From Leviticus 24-25
If you had slaves, how would you treat them?
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
The following quotes were interesting because they show some of the laws which govern the care of people who sold themselves into slavery. Slavery brings up a whole series of negative images, however read these to see the picture presented in the bible.
 “If your brother becomes poor and cannot maintain himself with you, you shall support him as though he were a stranger and a sojourner, and he shall live with you.  Take no interest from him or profit, but fear your God, that your brother may live beside you.  You shall not lend him your money at interest, nor give him your food for profit.  I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan, and to be your God.
So here we have some of the basic obligations for the care of the poor and how to lend them money when they are in trouble.
 “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.  Then he shall go out from you, he and his children with him, and go back to his own clan and return to the possession of his fathers.  For they are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves.  You shall not rule over him ruthlessly but shall fear your God.
Now, family members and possibly any of the other Hebrew people were not to be treated as slaves when they sell themselves to pay off their debts. Part of the logic behind this is their own freedom from slavery in Egypt. If they have been freed by the LORD, they should not allow slavery for their own people again.
 As for your male and female slaves whom you may have: you may buy male and female slaves from among the nations that are around you.  You may also buy from among the strangers who sojourn with you and their clans that are with you, who have been born in your land, and they may be your property.  You may bequeath them to your sons after you to inherit as a possession forever. You may make slaves of them, but over your brothers the people of Israel you shall not rule, one over another ruthlessly. (Lev 25:35-46)
However, they may make slaves of foreigners and people from other nations. The year of the jubilee still applies here I believe. They will be freed after 49 years. Again there is a reminder that their own people are not to be slaves.
Story of Israel
The whole chapter can be read in the light of sin and slavery. Someone who sins becomes indebted to the LORD. They must be punished to repay their debt. Its only when they are redeemed can they be bought out of slavery and be free again. In the light of Israels history, the exile and the time right up to Jesus were considered a period where Israel was paying of her debt accumulated by sin. The forgiveness of which is anticipated in the coming Christ.
Story of Jesus
Paul is a narrative thinker and this can be easily seen in some of his letters. Take Galatians 4 for instance;
 In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles of the world.  But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law,  to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.  And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!”  So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God. (Gal 4:3-7)
To understand this well you need to understand the background narrative of the Hebrew deliverance from slavery;
a) The Hebrews were enslaved by Egypt,
b) God came and brought them out of slavery,
c) He then called Israel his son
d) He sent the cloud and the fire to guide them
The same pattern is reflected in Paul;
a) The Gentile Galatians were in slavery to the ‘elementary principles of the world’ – the Jewish ‘works of law’
(The Jewish Law and ‘works of law’ in Galatians is considered to be a form of slavery)
b) God send Jesus born of woman, born under the law, to redeem them who were under the the law
c) They received adoption as sons
d) God sent the Holy Spirit into their hearts
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