"Does God support the practice of slavery?"

"Does God support the practice of slavery?"

Exodus 21:1-11 Now these are the rules that you shall set before them. When you buy a Hebrew slave he shall serve six years, and in the seventh he shall go out free, for nothing. If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master's, and he shall go out alone. But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free,’ then his master shall bring him to God, and he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall bore his ear through with an awl, and he shall be his slave forever.

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. If she does not please her master, who has designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has broken faith with her. If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter. If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights. And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.

Exodus 21:20-21 When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money.

In Exodus 20, God hands down his 10 commandments to Moses and the Israelites. This would seem like a good time to address the practice of slavery, something that has cropped up in previous chapters; however, slavery is not mentioned in the 10 commandments (though in some translations the 10th commandment states that you should not covet a neighbor's slaves, while other translations say servants - both cases being equated with property). Even more distressing is the fact that in the chapter that immediately follows, God hands down laws regarding the treatment of slaves. This includes specifics about how to hold a married slave's wife and children hostage in order to retain ownership over them indefinitely and how to force a slave woman into marriage with yourself or one of your sons. Are we to assume that God supports the practice of slavery under these specifications? Obviously Christians today would not support the described practices. What better opportunity to reject the practice than when God handed down the laws that his chosen people should follow? The Israelites were literally escaping their own enslavement, why then would God allow the practice to continue, and not only allow it, but give explicit instructions for how it should be carried out? Why not abolish it entirely and unequivocally? If God is all-knowing and all-seeing, wouldn't he have been aware that many of these verses would later be used to justify slavery?

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