reason that historians have noted that there is no record of a slave market ever existing in Israel.

            And, there were numerous other reasons there was no real “slave trade” in Israel. For example, by law, if a slave became a Jew, he was set free. If he or she married someone in the family, he/she was set free. If a slave was beaten by a master, and, it resulted in (practically) any “disfigurement” – ie, a scar – then the slave was set free… (and note – this was the result of that “case law” I mentioned earlier – you can find numerous references to such decisions in Talmudic and other sources).

            The really important historic event that, for all practical purposes, brought slaver to an end in Israel was the Babylonian Captivity – during which virtually all Jewish institutions were ended in that country – including any institution of slavery. When the Jews returned, after about 70 years or so, they began to rebuild Jerusalem, and you’ll note that in Ezra-Nehemiah there is no mention of slave labor being used.

            In fact, *after* the return from Babylon, I’m not sure that there is any mention of slavery practiced among the Hebrews in any other writings.

            Bottom line: Slavery among the Hebrews was simply not a “hot topic”. Jesus was asked about divorce, adultery, paying taxes, being charitable, and so on – but – never once asked about slavery.

            But – he *DID* address slavery in a very profound and powerful way: Very shortly after his baptism, very near the beginning of his ministry, Jesus went to the synagogue in Nazareth and read from the scrolls:

            The scroll was handed to him, and he read:

            8 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
            Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
            He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
            And recovery of sight to the blind,
            To set free those who are oppressed,
            19 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”

            Then, in the following verses: “20 And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

            Jesus was proclaiming his “mission” right then and there, and it included this:

            He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, to set free those who are oppressed, and too proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.

            That reference to “the favorable year of the Lord” is a reference to the Jubilee.

            Jesus’ very purpose was to set free the captives and oppressed. And, for believers in Jesus now, it should be understood (as it was by the Christian Abolitionists, for example) that we ourselves are to continue to do that same work.

            Slavery existed for a time in israel, partly because of plain-ol’ practicalities: When you captured prisoners, you had to do something with them. But, these were nomadic peoples – they didn’t build prison camps. And, you had to keep those prisoners to be used in trade for your own people that were captured by the enemy.

            What can I say? That whole “slavery” thing existed long before the Hebrew people even came along. It’s not like God invented it or something. It’s just the way things were done back in the bronze age. But, God regulated it, and Hebrew law was the very first pronouncement in law that slaves were regarded fully as “human beings”, and in which al slaves were given certain rights – including the right to legal recourse.

            Was the law *perfect*? Heck, no. Well, lemme explain – As far as “laws” go, one could argue that the “law of God is perfect”. But, that’s not what I’m talking about. The question is this: Did God ever really *want* to have laws in the first place? The answer is “no”. What He *wanted* was for people to listen to Him with a willing and faithful heart. But, they didn’t, and they still don’t. So – that’s the story we see in the OT: God trying to communicate to a people, them refusing to listen, God giving them laws (because He was trying to “form a nation”), blablabla. But, what God wanted is that His people would be those that followed Him, not needing “laws” at all.

            And – that’s what Jesus was about. this was God, in human form, trying to bring people to follow Him, not out of compulsion (as, “under the law”), but out of love.

          • How did the Hebrews (Jews) themselves understand these “laws of Moses”? We can sit around and try to figure out what was meant all day long, reading in to the various scriptures whatever meaning we want.

            But, what did *they* – those that operated under these laws – understand the meaning and application to be?

            That info can be found in ancient Talmudic writings, which contained (among other things) the “Oral Law” – these were essentially “case law” applications, resulting from actual legal cases.

            SO – JUST FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES – I’m posting info about the JEWISH (Hebrew) understanding of the laws. I’m not posting the entire encyclopedic text from either source, because it is too long. So, I’m just posting info that I thought relevant in this thread.

            The reason I’m posting this is to serve as a “primer” to Hebrew law. You see, these “laws of Moses” were the actual civil and criminal law code of a nation at one point. But, the “laws of Moses” were not exhaustive. They served as the *BASIS* for legal decisions, which were made by panels of judges. Those decisions became part of the body of literature known as “Oral Law” – case law. If you really want to understand “the law of Moses”, you practically have to become a lawyer. This stuff is not “childs play”; it is the Law of a nation. One cannot take one or two “scriptures” out of context and claim to know anything at all about Hebrew law.

            So – these (lengthy but limited) sections below give you an idea of how this “case law” actually played out, and it also shows you the HEBREW understanding of the various laws, and how they applied.

            This info (below) is from either the venerated Jewish Encyclopedia or from the highly-reputed Jewish Virtual Library, and Talumic and Mishnaic references are documented:

            Jewish Virtual Library – Slavery in Judaism – Termination of Bondage – (foreign or “alien” slaves):

            For alien slaves the bondage is terminated in various fashions. Release may be by payment of money, the price demanded by the master being paid to him by a third party, either directly or through the slave (Kid. 1:3; Yad, Avadim 5:2). A deed of release may be delivered by the master (Kid. 1:3; Yad, Avadim 5:3). A verbal release, or a promise of release, is not sufficient in itself, but the court may enforce it by compelling the master to deliver a deed (Sh. Ar., YD 267:73–74). The slave is freed if the master causes him grievous bodily injury: the two biblical instances of gouging out the eye and knocking out the tooth are multiplied, and a long list of eligible injuries has been laid down (Kid. 24b–25a; Yad, Avadim 5:4–14; Sh. Ar., YD 267:27–39). While the list in the codes was intended to be exhaustive, the better rule seems to be that all injuries leaving any permanent disfigurement are included (Kid. 24a). The rule is confined to non-Hebrew slaves only (Mekh. Nezikin 9); injuries inflicted on Hebrew slaves, male or female, are dealt with as injuries to freemen (BK 8:3; Yad, Ḥovel 4:13 and Avadim 4:6). A slave may also be released if his master bequeaths him all his property (Pe’ah 3:8; Git. 8b–9a; Yad, Avadim 7:9; YD 267:57). By marriage to a freewoman, or by his de facto recognition, in the presence of his master, as a free Jew (e.g., using phylacteries and reading the Torah in public; Git. 39b–40a; Yad, Avadim 8:17; YD 267:70) a slave obtained his freedom. Marriage to the master’s daughter seems to have been a not infrequent means to emancipation (Pes. 113a).

            Jewish Encyclopedia – Slaves and Slavery – Formal Manumission (foreign slaves):

            According to the strict words of the text (Lev. xxv. 46), an Israelite should transmit his foreign bondmen as a heritage to his children. Though recognizing this principle (so thinks Maimonides), the sages approved manumissions made for any religious purpose, even so slight a one as that of completing the number of ten men required for the celebration of public worship (“Yad” ‘Abadim, ix. 6); and they decided almost every doubt in favor of freedom.

            A Canaanite bondman (or bondwoman) “acquires himself” (Ḳid. i. 3) either by money—which money he may pay himself to the master, but which must be given him by others for the purpose—or through a deed of manumission, even at the instance of others; for, according to the better opinion, freedom is deemed to be a boon, and may be conferred upon him without his consent. When he becomes free by loss of “eye or tooth,” the master is compelled to write a deed of manumission. The necessity for a document is drawn from the words “her freedom has not been given to her” (Lev. xix. 20, Hebr.), i.e., given in a tangible form. Still where the master says by word of mouth that he has freed his bondman, he is not allowed to repudiate his own words, but is compelled to execute a deed (Giṭ. 40b).

            What is said above of money is true of money’s worth which the master accepts from another as the price of the bondman’s freedom; but words (except as an admission of a past act) are ineffectual.

            The deed of manumission must sever the relation of master and bondman entirely: if it reserves any of the master’s rights it is invalid.

            As far as the deed effects the bondman’s freedom, its mere production by him is prima facie proof; but in order to operate upon property given to him by the master, it must be established by the subscribing witnesses. Where the bondman denies the master’s assertion that he has given him a deed of manumission (a thing within the bondman’s knowledge), he does not go free. But where the master says in general terms “I have manumitted him,” the bondman’s denial is immaterial; for the manumission might have been executed in his absence (Giṭ. 40b).


            I don’t mind if people don’t believe in God. It’s OK with me if people believe in “some other god” (besides Yahweh). As far as I’m concerned, you’re totally OK believing whatever you wish.

            What troubles me, though, is seeing people blather on about their own views of stuff that has long since been well-documented, with documentation going back to before the time of Christ – documentation that demonstrates processes, procedures, philosophical understandings and court decisions of those actually involved.

            If one is looking for Grand Statements of Ultimate Morals, one is looking in the wrong place in the Laws of Moses. The Laws of Moses are LEGAL precepts, and while there may be underlying moral precepts, those are rarely mentioned in the Laws.

            If one is looking for MORAL precepts, then look at Jesus. Or, if one wants to find them in the OT, look at the prophets or psalms or something – just, not the Laws.

  38. It seems to me that a lot of Christian commentators on here are performing the usual Biblical mental gymnastics to get themselves out of a rather ugly hole. The big problem they (and I) have is that it is impossible to separate the Old and New Testaments, because Jesus validates all the old commandments in stating that not one dot of the Law will be declared void. There you have it. We should still be keeping slaves and stoning gays. And anyway, how is a testament or will to be called ‘new’ when it isn’t meant to supercede the old in any way, shape or form? Add in blatant plagiarism from Pagan sources and concepts, and it is easy to understand how a thorough study of the Bible can wreck a person’s beliefs.

    I now no longer believe that the Biblical Jesus was divine. He healed a slave but did not order his master to release him from bondage. (This surely proves that he was either an ordinary mortal with no powers of foresight, or simply a fictional figure created by the Romans). And I’m sorry, but before anyone suggests that Jesus didn’t want to interfere in human affairs, I would just like to point out to you the 613 commandments he validated and promised to fulfill which interfered in practically every area of human life.

    I feel rather stupid and angry with myself for believing this shit all these years.

    • Paul –

      Re: “The big problem they (and I) have is that it is impossible to separate the Old and New Testaments, because Jesus validates all the old commandments in stating that not one dot of the Law will be declared void. There you have it. We should still be keeping slaves and stoning gays. ”

      Funny. I don’t have a problem with the idea that Jesus validates the commandments at all. I do have a problem with your understanding of the law, though – slavery is never mandated in the bible, and nothing at all is ever said about “gays” (or, “homosexuals”, or “homosexuality”).

      What the bible *does* say about slavery is always an “IF” proposition: “*IF* you have slaves, *THEN* here’s how they are to be treated…”

      My guess is that what troubles you is that God never told Moses “Thou Shalt Not Have Slavery”.

      But, then, how do you define “slavery”? In Hebrew, there’s only one word used for “slave”, “servant”, and “worker”: “ebed”. You couldn’t really expect God to say “Moses, Thou Shalt Not Have Workers”.

      Of course, that’s a “nit”. Clearly, God could have said “Thou Shalt Not Have Captives That Serve As Forced Labor”. But then, you must be strongly against, say, the 13th Amendment of the Constitution, which says “Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, *except as a punishment for crime* whereof the party shall have been duly convicted shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.” Even in the US, “slavery” is still allowed – by the state – as punishment for crimes. And, the thing is, most anyone would understand and agree with the morality of that: Some crimes *are* worth “30 years hard labor at Leavenworth”.

      Then, you might object, and say “the slaves in the bible were not all criminals”. And, I’d say yes, that’s right. The overwhelming majority of slaves in Israel were “spoils of war” – either enemy soldiers or civilians, taken captive.

      Maybe you’d be expecting God to say “Thou Shalt Not Have Captives Of War Performing Forced Labor”? Then, you must really dislike the Geneva convention, which allows POWs to be used as forced labor, as long as their labor does not contribute directly to the war effort (such as making munitions, laying mines, etc). Most people, last time I looked, considered the Geneva Convention fairly moral it it’s approach.

      Perhaps it would be more to your tastes had God said “Thou Shalt Not Take Enemy Captives Nor Subject Them To Labor”? Great. Then, how would Israel have been able to *bargain* for the return of Israelites that had been captured by the enemy? After all, the enemy wasn’t interested in following any commands of the Hebrew God…

      I suppose I could go on and on, but there may be MANY MANY reasons why God didn’t just come out and say “Thou Shalt Not Own Slaves”…

      A couple of other reasons pop into my mind: If you wanted to *buy* slaves, in order to set them free, you *could not do so*, if God had made a broad, sweeping command against owning slaves: In the very act of *buying* the slaves, you yourself would become a slave owner (even for a short time), and therefore, if owning slaves was against the broad and sweeping command of “Thou Shalt Not Own Slaves”, then you could never *buy* them in order to set them free.

      What YOU want – and what so many other people want – is something that is simple – or, really, simplistic. But real life isn’t simple. it’s difficult, messy, convoluted and complex. And the issue of “slavery” – even DEFINING it to a satisfactory degree – is far, far more difficult and complex than you want to admit to.

      1000 years from now, we might have figured out how to do away with prisons altogether. Perhaps we will have devised new, scientific methods for either changing criminal behaviour or for controlling their ability to be “out and about”, causing more damage in society. And, at that time, we’ll be looking back on *this* time, saying “I can’t believe that prisons were ever tolerated in a society. That’s just brutal. It’s totally immoral”. Yet, here we are, in *this* time, thinking that prisons *are* a moral way to deal with criminals.

      So, why aren’t YOU out, demanding that all prisons are closed *now*, and demanding the release of all prisoners? I mean, 1000 years from now, people will certainly be asking that… Where’s your morals, man?

      • Thanks for your somewhat exhaustive reply, and one typical of a Biblical defense at that. It is the usual device which involves twisting everything around to throw a enquirer’s genuine concerns back at him or herself. Jesus did this a lot, so you should be pleased with yourself. But as regards actually answering the question, you have neatly dodged around it via the usual mental gymnastics and parables. As He did often.

        For me, the question of slavery is crystal clear: it is wrong. You might be able to justify it, and God might be able to justify it, but in my conscience slavery is an affront to humanity. The Bible says you can buy foreign slaves. It is easy to understand now where Spain, Holland, Britain and other Christian countries got their justification for the slave trade triangle between the 16th and 19th centuries. They too bought their African foreign slaves, though they usually purchased them with cowrie shells and the like rather than money. No doubt they also got their inspiration from working their slaves into the ground from God’s holy book, and probably beat them to within an inch of their lives for any recalcitrance; safe in the knowledge that they weren’t going to be judged by God for it, because they were following His rules to the letter.

        You make some incredible and laughable points to try to dig yourself out of this ugly hole. The point about buying slaves to set them free is plainly ridiculous. Who in those days would buy a valuable slave only to lose considerable money-earning potential by setting them free? Put such a premise forward to one of the planters on Barbados and the like, and they rightly would spit out their rum in hysterics.

        The problem with the Bible is the relative ease with which ordinary mortals can dismantle it. One can very easily use the book against itself. You said: “I suppose I could go on and on, but there may be MANY MANY reasons why God didn’t just come out and say “Thou Shalt Not Own Slaves”…

        But God said thou shalt not covet anything of thy neighbour. He said ‘Thou shalt not steal’. Is taking a person away from his or her home country to be used as chattel not stealing? Or are we supposed to value material things above human life?

        Rather than read the Bible, I suggest you read some books concerning the utter misery of slavery. For a real picture of the despair and degradation caused by God-mandated slavery, for a slave’s perspective might I suggest you read ‘Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl’ by Harriet Ann Jacobs?. And also remember that the riches promised by slavery also degraded and debauched planters, slave owners and practically anyone going to the Caribbean hoping to make their fortune. For this angle, might I ask you to read ‘The Sugar Barons’ by Matthew Parker?

        I know you won’t want me to keep referring to the modern slave trade which Wilberforce and the like brought to an end, because it is inconvenient for you. And devastating to your case, I suspect. You will want to keep it all in the dim and distant past, so you can make some excuse that slavery was somehow different then. Sorry, it won’t work. It would have worked had your saviour abolished the old laws, but he didn’t. He promised that not one dot of the law would be made void. Note that, NOT ONE DOT. And that means we should still be abiding by the old laws, and therefore have a right to buy and sell foreign people into slavery. And then we have the ultimate contradiction of Jesus on the one hand being angry at the moneylenders in the temple, yet on the other being quite au fait with money changing hands for the enslavement of God’s children.

        How can you possibly defend this book? I believe in God, but not this monster in the Bible. I no longer gain my morality or inspiration from this book, because it is so obviously frozen at a certain point in time. It is a different world now.

        On the subject of homosexuality, I dare to suggest that you haven’t done a thorough reading of the Bible. Homosexuality is quite clearly mentioned as being an abomination and a capital crime punishable by stoning. It is one of the 613 commandments which Jesus promised will NOT be made void in any way: not even a period/full stop will be changed or removed. Like many Christians, I suspect you choose to ignore certain parts of the Bible and just pretend they don’t exist, and I understand why. It is because the whole thing must stand or fall together.

        • My Dear Paul –

          Please educate me further: Explain to me, in very simple terms – WHY is slavery, in any and all cases, wrong?

          And an answer of “I just feel like it is” is simply not acceptable. Human history is full of people, going back to times before written history, that would disagree. They – the vast majority of people that have lived on this planet – would disagree. They could equally say “I feel it’s right”.

          And, let’s set aside the bible. Let’s just say it’s “just another book”, no more important than any pulp fiction available out there.

          So, setting totally subjective “feelings” aside, and setting aside “arguments against the bible”, what is it that makes slavery wrong?

          Where is it written in nature that “slavery is wrong”? Is it wrong for slave-making ants to do what they do? Is it wrong for a cat to “own” a mouse, even if for only the brief time before it eats the mouse? Is it wrong for a human to own a dog, and use that dog for sheepherding?

          I’m very sincerely just looking for the definitive answer here: *WHY* is slavery wrong? WHY was it wrong for all the many, many civilizations and tribes that preceeded us?

          Hint: You might first want to start with a clear definition of “slavery”.

          I guess I really need to understand this, from a “philosophical” (and not “theological”) perspective. So, please explain it, and leave the bible out of it. Let’s just pretend I don’t know a thing in the world about the bible, or God, or any of that stuff.

          I’m all ears. The floor is yours.

          • Sir, I know what traps you set for me to fall into, and I posit that your intent is to return to the Bible to strengthen your argument viz. the origins of our morality. That being said, here is my own personal definition of slavery:

            Slavery: the deprivation of one man’s liberty, happiness, hearth and homeland by another for material gain and/or personal use, until such time as his master dies, slavery is abolished or the slave frees himself.

            Why is slavery wrong? Simple. Because Western society has deemed it wrong and put it outside its laws and statutes. Slavery is on a similar level as kidnapping. One surely would not suggest that it is moral for seedy, grubby little men to abduct women and imprison them in their basements for their own sexual gratification, would one? (Another area, incidentally, which Bible God is quite comfortable with [abduction and gang-rape, book of Judges])

            Your introduction of nature into a discussion on slavery is facile. Animals do not keep their fellow animals as slaves for life. If a cat ‘owns’ a mouse, it is ‘slavery’ that lasts merely minutes before the cat kills the mouse. But the cat does not know right from wrong, it is only doing what is in its nature to do. Is it wrong for a human to own a dog? It depends on how the dog is treated. If the animal is treated well, I see no harm in it, for dogs have formed close, mutually beneficial bonds with humans. If however, the human regularly beats the dog to within an inch of its life, as Adolf Hitler’s father used to do, and which Bible God encourages us to do with our recalcitrant human slaves, then it is most certainly wrong. Your line of attack here has more in common with Islamic theology than Christianity.

            Just because these things were deemed right years ago doesn’t mean they should be deemed so now. It is a different world. Shall we still send children down the mines or up chimneys because it was acceptable in the old days? See, you cannot get your morality from the Bible, because in the modern era, Biblical morality is becoming increasingly irrelevant. As I have stated, if the New Testament really was a ‘new will’ then there would be some hope for the Bible. However, a study of the Gospels shows that this isn’t the case, and instead the ‘old will’ is uncompromisingly reinforced. Which leaves us stuck with archaic and outdated laws and a very big, belief-killing problem.

            Now that I have explained why I think slavery is wrong, I would like you to explain why you think it is right.

          • Well, I’m having a problem with your reason WHY slavery is wrong. You say “Why is slavery wrong? Simple. Because Western society has deemed it wrong”.

            If it’s just a decision by a given society, that says nothing about whether it’s “right” or “wrong”. That society could turn around, given the right circumstances, and change it’s “collective mind”. All we’re talking about, then, is a *preference*. We’ve not gotten anywhere close to determining the basis on which one can say, authoritatively, that “slavery is wrong”. All you’re talking about, then, is a “general opinion held by a particular group”, and, opinions change.

            You’re going to have to do better than that. Otherwise, I – and anybody – can simply say “well, I appreciate your opinion, but, it means nothing to me”.

            I’m gonna need something more to go on here. I asked you for an answer that wasn’t based on “how you feel”, and I’m certainly not going to accept an answer based on “how you think everybody else should feel”.

            Throw me a bone here. Give me a REAL answer.

          • We are going round in circles here. Clearly, if you can’t or won’t make a judgement on slavery based on societal laws, then you will have to search your conscience instead. It is clear from your comments that you are quite comfortable with slavery as a concept.

            I think we’re done here.

          • You are entirely correct: I won’t make a judgement on slavery – or anything else, for that matter – based on societal laws. Societies change, as do their values and their laws.

            As far as my conscience goes, I did the same soul-searching you did, but somehow, came up with a totally different conclusion than you. I came up with my conclusion after reading what Jesus said: “[God] has sent me to proclaim release to the captives… to set free the oppressed, and to declare the favorable year of our Lord” (“a favorable year of our Lord” = “Jubilee” – a time in which all debts were negated and slaves were set free).

            I saw (and still see) that slavery – like divorce – was something that was “allowed” in the law of Moses, but was *never* God’s “ultimate intent”. Like divorce, slavery was just something *people* did, out of the “hardness of their hearts”. To end divorce, it was going to require a change of people’s *hearts*, and to end slavery, it was going to require the same thing. God could have outlawed both things in the law of Moses, but it would have been to no avail – not until people were willing to let their *hearts* be changed. And, *nobody’s* laws – neither the laws of God nor of man – every changes people’s *hearts*. Changing hearts requires something else.

            Jesus came to change people’s *hearts*. He spoke against divorce, saying that God allowed it in the law of Moses because of the “hardness of your hearts”, and he spoke of slavery, saying his very purpose was to set the captives and the oppressed free, and to declare Jubilee – because slavery was never God’s idea in the first place. And, it wasn’t. People had been practicing slavery for thousands of years before Moses ever came along, long before there was ever a “Hebrew people”. Slavery was an idea of *people*, started by people, and perpetuated by people. God had nothing to do with *starting* it.

            God *regulated* slavery in the OT. “Manstealing” (ie, kidnapping someone from their home and selling them into slavery) was a capital offense. The only slaves were either “indentured servants” (Hebrews – which could serve for no more than six years) – or “foreign slaves” – prisoners of war (either “fighters” or “civilians”).

            In the law of Moses, ALL slaves had legal recourse in the courts. All of them were afforded full status as “human beings” (unlike the slaves in the US).

            Every foreign slave had the “right of redemption” – meaning, the slave (or, a friend, or family, or a total stranger) could obtain that slaves freedom by paying a *fixed* sum of money (usually 30 shekels, but sometimes 40 shekels), and the “owner” could not refuse the right of redemption. This meant that an “owner” was never going to be able to sell a slave for more than 30 or 40 shekels (unless he was dealing with an idiot) because that slave might come up with those shekels the day after being bought, and go free. Hence, *historically*, there is no record of a “slave market” ever existing in Israel. It was virtually impossible to do “slave trading” – there was no profit to be made from it.

            If you read Hebrew, or had really actually *studied* your bible, you would have quickly found that a foreign slave was *automatically* set free if the owner beat him, and caused any “disfigurement” – including a scar.

            If an owner beat a slave, and killed him, then the owner would be charged with murder. If the owner beat the slave severely, and left “permanent marks”, the owner would be charged with the equivalent of “aggravated assault”. And – if the owner caused any permanent disfigurment – including a scar – the slave was *automatically* set free.

            If you had really *studied* your bible, you would have discovered that a foreign slave would *automatically* be set free if the slave decided to become a Jew and follow the laws of Moses, or if he/she married a free person. You would have discovered that slaves could own property (unlike those in the US). You would have discovered that slaves, by law, had “a day of rest” (the Sabbath) just like everyone else, and that slave owners were *required* by law to celebrate the festivals *with their slaves*.

            IF – and if, and if – you had *really* studied the law of Moses – and – specifically, the JEWISH (Hebrew) understanding of those laws, you would have read “You are in duty bound to see that your slave makes progress; you must benefit him and must not hurt him with words. He ought to rise and advance with you, be with you in the place you chose for yourself, and when fortune is good to you, do not grudge him his portion”.

            You would also have read “Slaves may not be maltreated or offended – the law destined them for service, not for humiliation. Do not shout at them or be angry with them, but hear them out, as it is written [Job 31:13–14]: ‘If I did despise the cause of my man-servant or maid-servant when they contended with me, what then shall I do when God riseth up? and when He remembereth what shall I answer?'”

            But – you didn’t seem to get this far. You got stuck on the word “slave”, and immediately figured “all slavery is like slavery in the US”.

            I was fortunate. I didn’t get stuck on the word, nor on the “American concept” of slavery. But then, I actually studied. My guess? You didn’t.

            So, yeh, I think we’re done here.

          • Since you are intent on carrying this on……

            [quote] “[God] has sent me to proclaim release to the captives… to set free the oppressed, and to declare the favorable year of our Lord” [/quote]

            [quote] and he spoke of slavery, saying his very purpose was to set the captives and the oppressed free, and to declare Jubilee – because slavery was never God’s idea in the first place. [/quote]

            Then why not say so after healing a man’s sick slave? Why not free the captive?

            [quote] To end divorce, it was going to require a change of people’s *hearts*, and to end slavery, it was going to require the same thing.[/quote]

            You know, it’s funny, God seems pretty clear concerning murder and theft. They are wrong. He didn’t wait for people’s hearts to change on that account,, he made it quite plain that such things are against His law. So why not slavery? And could an omniscient, omnipresent God not see that His words would be used many hundreds and hundreds of years into the future to justify ill-treatment of slaves on American and Caribbean plantations?

            [quote] The only slaves were either “indentured servants” (Hebrews – which could serve for no more than six years) – or “foreign slaves” – prisoners of war (either “fighters” or “civilians”).[/quote]

            Yes, and in the latter case foreign slaves were slaves FOR LIFE.These are the slaves I am referring to. You are conveniently referring to Hebrew slaves who were treated much better than foreigners. In fact, I would suggest that you are not really talking about slaves at all, for indentured servants were usually paid for their work.

            [quote]If you read Hebrew, or had really actually *studied* your bible, you would have quickly found that a foreign slave was *automatically* set free if the owner beat him, and caused any “disfigurement” – including a scar.[/quote]

            “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. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)” What sort of morality is THAT?!

            You paint Jesus as a kind and gentle character. Nothing could be further from the truth. Jesus was a punitive character:

            “The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. “But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given.” (Luke 12:47-48 NLT)”

            I wonder how many times Christian slave-masters used Exodus 21 and Luke 12 down the years to justify the flogging and beating of their slaves almost to death? Let’s not keep harking back to the dim and distant past. The point I am trying to make is that the Bible cannot be used as a moral yardstick in a modern society.

            It’s funny how you wish to make distinctions between Biblical slavery and modern slavery, yet you don’t make such distinctions with things like homosexuality. No, these things are ALWAYS wrong, regardless of era.

            I have read much concerning the horrors of slavery, how it degrades human beings and crushes their spirit, and personally speaking I am APPALLED by God’s stance on it. God is supposed to be an enlightened deity, yet He advocates the most barbaric punishments against unarmed, defenseless slaves. He mandates the public piercing of a slave’s ear followed by permanent enslavement, should a slave commit the unpardonable crime of not wanting to be separated from his wife and children. And that’s one of your Hebrew slaves I am talking about, so your six years and then go free hokum is pure bullshit, for the master can simply use this grotesque GOD MANDATED contrivance to keep the man enslaved forever. (Oh, I forgot. The six years and then go free spiel only applies to men. Hebrew women and children are slaves forever.) One can almost see God smirk as He dreamt up this dirty, underhand little rule. One can almost understand the heretical stance taken by the Gnostics that the God of the Old Testament is Satan himself.

            I know, this was a long time ago and things were probably different then. That’s not my issue. My problem is that we cannot gain a sense of morality from these laws. We could not teach children these things, for they would take it at face value and find it either bemusing or appalling. You have made it plain that we are NOT to take it at face value, that there are extenuating circumstances. So what use is such a book to children if they need a Biblical scholarship to understand it?

          • “Then why not say so after healing a man’s sick slave? Why not free the captive?”

            Is that a serious question? Jesus was supposed to have the political clout to free a Roman slave right at that moment? Seriously?

            “You know, it’s funny, God seems pretty clear concerning murder and theft. They are wrong. He didn’t wait for people’s hearts to change on that account,, he made it quite plain that such things are against His law. So why not slavery?”

            I’ve already told you “why not slavery”. Whether we like it or not, slavery is how nations dealt with POW’s and civilian prisoners of war. The enemy had to be taken out of the battle, one way or another. You can’t just capture people from the “enemy tribe”, then turn around, asking them to “be nice, and don’t attack us again”. And, you have to have them in order to trade them back for your own people. Look, I’m sorry if you can’t place yourself back in the bronze age, and use your “imagination” to figure out that things were just way different back then, then they are now. But, even now, right here in the US, we still have legal slavery. And, the Geneva Convention still allows it. Nobody thinks either case is immoral, though.

            “Yes, and in the latter case foreign slaves were slaves FOR LIFE.These are the slaves I am referring to. You are conveniently referring to Hebrew slaves who were treated much better than foreigners”.

            If you studied Hebrew law AT ALL, you would know two things: Foreign slaves were indeed *deemed* “slaves for life” – but this was a LEGAL designation, to differentiate them from Hebrew slaves, which could only serve six years. In Hebrew, the better understanding is that they were *potentially slaves for life* – but the fact of the matter is, they had a half-dozen was to attain their freedom – including the “right of redemption” I wrote about earlier – which they (or a friend, or family member, or whom-ever) could exercise at *any* time.

            So, NO – I’m NOT referring to Hebrew slaves. And, this just tells me I’m wasting my time talking with someone who THINKS he knows something about the OT laws, but, understands nothing of it.

            “He mandates the public piercing of a slave’s ear followed by permanent enslavement, should a slave commit the unpardonable crime of not wanting to be separated from his wife and children.”

            This may be the single most perverse reading of that scripture I’ve ever seen. Seriously. This scripture is in reference to an Hebrew slave (a six-year slave) who is married to a non-Hebrew wife. The Hebrew slave gets to go free after six years. AT THAT TIME, he can turn right around and exercise the “right of redemption”, and take his wife and kids with him. BUT – if he “loves his master” (as it says in Exo), then he’ll get an earring, in a pierced ear, to signify that he, a Hebrew – has voluntarily decided to stay a slave. But, any way you look at it, the freed Hebrew slave *always* had the right to redeem his wife and kids & take them along. That was *always* Hebrew right.

            You know, I can understand your struggles with this stuff. I had the same struggles, the same questions, the same oppositions.

            But, when you read enough about how Jewish law *actually* worked, in real life, and when you finally come to grips with the fact that the Law of Moses was (a) NOT some expression of “Gods Perfect Will”, and (b) NOT an expression of “moral values”, but of LAW, and (c) served only as the BASIS for court decisions, then you’ll begin to understand how the Jews understood and applied that law.

            Until then? You’ll be spewing out the same, ignorant crap you’ve spewed out in this last diatribe.

            For me? Well, talking to you is like talking to a fundamentalist Christian that believes the universe was created in six 24-hour days.

            In fact, it wouldn’t surprise me one bit to know that you *were* a fundamentalist, a “literalist”. They always seem to be the one’s that can’t grasp abstract notions, as you can’t seem to grasp them…

  39. one day i asked god why you made the trunk of elephant long…because it doesn’t make sense to
    me…you are stupid in my eyes…look i am more clever than you…lol

  40. Interesting arguments on both sides. I’m a believing Christian whose life has been utterly changed by a relationship with Christ. Many others I know have undergone similar transformations. But I respect those who hold thoughtful views to the contrary. Ultimately, Christian faith — unlike, say, Buddhism — is about a relationship first, and laws and precepts second. And just as I don’t expect anyone else to understand my friends and family if they’ve never met them, I can see why those who do not have a relationship with Jesus would not feel their lives touched and transformed by him. The central question of Christianity is this: Do you believe that Jesus died, was raised from the dead and is present today? How you answer that question will determine the course of your life. Thanks.

  41. Reformed Trombonist

    The scriptures do not record that Jesus ever spoke out against crucifixion either. Surely that was a worse institution than even slavery, right?

    Jesus seems like a first-things-first sorta guy. He seems much more concerned with saving everyone from a fate worse than slavery. Namely, Hell.

    Go ahead and argue against that priority.

    • Yes, I agree that crucifixion was even worse than slavery. Maybe I should write a series of posts on the fact that the Bible says so little about what we today regard as basic, universal human rights (in this case a prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment).

      As I said in this post, Jesus did not hesitate to speak out on all manner of social issues. He was not solely concerned with saving people from Hell. I’m sure you would agree with me that at least part of his ministry was devoted to teaching us how to treat our fellow humans in this life. So the question remains: why nothing about slavery?

      You might also be interested in my post Did God Intend to End Slavery by Changing People’s Hearts? That post does not specifically address hell, but it does speak to the matter of God prioritizing his messages.

      • Reformed Trombonist

        > As I said in this post, Jesus did not hesitate to speak out on all manner of social issues.

        Jesus did not speak out against societal institutions, though He necessarily touched on some of them when speaking to the human heart. As you said in your original post, “Do unto others…” hints at the evil contained in various institutions. When He beat the moneylenders, it was not an indictment of the Temple nor of sacrificial offerings.

        Jesus knows the real problem is the human heart. As Isaiah said, all our righteousness is as filthy rags — and that’s a condemnation of our righteous acts, not our evil ones. If our righteous acts stink to high heaven, what do our evil acts smell like?

        Jesus didn’t come here to change out our institutions; He came to light our path, to show us He is the way, the truth and the life. If He changes us, and we apply His principles, sooner or later, someone was going to figure out that mankind is too depraved to be trusted with ownership over other people. (As the recent spate of sexual harassment charges show us, we can’t even be trusted to coexist with each other in the workplace.) Yes, it took a few years, but a Christian named William Wilberforce spearheaded the abolishment of slavery in the Western world.

        As to reading other articles by you, maybe. Maybe not. If you accept the Lord, you will have faith that He is who He claims and that He has done and is doing His best to rescue a fallen race from their own depravity. If you don’t, then you are essentially holding up your own perspective as the lens through which we ought to evaluate Jesus. It’s a question of authority.

        The question I would ask you is, do you believe the moral code is absolute? That is, transcendent, eternal and unchanging. Or is it relative? That is, entirely vulnerable to the whims of mankind and ultimately doomed to die with us.

        If absolute, that implies that something transcends mankind, and the existence of a Being who is better than we are, and gives us the yardstick by which we measure such evils as slavery.

        If relative, then why bother to get worked up about something that was considered right yesterday, is considered wrong today, and will probably come full circle at some point? And when mankind is extinct, it will cease to matter anyway.

        And whichever way I’m supposed to choose, and don’t take this personally because it isn’t personal, I have no reason to suppose you’re the authority I should be listening to either way. You believe Jesus should have emphasized slavery is wrong; Jesus didn’t see it that way. By what yardstick to you say Jesus was wrong and you are right? If you are absolutely right, then I ask, where’s your halo? Where’s your heavenly scepter? If you are only relatively right, I can just wait for the consensus to change.

        • Reformed Trombonist, thank you for taking the time to write such a detailed reply. You asked me several questions. I have actually dealt with those subjects at length on this blog and would refer you to those articles, but you said, “As to reading other articles by you, maybe. Maybe not.” I interpret that as a signal that you are not really ready to listen to what I have to say.

          You also said, “If you accept the Lord, you will have faith… If you don’t, then you are essentially holding up your own perspective as the lens through which we ought to evaluate Jesus.” It may interest you to know that I was a devout Christian for about 40 years, but had to walk away from that when it became clear that my own perspective was, in fact, false.

          If I am wrong, and you really are ready to listen, I invite you to read the posts listed on the Most Important Posts tab. At a minimum, read the series on why I left evangelical Christianity. When you’ve done that, drop me a line and I’ll answer all your questions.

          • Reformed Trombonist

            Sorry to hear of your loss of faith. I”ll take a look at your posts; you don’t seem to be a garden-variety atheist motivated by pure nastiness and feelings of superiority.

            > It may interest you to know that I was a devout Christian for about 40 years, but had to walk away from that when it became clear that my own perspective was, in fact, false.

            If you knew your own perspective to be false, then why would you reject the Bible’s in favor of your own?

            As for me, I’m not sure I qualify as an evangelical Christian, though others may lump me in that category. I was raised as an independent Baptist, and I think if you want to be a pastor of an independent Baptist church, all you have to do is hang your shingle out front. I married a Presbyterian woman about 35 years ago, and, long story short, now I’m a member of an old-school Presbyterian “Reformed” sort of church. The theology makes a lot more sense to me.

            But you have to start in with the assumption that the Bible is the authoritative and inerrant word of God, and contains everything in it that a person needs, not just for salvation, but for living a good life.

            If you don’t believe that, in your shoes, I wouldn’t know where to go or what to do. Catholicism? No. The church hierarchy has been wrong before, so they are not inerrant. Mormonism? No, the implication that there may be millions of gods finesses the fact that there must have been only one at the beginning, who created all the worlds — that’s the only God I’m interested in. Mainstream denominations? No. They’ve given up scripture for social work and liberal political causes. Islam? Judaism? No, you can’t have an absolute moral code with a monadic god. Paganism? No, the pagan gods are just creatures like ourselves; some are more powerful, but they retain the morals of humans — which is to say, wretched.

            That leaves us with scriptural Christianity. It has an absolute moral code: love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself. That was Jesus’ summing up of the Old Testament scriptures (or “Moses and the prophets”, as He said it). Morality is about building, maintaining, and reconciling good relationships with God and others. A monadic god (one god, one person) would have had no relationships with equals, only his own creatures, and before those creatures were created, there would have been no relationships, hence, no morality. But the Holy Trinity has existed forever, Father, Son, Holy Spirit, three persons, one God. They have the perfect relationships with one another.

            That’s the only way it makes sense.

            Or you could reject it all and be an atheist. That may or may not lead you into logical problems, but it certainly leads into a moral dilemma. A transcendent, absolute moral code must have come from something or someone higher than man, to be authoritative. Otherwise, the moral code is simply some sort of consensus of personal opinions, carrying no authority whatsoever. That doesn’t mean we don’t have preferences; of course we do. I prefer that people like Ted Bundy be dead so that he can’t harm any more young women. I think that’s a morally sound statement. But Ted Bundy might disagree — what if he likes killing girls? Now we have a conundrum: what kind of yardstick do we use to judge my moral opinion as the better one?

            Public opinion? Not very reliable, I’m afraid. Buddhists would say the universe has laws intrinsic to its nature. But the universe is just physics and has no consciousness. They’re just anthropomorphizing space, energy, and matter.

            But you have to face the fact that without an absolute Being, there can be no absolute moral truth.

            All of our instincts say otherwise.

      • I *like* slavery – if it’s according to *my* definition.

        Now, *my* definition of slavery is an institution in which a slaveowner can own a slave *provided* that the slave sold himself into the institution, gets paid a minimum of $250k a year, has a 3-day work week consisting of only an hour a day, doing work which can be done from home on the slaves computer, and the slave is provided with medical and dental, and a $200 per diem. And, the slave can buy himself out of slavery for a dollar at any time.

        But, that’s *my* definition of it. And, it’s all in the *definition*. There is no “generic slavery”, and if we are talking about “slavery – as it existed in the United States”, such an institution simply never existed in Israel.

        If we want to talk about the “immorality of slavery in Hebrew law”, then, we have to talk about it according to *that* definition of slavery, and nail down what the “immorality” of it was.

        Is it intrinsically immoral to “own” another person? No, not at all. I can “own” a person, but if, in doing so, I give them freedom to just live their lives as they wish, then there is nothing “immoral” about it. I could *buy* a bunch of people from some *real* slave-owner in some place that allows US-style slavery, and, in doing so, I’d be a “slave owner”, but I’d be saving their lives.

        NOTE: that (above) is an *example* of what needs to be “nailed down”, it’s not intended as an *argument*.

        Another example of what needs to be “nailed down” is whether slavery is intrinsically immoral because it involves “involuntary labor”. But, in the United States, that very thing is allowed in the prison system; hence, we have sentences of “30 years hard labor at Levanworth”, and we still have chain gangs and work farms. Is this “immoral”? Maybe it IS. I don’t know. Again, I’m not making an “argument” – I’m just saying that somebody needs to get down to brass tacks and *explain* what the intrinsic immorality of slavery is.

        And then – maybe there’s a real case to be made against God or Jesus or whomever for “not speaking out against it”.

        But, one must acknowledge two things, I believe –
        (1) the Laws of Moses applied ONLY to the nation known and Israel; it was not a general statement of Universal Morality, and
        (2) whereas “slavery, the world over” may indeed *not* be discussed in either the OT or NT, *freedom*, on the other hand, is a clear pronouncement of both the OT and the NT.

        • You’re right: “slavery” can mean many different things. Even in the Bible, there were several kinds, some worse than others, as I explained in this post: Did God Command Slavery or Merely Tolerate It?.

          The version of slavery that I would have expected Jesus to speak out against was the version practiced in his day, which was nothing like your arguably permissible examples of prison or buying someone for the purpose of setting them free. I didn’t say this in the post, but one might have hoped that Jesus would have taken a stand against the immoral slavery that God commanded his people to perpetrate back in Old Testament times, just to set the record straight. He could have employed the same formula he used in the Sermon on the Mount: “You have heard that it was said, …, but I say to you….”

          • 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. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

          • Reformed Trombonist

            1. Name a human society that has never owned slaves, or, for that matter, been slaves.

            2. Do you believe morals are absolute?

            3. If so, please identify how and give us some idea about what gives them their authority?

            4. And what makes them absolute?

            5. If not, please explain the source of your indignation toward Jesus and the Hebrews.

            6. Also, if morals are not absolute, please explain how slavery is always absolutely bad.

          • Reformed Trombonist

            Jesus obviously had more important fish to fry, Beagle. He seemed less concerned about eradicating slavery than in saving us from a horrible end game in the afterlife. The hardest people to save are probably the folks that already believe they’re wonderful. That would have included the Pharisees of his day, but also the hoi polloi who were big in commerce and government.

            You wish Jesus had come out as Harriet Tubman. The Lord had other priorities. Seems to me He chose wisely. I’d rather escape Hell than escape slavery. But maybe that’s just me.

  42. Complete and utter nonsense! These laws, these old laws written by your filthy god are actively pro slavery. Jesus, whom you claim to be god is here to uphold the laws that he wrote. To suggest that he came to reform these laws is a lie, to claim that scripture makes these claims in any shape or form is not only pure conjecture, if offers an apology for your god having been a total asshole at least in some point in time. History demonstrates that Hebrews had no problems with slavery. They even sold their children as sex slaves WHICH IS CLEARLY DESCRIBED IN EXIDOUS 21:7:11. I wonder why a god so supposedly great has to have excuses made for him. It is no coincidence that god always represents the very least in the society that created him. Perhaps you so post excuses why your god activity sanctions in the affirmative “goat sex”?

    • If I thought – even for a moment – that most people in this thread who get all “up in arms” about “biblical slavery” actually (a) read Hebrew, and (b) understood the Mishnah and/or Talmud, then we could actually have a real-life discussion of “slavery in the OT”.

      Like, for example: “Exodus 21:20-21: “If a man beats his male or female slave with a club and the slave dies as a result, the owner must be punished. But if the slave recovers within a day or two, then the owner shall not be punished, since the slave is his property.”

      I don’t know how many times I’ve seen people derive from this the idea that a slave owner could beat his/her slave within an inch of their lives, and nothing would happen to the owner (as punishment).

      What this says in Hebrew is that if a slaveholder beats a slave, and the slave dies, the *slave* will be *avenged*. It says nothing about the slaveholder being punished. And, here’s the deal: the word used in Hebrew, which we translate as “avenged”, means “avenged by the edge of the sword”. It *meant* decapitation.

      If the slave *survived*, then the slave would not be *avenged* – meaning, the slaveholder would not be guilty of a capital crime (obviously). However, in that case, all the laws regarding assault, and regarding injury to a slave, come into play. The slaveholder was liable for punishment for assault, and if his beating of the slave caused permanent, visible injury to the slave, the slave was automatically set free.

      And – that’s what you get when you read Hebrew, and study Rabbinical discourse on the topic.

      And, there’s a lot more stuff where that came from.

      But, the bottom line is this: There is nothing *inherently* wrong with “slavery” – DEPENDING ON HOW SLAVERY IS DEFINED. If a person decides to sell themselves into “slavery” because the deal they’re getting is a really sweet deal, then, hey, that’s their business. And, maybe, that “sweet deal” – which is brokered by that person – includes the option to get out of that deal whenever, at a fixed price. Not a thing “immoral” about that.

      There’s nothing “immoral” about the current slavery in the United States, as sanctioned by the 13th Amendment: Penal servitude, considered “slavery”, in that Amendment.

      There’s nothing immoral about prisoners of war being put to work, as long as the work does not endanger that “slave”, and as long as it does not promote that captors war efforts – at least – it’s not considered immoral according to the Geneva Convention.

      So, if somebody really REALLY wants to learn something about biblical slavery, I’ll talk to you. But, most of the people on this thread don’t really care to actually know what they’re talking about.

      And – regarding Jesus, and what he did or did not say about slavery:

      First – slavery – except for “Hebrew slaves” (which any knowledgeable person knows was “indentured servitude”) – was virtually, if not entirely absent from Israel/Judah at the time of Jesus. Why? The Babylonian captivity. During the Babylonian captivity, every institution of Judaism was effectively laid waste. No temple, no legal institutions, including slavery.

      And, when they returned from the Babylonian captivity, slavery was simply never again instituted in Israel. They fought no foreign wars (thus taking captives), and slave-trading was illegal: the only “foreign slaves” one could have were those who sold themselves into slavery.

      So, there just wasn’t much of an issue, in Judah, for Jesus to talk about. In every one of his parables in which he talks about “slaves”, he is referring to slaves owned by gentiles. The Jews simply didn’t *have* slaves at that time.

      BUT – the first thing Jesus said in a synagogue, when he began his ministry, was to quote Isaiah 61: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
      Because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted;
      He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to *proclaim liberty to captives* And *freedom to prisoners* ; To *proclaim the favorable year of the Lord*”

      That reference to the “favorable year of the Lord” is a reference to “Jubilee” – a year in which all slaves were to be set free.

      That was the first thing Jesus spoke in a synagogue, and he followed it by saying “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

      This was a “mission statement” from Jesus: to set captives and prisoners free, and to declare Jubilee.

  43. Man these are very Interesting arguments! I always wondered something, and I could be wrong but I don’t remember any main or powerful people in the bible being slaves.

    I mean I doubt anyone would be able to enslave Jesus, paul, shamgar, Samson, David’s three men and others like them especially because of the things they were able to do. Jesus repeatedly told us these powers and abilities were available to us. John 14:12, Mathew 17:20 etc. I don’t know if this was the problem back then but I notice today not many Christians if any at all want to work, sacrifice and learn to get to that level.

    So I agree that Jesus was more concerned about the heart of man, not just the slave owner. ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

    • Reformed Trombonist

      > I could be wrong but I don’t remember any main or powerful people in the bible being slaves.

      Joseph was a slave. He started as a slave, spent time in prison as falsely accused of sleeping with his master’s wife, and yet still became a ruler of Egypt. The entire nation of Israel were slaves between Joseph and Moses. By extension, then, Aaron was a slave, and then all the other Israelites who show up in the biblical narrative in Exodus, Deuteronomy, and Numbers.

      Fast-forward to about 600 BC, during the reign of the Chaldeans, the entire nation of Judah became slaves. They were taken from their land and shipped to Babylon. The story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego happened during that time.

      Esther became queen of Persia, but it’s not like she had any say-so about it. She was just too beautiful. The Persian king wanted her. End of story. The Jews received many kindnesses from the Persians, but things could have easily gone the other way, and almost did. I’m not saying they were slaves, but only that their legal status was so diminished they might as well have been.

      As for Beagle’s entire argument, it all boils down to this: Jesus had different priorities than Beagle would have had if he had been Jesus, therefore Jesus was wrong.

      Once someone decides the scriptures are no longer authoritative, God’s wisdom is replaced by man’s. God’s foolishness is wiser than man’s wisdom.

  44. Michael Victor

    Hi, it is interesting that Jesus didn’t directly look down on slavery. Although He wasn’t fighting against physical slavery, but against people being a slave to sin and death (which is a lot worse if you really think about it). People usually forget that Jesus came with a purpose, He didn’t live life like we do, going throughout life living as long as we can and do what we think is good. He had 3 years and He was send by God to do a work, to declare the Good works of God, to declare the Kingdom of God is near, to die for our sins so that whoever believes in Him through faith will be saved and free from the bondage of sin and death, and when He rose again and ascended to heaven, to give the commandments to His disciples to Spread the Word of God (Gospel) to every nation on earth (That the Kingdom of God would manifest to whoever hold onto the Truth of His Word and follows His commandments). That was the Purpose given to Him by God. Also He was the promised Messiah to the Jews, not the gentiles, so the majority of the people He healed were Jewish, He was promised to the Children of God not to unbelievers, and if that seems unfair, back then the gentiles didn’t really care who He was. He was just another random guy to them, but He still died for them.I really think slavery broke Jesus’s heart, but it was not His Calling to challenge it. I believed God sent others to challenge it, and its mostly due to the fruits of the Gospel, that Slavery was abolished in the end.

  45. Jesus DID speak out about slavery!

    “You who are slaves must accept the authority of your masters with all respect. Do what they tell you–not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel.”
    1 Peter 2:18

    Very very strange you missed that.

    • Slavery
      Except for murder, slavery has got to be one of the most immoral things a person can do. Yet slavery is rampant throughout the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments. The Bible clearly approves of slavery in many passages, and it goes so far as to tell how to obtain slaves, how hard you can beat them, and when you can have sex with the female slaves.

      Many Jews and Christians will try to ignore the moral problems of slavery by saying that these slaves were actually servants or indentured servants. Many translations of the Bible use the word “servant”, “bondservant”, or “manservant” instead of “slave” to make the Bible seem less immoral than it really is. While many slaves may have worked as household servants, that doesn’t mean that they were not slaves who were bought, sold, and treated worse than livestock.

      The following passage shows that slaves are clearly property to be bought and sold like livestock.

      However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

      The following passage describes how the Hebrew slaves are to be treated.

      If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may plainly declare, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would rather not go free.’ If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his master forever. (Exodus 21:2-6 NLT)

      Notice how they can get a male Hebrew slave to become a permanent slave by keeping his wife and children hostage until he says he wants to become a permanent slave. What kind of family values are these?

      The following passage describes the sickening practice of sex slavery. How can anyone think it is moral to sell your own daughter as a sex slave?

      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. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment. (Exodus 21:7-11 NLT)

      So these are the Bible family values! A man can buy as many sex slaves as he wants as long as he feeds them, clothes them, and has sex with them!

      What does the Bible say about beating slaves? It says you can beat both male and female slaves with a rod so hard that as long as they don’t die right away you are cleared of any wrong doing

      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. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

      You would think that Jesus and the New Testament would have a different view of slavery, but slavery is still approved of in the New Testament, as the following passages show.

      Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ. (Ephesians 6:5 NLT)

      Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them. (1 Timothy 6:1-2 NLT)

      In the following parable, Jesus clearly approves of beating slaves even if they didn’t know they were doing anything wrong.

      The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. “But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given.” (Luke 12:47-48 NLT)

      • Reformed Trombonist

        Please cite, for our edification, anyone in the ancient Roman Empire who advocated for the abolition of slavery. I’ll wait here.

      • re: “Notice how they can get a male Hebrew slave to become a permanent slave by keeping his wife and children hostage until he says he wants to become a permanent slave. ”

        The first thing that jumps out at me is that you have never, ever studied either the Talmud or Jewish commentary. If you had, you would know that “If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master” is referring to a female slave that is separately bound to serve her six-year time. The point is this: Just getting married does not free her from her obligations. On the other hand, if her time as a servant is done *before* her husbands time of servitude, *she* goes free, but he has to finish out his service. That’s what this verse is about, in regards to Hebrew slaves. In regards to foreign slaves, what this verse is about is that if a male slave is given a *foreign* slave as a wife – a slave that did not have a six-year servitude limit – then when the male (Jewish) slave finished his six years, still the female (foreign) slave belonged to the “master”. BUT – according to the same Law of Moses, the husband, being freed, could turn right around and “redeem” his wife and kids, and the “master” could not refuse.

        But, like I say, it’s clear you don’t really *study* this stuff. You read something – probably in English – and *think* you understand it. But, you don’t.

  46. Ogurene Debaki

    I have to say that sometimes some people have some kind of internal pressure to do something and after they do it it turns out to be one of the right deeds and i believe that jesus despite giving no instruction on slavery showed himself owning literal NOTHING!!!
    And to me it means that if he called us slaves and owned nothing then we cannot own slaves.

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  48. Your writing style as well as your message are mind blowing Sir, I truly enjoyed reading this. Thanks!
    I’m going to defend the Christians though and ask you to carefully read John again, first 1:1-3:

    1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

    What it says is that ‘the Word’, not Jesus, was God. The second verse confirms this with the word ‘with’, if Jesus was identical to God that ‘with’ wouldn’t be there. The third verse refers to Creation, the God that created all things, it doesn’t say that it happened ‘by him’ (Jesus), but ‘through him’, there’s a subtle difference.

    Now 1:14:

    The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

    Keyword here is ‘became’, this verse again confirms the Word wasn’t always Jesus, but the Word ‘became’ Jesus the moment He was born, NOT before that.


    I and the Father are one.

    In English you could say ‘to be one and the same’, which would be strictly stronger than the ‘to be one’ used here. Jesus and God are not the same but they are one through the Word.


    Jesus gave them this answer: “Very truly I tell you, the Son can do nothing by himself; he can do only what he sees his Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.

    Note the use of the present tense here, not the past tense, 5 times in a row. Jesus was pointing out His close relation to God and that all His ‘present’ actions and words, the ones he performs in His human form, come directly from God.

    So all that debunks your claim that Christians should accept the Old Testament in full. They don’t. After all, why would God ‘ve sent Jesus to Earth to spread the Word when the scriptures that were already there (in the OT) were perfect and complete to begin with? That could only ‘ve been because the OT was either incomplete, incorrect, or (likely) both. Right?

    I’ll admit I’m kind of wriggling my way out of your quite sane arguments, but you’ll also have to admit this reasoning is at least plausible. Stronger, since it’s the only explanation that makes any sense at all and we’ve excluded all other options, it must be true. Jesus came to earth to CORRECT the OT, not just to add to it or replicate it.

    On your statement that a divine Jesus would’ve surely spoken against slavery I also have my doubts. It could very well be that if he was indeed divine, he knew His words would not be accepted if He did speak against slavery. Also note that while he didn’t speak against it, he also didn’t approve of slavery (please correct me if I’m wrong here).

    The implications of what I’m suggesting here are HUGE, I know, but at least we could keep the Golden Rule standing by accepting it.

    Looking forward to your reply, sincerely and respectfully.

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  50. Using biblical content out of context and making it say something else is misleading and inaccurate. God promised the Isrealites their blessing to take it by force. The means, though not practiced in modern day, was not as how you are painting it. You are mocking God and His word.

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  53. This may sound crazy, but how do we know if maybe he did speak out about slavery, but it was omitted from the bible by those who found the scrolls? I believe in God & believe in the bible, but sometimes wonder if some parts were hidden.

    • …so deny the bible and its gods is the answer here? Jesus was okay with beating slaves but was kept silent about owning them. Maybe Jesus said religion was all fake and this was kept out of the bible too? You are willing to dismiss what you don’t want to hear and yet cling to what you don’t hear….hypocrisy at its finest?

  54. You understand very little of Jesus.
    He did address slavery because He knows it is an issue of the human heart. He addresses the depravity of the human heart and how unredeemable the human race is because of evil our hearts which manifests itself is sin like slavery.
    Jesus said you must be born again of His Spirit.
    He died in the cross in our place. When we allow his Spirit to reign in your heart, the out flow from this is his perfect love.

  55. Jason Robinson

    I am shocked that so many are lost and unversed in jesus’s actual ministry… It’s like everyone writing of jesus being silent on slavery is simply retelling what they have been taught instead of leaning on their own understanding…

    point. From jesus first public proclamation of his ministry (the spirit of the lord is upon me, for he has a pointed me to preach the good news, setting the captives free, and opening eyes of the blind) until his last uttered words of “it is finished” HIS ENTIRE MINISTRY was to set the captives “slaves free”.

    it’s taken years to understand this, i had to leave the minstry in order to see the light. as ALL of the christian doctrine wants to hide this simple fact..
    John Brown knew this, before capturing the US Fort in Harper Vally in 1859. and i’d not for him, following the gospel msg America might still be arguing over Emancipation…


    In that same passage from the very earliest days of Jesus’ ministry, he also said he had come to “declare the favorable year of the Lord” – which, was a reference to “Jubilee” – when all slaves were to be set free.

  57. Reading through this whole thing, I’m rather buzzled on a few comments.

    Before to get to that point, let’s establish something extremely early. Jesus was an apocalyptic preacher that believed that the end of the world was coming very soon. He mainly deals with the moral implications of people, trying to ‘save’ them from Annihilation at ‘the end of times’. He spoke against the hypocrisy of the Pharisee’s, as he believed that was leading them away from God. And supported Universalism treatment of how people ought to treat others.

    This is seen many times throughout the text, from his parables to his straight-forward teachings. Which brings us to the point of Slavery. He never speaks against it, nor does he speak for it. For what he actually thought about it? Who knows.

    One main argument that I think could indeed be brought up for why he didn’t renounce it, is with that he’s not concerned with trying to change society itself under its hills, when he believed that the end of the world was about to happen. Such things would have to take a long time to implement, as it’s a very legal system that society heavily relied upon, that would likely cause high amounts of revolts if he had renounced it. Clearly not worth the time.

    A few nitpicks: You pointed out if he had said something directly against it, that would have saved millions of lives from slavery. The most likely case is that would NOT have happened at all, because how agriculture was being done exceeds more than a word, for most cultures, and they would probably find some way to keep on practicing it.

    I could also point out how millions have died because of Religious disagreements, even though Jesus clearly condemns such things. Didn’t stop them, why would it stop slavery?

    Lastly, you say that according to the OT, you could beat a slave’s life to the point of death, to where as long as they survive a couple days, it’s OK. The point to Exodus 21:20-21 is in relation to when in a case like this does happen. It’s never said, “Yea, it’s fine.” It’s just speaking about a particular example that a slave owner might do. We clearly see that being the case as the whole around section is talking about someone doing thing A, then some punishment coming from thing A. All this part says is that if a master happens to do that, then he would be put to death. This is if he ends up dying the first few days – As that would have looked like an intentional murder. While if he survived those days, it would have been seen as unintentional, so he wouldn’t have been put to death. Though, it’s certainly possible that some punishment came from this.

    • You’re entirely correct on that “if a man beats a slave” business.

      In the Hebrew, it says that if a man beats a slave, and the slave dies, that the *slave* will be *avenged* (and the word for “avenged” means “with a sword” – it’s the word they used for “beheading”).

      So, if a guy beats his slave, and the slave dies, then the man is subject to the death penalty — it was considered murder.

      If the slave *doesn’t* die, but lingers on a few days (and then dies), then the man would not be charged with *murder* (ie subject to the death penalty for that), but, he could still be charged with assault, manslaughter, and numerous other things.

      And, if the slave *lived*, he was automatically set free.

      BTW – good points about Jesus being an apocalyptic preacher…

      One more thing I’d note: It’s historically established that after the Babylonian captivity (and, the “return of the Jews”), there simply was no institution of slavery (meaning “foreign slaves”, not indentured Jewish servants) in Judea. It just didn’t exist. Slaves, for the vastly biggest part, were a result of warfare (ie, captives). And, Judea didn’t have foreign wars that resulted in a bunch of captives after their return from captivity. (they only had some “defensive” engagements). The scant few references that Jesus makes to “slaves”, then, *have* to refer to slaves belonging to *others* in Judean society at that time – ie, Romans, or Greek (non-Jewish) groups. And, the “treatments” of slaves that Jesus talks about are the treatments of Roman or Greek slaveholders.

      But – the point is this: An institution of having “foreign slaves” was just not a “thing” in Judea in the time of Jesus. That institution ceased to exist some 500 years earlier. So, the whole topic was just not one that was on the Judean radar at the time…

      • Slaves, sex slaves, child sex slaves….the lay of the land is horrific on its best day. Sex with goats? The original texts shows gods. (sic) sanctioning these event as well. They even had rules on who you could and could not sell your goats too after the act. There isn’t much to even about these people or their gods.

    • To the ancient Christians, The Apocalypse might have meant something very different than it does to us today. Back then, they didn’t have nuclear bombs that could incinerate much of the planet. Maybe you are right in a sense though. Maybe they believed that God would imminently come back and use his powers to solve everyone’s problems and punish the evil doers. Thus, they might have thought there was no need to resist evil, because God was going to come back and vanquish all evil for them. However, God never came back, and in fact may never “come back.” Thus, Christianity has tried to evolve. These are just possible explanations. There is a more likely explanation: The more likely explanation, is that slavery was seen as normal or even economically necessary to the writers of the Bible, just as a few of the founding fathers might have thought it was normal.

  58. hi, Beagle. Are you still welcoming comments on this thread to reply to? (Before I do.) If you prefer, I can send you a link to my write-up on the same subject.
    God bless

    • Biblical sacntioned slavery was amoungtst the worse kind of slavery every inflicted on the world. Excuses are just that, excuses! It doesn’t matter that it flies in the face of Christianity because the facts don’t care about your feelings.

    • Hi, Colin. Sorry for my late reply. Yes, I am still welcoming comments on this thread but, as you have experienced, I don’t keep up with them very well anymore. This post is BY FAR the most popular on my blog and people have a lot to say about it. Mostly I let people chat amongst themselves at this point. That being said, if you want to post that link, I’ll watch for it and, if you wish, give you my quick take on it.

    • Thanks for posting your article on slavery on your blog, Colin. I hope it’s OK to link to it here in case anyone is interested: http://gettingtothetruthofthings.blogspot.com/2020/07/gods-complaint-against-slavery-in.html

      You raise a number of good points, and I appreciate that you distinguished between Hebrew slaves and foreign ones in the Old Testament. Many apologists do not make that distinction, claiming that slavery in the OT was “like indentured servitude.”

      I do have two quibbles:
      1) You mention that “the Israelites were allowed to buy slaves from surrounding nations” but fail to mention that God actively encouraged (and I would say commanded) them to take slaves, not buy them. One of the posts in my series is about that.
      2) After observing that the OT cast slavery as an evil when Israelites were the victims, you said, “it does not turn around and become good when you do it to someone else.” That is a very modern argument. The ancient world did not think that way. There are abundant examples of things that are good for the goose NOT being good for the gander.

      • Thank you for your reply, Beagle – I always appreciate the courtesy, quibbles included. You’ve raised two important issues. I’m planning to write a post on Israel’s foreign slaves, so I’ll concentrate on the other question here. (Interestingly though, I find Jewish scholars the more willing to engage with the ethical questions of the foreign slave passages, compared to Christian scholars and bloggers.)

        On your second quibble, starting with this quote from myself: ‘ “it does not turn around and become good when you do it to someone else.”’ – you reply – ‘That is a very modern argument. The ancient world did not think that way.’

        I would contest that this thought is in Q. In Luke 6:31: “Treat people the same way you want them to treat you.” (The “do unto others”. Parallel in Matthew.) Jesus connects this precisely to how you treat your enemies. So this thought was certainly there in antiquity. Many Christians would assert that this is original to Jesus but I see no reason to assume that Jesus thought his role was to be original. If there is a relevant OT passage, it’s surely in Deut 24:

        17 Do not deprive the foreigner or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge. 18 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there. That is why I command you to do this.

        21 When you harvest the grapes in your vineyard, do not go over the vines again. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow. 22 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt. That is why I command you to do this.

        This seems to equate “do unto others” as a cure for Israel’s mistreated foreigners in light of having been foreigners and slaves themselves. There is surely *something* here, which I am still fleshing out.

        Grateful for your thoughts.


        • I agree that “do unto others as you would have them do unto you” implies that “[evil] does not turn around and become good when you do it to someone else.” I also agree that your quotations from the Old Testament are very enlightened in this regard. However, that does not mean people actually thought that way when it came to slavery. For proof, we have only to consider America’s history. Not only did we have the scriptures, but we had more than a millennium to consider their implications, yet a good chunk of us were not only OK with slavery, but cited the Bible in support of it! In the even more recent past, the most Bible-saturated areas of the country have also been the slowest to accept civil rights for African Americans. I say this not to slam the Bible, but as evidence that our written traditions, charitably considered by the 21st-century mind, are not necessarily a reliable guide to how people actually thought. When those written traditions are a mixture of enlightenment (as in the passages you cited) and darkness (as in the passages that convinced me once and for all that the Bible could not be inerrant), our claims that people actually thought in enlightened terms, in all areas, become even more precarious.

          We are very inconsistent creatures. If Deuteronomy was written by one person (up for debate), it’s amazing that the person who wrote chapter 24, which you quote, also wrote Deuteronomy 20:10-15, which I discuss at length in this series on slavery.

          You mentioned that Jewish scholars are more willing to engage with ethical questions in the Bible than Christian bloggers. How most Jews, even conservative ones, view their sacred text would come as a surprise to most Protestant evangelicals. While there are some Jews who believe God inspired every letter of the text and it is to be taken literally (e.g., as in young-earth creationism), my understanding is that for Jews the OT is more like a very important starting point for discussion. Furthermore, stories like the first chapters of Genesis are understood to be archetypal, not literal. Because they have not staked everything on inerrancy, they are more free to consider other points of view, I think.

  59. 1. This article reminds me of the following observation, “Atheists and fundamentalists each tend to read the Bible in the same wooden, overly literalistic manner. The difference is that atheists reject what they read in that manner, while fundamentalists believe it.” And, “All Christians pick and choose which portions of the Bible they interpret literally, progressive Christians simply admit this and share how we discern.” It never has been the case that Jews had an all or nothing view of their holy texts. They have a long history of wrestling with their texts, favoring some, rejecting others, etc. Including in the time of Jesus, Indeed, Jesus was intentional about which portions of the texts he quoted – and which portions he didn’t include (i.e., he favored some of the theologies within the Torah, Prophets, and Psalms more than others). So should we.
    See: https://www.patheos.com/blogs/rogerwolsey/2014/01/16-ways-progressive-christians-interpret-the-bible/

    2. Also, that I know of, the Jews living in Israel during the time Jesus was living didn’t have slaves. To be sure, many wealthy people in the Roman empire had slaves, but the people of Israel didn’t at the time of Jesus. People had servants to be sure, and some may’ve been effectively indentured servants – but Jesus’ first sermon had him declaring the year of Jubilee – calling for the release of all captives and the forgiveness of all debts – including calling for redistribution of wealth. (Luke 4). Jesus was primarily seeking to help the people of Israel, fellow Jews, come to a new way of living in the world that rejects the ways of the Roman empire and instead put full faith and reliance upon their God and in each other.

    Roger Wolsey, author, “Kissing Fish: christianity for people who don’t like christianity”

  60. …so that’s the watered down version of the Bible and it’s views on slavery that helps you sleep at night? First off, maid servent means sex slave. You just have to look beyond the apologetics. Second point, the is no doubt gods [sic] is proslavery, there are even rules on who you could and could not sell your daughters to. Slaves are only to be passed around your tribe, because the others were filthy.

    Exodus 21 chapters 7 through 11….when a man sells his daughter….in short, there are no real men in the middle east.

  61. Again, that doesn’t pertain to the era that Jesus lived in in Israel.

    • Jesus is an 500 year old English man’s name and didn’t exist past then. So no Jesus lived as a Hebrew 2000 some years ago. In fact, there was even a j more than 526 or so years ago. The name Jesus translated in Hebrew is Jesus…. No history Jesus existed outside of your needs to bolster your incoherent belief system.

  62. Historically, any “foreign slavery” (not the indentured servitude of Hebrews) basically came to an end – along with most other Jewish institutions – with the Babylonian captivity, and there is no evidence that there was ever again any “foreign slavery” among the Jews, once they returned after that captivity.

    The only “slavery” that Jesus would have known about would have been the slavery of, say, the Romans or other nationalities (which at his time, could have included Romans and others, living in Palestine).

  63. I am asking. Weren’t all labor jobs of this time handled as we define slavery? If a worker (servant) signed on to a job and performed poorly that worker could/would be physically punished?

  64. Jesus may not have specifically said anything against slavery in the bible, however, did Jesus not say things against injustice and violence and possibly how to resist them? From my imperfect knowledge of the Bible, I have constructed two possible quotes that Jesus might have said. First, “Those who use violence to fight back against slavers, will become nothing but slaves.” Second, “Refuse to do anything at all and let them whip you.” I believe the ideas in these two quotes would be mostly consistent with what the bible says. For instance, Jesus says “But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also.” Nevertheless there are a couple problems with the quotes I wrote based on my interpretation. Problem number one, is that Jesus said, “Do not resist the one who is evil”. Maybe he meant do not do violence against those who are evil, but if he meant that people should fully obey those who are evil, then he would not be a good prophet! The second problem is that the Bible says that sloth is a deadly sin. However, refusing to do something out of principle might not be the same as sloth.

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