By Kerwin Holmes, Jr.
“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;” -Isaiah 61:1
So where are charges? Here they are, and here they stand:
The slavery commanded by Yahweh in the Torah was limited in law to the Ancient nation-state of Israel, which had voluntarily committed themselves to the upholding of that covenant delivered by Moses. You can view other posts as to the nature of the Mosaic/Sinai Covenant, how it came about, it’s conditions, and God’s purpose for it. And now we must know from the Torah what the slavery commanded by God entailed.
Such are the charges:
Mosaic slavery was
- GENDER EGALITARIAN
- Designed for ECONOMIC MOBILITY
- and MILITARILY USED FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AND SOCIETAL RESTORATION
*Denotes wherein the slavery does not entail the final condition of military conquest. In military conquest, only the first two conditions did not directly apply to the person in slavery.
We have seen how the slave was considered in light of Israelite society. Furthermore, we have considered the pathway to slavery through the militarized form involving the Canaanites in the land and those outside of the boundaries set into place for Israel (See Part 6 for a fuller Biblical analysis of this). We have even measured the sustainability of the militarized form as the Ancient Israelites were given license to subjugate conquered people within their land or foreign nations that engaged them in warfare to this kind of subjugation.
The border for Ancient Israel is clearly detailed in Numbers 34.
So then, we have our verdict. We have successfully compared Biblical slavery against the slavery of the Antebellum American South (see Part 5). Furthermore, the penalty for kidnapping anyone and selling them into slavery was also considered.
We have considered that the slavery codes of the Torah contained certain term limitations. We also considered how the law affected the people ethnically/ethically, Israelites and foreigners were to be treated according to this principle (see Part 2 and Part 3).
We have also learned how Ancient Israel was to treat the foreign slaves who escaped to the Israelite territory away from their owners (see Part 1).
We also learned what was to be done to slaves if they experienced injury by the fault of their owners/overseers (see Part 5).
Finally, we went directly to the Torah and also received the principle cause for why slavery was even allowed and commanded by God for Ancient Israel in Deuteronomy 15.
Is there slavery in the Bible? Yes, there are stories of the bondage of Joseph and the Ancient Hebrews to Ancient Egyptians, and other stories told of persons being enslaved even in the New Testament.
But is there slavery in the Bible, as in slavery commanded and condoned by God?
The answer is yes, but how much that slavery really mirrored the slavery that many of us idealize in our minds is to be uncovered through this in-depth and upfront series about what the God of the Bible actually had to say on the matter.
We have also seen how the justice of God extended even unto the Israelites whenever they broke his moral commands. God did not spare the wicked Canaanites, and He certainly did not spare wicked Israel (see Il Verdetto). So then, let us also bear this in mind as we consider the trial that is laid out before us…the trial of God.
What is the verdict? That, dear reader, is for you yourself to decide on your own with honest scales and not with the dishonest scales that even Yahweh detests. Will you have the heart of will to discern these things? Though you are not on trial, do you have the stomach to see the trial when the God of the Bible is the accused?
But I do warn you also of this: Never miss the message within this slavery as revealed by the Bible:
The truth is, we all are slaves. We have been born slaves to a foreign enemy. Jesus spoke of this when He taught that those who commit sin belong to Sin, and hence are servants of the chief sinner, Satan himself. Jesus taught this in His “Parable of the Tares,” and His apostle John wrote of this in his own Gospel account of how Jesus spoke and in his letter to his students within the Church. We are rebels who delight in doing evil, and we fall short from the perfect standard of God’s righteousness…just like the Canaanites and Israelites did before us. We are born sinners, and just like the Israelite who voluntarily sold himself to slavery to a foreign power, so we, on top of being born captive, have voluntarily sold our souls to Death by the sins that we voluntarily commit. And we are powerless to redeem ourselves. Our jubilee cannot come…
Unless we have a kinsman Redeemer to save us and to purchase our freedom. The Redeemer came not because of ourselves, for we were powerless, but because of His own mercy. That is the model of slavery that God Himself designed the Israelites to build their society upon. It was always a message of the Gospel, through and through. Anyone who flees to Christ will be saved and set free. And even better than slaves, Christ has made us sons and daughters of God and heirs according to His promises.
So when you do make your verdict, you had better make sure that it is the honest and righteous judgment, for Christ is ever-watching over the decision that you will make with His gift of salvation: our jubilee. Amen.
Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, everyone who commits sin is the slave of sin. The slave does not remain in the house forever; the son does remain forever. So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” -Jesus/Yeshua the Redeemer