2020-11-01 - The Penalty for Slave Abuse?
Exodus Study Continued
Social Law ~ The Penalty for Slave Abuse
Here, I have to defer to the “experts” for handling what appears unclear. The consensus is the slaves being discussed are Gentile slaves, as Hebrew slaves were not to be treated so heavy-handed in the first place.
“If your brother becomes poor beside you and sells himself to you, you shall not make him serve as a slave: he shall be with you as a hired worker and as a sojourner. He shall serve with you until the year of the jubilee” (Leviticus 25:39–40 ESV).
Second, it must be clear, if the master kills the slave outright, then we are once again dealing with the law regarding murder. The thought is, if the slave lives a day or two, the intent was not to kill but that the master was too harsh with his treatment. No further action is to be taken, it was an accident that the slave was killed, because the master suffers financial loss with the death of the individual. (If a Hebrew slave was killed, I suspect it was "head for the city of refuge" time.)
Now this may seem unfeeling, but this law would protect even the Gentile slave from a master’s excessive abuse. Remember, if he risked too harsh a beating, and he killed the slave, the charge was murder, even if the slave were a Gentile.
It is important to reiterate: We cannot judge these specific laws by our standards. These laws were just and handled with equality, especially in comparison to the societies of the day. God constantly reinforces the value of life, the family, and a just and peaceful society.
In addition, look at the consequences of injuring a slave. The concept of justice and punishment fitting the crime carries over from verses 22-25, the rights of a slave. If a slave is injured by his master, i.e. the loss of an eye, tooth, etc., then the slave is freed immediately. I suspect that because the passage specifies an eye or tooth, that this was probably true for any injury of significance. Now don’t you think this would cut down on abuse of slaves?
2 Bush, George, Notes on Exodus, Klock & Klock Christian Publishers, Inc., Minneapolis, MN, 1981, p. 16-17.
Study to be Continued
November 2020 |
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You will find more info about Pastor Geoff Kragen at GKragen.com, and you may find more of his BIble studies at http://cfdevotionals.org/links/authgeof.htm.