The Bible And Slavery
The Bible contains many references to slavery, which was a common practice in antiquity. Biblical texts outline sources and legal status of slaves, economic roles of slavery, types of slavery, and debt slavery, which thoroughly explain the institution of slavery in Israel in antiquity. The Bible stipulates the treatment of slaves, especially in the Old Testament. There are also references to slavery in the New Testament.
Many of the patriarchs portrayed in the Bible were from the upper echelons of society and the owners of slaves and enslaved those in debt to them, bought their fellow citizens’ daughters as concubines, and perpetually enslaved foreign men to work on their fields. Masters were men, and it is not evident that women were able to own slaves until the Elephantine papyri in the 400s BC. Other than these instances, it is unclear whether or not state-instituted slavery was an accepted practice.
In the 19th century United States, abolitionists and defenders of slavery debated the Bible’s message on the topic. Abolitionists used texts from both the Old and New Testaments to argue for the manumission of slaves, and against kidnapping or “stealing men” to own or sell them as slaves.
A Brief History Of Slavery
It is important to note that neither slavery in New Testament times nor slavery under the Mosaic Covenant have anything to do with the sort of slavery where black people were bought and sold as property by white people in the well-known slave trade of the last few centuries. No white Christian should think that he or she could use any slightly positive comment about slavery in this chapter to justify the historic slave trade, which is still a major stain on the histories of both the United States and the UK.
The United States and the UK were not the only countries in history to delve into harsh slavery and so be stained.
The Old Testament On Slavery
People might be surprised to learn that the Bible does not condone slavery at all, even in the Old Testament as many falsely claim. Even in the first laws that God gave, God abhorred the capturing of people to make them slaves. Exodus 21:16 states, Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold or is still in the kidnappers possession. God not only forbids slavery, He gives them the death penalty for it. Thats how serious God sees slavery as. Slavery is no different than kidnapping to God. But what about the slaves mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament?
Leviticus 25:39-43 says, If a countryman of yours becomes so poor with regard to you that he sells himself to you, you shall not subject him to a slaves service. He shall be with you as a hired man, as if he were a sojourner he shall serve with you until the year of jubilee. He shall then go out from you, he and his sons with him, and shall go back to his family, that he may return to the property of his forefathers. For they are My servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt they are not to be sold in a slave sale. You shall not rule over him with severity, but are to revere your God. Here God says that a poor person sells their self to get out of debt but they are not to be subjected to them in service as a slave. They are also be freed after the year of the Jubilee. God calls them My servants and they are not to be sold in a slave sale. How clear is that?
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Why Dont The Bible Critics Ever Read These Verses That Condemns The Kidnapping Slavery Of Long Ago
13. Deuteronomy 24:7 If someone is caught kidnapping a fellow Israelite and treating or selling them as a slave, the kidnapper must die. You must purge the evil from among you.
14. Exodus 21:16 Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold or is still in the kidnappers possession.
15. 1 Timothy 1:9-10 We also know that the law is made not for the righteous but for lawbreakers and rebels, the ungodly and sinful, the unholy and irreligious, for those who kill their fathers or mothers, for murderers, for the sexually immoral, for those practicing homosexuality, for slave traders and liars and perjurersand for whatever else is contrary to the sound doctrine.
16. Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
17. Genesis 1:27 So God created man in His own image in the image of God He created him male and female He created them.
Christian Quotes About Slavery
Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery, I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally. Abraham Lincoln
All that we call human historymoney, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery the long terrible story of man trying to find something other than God which will make him happy. C.S. Lewis
I can only say that there is not a man living who wishes more sincerely than I do to see a plan adopted for the abolition of slavery. George Washington
To be a Christian is to be a slave of Christ. John MacArthur
What The Bible really Says About Slavery
Professor of New Testament, Lancaster Theological Seminary
Slavery stands as the single most contested issue in the history of biblical interpretation in the United States. Not only did the nation fracture over slavery, denominations did too. Northern and Southern Baptists, Presbyterians, and Methodists remained divided until well into the twentieth century in fact, Southern Baptists still represent the nation’s largest Protestant denomination. What did slavery mean in the biblical world, and how did biblical authors respond to it?
Don’t let anybody tell you that biblical slavery was somehow less brutal than slavery in the United States. Without exception, biblical societies were slaveholding societies. The Bible engages remarkably diverse cultures — Ethiopian, Egyptian, Canaanite, Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Greek, and Roman — but in every one of them some people owned the rights to others. Slaveowners possessed not only the slaves’ labor but also their sexual and reproductive capacities. When the Bible refers to female slaves who do not “please” their masters, we’re talking about the sexual use of slaves. Likewise when the Bible spells out the conditions for marrying a slave .
Does Paul encourage slaves to embrace their captivity or to gain their freedom?
Who Made The Slave Bible And Why
The Slave Bible was published in 1807, commissioned on behalf of the Society for the Conversion of Negro Slaves for use by missionaries who wanted to teach enslaved Africans to read, with the ultimate goal of introducing them to Christianity, according to Katz.
Names of the editors or authors of the Slave Bible are not mentioned. Although their intentions were to evangelize slaves, missionaries had to appease slave owners in the British West-Indies who feared an uprising. This fear was heightened because Haitian slaves overcame their masters only three years earlier during the only slave revolt in history in which slaves successfully drove out their European oppressors to form a new nation, according to History.com.
Missionaries had to simultaneously respond to the growing abolitionist movement by proving that they had the slaves best interests at heart. As they prepared to compile a special Bible for slaves in the West Indies, the missionaries agreed to uplift materially these Africans without teaching them anything that could incite rebellion, Katz reported.
But it is difficult to completely remove the thread of freedom in Christ woven throughout the Bible.
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As Christians We Are Slaves To Christ And We Proclaim That With Joy
19. Romans 1:1 This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News.
20. Ephesians 6:6 Obey them not only to win their favor when their eye is on you, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from your heart.
21. 1 Peter 2:16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil live as Gods slaves.
How Christian Slaveholders Used The Bible To Justify Slavery
During the period of American slavery, how did slaveholders manage to balance their religious beliefs with the cruel facts of the peculiar institution? As shown by the following passages adapted from Noel Raes new book The Great Stain, which uses firsthand accounts to tell the story of slavery in America for some of them that rationalization was right there in the Bible.
Out of the more than three quarters of a million words in the Bible, Christian slaveholdersand, if asked, most slaveholders would have defined themselves as Christianhad two favorites texts, one from the beginning of the Old Testament and the other from the end of the New Testament. In the words of the King James Bible, which was the version then current, these were, first, Genesis IX, 1827:
Despite some problems with this storyWhat was so terrible about seeing Noah drunk? Why curse Canaan rather than Ham? How long was the servitude to last? Surely Ham would have been the same color as his brothers?it eventually became the foundational text for those who wanted to justify slavery on Biblical grounds. In its boiled-down, popular version, known as The Curse of Ham, Canaan was dropped from the story, Ham was made black, and his descendants were made Africans.
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Old Testament View On Slavery
God is depicted as both approving of and regulating slavery, ensuring that the traffic and ownership of fellow human beings proceed in an acceptable manner.
Passages referencing and condoning slavery are common in the Old Testament. In one place, we read:
When a slave owner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment for the slave is the owner’s property.
So, the immediate killing of a slave is punishable, but a man may so grievously injure a slave that they die a few days later from their wounds without facing any punishment or retribution. All societies in the Middle East at this time condoned some form of slavery, so it shouldn’t be surprising to find approval for it in the Bible. As a human law, punishment for the slave owner would be commendablethere was nothing quite so advanced anywhere in the Middle East. But as the will of a loving God, it appears less than admirable.
The King James Version of the Bible presents the verse in an altered form, replacing “slave” with “servant”seemingly misleading Christians as to the intentions and desires of their God. In fact, though, the “slaves” of that time were mostly bondservants, and the Bible explicitly condemns the type of slave trade the flourished in the American South.
Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold or is still in the kidnappers possession .
What Is The Slave Bible Who Made It And Why
- Candice LuceyContributing Writer
- 201915 Jul
For freedom Christ has set us free stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.
Plantation owners in the West Indies worried Bible verses such as the one above would incite their African slaves to rebel against bondage. On the other hand, certain passages of Scripture encouraged submission to authority. Rather than withholding the entire Bible, some masters allowed their slaves to have the Slave Bible, which was compiled from selected parts of Gods word to inspire submission.
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The Concept Of Slavery
The concept of slavery in ancient Israel and many ancient near eastern cultures is quite different than the type of slavery practiced in the Southern United States during the early 1800’s. The term slavery was much broader then, since a king’s subjects may be referred to as his slaves. Slaves were understood to be human beings instead of mere chattel. Slaves could own land and property – something that was illegal in the modern western version.
Pauls Teaching On Slavery
Paul encourages slaves to become free if they can, but if they cant then dont worry about it.
18. 1 Corinthians 7:21-23 Were you a slave when you were called? Dont let it trouble youalthough if you can gain your freedom, do so. For the one who was a slave when called to faith in the Lord is the Lords freed person similarly, the one who was free when called is Christs slave. You were bought at a price do not become slaves of human beings.
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New Testament Views On Slavery
The New Testament also gave slave-supporting Christians fuel for their argument. Jesus never expressed disapproval of the enslaving of human beings, and many statements attributed to him suggest a tacit acceptance or even approval of that inhuman institution. Throughout the Gospels, we read passages like:
A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master
Who then is the faithful and wise slave, whom his master has put in charge of his household, to give the other slaves their allowance of food at the proper time? Blessed is that slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives.
Although Jesus used slavery to illustrate larger points, the question remains why he would directly acknowledge the existence of slavery without saying anything negative about it.
The letters attributed to Paul also seem to suggest the existence of slavery was not only acceptable but that slaves themselves should not presume to take the idea of freedom and equality preached by Jesus too far by attempting to escape their forced servitude.
Let all who are under the yoke of slavery regard their masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be blasphemed. Those who have believing masters must not be disrespectful to them on the ground that they are members of the church rather they must serve them all the more, since those who benefit by their service are believers and beloved. Teach and urge these duties.
Slavery In The New Testament
The New Testament makes no condemnation of slavery and does no more than admonish slaves to be obedient and their masters not to be unfair. Paul , at no time suggested there was anything wrong with slavery. One could speculate that this might have been because he wanted to avoid upsetting the many slave-owners in the early Christian congregations or to keep on good political terms with the Roman government, but that seems inconsistent with claims that the Bible teaches an absolute morality. More probably, he simply thought slavery was an acceptable fact of life – as did practically everyone else at the time.
Ephesians 6:5-8 : 5Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ 6not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.
Christian slaves were told to obey their masters “for the sake of the cause” and be especially obedient to Christian masters:
There are instructions for Christian slave owners to treat their slaves well.
Ephesians 6:9 : 9And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.
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The Essence Of The Old Testament Institution
In the patriarchal system, the work in someone’s household was carried out by herdsmen and domestic servants, but if Abraham had had no offspring one of his servants would inherit all he had . Servants were trusted with money and weapons. There is no approval for selling people, although Abraham ‘acquired’ people for silver.
The following table shows a comparison of slave systems.
Conditions of slaves in different systems
Deuteronomy 23:15-16 forbids returning a runaway slave to his master. This contrasts to former slavery laws in America or even in the ancient lawcode of the Babylonian king Hammurabi .