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§ 171. condition of slaves among the Hebrews. 181
was that of husbandry, and the tending of flocks and herds. The maid-servants were employed in domestic concerns, though not unfrequently they were compelled to engage in those duties, which from their nature were more befitting the other sex. The servant, who was found to be most faithful and discreet, was placed over the others, and was called no IPY, oizovduos, or the steward, Gen. 24; 2. 47: 6. 1 Sam. 24; 7. 1 Chron. 27:29, 30. Ruth 2: 5. It was the duty of the ruling servant or steward to allot to the others their various duties, and likewise to see their food prepared, except when, as was sometimes the case, a female servant, who had been found especially worthy to be trusted, had assumed the charge of the latter, Prov. 31: 15. 1 Cor. 4: 1, 2. Gal. 4:2. Eph. 3: 2. Tit. 1: 7. 1 Peter 4: 10. It was the business of some of the servants to instruct the children of their owners, while some waited upon their mistress, and others upon their master. The condition of these was in some respects less hard than that of the others, although it is natural to suppose, that those masters, who had any sense of the duties, which every man owes to another, whatever his condition, exhibited to all of their slaves acts of kindness and humanity, Job 31: 13. Moses, in order to render the condition of those, who had lost their liberty, as free from misery and as favourable as possible, made the following regulations: I. That servants or slaves should be treated with humanity. The law, which is given in Leviticus 25: 39–53. speaks very expressly in relation to the treatment of servants that were of Hebrew origin, and in truth of those only; but as the slaves that were of foreign origin, when once circumcised, were reckoned among the Hebrews, it may be considered as applying, in some degree at least, to all. II. That the master, who slew a servant of whatever origin, with a rod or by means of blows, should be punished according to the will and pleasure of the judge. In case the servant did not die till a day or two after being smitten, the master went unpunished, because the design of murdering the servant could not in that case be presumed, and the loss of the servant itself was deemed a sufficient punishment, Exod. 21:24, 21. III. He further enacted, if the master injured the servant in eye or tooth, that is, according to the spirit of the law, in any 182 $171, condition of slaves AMong the HEBREws.
member whatever, the servant in consequence of such treatment, should receive his freedom, Exod. 21:26, 27. IV. That the servants, on every sabbath and on all festival occasions, should enjoy a cessation from their labours, Exod. 20: 10. Deut. 5: 14. V. That they should be invited to those feasts, which were made from the second tythes, Deut. 12: 17, 18. 16: 11. comp. Matt. 25: 21–23. VI. That the servants, in accordance with an ancient law or custom, to which there is an allusion in Job 24: 10, 11. were entitled to and should receive an adequate subsistence from those, to whom they were subject, Deut. 25. 4. comp. 1 Tim. 5: 18. 1 Cor. 9: 9. VII. The master was bound to provide for the marriage of maid-servants, unless he took them to himself as concubines, or gave them to his son, Exod. 21:8. VIII. A servant of Hebrew origin was not obliged to serve longer than six years, after which time he was to be dismissed with presents of considerable amount, and with the wife, whom he had married previous to having lost his freedom, Exod. 21: 2– 4. Lev. 25: 1–17. In case he had become a slave, while unmarried, and had married with the consent of his master during the period of his slavery, the wife could not go out with him to the enjoyment of freedom, till she had first completed her seven years of servitude, Exod. 21:4. Lev. 25:39–41. Deut. 15:12–17. Of this privilege, for such it may be considered, the Hebrew maidservants were, at first, for some reason, wholly deprived, Exod. 21: 7. et seq.; but at a later period, when the face of things had probably undergone some changes, the Hebrew legislator thought fit to grant it to them, Deut. 15: 12–17. The person, who had once been a slave, but had afterwards obtained his freedom, was denominated in Hebrew, "ser. If the servant, too much attached to his master, his wife, and the children of whom he had become the father in his servitude, refused to accept the freedom, which had been offered him ; the master in the presence of a judge had liberty to receive him, and in sign of perpetual servitude was to thrust an awl through his ear into the door-post, Exod. 21: 5, 6. Deut. 15: 16. It was not in the power of their masters, however, to sell slaves of this description, notwithstanding
§ 172. slaves AMong other Nations. 183
they had voluntarily subjected themselves to perpetual servitude, to any person living out of the Hebrew territories, Exod. 21:7, 8. In regard to those slaves, who had not completed the six years of their service, it may be further remarked here, that, if they were Hebrews by origin, and had been sold to persons dwelling in the Hebrew territory, their relations or any other person might redeem them, or they might redeem themselves, if they had property susficient, by paying a price adequate to the remaining years of service, making six in the whole, Lev. 25: 47–55. IX. On the year of jubilee, all the servants or slaves of Hebrew descent were to be emancipated, Lev. 25: 39–41. X. Slaves, who were Hebrews by birth, were permitted to possess some little property of their own, as may be learnt from Lev. 25:49, compared with 2 Sam. 9; 10. FINALLY, a slave who had fled from another nation and sought a refuge among the Hebrews, was to be received and treated
with kindness, and not to be forcibly returned back again, Deut. 23: 15, 16.
§ 172. The Condition of SLAves AMoNg other NAtions.
Notwithstanding Moses inculcated in many instances humanity towards slaves, and protected them also by special laws enacted in their favour; they were sometimes the subjects of undue severity of treatment, and of sufferings in various ways, Jer. 34: 8–22. Still it cannot be denied, that their condition was better among the Hebrews, than among some other nations; as may be learnt from their well known rebellions against the Greeks and Romans. Nor is it at all wonderful, that the Hebrews differed from other nations in the treatment of their slaves in a way so much to their credit, when we consider the many and weighty motives, that were presented to them thus to act. Especially when we consider, that in other countries, there was no sabbath for the slave, no day of rest, and no laws sanctioned by the Divinity in their favour.
Runaway slaves, and those, who were suspected of an intention to do it, were branded, for the most part in the forehead, to which custom there are allusions in Galatians 6: 17. and Revelation 14:9. 22:4. Slaves in heathen nations were debarred from a participation both in all the civil festivals, and in all the religious exer184 § 172. SLAves AMong other NATIONs.
cises, which was a very different state of things from that among the Hebrews. After Christianity had penetrated into those nations, the state of things was in some degree changed; and slaves, in the Christian Church, enjoyed equal privileges with any others, as far as the Church was concerned, Gal. 3:28. Coloss. 3: 10, 11. Philem. 10. 1 Cor. 12: 13. Eph. 6: S.
Slaves in other nations were not supported by those, with whom they laboured; consult Pollux on the word marguzann. They were very rarely permitted to marry, or to enter into that state called by a Roman law-term contuberNiuM; their private possessions were subjected to the will of their master; and they were obliged to make him presents from it Whenever they were so happy as to be manumitted, they were still under the necessity of retaining the name of freedmen, liberti, voot, in allusion to their previous condition; and their children, as if the disgrace were designed to be perpetuated, were denominated libertini, freedmen's sons. We have not time to dwell upon the occasional, we might say frequent, and excessive cruelty of their masters.
In a word then, the condition of slaves was miserable, and the Jews were not to blame for boasting that they were the freemen of Abraham, John 8:8. Paul himself acknowledges, that the condition of freedom is worthy of being eagerly embraced, when it can be embraced without dishonesty or injustice, but the freedom, which he esteemed most worthy in its nature and most important in it consequences, was that which is given through our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Cor. 7: 21—23. Rom. 8: 15. Having this statement in regard to the slavery of other nations in view, one is in a condition to understand the force of that comparison introduced at times in the New Testament, which represents the Jews under the Mosaic law, as in a state of servitude, and Christians as in a state of freedom, John 8:32, 34. Rom. 6: 17. James 1:25. It is a comparison, not only lively and impressive, but one, which, under the circumstances that existed in the time of our Saviour and the Apostles, was very naturally made. This comparison, as far as respected sinners, had already been made by philosophers and the meaning and emphasis attached to it were sufficiently well known to the Jews in the time of Christ. They must, therefore, have readily understood the expressions of Christ in John 8:31–34. unless they wilfully preferred making a mistake in a case, that was sufficiently plain.
CHARACTER AND SOCIAL INTERCOURSE OF THE HEBREWS.
S 173. Character of the Hebrews.
The character of the Hebrews exhibits the vices common among oriental nations, viz. luxury, pomp, effeminacy, and arrogance. The arrogance of the Hebrews in later times was very great, see Talmud, Baba Metzia p. 83. John 8:33. Among the great, there was too great a prevalence of extortion, of oppression, and of hypocritical friendships, that sought to cover the hollowness of the heart beneath the external appearance. We find, that vices of this description were a ground of complaint among the prophets, and the subjects of their reprehensions in all parts of their writings; and still it cannot be denied, that there occur in the history of the Hebrews examples of great magnanimity, Gen. 14: 23. 44; 34. Judg. 8:23. 1 Sam. 12: 3, 4, 18: 1. 20: 4–8, 41, 42. 23: 16–18. 24: 7 —12. 26: 9–12. 1 K. 20:31. Of the various traits in the character of the Hebrews, which are developed in the course of their history, the most striking beyond any question is that of stubbornness and inflexibility, see Acts vii. The disposition for idolatry ceased after the captivity. If it be the fact, that the madness of worshipping idols seized upon some of the nobler sort of people, so late as the time of the Maccabees, it is sufficiently evident, that it did not extend to the great body of the nation. The public or political virtues of the people may perhaps be summed up by saying, that they were industrious in the culture of their fields, and brave on the field of battle. If we should assume the province of mentioning any particular period in their history, during which, more than at any other time, they appear to have excelled in brave