ABC:Exodus 21

From BibleStrength

Verse 2: Is Slavery Okay? (FFRF)

Dan Barker of FFRF claims there is a contradiction here and makes the following comments (italicized):[1]

See Slavery. The Old Testament Law required that those who enslaved and sold others were to be put to death. (Exodus 21:16) The Bible also commanded that escaped slaves be sheltered from their masters. (Deuteronomy 23:15-16) Slaves injured in the most minor ways, such as loss of a tooth, were to be freed. (Exodus 21:26-27) In the case of Leviticus 25:46-47, this was part of a system to free slaves from the Middle East, because slaves purchased from other nations were freed along with all they owned twice each century, at regular 50-year-intervals known as Jubilees. (Leviticus 25:8-10)

As such, ancient Israel was unique among the ancient world in designing a system that made it profitable for Israelites to perpetually purchase and then free slaves, so that slaves would constantly be freed from the surrounding slave-capturing nations. Rather than perpetuating slavery like the nations around it, it served as a beacon of abolition in the ancient world, with a system designed to continually free slaves. Hebrew slaves could be purchased from other nations, but not enslaved, and after six years would go out free, per (Exodus 21:2). Furthermore, they were not to be treated as slaves but employees. (Leviticus 25:39-43) They could be freed every seven years, and be released from all debts along with their families and belongings at the 50-year Jubilees. If reading Exodus 21:7 in context it is apparent that betrothal, not slavery is being referred to. Verses 8 and 9 specifically mention betrothal. Indeed, the passage describes protection for betrothed wives, to ensure they could not be exchanged to others, had to be treated as daughters, and would be allowed to leave if not treated honorably. (vv. 8-11)

Israel disobeyed God by sacrificing their own children alive to idols (see Destruction of the Canaanites) and oppressing the poor including orphans, widows, and immigrants by stealing their homes and impoverishing them. (Ezekiel 22:7, Malachi 3:5, Isaiah 3:14) As such, God punished the wicked nation by sending them into captivity in Babylon and other nations. (Joel 3:8) In spite of this, He delivered Israel each time. It was because Israel was persecuting the poor and children, rather than letting the oppressed go free and break every yoke as commanded in Isaiah 58:6, that God subjected Israel to captivity. God had warned Israel that if they oppressed widows and orphans, He would destroy them and make their own wives widows and their children orphans. (Exodus 22:23-24)

Since the New Testament, opposition to slavery has been motivated by the Bible's teachings in Philemon and elsewhere, that Christians should treat one another as a family; and slaves should be freed. In the early United States, Quakers from William Penn's Province of Pennsylvania were the primary force opposing slavery. Roger Williams' Colony of Rhode Island, run by the Baptists, established the first anti-slavery organization in the U.S.[2] The radically Christian Quakers would prove the primary opponents of slavery throughout early America, figuring prominently in William Penn's Province of Pennsylvania, along with Roger Williams' Rhode Islanders. Christian churches played a prominent role in the Underground Railroad, just as they would do so a century later during the 1950s-60s civil rights movement. The Quakers were the earliest to assist escaped slaves in gaining freedom, with George Washington complaining they had attempted to liberate one of his slaves, but numerous other denominations were involved in the Underground Railroad as well.[3] Harriet Beecher Stowe's Christian beliefs led her to write Uncle Tom's Cabin, which was a primary source of anti-slavery sentiment leading up to the Civil War.[4]

Verse 23

American Atheist's list at American Atheists claims this is a contradiction.[5]

The Old Testament commandment of "eye for an eye" did not justify taking vengeance for wrongs done to oneself. The Israelites even then were commanded not to harm others out of vengeance (Lev. 19:18; Prov. 20:22). The commandment of "eye for an eye" allowed governmental execution of justice for the sake of order in society; not out of vengeance but to promote good in the world and stop those who harm others from overrunning society given a lack of consequences. That same principle is repeated in the New Testament, that governments "bear the sword" under God's authority to punish those who do evil. (Rom. 13:4)

Sources

  1. Barker, D. (2019). "Bible Contradictions." FFRF.
  2. History Channel (2019, February 13). "This Day in History, February 5, 1631: Roger Williams Arrives in America." A&E Television Networks.
  3. "Underground Railroad." History Channel.
  4. History.com Editors (2019, February 7). "Harriet Beecher Stowe." History Channel.
  5. N.a. (2019). "Biblical Contradictions? American Atheists and makes the following comments (italicized):