Laws concerning slaves

In the last post, we were comparing two Ancient Near Eastern texts.  With regard to the Old Testament as an anthology, we talked in class about the 10 commandments.  Here is a similar exercise to reinforce that point:

1. Grab your Bible

2. Compare the following two texts: Exodus 21.2-11 and Deuteronomy 15.12-18

3. Note the similarities and differences.

You could also throw in Leviticus 25.39-55 here.  The main point is that these texts discuss slavery in Ancient Israel.  In the end, do you think one person could have written these two (or three) texts?

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About Jeremy

I work at Holy Ghost Catholic Church in Hammond, LA. I teach part-time classes from time to time, through Loyola University in New Orleans, Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans and St. Joseph's Abbey and Seminary College. I also just finished a doctoral degree in Biblical languages through the University of Stellenbosch in South Africa.
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2 Responses to Laws concerning slaves

  1. Paige Hinrichs says:

    Even though these texts share some similarities, I do not think that they were all written by the same person. The main reason has to do with gender differences. In Exodus, a male slave is free to go after six years, but a female slave is only able to leave if the master does not give her proper food, clothing and marital rights. In Deuteronomy, both male and female slaves are free to leave as they came after six years of service. Also, only in Deuteronomy does it say anything about providing the leaving slave with “flock, threshing floor, and wine press.” The main similarity, though, is when a slave (either male or female) wants to stay with the master. In this scenario in both Exodus and Deuteronomy, the master “will pierce his ear with an awl.”
    When you throw the Leviticus verses in the mix, there is a complete different subject matter in comparison to the other books. This book deals with the difference between a slave and a laborer. In this book the Lord says that if someone becomes too impoverished they may sell themselves to a master and work to pay off their debts; and once everything id paid off they are free to go. A master may obtain a slave only from other nations or aliens living in their area, which will work for them until they prosper and have the chance of redemption.
    The texts are too different, in my opinion, to have been written by the same person.

  2. Jeremy says:

    Very good, Paige, though I think everyone decided to comment on the other post last week. It’s like you looked directly at Ska’s Introduction to Reading the Pentateuch. That’s a nerdy professor compliment.

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