Slavery and Leviticus 25:44-46

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Slavery and Leviticus 25:44-46

Postby Maverick » Tue Aug 25, 2015 3:09 pm

I recently had a few discussions about slavery in the Bible with some people. I found some great resources discussing slavery in-depth and how the Bible doesn't condone it, but in the process, I found a passage that I've read over and doesn't seem to support that same view:

44 “‘Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. 45 You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. 46 You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.

Leviticus 25:44-46 (NIV)


So far, I've found that the word for "male slave" is 'e-bed (Strong's 5650) and that same word is translated as "servant" or "bondman." The word for "female slave" is a form of the Hebrew word amah (Strong's 519) and can also be translated as "maid" or "servant."

The sources I've read (chiefly http://www.godandscience.org/apologetics/slavery_bible.html) provide pretty good explanations, but this passage stumps me. I'm not sure how to justify it if someone asks me about it. I'd like to hear your insights.
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Re: Slavery and Leviticus 25:44-46

Postby natman » Tue Aug 25, 2015 3:59 pm

All that I can say is that "slavery" or "indentured (bond) servitude" was usually done to pay off someone debt or to offer a merciful option over death.

Israelites were prohibited from making another Israelite a slave indefinitely. Their indebtedness, no matter how great was to be considered paid in full after seven years. However, they were allowed to bond a "heathen" from the surrounding nations of the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Edomites, and the Syrians for life. At the same time, they were absolutely prohibited from bonding servants from tribe that God had commanded them to utterly destroy, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites (see Deut 20:16). No "mercy" was to be allotted those tribes.
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Re: Slavery and Leviticus 25:44-46

Postby MoNatureMan » Wed Aug 26, 2015 10:35 pm

The word slave is used in Some versions. King James and American Standard both use the words that agree with original text translation of Strongs. The modern versions I checked use the word slave.
I am becoming more and more against the 'modern' translations. These new translations are massively changing words and meanings. The NIV is 2 different versions with the same name. The newer version of NIV is gender neutral.
An example is Matthew 5:22. Jesus was speaking; 'anyone who is angry with his brother without cause shall be in danger of the judgement'. This Scripture is clearly saying anger without cause is sin. Some of the modern versions omit Without cause. This changing of Scripture says Jesus is a sinner, because He was angry with the money changers.

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Re: Slavery and Leviticus 25:44-46

Postby Petros » Thu Aug 27, 2015 12:53 am

It takes a lot of research to tell what is what. SOME of the translations are one form or another of "fixing" the scriptures. SOME are based on a different prioritization of the ancient manuscripts. SOME are different language sensibilities. SOME are just dumb mistakes.
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Re: Slavery and Leviticus 25:44-46

Postby MoNatureMan » Thu Aug 27, 2015 1:06 am

And SOME (sad to say) are the changing of Scripture to make them say what the re-writer wants it to say (ie the new NIV).

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Re: Slavery and Leviticus 25:44-46

Postby natman » Thu Aug 27, 2015 6:45 am

I agree with both of you.

That is why I usually refer to several translations when I am studying something in depth. I also go back to the original languages of Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic and do word studies.

All I can say is, "Thank God for computers" because it makes it a WHOLE lot easier to study from different translations and versions side-by-side.
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Re: Slavery and Leviticus 25:44-46

Postby Petros » Thu Aug 27, 2015 7:47 am

Tru nuff fo sho -

Though all the same there is nothing quite like being hot on the trail with 10+ books open beside you.

As in this alternative version of my "avatar":
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Re: Slavery and Leviticus 25:44-46

Postby Maverick » Thu Aug 27, 2015 6:43 pm

natman wrote:All that I can say is that "slavery" or "indentured (bond) servitude" was usually done to pay off someone debt or to offer a merciful option over death.

Israelites were prohibited from making another Israelite a slave indefinitely. Their indebtedness, no matter how great was to be considered paid in full after seven years. However, they were allowed to bond a "heathen" from the surrounding nations of the Ammonites, the Moabites, the Edomites, and the Syrians for life. At the same time, they were absolutely prohibited from bonding servants from tribe that God had commanded them to utterly destroy, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites (see Deut 20:16). No "mercy" was to be allotted those tribes.


I read some commentaries on slavery in the Bible and most of them described what you wrote. The Leviticus passage just seems to fly in the face of the whole "indentured servant" argument, as that only applied to Israelites. The "heathens" could be slaves for life, and (as I interpret the passage) God never told the Israelites not to treat the heathen slaves ruthlessly. This was just food for thought, but I've yet to find an answer that really satisfies me.

MoNatureMan wrote:The word slave is used in Some versions. King James and American Standard both use the words that agree with original text translation of Strongs. The modern versions I checked use the word slave.


And I guess that's where I'm confused. The same word can mean "servant" in one verse and "slave" in another, depending on translation.

Natman wrote:All I can say is, "Thank God for computers" because it makes it a WHOLE lot easier to study from different translations and versions side-by-side.


Biblehub.com is my favorite site for that.
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Re: Slavery and Leviticus 25:44-46

Postby Petros » Thu Aug 27, 2015 7:07 pm

Out comes the linguist.

In the real world, you might could cooperate - generally had to - hunts, barn raisings, what all. But NOBODY worked for someone else unless he had to - child still at home, captive, the guy whose crop failed and he signed on as a client. Normally there was just the one word - !abd- in Semitic, servus in Latin - source of serf and - more round about - servant. If you no longer had to - you grow up, you escape, your field produces - you leave the status.

In our "civilization", we have LOTS more economic slots. Not all of them comfortable.
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Re: Slavery and Leviticus 25:44-46

Postby MoNatureMan » Thu Aug 27, 2015 11:59 pm

Maverick - you probably know some or most of this but will Try and explain.
Old Testament was written in Hebrew and is the same as the Jewish Holy book except books are arranged differently.
Apocrypha is a group of books that were rejected by 'Old Testament times' Jewish or Levitical scholars, claiming they were not Inspired. The Roman Catholic Church decided that those books needed to be included in their version of the Bible.
New Testament was written in Greek.

The Protestant Bible is the basic Old and New Testaments translated into the readers language.
Some religions add to the basic Old and New Testament. The Roman Catholic add in the Apocrypha and the Mormons add in 'The Book of Mormon' claiming it is inspired.
Other religions modify Scripture to fit their belief.

Martin Luther took a great step believing that All people should be able to read the Holy Scripture for their self. Many Christians gave their life in getting His Holy Word to us. However I believe the greatest effort to translate the Bible into 'common languages came from King James,who gathered scholars and theologians. They took the most original text of that time and created the King James Bible. The KJV was not just translated into English but other languages as well.

There are 2 classes of Bible. Of course one is the Bible and the other is a paraphrase. A paraphrase is not Scripture but a writing in common language of the thoughts someone thinks the Bible is portraying.

Now concerning versions of the Bible. Understand that all versions of the Bible are translations. The KJV is very old and some of the words have changed meaning over time, but is still one of the most accurate versions out there, and I still use it, and use it for reference. There are countless other versions, many claim to be the most accurate but that is always up for discussion. Some versions appear to be made for economic proposes, and some by people wanting to change what God has said. There is also a Bible that has 3 or 4 versions next to each other (Parallel Bible), which is great for reference and study.

Which version should a person use? I tend to avoid the latest version(s) out there. But living in this age of computers and the Internet is great for Bible study. There are sites and programs and apps that give us access to multiple versions of the Bible at the same time. (Bible.is and Bible Gateway are a couple) Also available are Strongs numbers and definitions with Scripture. A source I use is Online Bible app for tablets and onlinebible.net program for PC.

When you have a question with Scripture - Check out verse(s) with multiple versions, and original text via Strongs. Check out corresponding Scripture verses for verification. You can also ask a question on this site and often get answers.

I know I missed a lot, but it is a start. There are also scholars on this site better than I, that may help clarify or correct some of this writing.

Hope this helps
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Re: Slavery and Leviticus 25:44-46

Postby Maverick » Fri Aug 28, 2015 6:35 pm

Thanks Ron. Ultimately, I would like to have a solid answer to give to any one of my atheist/skeptic friends about this issue, without having to hem and haw over this passage here.

I'll do some more studying this weekend and post if I find something interesting.
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Re: Slavery and Leviticus 25:44-46

Postby Petros » Fri Aug 28, 2015 7:12 pm

You might point out to them, first, that just about every possible nation has taken slaves, that few indeed have had any kind of restriction placed on how slaves should be treated, and that hardly anyone other than Christians has ever worked to end slavery.

But of course, they will not likely be interested in discussion.
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