Board index Slavery in the Bible

Re: Exodus 21:4-6, 20-21

Postby Sure Breeze » Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:32 pm

Coming across this for the first time, Jim, your position seems to me to be very false.

You're trying to give the impression that these were just little paddy-whacks on the bottom, but your text reveals that you know that the expectation is that these slaves might lie there unable to work for days following the "paddy whack".

Also, you just say that the slave is a person with rights and dignity. Do you have something to back that up with, or is that more just an opinion based on something you've heard?

You say that "property" is an unfortunate translation, but "money" also gives the same impression: Money is simply an economic tool. The passage here is saying basically that there's no real moral element to beating a slave so that they can't work for a day or so, maybe more ... the only real issue is an economic issue to do with money.

You present this as a defence, but if I found myself giving such weak defences, I'd probably examine my beliefs more than you have.
Also, imagine what else these laws permit. Can you sexually abuse your female slaves? Of course. There's nothing saying you can't. It's not going to cause them to die. I suspect that the reason it's not even mentioned was because it was so obvious that a female slave is going to be sexually abused - explaining the passages about keeping virgins after battle.
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Re: Exodus 21:4-6, 20-21

Postby jimwalton » Tue Feb 13, 2018 4:34 pm

> You're trying to give the impression that these were just little paddy-whacks on the bottom

There is no real way to know what these were, and we are misguided to just assume.

You probably read that I also said that Exodus is casuistic law—hypothetical situations to guide a judge. None of it may ever have happened, but maybe it did. I was in a course a few days ago to be able to conceal-carry a handgun. They were telling us about when it is proper during a robbery to use lethal force. So we started hauling out hypothetical situations: "What if the perp doesn't have a gun, but a baseball bat?" "What if he just threatened with his fists?" "What if he has a wine bottle in his hands to crack over the victim's head?" "What if he has a knife?" Ad infinitum. These are just hypothetical situations to guide us in knowing what to do. It doesn't mean they happen, though some do.

Secondly, the word "beats" is a generic word that can mean anything from punch to kill. We can't assume his utter brutality.

Third, "if the slave gets up after a day or two" could be a way of saying that there was no serious injury. After all, the text deals with the reality of serious injury: the slave gets to go free if he is in any way injured (vv. 26-27). The rest of the chapter (vv. 12-36) is giving other guidances about personal injury also. Verse 25, though specifically talking about a hypothetical situation would also be used by a judge about slavery. The eye-for-eye shows that the punishment was to fit the crime, and injury would be retributed by commensurate injury, some financial compensation, or even freedom for the slave.

> Also, you just say that the slave is a person with rights and dignity.

Sure. There is no evidence of chattel slavery in ancient Israel, and possibly even in the ancient Near East (ANE). The overall textual evidence from the ANE shows that slaves had certain rights—they could own property, for instance, or determine inheritance. Or they could become free, as the Bible allows, given certain circumstances. They were typically not bought and sold, opposite as the case in the medieval and modern worlds. The OT affirms the full personhood of these debt-servants (Gn. 1.26-27; Job 31.13-15; Dt. 15.1-18), and this passage is no exception. It affirms the servant's full personhood. If the servant dies, the master is to be tried for capital punishment. The servant is to be treated as a human being with dignity, not as property.

> You say that "property" is an unfortunate translation, but "money" also gives the same impression: Money is simply an economic tool. The passage here is saying basically that there's no real moral element to beating a slave so that they can't work for a day or so, maybe more ... the only real issue is an economic issue to do with money.

You are mistaken here. The point is that the debt-servant is part of the owner's economic template, and loss of work from a servant is loss of income as well as possible medical expenditures. It's the same in our modern world. When you're out sick, hypothetically, you work doesn't get done, and so productivity is cut from the employer. That's the sense of the passage.

It's not at all saying there is no real moral element to beating a slave. The whole passage (Ex. 21.12-36) relates to personal injury and the moral element to all of it. You can't separate the verses on slaves as if they aren't part of the context. The whole piece is talking about casuistic law pertaining to personal infractions, whether kidnapping, cursing parents, pregnant women, slaves, or animals. It is meant to be taken as a section, not lifted out of context to be misconstrued.

> I'd probably examine my beliefs more than you have.

Hmm. Where do I go with this? How deeply have you ascertained that I have studied the texts and the culture and examined my beliefs? And by what criteria do you determine that I haven't—because you disagree with me?

> Also, imagine what else these laws permit. Can you sexually abuse your female slaves? Of course.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Where is THIS coming from?

> There's nothing saying you can't.

Of course there is. Dt. 21.10-14. God restricted Israelite men from using captive women as sexual slaves. If a man desired a female captive sexually, he must marry her. This restriction seems to be the first in history limiting the sexual exploitation of captives. Earlier Egyptian laws and later Roman laws prohibited rape, but only against a citizen in good standing. Female captives and slaves, well into Paul's day and even into early American history, were viewed not as citizen but as property without rights over their own bodies. This was not the case in the Bible. Verses 10-13 call for the charitable treatment of foreign brides when they are first taken; verse 14 for their charitable treatment in divorce. Biblical law protected women from sexual abuse.

> It's not going to cause them to die. I suspect that the reason it's not even mentioned was because it was so obvious that a female slave is going to be sexually abused - explaining the passages about keeping virgins after battle.

Oh my. There's nothing true about this.
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Re: Exodus 21:4-6, 20-21

Postby Sure Breeze » Tue Feb 13, 2018 5:54 pm

Look at any research on modern day slavery or ancient slavery. If you've got guys in complete control of a slave woman, and there aren't even any regulations to prevent it, aren't they going to get abused?

Yes. They are. It's as simple as that. The OT sets up a system where the rules are laid out. There are no rules in that system to prevent thousands upon thousands of women from being abused. There might be rules about having to marry if you have sex (whether she wants either or not), but there are no rules against abuse.

If you have a book that says that you are permitted to own slaves, and that the things you can't do are as follows: (1) Blind them and they are immediately emancipated, (2) kill them and you get punished yourself ...

It even explicitly says that you can beat them so hard that they can't get up.

Why can't you see that even if you won some minor points around the edge (which I don't think), your book is sick.

You need to look at it again. Maybe start from scratch, read the skeptic's annotated version, and just make sure that you actually understand the criticism. Try to see it from the point of view of someone who doesn't like the bible, and doesn't think it's true.

Just do that. Take a weekend. Start by imagining that you think it's from a different religion, and you want to see if it's "Good". Then read the slavery passages again.

You might realise you're on the wrong side.
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Re: Exodus 21:4-6, 20-21

Postby jimwalton » Sun Feb 25, 2018 8:58 am

> aren't they going to get abused? ... Yes. They are. It's as simple as that.

You're making the assumption that godly people act the same as everyone else, but that's exactly the point: They don't. God forbade them to sexually abuse women. Let me give a little illustration: I've never sexually abused a woman and never would, even if I were in the military. People of God have a different value set, a different motivation, and a different lifestyle. You just can't assume, hey, we're guys, we'd all rape her.

> but there are no rules against abuse.

Sure there are. Ex. 20.14. Promiscuous behavior was strictly forbidden in Israel. I think it's a little funny that you think God-followers are just as corrupt and demented as the worst of people (war rapers).

> It even explicitly says that you can beat them so hard that they can't get up.

It does NOT say that. First, it's a hypothetical situation, not a command or even an allowance. It never says "You can beat them as hard as you want." Come on. let's raise the discussion to a higher level than that.

> Why can't you see that even if you won some minor points around the edge (which I don't think), your book is sick.

Because the book doesn't say what you claim it says, nor does it allow what you claim it allows. You're not reading carefully enough, and you don't seem to be acquainted with ancient Israelite culture.


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