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SLAVERY IN BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE



by James B. Jordan, Th.M.














Biblical Horizons
P.O. Box 132011
Tyler, Texas 75713

Copyright (c) 1980, James B. Jordan

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.

WESTMINSTER THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY



SLAVERY IN BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE

A Thesis Submitted to
the Faculty of the Division of Theological Studies
in Candidacy for the Degree of
Master of Theology

Department of Systematic Theology
by
JAMES B. JORDAN








Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

April 1980





Faculty Advisor: Mr. John M. Frame

Second Faculty Reader: Dr. D. Clair Davis

Chairman of the Field Committee: Dr. D. Clair Davis








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TABLE OF CONTENTS


Chapter

I. INTRODUCTION

A Note Regarding Terminology and Translations

II. PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS

A. Man as Slave

1. Control-Subordination
2. Authority-Obedience
3. Presence-Devotion
4. Concluding Observations

B. Man as Master
16 Control
17 Authority
18 Presence
19 Conclusion: Dominion Antithesis

C. Man as Coequal

20 Familistic Culture
21 Statist Culture

D. Conclusion

III. THE ORIGIN OF INSTITUTIONAL SLAVERY

A. Definition of 'Slavery'
B. Biblical Household Slavery
C. The Cause of Slavery

IV. SLAVERY AND THE ANTITHESIS

A. The Purposes of Non-Christian Slavery

1. Hatred
2. Violence
3. Vengeance

B. Sadomasochism
C. Statism
D. Summary

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V. THE BIBLICAL REGULATIONS CONCERNING HOUSEHOLD SLAVERY

A. Legitimate Kinds of Slavery
1. Debt Slavery
2. Sale of Children into Slavery
3. Jubilary Slavery
4. Restitution Slavery
5. Vo1untary or Homeborn Slavery
6. Enslavement of Unbelievers
B. The Regulation of Slavery
1. The Sale and Price of Slaves
2. The Redemption of Slaves
3. Refugees
4. Female Slaves
5. Punishment and Abuse of Slaves
6. Were Converted Slaves Released?

C. Summary: The Tendency of the Law to Produce Free Men

VI. SLAVERY IN COVENANT-HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE

A. Theo1ogical Assumptions

B. Slavery in the History of the Covenant

1. The Curse of Canaan (Genesis 9:20-27)
2. Slavery and the Patriarchs
3. Slavery and the Joseph Narrative
4. Joseph's Enslavement
5. Joseph's Virtuous Slave Service
6. Joseph's Reduction of his Brothers to Slavery in Egypt
7. The Enslavement of the Egyptians by Joseph to Pharaoh
8. The Legality of the Exodus
9. Slaves in the Wilderness
10. Deliverance from Philistine Bondage
11. Israel in Bondage to Her Kings
12. Bondage and Exile
13. Return from Exile
14. Slavery in the Teachings of the Messiah
15. Paul on Slavery

VII. CONCLUSIONS

BIBLIOGRAPHY




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CHAPTER I

INTRODUCTION

The purpose of this monograph is to investigate the teachings of the Bible on the subject of slavery. This
investigation is taken up in the belief that God's Word has an abiding relevance as the ultimate norm of
human society, and that it is the duty of Christian social ethics to seek to apply the eternal Law of God to
the constantly changing life of man. The provisions of the social law of God, as revealed preeminently
through Moses, were designed to meet problems which for the most part are perennial in human history; and
in addition to the specific circumstances these laws were designed to address, there is in them an abiding
equity, to use the language of the Westminster Confession of Faith 19:4), which means that they may and
should be consulted for the wisdom they offer concerning God's design for human society. Thus, the
monograph examines what the Bible has to say, positively and negatively, about slavery; what conditions
the Biblical slavery legislation was designed to meet; and makes some suggestions regarding the relevance
of these matters to modern social problems.

Although this is an essay in Christian social ethics, such study cannot be divorced from broader theological
and redemptive-historical concerns. These provide the contexts in which the particulars of the Biblical
slavery legislation must be understood. Thus, the monograph begins with a broad theological consideration
of slavery as an ineradicable part of the creature's existence, and gradually narrows its concern to the
consideration of Biblical household slavery. The final section of the monograph examines the
implementation in the history of the covenant of the Biblical teachings on slavery.

It may be thought that a study of "Slavery in Biblical Perspective" is better left unmade in these times. A
continual barrage of anti-slavery sentiment, dating from abolitionist times, re-quickened by the Civil Rights
Movement, and kept aglow through the American humanist entertainment media (e.g. ABC-TV's Roots),
serves to hinder serious and dispassionate inquiry into the subject. Christians enter any discussion of
slavery with reluctance if they are aware of what Scripture teaches on the subject, for the Bible does not
make the outright and sweeping condemnation of all forms of slavery that is demanded by the heirs of the
French Revolution. Thus, it might seem that the only possible justification for troubling the placid waters of
egalitarianism is that a candidate for a Master's degree must come up with some topic which has not
completely been exhausted, and which hopefully will enable him to make some useful contribution to
scholarship; and, of course, a study of Biblical materials concerning slavery can at least be said to
contribute, if only encyclopedically, to a general understanding of the content of Scripture, and to the
exegesis and proclamation of selected texts.

The present writer is, however, persuaded that there are more compelling reasons for taking up this topic in
the year of our Lord 1980, reasons which go beyond the general usefulness of Bible study. First, there is a
range of concerns that are broadly apologetic in nature. In an age of egalitarianism, the failure of the Bible
and of orthodox churchmen to join in the condemnation of slavery per se has led Christianity's more
perceptive and severe critics to issue hard strictures against the faith. From the standpoint of abolitionism,
Christianity is an immoral way of life. There is a continuing need, then, for Christianity to defend the true
and Biblical position on slavery against the misunderstandings, caricatures, and criticisms of anti-Christian
writers. Moreover, insofar as Christian thinkers are subject to influence from anti-Christian philosophies,
there is continuing need for a polemic designed to purge the Christian community of alien thought patterns.
This is nowhere better illustrated than by the "theology of liberation," which has had and is having so great
an influence on the social thought of evangelical Christendom, and which is laced with, when not actually
grounded upon, radical egalitarian premises. An examination of Biblical material regarding slavery takes
the student to the heart of the anti-egalitarian polemic of Christian faith, and is most relevant in
demonstrating the erroneous character of theologies of liberation.

Second, there is a range of concerns that are broadly ethical in nature. When a society loses its foundations,
and begins to drift into disorder, there inevitably arises a great deal of reflection on the problem of order.
This is indeed the case as the twentieth century draws to a close, and the collapse of Western European
culture seems imminent. Civilization has lost its sense of definition, and so has the Church. The result is a
rash of books that attempt to sketch out programs of reform for the institutional Church and for society at
large. While the present writer does not contend that an examination of slavery in Biblical perspective will
give the key to the problem of order, he is persuaded that such an examination yields valuable insights and
provides information indispensable to the discussion of the problem.

In addition to the problem of order, there is the problem of law Protestant theology has traditionally held to
three uses of the Law of God. The use of the Law in justification is that it provides a legal indictment
against fallen man, and drives him to Christ. The use of the Law in sanctification is that it provides a moral
standard for the life of renewed man. The use of the Law in dominion is that it delineates the rule that is to
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be implemented by the adopted sons of God over His creation. In the past, theology has tended to neglect
the dominical use of Gods Law, but this dominical use is very much at issue at the present time, as
liberation theology" vilifies the "triumphal ism" of Western Christendom, and as the whole question of a
Bibliocratic social order is raised in Christian circles Slavery is but one of many topics which must be
examined afresh if a viable Bibliocratic social order is to be advocated--and the present writer is among its
advocates. The Bibliocratic position stands or falls on its ability to apply the whole Law of God, one way or
another, without embarrassment, to modern society. An examination of slavery becomes, then, one test case
for the Bibliocratic position.

Continuing in the sphere of ethical concerns, it ought to be noted that the question of slavery itself, in a
broader sense, cannot honestly be avoided in any event The majority of people on the earth are presently
enslaved to Babelic statist powers, owned in body and usually in soul as well by political masters.
Moreover, even in the ostensibly free West, increasingly large numbers of persons forsake the dominion
mandate and place themselves on the dole, crying out to the messianic state to become their sovereign
provider. Scripture speaks to these matters, in the language of slavery.

It remains to be marked, third, that there is a sphere of theological concerns that is addressed by the Biblical
doctrine of slavery. As will be demonstrated, the Exodus from Egypt was grounded in a whim of God, but
on a carefully worked out legal basis, which cannot be understood apart from the Biblical laws regarding
slavery. Slavery thus forms one perspective from which the whole matter of salvation may be viewed. As
Christ became the Slave (Servant) of God, so Christians also are slaves of God, delivered from bondage to
sin and death. Though this monograph is devoted to an examination of social institution of slavery, this
cannot be accomplished without also noting in at least a cursory manner how Christ fulfilled the Biblical
slavery legislation.

Moreover, the fact that the Exodus is presented as having a rigorous legal foundation strikes against the
notion that the illegal" paradigm of salvation is but one of several salvific models in Scripture, by side with
a separate "dynamic" or revolutionary paradigm supposedly seen in operation in the Exodus. While a full
demonstration of the error of this view (again characteristic of "theologies of liberation"} is not the purpose
of this monograph, and indeed the error of it can be shown by the examination of other legal categories as
well, such as the laws regulating the activities of the Redeemer- Avenger (Goel), still the material and
argumentation of this study feed into this larger theological concern.


A Note Regarding Terminology and Translations

Because the focus of this monograph is on the continuing ethical equity in the social law of God, and
because the writer is committed to the belief that there is but one covenant of grace (in two dispensations),
terms denoting covenant members are used interchangeably through the monograph. Such terms as
'Hebrew, 'Israelite,' 'Christian, covenant member,' and 'believer' are equivalent. Similarly, unbeliever,'
'heathen,' and pagan are equivalent. Except where otherwise noted, translations of Scripture passages are
drawn from the New American Standard Bible, or are made by the present writer.
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CHAPTER II

PRELIMINARY CONSIDERATIONS

This thesis is concerned with the institution of slavery, that institution wherein one person is owned by and
peculiarly subject to the will of another. It is, however, imperative that a consideration of the Biblical
material concerning slavery be undertaken against the backdrop of the Bible's own presuppositions and
world-view. Biblical slavery cannot properly be understood apart from the Biblical understanding of man's
relationship to God, man's relationship to his fellowman, man's relationship to the sub-human creation,
man's calling to labor, the human family, and the state; as well as the perversions wrought in these zones of
life by the rebellion of man. Obviously, an examination of any one of these matters could proceed almost
without end; it is therefore the design of this chapter only to set forth considerations of preeminent
importance to the Biblical concept of slavery.

The Bible reveals that man is a creature of God (Gen.l:26f), so that man's existence and his essence are
derived from God, and exist outside of God but in inescapable relationship with God. Thus. man's
foundational relationship with God is one of total passivity God is wholly--radically and comprehensively--
Lord, and man is wholly slave Unlike trees and stones, however, man also relates to God in an active,
mutual manner (e.g. , Gen.32:24-28; Jas.2:23), but always against the backdrop of essential passivity.

The Bible also reveals that man is the image and likeness of God and that he has been given dominion over
the sub-human creation, and especially over the animals (Gen.l:26-28; 2:19-20). Thus, man's preeminent
relationship with the sub-human creation is one of activity: Man is Lord, and the sub-human creations are
slaves of man. Man's lordship over the sub-human creation is, however, not absolute, for man is not the
Creator of the sub-human creation. Rather, man's lordship is relative to God's primary mastery, and is under
His Law.

The Bible further reveals that all men are descended from Adam the first man, and are of one blood. Thus,
all men have the same essential ontological status. Whatever differences in abilities, age, and sex may
appear in humanity, there is an essential or foundational equality among all men. Man's relationship with his
fellowman is, then, essentially one of mutuality, reciprocity, or coequality.

It emerges that man has relationships with three spheres of existence: God, the sub-human creation, and
fellowman. It follows that man's nature is in part defined in terms of these three relationships and that man
has a need rightly to be related to each of these three spheres. A complex of right relations is a situation of
order; the rebellion of man, however, introduced a situation of disorder. Man's rebellion against God
entailed a perversion of all relationships, but not an effacement of man's nature. Man, being author neither
of his own existence nor of his own essence) can destroy neither. He is still essentially a creature who
needs an absolute reference point, a supreme master, to whom he can relate with absolute passivity. Man's
rejection of the Creator as God does not result in his having no god at all, but in his having some false god.
Man does not obliterate his psychological need for an absolute, he "exchanges" it for a lie (Rom.l:23). Thus,
man may be said to have a "slave drive" which ever seeks some god to submit to.

According to Scripture, every man is slave of some master. If he is not a slave of God and Christ (e.g., Rom
l: 1; Rev 22:3), then he is necessarily the slave of sin (Rom.6: l6f, John 8:34). Man, being a slave, has a
drive to become what he is. The Spirit's exhortation in Romans 6 is based on this fact. The Christian is
enslaved to Christ, thus the Christian should live as a slave of Christ. Scripture shows that the Christian not
only should live as a slave of Christ, but that he has a heart-desire, a need, a "drive" to so live (Ps.119). The
Christian's "drive is his loyalty (faith, love, fear, etc.) to God. The sinners "drive" is his rebellion against
and hatred of God (Rom.8: 6ff.), which results in love of death (Prov.8:36). The Christian's drive to love
God, coupled with his basic nature as a slave, makes the Christian a willing slave of God The sinner's drive
to hate God, coupled with his ineradicable basic nature as a slave, makes the rebel a slave of anything but
the Creator, though since the rebel seeks to play God himself, he is not willingly a slave of anyone but
himself (cf. section A below).

The New Testament speaks of slavery to sin" as the opposite of slavery to God (Rom.6:l2-23; Acts 8:23).
By comparison with slavery to sin, slavery to God is liberty (John 8:32,36). Indeed, because there is a real
transition from wrath to grace in history at the time of Christ's resurrection, the freedom of Israel in the Old
Covenant is bondage compared with the liberty of New Covenant believers (Gal.4 Before Christ and outside
of Christ the world is not only in bondage to sin, but to the consequences of sin. Thus, even Israelites could
be bound by Satan (Luke 13:16), and statist oppression abounded (cf. chapter IV.C). Thus slavery to sin"
is not a mere abstraction in some ideal or nominal sense, but is a concrete principle expressive of the
subjective heart- characteristic of rebellious man in both his individual and his corporate life, and which
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places sinful man in an objective condition of oppressive bondage to evil angelic powers and Babelic
statism.

Just as man does not cease to be a slave when he rebels against God, neither does he cease to be "dominion
man". Rather, his "dominical drive" is simply redirected and perverted. Nor does man cease to be a being
who needs relationships of mutuality with equals. He remains a social being. Man can no more eliminate his
essence than he can his existence, for both are authored not by himself, but by God.

We conclude that man operates in three spheres: submissively under God, dominically over the sub-human
creation, and coequally with his fellow man. We further conclude that man has three drives that impel his
need to relate in these three ways: a slave drive, a dominical drive, and a coequal drive. It is now necessary
to expand the discussion of these three drives or needs.
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A. Man as Slave

The slave drive in man is peculiarly absolute and comprehensive. It qualifies every human action
absolutely. No man can serve two masters; any attempt to do so breaks down, and service to the one master
is correlative to hatred and "despising" of the other (Luke 16:13; Matt.6:24). This kind of absoluteness is
not characteristic of the dominical and coequal drives.

We may distinguish man as creature and man as image of God. but we may never separate them. Man never
ceases to be either, for to be man at all is to be both. Thus, man's need to express his imagehood is radical
and definitive. Man cannot exist without continually expressing himself dominically and coequally. As an
image, man is an analogue. His actions, dominical and coequal, with the sub-human creation, other men,
and with God (as His friends, sons, wife, etc. are analogical activities. They are ways in which the creature
reflects the life of the Creator. Man's image-characteristics do not, however, qualify his every action in the
same way that his characteristic-of-creaturehood (slave-ness) does.

Man's creaturehood is not an analogical phenomenon, but the "original" phenomenon which gives rise to
man as analogue. Man's creaturely slavery to God the Creator is all-embracing and unqualified. It qualifies
all man's analogical activities as an image Man's lordship and coequality are always qualified by his status
as a slave. Man's coequal friendship, partnership, sonship (etc. with God is always qualified by his being a
slave (e.g., John 15:15,20). (Cf. chapter VI.B.9.

This is a roundabout way of saying that a man's relationship with his God has a kind of primacy and
absoluteness not characteristic of any of his other relationships. The slave drive is a drive to repose faith in
some God, while the dominical and coequal drives are drives to work and live in the world Faith and works
are inseparable and mutually qualify one another, and each comprehends all human action; yet there is a
certain primacy to faith, for it is out of faith that life and work spring. Faith directs work and life. So, as
creature (slave) man receives his orders, while as image (coequal and lord) man implements his orders
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.

The absoluteness of man's slave drive, deriving from the fact of creation, may be illustrated by reference to
Luke 7:9-10. The slave receives no thanks for his service, for the Master owes him no debt of gratitude. The
relationship is absolute. If the Master choose to praise the slave (Luke 19:17, this be all of grace, in no wise
of debt.

Because God alone is the Creator, He alone is Absolute (cf. Matt 23:10). Man's slave drive is directed
toward an absolute. The present writer stipulates that the term suzerain' will be used for this absolute, so that
man's slave drive establishes relationships of "suzerainty. God alone is man's proper Suzerain. It follows
that all human relationships are non-suzerain, or coequal. No human being can be sovereign or suzerain
over another.

When man rebelled against God, however, he rejected God's suzerainty over himself. (Gen.3:5), and So The
sin of man was the attempt to be "like man's desire was and is to become himself the suzerain. Thus, the
rebel desires to be slave of no one and of nothing. He cannot escape, however, his created essence, his slave
drive, and thus the rebel continues to have a need to be absolutely and comprehensively enslaved to
someone or something. a need to repose his faith in something. This creates an absolute and comprehensive
tension at the core of his being, for he is in his essence both slave and rebel. His created essence is slavery-
to-God, yet it is precisely slavery-to-God that his rebellion is directed against. He is at war with himself.

Professor John M. Frame of Westminster Theological Seminary has identified in Scripture three attributes
of lordship or rule. The Lordship of God may be considered in three mutually implicatory senses,
corresponding in general to the works of the Three Persons of God. First, is Lord or Suzerain in the sense
that the Father orders the lives of His creatures, arranging the situations in which they find themselves, and
chastising them when necessary. In this first sense, God is Controller
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.


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The parallel between faith and works on the one hand and the slave drive and dominion drive on the other hand is offered only for
its usefulness as a parallel concept. Man's relationship of faith with God embraces not only the relationship of suzerain and slave,
but also that of father and son, husband and wife, etc. , which are coequal relationships. Man does relate to God coequally, but only
against the fundamental backdrop of God's absolute suzerainty (cf. section C below).

2
John M. Frame, 'Doctrine of the Word of God." Unpublished Syllabus (Philadelphia: Westminster Theological Seminary, 1979),
pp.4-6. God's control: cf. Is.41:4; 43:10-13; 44:6; 48:12f.; Ex.3:8,14,20; 20:2.

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Second, God is Suzerain in the sense that the Son is the authoritative Word Who governs the lives of His
creatures, providing norms. Second sense, God is Authority
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.

Third, God is Suzerain in the sense that the Holy Spirit is actively present with His creatures, guiding and
influencing them in existential lives. In this sense, God is Present as mans Ultimate Influence and
Appreciator
4
.

Thus, control, authority, and presence are, for Frame, God's "Lordship attributes." In God's case, He being
absolute Lord, they are suzerainty attributes. Corresponding to these suzerainty attributes are three
attributes of submission or of slavery. As God is Controller, man is subordinate to Him. As God is
Authority, man is obedient to Him. As God is Present as Influencer and Appreciator, man is the devoted
follower of God's leading, in fear and love appreciating Him and coveting His appreciation.

Rephrasing the matter in terms of mankind's endemic and pandemic slave drive, it may be said that in the
area of control-subordination, man has an irrepressible need to be controlled and disciplined by some
environment; his life must be comprehensively ordered. In the area of authority-obedience, man has an
irrepressible need to hearken to the word of some master, some infallible, trustworthy word
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. In the area of
presence-devotion, man is inevitably influenced by and committed to some force outside of himself, seeking
comfort and appreciation there from.

Sin, rebellion against God, is directed against His control, authority, and presence. When man sinned, he
left the Edenic environment of God's control (Gen.3:23f. , rejected the Word of God's authority (Gen.3:3-6),
and fled from God's presence (Gen.3:8). t has been noted above that sin created an absolute tension at the
core of man's being, a tension between his desire to be as God and his need to be slave to some absolute.
This tension manifests itself in the three spheres of control, authority, and presence.


1. Control-Subordination

Scripture teaches that man did not cease to be a creature of environment when he rebelled against God.
Rather, he moved from the sphere of God's control to the sphere of Satan's control (Heb.2:l4f). Man's
attempt to play at being God leads him to try to create his own environment. Man finds that the most
effective means of control available to him is the sword, external physical force. That organization which
controls the sword and thus erects the social environment is the state, and thus sinners tend to absolutize the
state
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.

At the same time, however, the sinner seeks to find an environment controlled by some master other than
the Creator Fierce and fanatical loyalty to some human political order, such as communism or national
socialism. is but one manifestation of this The desire to find an alternate environment also takes the form of
escapism, insanity, and in general the will to fiction
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.



2. Authority-Obedience

Scripture teaches that man did not cease to be a slave in t sense of obedience when he rebelled against God.
He rather became slave to the authority of sin (Rom.6:l6-l). Obedience or slavery sin is not, however,
submission to some positive alternative way of life. Sin is in its essence the negation of God's standards,
and thus obedience to sin is the same thing as doing the opposite of what God commands. Ridderbos
summarizes his discussion of the Pauline conception of sin follow: For this reason sin in its essence is
rebellion against God, refusal to be subject to him (Rom.8:7), enmity against God (Rom.5:l0; 8:7; Col.l:2l),
disobedience (Rom.ll:32; cf. Gal.3:22; Eph.2:2; 5:6, et al.)."
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Sin, then, is a reversal of God's norms,
ca11ing evi1 good, and good evil" (Is.5.20).


3
Gods authority: cf. Ex.3:13-18; 20:2; Lev.18:2-5,30; 19:37; Deut.6:4-9
4
God's sovereign presence: John 17:25; Matt.28:20; Ex.3:7-14; 6:1-8; 20:5,7,12; John 8:31-59.
5
0n this see Rousas J. Rushdoony, Infallibi1ity: An Inescapable Concept (Va11ecito, CA: Ross House Books, 1978}.
6
From Babel to the Beast. On man's divinizing of the state, see Rousas J. Rushdoony, The One and The Many (Nutley, NJ: Craig
Press, 1971).
7
0n the will to fiction, see Rousas J. Rushdoony, The Word of Flux (Fairfax, VA: Thoburn Press, 1975), chapter 11; and
Rushdoony, The Politics of Pornography (New Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1974), chapters 10 and 11.
8
Herman N. Ridderbos, Paul: An Outline of His Theology, trans. by John R. deWitt (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1975), p. 105.

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Once again there is tension between man's desire to play God and be his own ultimate authority, and mans
need to obey some system of norms. The sinner seeks to erect an infallible word from some source other
than God. The false philosophical, ethical, and legal systems of mankind are the result. Except where
restrained by God's common grace these systems reverse Gods norms. Another way of playing God in
the sphere of authority is ethical relativism, which may appear to eliminate authority, but which simply
affirms in the most radical way possible that each man is his own ultimate ethical authority. At the same
time, man continues to need an infallible word to submit to, some word other than Gods. The false
philosophical, ethical and legal systems erected by mankinds false prophets, therefore, always have their
faithful followers.

3. Presence-Devotion


The sinner, having rejected the influence of the Holy Spirit of God, welcomes influence from other sources.
Scripture teaches that he remains a slave, only now a slave to evil influences Tit.3:3; 2 Pet.2:19).

Playing God, the sinner may seek to stand apart from all influences, and reject all appreciation. His desire is
to stand alone, his emotions totally under his own control, emotionally autonomous. To avoid
interdependent relationships, seeking independency, he avoids all relationships whatsoever.

Such persons, however, do not escape their created nature as slaves It is generally easy to mark in such
supposedly autonomous persons that their lives are ordered by reaction against current fads or influences,
and thus that they continue to be under such influences as much as any of their fellows. Sinful man is
subject to demonic possession, and is overly susceptible to mass movements, social and peer pressure,
public opinion, oratory, drugs, alcohol, advertising, hypnotism, and so forth. Having rejected any
relationship of appreciation with God, he is the slave of flattery from some other source, and finds other foci
for his active praise and appreciation.


4. Concluding Observations

A few additional observations are in order before moving on to a discussion of dominion man. First man's
absolute need to be enslaved, when not directed toward the Creator, entails an absolute subjection to other
men, to the angels, and/or to the sub-human creation. This can be seen in Gen.3:l-6, in that humanity
submitted to the counsel of an angel in the form of an animal
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. Man comes to respond as a slave to the
lower creation, fashioning his gods after the image of demons and animals (Rom.l:23). Men also fashion
their gods in the image of man and of the human state (Dan.3:1, in the context of Dan.2). Man will be slave
of anything except God. Now, man's proper relationship with his fellowman does involve, as section C
below makes clear, an element of submission for which the present writer uses the term coequality. This
kind of submission is, however, relative, being under Divine Law. Sinful man's submission to his
fellowman is, on the other hand, absolute, being a manifestation of his endemic slave drive. Unfallen man
would have had coequality relationships, but not suzerainty relationships, with his fellowmen.

Second, man's reversal of the slave drive, his attempt to be a god, entails an attempted absolute suzerainty
over all existence, including God, angels, other men, and the sub-human creation. It is necessary to
distinguish this attempted suzerainty from man's proper dominion. The submission of the sub-human
creation to dominion-man is a relative submission, being under Divine Law. Fallen man, however, attempts
to exercise an absolute suzerainty over the sub-human creation, and over all the rest of life as well. While
unfallen man would have had some relationships with the angels, these apparently would have been indirect,
at least at first. It seems that angels serve man, but at the command of God, not of man (Jude 9)
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. Sinful
man, however, through magic has ever sought to be suzerain over angels and demons.

The gist of these concluding observations is that man's attempt to play god, together with the redirecting of
his slave drive, tends to e1iminate al1 but suzerainty relationships from the life of man. Dominical and
coequal relationships tend to be swallowed up in suzerainty. Thus, the terms 'slave, slavery, enslavement'
encapsulate the essence of the life of fallen man. It is for this reason that Christ can characterize the life in
sin as slavery, and the life in Him as freedom (John 8:32, 36)

It remains to be noted, third, that the enslaved condition of fallen man is destructive to his life. Logically
this is the case in that God is man's natural Suzerain, and only His suzerainty can satisfy and fulfill the
created human personality. Scripture leaves no question about the matter, calling attention to fallen man's

9
The relationship of men to angels is something of a puzzle, and definitely stands outside the scope of this monograph. In some
sense, however, angels are man's servants (Heb.l:f4), surely not his lords.
10
This indirectness apparently is altered in the eschaton, 1Cor.6:3.
12
will to self-destruction (Prov.8:36) and denoting the sphere of his activity as a realm of death (John 5:24;
Rom.5:10,12,14,17,21; etc.).

There is an additional way of approaching this matter that is important to be understood. In some sense, the
human person has a personal core or heart, which may be distinguished from his outer person and activities
(Rom.7:22f.). This inner core is the seat of his consciousness of God, and thus the seat of the sinner's
rebellion against God and against all authority, the seat of his desire to be his own god (Rom.1:19; Jer.17:9;
Mark 7:21-23). The righteous man's heart or inner core is in a state pf submission to God. As a result,
God's rule finds an inner response of reception on the part of man, which makes man's submission to God
natural, pleasing, and liberating. It also means that God's suzerainty over man is not only from the "outside
in," as it were, but also from the "inside out," proceeding from man's heart to his activities. Thus, God's
control over man in no way depresses or negates the core-personhood of man, but rather fulfills and
liberates it. Slavery to God sharpens or focuses the human personality, so that man comes to know himself
as he submits to God. New converts to the Christian faith often remark that for the first time in their lives
they feel that they know who they are, that they have some purpose, that they have acquired a sense of self-
definition
11
.

Only God can deal with mans inner core, his seat of God-consciousness. Only God can rule man from the
"inside out as well as from the "outside in." Thus, all false suzerainty relationships tend to depress and
negate the core-personality of man. Only God is man's proper and natural Suzerain, so that any substitute
will leave man unfulfilled. Moreover, an attempt to control man from the outside in, without
simultaneously controlling him from the inside out, is oppressive rather than liberating. Third, the heart of
sinful man, seeking to be its own god, will not submit to anything other than itself. Thus, all false
suzerainty relationships are met with intransigent resistance, the same resistance offered to the Creator by
the rebellious heart of man. All suzerains except God must use force to subdue the rebel--external force,
from the outside in. Finally, it may be noted that the slave drive in the core of fallen man's being makes him
desirous of being subjected to personality-depressive agents. He does not want to know himself, since to
know himself is also to know God The dissolution of his self-consciousness is part of his goal, even though
he may term his experiences "consciousness-expanding," as is the case among drug addicts and participants
in so-called transcendental meditation.


B. Man as Master


Not only is man a slave, he is also by creation designed to be God's vice-gerent, God's subordinate master
over the creation. This also is an inescapable psychological aspect of man; he cannot escape his endemic
drive to dominion. He is always in some sense "dominion-man.

Man's subordinate lordship arises, as noted above, from his being made in God's image (Gen.l:26). As God
is Primary Suzerain, so man, His image, is analogically His vice-gerent Thus, the three lordship attributes
apply to man Man's rebellion against God, however, entailed a rebellion against His dominical mandate.
Rebellion against dominion means that man eschews responsibility and pursues immaturity
12
. Man seeks to
become passive before the creation, to be controlled, defined, and influenced by it.

Man remains dominion-man, however; he cannot efface God's in himself, for to do so would require his
having the power to de-create, which power by definition belongs only to the Creator. Thus, he continues to
attempt to take dominion, but now not as a vice-gerent but as a suzerain in his own autonomous right.
Man's proper dominion is exercised in dependence on God, and in an interdependent lordship over the
creation. In sin, playing God, man seeks to be independent in himself, and make all things dependent on
himself in an absolute, suzerainty manner. His continuing dominical drive is swallowed up in his stronger
drive to be as God, suzerain over all things.

At the same time, his desire to eschew dominion is paralleled by and swallowed up in his more
comprehensive drive to be slave of anything except God. He both seeks to escape dominion altogether, and
also attempts to dominate creation in an immoral and ultimately impossible "divine" fashion.

11
The correlativity of self-knowledge and God-knowledge is the subject of John Calvin's Institutes 1:1:1,2. The present discussion
is something of an application of Calvin's insights. Further insights into the relationship between human personality and submission
to God will be found in Cornelius Van Ti1, Essays on Christian Education (n.p. : Presbyterian and Reformed, 1974), pp.152-155;
and C. Van Ti1, Christian Theistic Ethics (n.p. : den Dulk Christian Foundation, 1971), pp.41-50. Van Ti1 argues that as men
submit to God, they increase in "spontaneity, stabi1ity, and momentum.
12
1Cor.16:13; Heb.5:11 -6:2. These exhortations are needed because the tendency to sin is a tendency to immaturity. See Rousas J
Rushdoony, Revolt Against Maturity (Fairfax, VA: Thoburn Press, 1977).

13

The suzerainty of God qualifies, regulates, and directs all the dominical activities of regenerate man. The
sinner's false suzerain will also qualify, regulate, and direct the manifestations of his dominical drive.
Whatever aspect of the creation is divinized by fallen man will be exempted from his dominion (taboo).
Thus, his dominion is wrongly restricted, and his perception of the whole system of things is warped,
twisted.


1. Control

God established the environment of the world, and placed man in it. Man is to cultivate the earth and bring
it to God's intended fruition. Control over the creation is exercised by work, and such work brings
satisfaction to man's psyche (Eccl.5:18) when such work is performed in an attitude of faithful submission
to God.

Since man is an analogue of God, and since his lordship is conditioned by time, space, and matter, man's
proper dominion is by working within these conditions and limitations. Proper dominion takes time and
effort and proceeds by stages (Prov.13:4; 21:5). The sinner rejects the dominion mandate, and thus rejects
human work as the means of dominion. He possess an anti-work mentality; he is lazy, the sluggard of
Proverbs.

At the same time, his dominical drive takes the form of playing God. God's dominion is not limited by the
conditions of time, space, and matter. The sinner, playing God, seeks to exercise suzerainty-dominion
immediately, without proceeding through stages in time. He seeks to exercise suzerainty-dominion apart
from any limitations
13
. Like God, he seeks to function monergistically. In his imagination, his dreams, he
continually does so
14
. In his actions, he turns to magic, for it is of the essence of magic to attempt the ends
of dominion apart from the tedious and laborious means dictated by time, space, and matter.
15
Additionally,
man finds that his urge to dominion is satisfied more immediately and less laboriously through destruction
than through upbuilding. Destruction gives the psychological satisfaction of seeing a lot accomplished in a
short span of time and little effort. Thus, sinful dominion is characterized by magic and destruction.
16


Creation, however, does not yield to man's false dominion, and so work, instead of being a source of joy to
man (Eccl.5:18), is a frustration to him. As noted in section A above, man's rejection of proper enslavement
leads to depression. His rejection of proper dominion leads to frustration.


2. Authority

As God's vice-gerent, man was to study and name the creation (Gen.2:9), teach the animals to respond to
his authoritative voice, and extend analogically the pattern authoritatively set by God (the garden of Eden)
over the whole earth (probably by following the four rivers out to the "four corners of the earth, Gen.2:10-
14; Ezk.47:1-12; Is.ll:12), bringing the earth to its Jerusalem' fruition (Rev.21; 22).
17


Man's rejection of dominical authority means that he no longer tries to apply God's standards to the
creation, but rather seeks to conform himself to the authority supposedly inherent in creation. This is the
source of all natural law theories, whether pantheistic or deistic the Baalism of the Old Testament era, the
ecologism of today. Man seeks to conform himself to the "principles of Nature," or to the astrological
pattern of the stars, or to any number of other false systems which ascribe authority to the creation.

At the same time, however, man is seeking to act as suzerain over creation. He will remake the cosmos after
his own pattern, not analogically after God's (Gen.4:16f.), whether it be a careful magical pattern such as

13
Cf. Gary North, None Dare Call It Witchcraft (New Rochelle, NY Arlington House, 1976), especially chapters 4 and 9.
14
Prov.21:26 and other Proverbs on the sluggard.
15
Rousas J. Rushdoony, Law and Liberty (Nutley, NJ: Craig Press, 1971), chapters 10 and 12.
16
Cf. Rousas J. Rushdoony, The Religion of Revolution (Victoria, TX: Trinity Episcopal Church, 1965); and Gary North, Marx's
Religion of Revolution: The Doctrine of Creative Destruction (Nutley, NJ: Craig Press, 1968).
17
A moment's meditation on the conditions in the garden of Eden will disclose the expansionism inherent in the arrangement. The
garden was a special planting of God, distinguished from His general seeding of the earth. The rivers flowed out of it to wat er the
whole earth. As Adam and Eve multiplied, and their sons left them (2:24), their descendents would necessarily have had to spread
out over the earth. The same principle of expansionism is inherent in the Law of God as revealed in the Pentateuch. As God bl esses
His people for their faithfulness, they will spread out and eventually be living far away from the Tabernacle, so that special
provisions have to be made for them (Oeut.14:24). They will lend and not borrow, a guarantee of expansion (28:12). While they will
not be aggressors, they will be attacked by enemies, and will ever be victorious in the Lord (20:10-20). There will be no sick or
barren among their cattle or among them, guaranteeing them strength, prosperity, and expansion (7:13-16). And so forth.
14
Campanellas City of the Sun or a general philosophy such as Social Darwinism.
18
Since the pattern spun
out by the rebellious mind of man is subconsciously or designedly the opposite of the Edenic pattern, man's
pattern does not fit the creation God has made. Thus, man's attempted dominion is ultimately frustrated, and
his attempts warp, oppress, and despoil the creation.


22 Presence

Just as God was present with man, so man was to be present with the creation. This is the principle of
intimate dominion. Man was to live with and appreciate the garden, so that his city ("Jerusalem") would
also be a garden. The animal creation would respond to man with fear-love, and be devoted to him.

The sin of man entailed a withdrawal from intimate dominion. Autonomous man desires not to be present
with or bound down to the creation interdependently.
19
To escape the creation, man builds his fictional
fantasies and his Cainitic cities,
20
which also seek simultaneously to block out the revelation of God and to
replace it with a testimony to man (Gen.4:17). At the same time, however, he cannot escape being present
with the creation, and so he tends to abuse it through an evil suzerainty, by cruelty (e.g., bullfighting),
sexual abuse (sodomy), and the general devastation of the environment.


4. Conclusion: Dominion Antithesis

It remains to make some observations on the fruits of dominical labor. The fruits of Godly labor are a rich
life, health, prosperity, and a beautiful culture (Prov.10:4; 12:24; 3:4; 21:5; 22:29). The ungodly, since they
tend not to work in order to acquire these things, though they greatly desire them (Prov.2l:26), invariably
demand them or attempt to procure them by force (Gen.26:12-17; 30:25- 31:55; Ezk.38:10- 13). Thus, the
envious wicked are ever a threat to the Godly, the shiftless a threat to the provident.
21




18
0n Campanella see D. W. Walker, Spiritual and Demonic Magic (Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1975).
19
Again, of course, man's desire to escape the presence of the creation is due primarily to the fact that the creation speaks t o him of
God (Rom.l:20), and only secondarily to his rejection of dominion. Rejection of dominion is a sin in the analogical sphere of man's
imagehood; rejection of God's suzerainty is a sin in the primary sphere of man's creaturehood.
20
This is not to attack all fictional literature or all architecture, but to point out the motives behind them. The Christian city seems
to be a garden-city, not a concrete jungle blocking out the Edenic creation of God.
21
Zech.l:l8-2l indicates that a Christian culture, based on productive labor, will in time overcome the oppressive rapine of anti -
Christ culture.

15
C. Man as Coequal

The relationship between man and man, using the term 'man' generically, is one of reciprocity,
interdependence, or mutuality, characterized by liberty and equality.
22
Within this sphere of coequality
there are lordship relationships among men, and so the lordship attributes of God are analogically present in
human society. Man is not to master other men in the same way as he masters the sub-human creation,
however; nor obviously, is he to submit to other men in the same absolute way that he submits to God. The
essential mutuality of human rule-relationships is brought out in Mark 10:42-45.

42. But Jesus called them to Himself and said to them, "You know that those who are considered
rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.
43. "Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be
your servant.
44. "And whoever of you desires to be first shall be slave of all.
45. "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom
for many. (New KJV translation)

Several implications of this passage should be noted. First, there are proper lord-servant relationships
among men, according to the testimony of Jesus. Second, t is Christ Himself, the last Adam, very man of
very man, the Messianic Son of Man, Who sets the pattern we are to follow (cf. also Luke 12:37). He rules
by serving, and thus must we. The servant is not greater than the Master. Third, a contrast is made between
the rule of Godly men and that of the ungodly. For the ungodly, as section A showed, all relationships of
life tend to be swallowed up into attempted suzerainty relationships as man tries to play God. Thus, the
ungodly man rules by lording it over his subjects. Interdependence is abolished. The Godly, on the other
hand, being restored to God's original social design, are to rule in a non-suzerain but coequal manner.

Man also relates to God in a coequal kind of way, although the term coequal is probably not as felicitous
here as 'mutual' would be. There is fellowship between God and man, and as chapter VI.B.10 makes clear,
when Jesus calls His disciples His friends, this means "privy counselors." God rules us by taking account of
our needs, just as the husband rules the wife by taking account of her needs, serving her in that sense. Yet,
within humanity such servant-rule is conducted in interdependence, while God's servant-rule over His
children is not qualified by interdependence. God is wholly independent of man, and man wholly
dependent on God. God's "coequal" rule over man, then, is qualified by the ultimate absolute suzerainty of
the Master.

Man was created a social being (Gen.2:l8), analogous to the Triunity of God. Thus, he possesses a social
drive to find fulfilling relationships with his fellowman, relationships of coequality. The sin of man leads
men to seek autonomy, independence of others. Men hate to feel dependent on others, and seek either to
master their fellows in a wicked suzerainty fashion (e.g., wife-beating, child abuse, slave-beating, state
torture, etc., or else avoid them altogether (e.g. t divorce, hermits, etc.).
23
Thus, ungodly societies tend to
break down, save where restrained by God's comrnon grace."


1. Familistic Culture

The essential relationship among human beings is not a master- slave relationship but one of coequality.
Yet, the husband-wife relationship is one of rule, and so is the parent-child relationship. Moreover assuming
that man had not fallen, it is still likely that there would have come into being a ministry of worship and a
ministry of order, with appropriate officers. Thus, there is a relative or economic subordination within
humanity, as well as an essential parity.
24


22
The repeated use of the term 'one another' in the New Testament highlights this reciprocity. For a survey of rather limited scope,
cf. Gene A. Getz, Building Up One Another (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1976). Another useful discussion of 'mutual submission is
found in Ronald S. Wallace, Calvin's Doctrine of the Christian Life (London: Oliver and Boyd, 1959), pp.151ff.

By liberty" the present writer means the privilege of each individual person or family unit to work out his own life under God, and
by "equality" the writer means respect for the other person or family unit's privilege to do the same. In the non-Christian sense,
liberty is the right to do as one pleases, and equality is the leveling desire to make every man identical to every other man. In the
non-Christian sense, thus, liberty and equality are opposed; in the Christian sense they are complementary.

23
Hell is--other people!" Garcin, in Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit.

24
The present writer uses the terms 'ontological' and 'economic' to refer both to human and to intra-Trinitarian relationships. Thus,
the term 'economic' is being used in an opera ad intra sense. Berkhof's comments are to the point:
16



First, marital and familial relationships are established for the pre-resurrection phase of human history only.
There is no marriage and no procreation in the eternal state (Matt.22:30). At the same time, some economic
hierarchies exist in the final estate of man (Luke 19:17,19; Matt.20:23) The physical families of man are
designed ultimately to yield to a condition of personal (but not ontic) incorporation into the society of the
Trinity, which is the archetypal Family (John 17:21, and cf. discussion below).

Second, subordinations within humanity take their rise from the structure of the family, and thus are
analogues of the economic Trinity The Son submits to the Father, and the Spirit submits to both Father and
Son. Humanity is an analogue of God, and thus the members of humanity are ontologically equal one to
another, but economically or coequally subordinate one to another. Two kinds of relationships may be
distinguished: suzerainty relationships and familial or coequal relationships. A suzerainty relationship, in
the sense used in this monograph, is a relationship of total dependence and subordination, absolute in
character, and grounded in ontological status. A familial relationship is a relationship of relative
subordination, coequal and interdependent in character, and grounded in economic or personal
characteristics.

God is three Persons, ontologically equal. Therefore, there are no suzerainty relationships among the
Persons of the Trinity. God is absolutely mans ontological superior, as Creator, and thus God is absolutely
man's suzerain. Men are ontologically equal one to another, and thus there are no suzerainty relationships
among men, though sinful man, playing God, attempts to erect such.

God is three different Persons, economically (coequally) sustaining relations of super-ordination and
subordination. Therefore, there are familial relationships among the Trinity, characterized by such terms as
'Father,' Son, 'begetting, and 'proceeding.'
25
Redeemed man is economically incorporated into the Divine
Family (John 17:21), restoring the original (familial) sonship of Adam (Luke 3:38), so that God is coequally
man's economic superior, and thus God is Father, Husband, and Firstborn to the redeemed.
26
Men are to
each other economically related in a way analogical to the intra-Trinitarian life of God, so that there are
familial relationships among humanity, relations of relative or reciprocal super-ordination and
subordination.
27



There are certain personal attributes by which the three persons are distinguished. These are also called opera ad intra, because
they are works within the Divine Being that do not terminate on the creature. They are personal operations, which are not
performed by the three persons jointly and which are incommunicable. Generation is an act of the Father only; filiation belongs to
the Son exclusively; and procession can only be ascribed to the Holy Spirit. As opera ad intra these works are distinguished from
the opera ad extra, or those activities and effects by which the Trinity is manifested outwardly. These are never works of one person
exclusively, but always works of the Divine Being as a whole. At the same time it is true that in the economical order of God's works
some of the opera ad extra are ascribed more particularly to one person, and some more especially to another. Though they are all
works of the three persons jointly, creation is ascribed primarily to the Father, redemption to the Son, and sanctification t o the Holy
Spirit. This order in the divine operations points back to the essential order in God and forms the basis for what is generally known
as the economic Trinity.

L.Berkhoft Systematic Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmanst 1941), p.89.

25
Berkhof writes: The subsistence and operation of the three persons in the divine Being is marked by a certain definite order.
There is a certain order in the ontological Trinity. In personal subsistence the Father is first, the Son second, and the Hol y Spirit
third. It need hardly be said that this order does not pertain to any priority of time or of essential dignity, but only to the logical
order of derivation. The Father is neither begotten by, nor proceeds from any other person; the Son is eternally begotten of the
Father, and the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son from all eternity. Generation and procession take place within the
Divine Being, and imply a certain subordination as to the manner of personal subsistence, but no subordination as far as the
possession of the divine essence is concerned. This ontological Trinity and its inherent order is the metaphysical basis of the
economical Trinity. Ibid., pp.88f.

26
The coequality in the relationship between God and man (Mark 10:45) is all of grace, not of necessity (Luke 17:9-10; 19:17),
always existing against the backdrop of man's slave-creaturehood.

27
Translating Berkhof's language about God into language about His image (from note 25 above), it may be said that inherent
orders among men are the metaphysical bases of economic relationships among men. The metaphysical differences between
children and adults, the feeble-minded and the whole, women and men, under1iethe economic relationships of subordination and
super-ordination among them. In the case of the woman and of children, this order does pertain to a priority of time, but not of
17
The family unit, the boundary of which is set forth in Gen.2:24, is the fullest created analogue of the
Trinitarian society, in that in the family there is experienced the fullest community of flesh and life. The
husband and wife are one flesh, and the children are of one blood with their parents. Moreover, Ephesians
3:14-15 states that all human families derive their name, that is their character, definition, interpretation,
from God the Father.
28
Human culture is an outworking of religion, and the outworking of the Trinitarian
faith is a familistic culture.

Most of the basic powers of society are given by God to the family: children and their rearing, property,
inheritance, and care of the poor.
29
The plan of salvation, covenantally administered, is administered
familistically, so that the sign of the covenant is administered not individualistically but by households.

In the family, the control and authority aspects of rule are most closely conjoined with the presence aspect.
There are, of course, concentric circles of closeness. The marital circle is the closest. The husband is to rule
the wife, but to rule by serving her (Eph.5:22-23; 1 Pet.3:7; Deut.24:5). She is as close to him as his own
flesh, and she is bound to him permanently for this life (cf. Matt.22:30).

The Spirit argues the subordination of woman on the metaphysical 11:7f.), and it is clear from Scripture that
the role of woman differs from that of man, and in certain spheres involves invariably a subordinate status 1
Cor.11:1-16; 14:34f. At the same time, the ontological parity and mutuality of man and woman is also
brought out The element of reciprocity is especially pointed out in 1 Cor.ll:llf., and in Gen.2 21-23 it is
indicated that the woman comes from the side of man, as his paraclete, another analogy to the life of God
(John 15:26; 16:27).

Just as God names man, assigning to him his character, definition and place, so the man names the sub-
human creation (Gen.2:l9) and also the woman, both generically (2:23) and personally (3:20). The lordship
of the husband is real 1 Pet.3:6), but differs from human mastery over the animals because the wife is his
coequal (1Pet.3:7), bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, a joint-heir of the grace of life.

The second circle is the family. The children are also one flesh with their parents, but the relationship within
the household is not permanent (Gen.2:24). Again, the lordship of the parents is manifest in the act of
naming, a naming which involves the woman as well as the man (Gen.4:1), but in which the man has the
final say (Gen.35:18). The woman as well as the man is lord over the children (Ex.20:l2). Again the
economic subordination of the child is inseparable from his metaphysical inferiority, but the ontological
parity of coequal humanity under girds the relationship. Children are not to be ruled dominically like
animals, but reciprocally as coequals (Eph.6:4; Col.3:2l; Ps.1O3:l3; Mal.4:6).

The third circle is the household, which includes slaves. Because of the familistic cast of Biblical
civilization, Biblical slavery is household slavery. The slave is an even more temporary member of the
household, sometimes, than the child. There is a certain inevitability about the presence of children in a
household which is not true of the presence of slaves. Moreover, the slave is ordinarily not a close blood
relative. Unlike the hired hand, the slave is a member of the household (Gen.17:l3; Lev.22:l0-l2). Again, the
general concepts of ruling analogically under God and His Law (Col.4:l), and of ruling in a coequal,
concerned manner (Eph.6:9; Lev.25:43) are brought out in Scripture.

Beyond the circle of the household, the conjoining of control and authority with presence begins to fade.
The household is limited according to Gen.2:24, by the fact that each new marriage establishes a new
household (cf. also Lev.22:l0-l3). Biblical patriarchy does not contemplate a grandfather's ruling over his
sons and their wives. Indeed, the patriarchs seem to have taken Gen.2:24 very literally, for Abraham
separated himself geographically from Isaac, and Isaac from Jacob. Thus, the truth that all humanity is one
family in Adam" is a statement that, from this perspective, is semi-metaphorical.

Beyond the boundaries of the household, the civil and ecclesiastical ministries, as delineated in the Bible,
continue to manifest the conjoining of control and authority with presence, so that both civil and

essential dignity. There is a certain subordination as to the manner of personal subsistence, but no subordination as far as
possession of the human essence is concerned.

28
The whole book of Ephesians is concerned with the Church of God in the broad sense of the people of God, rather than with the
Church in the focused sense of the ministry of worship. In giving practical definition to the broad sense of the Church, the Spirit
does not go into a discussion of corporate worship, as in 1 Corinthians, but into a discussion of familial relationships, 5:22- 6:9.

29
0n the powers of the family, see Rousas J. Rushdoony, "The Family as Trustee," in The Journal of Christian Reconstruction
4:2(1977): 8-13; and Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law (Nutley, NJ: Craig Press, 1973), pp.159-218.

18
ecclesiastical power are localized or decentralized to an extent hardly conceivable today. Moreover, these
powers themselves seem to flow out of the family.


The fourth circle divides into the regulation of order state) and the ministry of worship the church). It seems
that in the Patriarchal era, when all of society was organized by households, the father was ruler both of
state" and of "church," with the firstborn son as his deputy and heir (cf e.g., Gen.13:4; 14:14,18;
25:15+50,53,55 59,60; 43:33; Deut.21:17; Heb.l:2,5,6,13 + Gen.48:17f. ; Heb.5:1-10). In the providence of
God, Moses received his training under such a patriarch, Jethro (Ex.2:16,21). When, however, Moses
attempted to implement the traditional patriarchal mode of government (Ex.18:l3), the sheer number of
disputes among over two million people made it impossible. Jethros advice was to establish circles of
courts above the household level to handle the ministry of order. Thus, the fourth civil circle was elders
over tens, the fifth elders over fifties, and so forth (Ex.18:21-22). It must be noted that this power structure
is extremely decentralized, and this led to problems during the period of Judges (on which more below).
This is a familistic, household-based civil order.

As regards the ecclesiastical order, the family retained its importance in sacramental worship in that the sign
of the covenant was placed upon society at the household level, and in that the Passover was celebrated in a
primarily familistic manner (Ex.12:4; 2 Chron.35:l2). Nonetheless, the Lord saw fit to remove the
ecclesiastical duties from the firstborn and erect a special clan, the Levites, to perform these duties
(Num.3:12-15,40-51; 8:16-19). The Levites, however, were only a temporary ecclesiastical arrangement,
being a bloodline, thus typifying the eternality of Christ's Lordship over the ministry of worship, and being
tied to the Aaronic sacrificial order (Num.8:l9), which has been superseded (Heb.7:4-28).

In the New Testament, it seems, the church has reverted to an essentially household form (Acts 2:26;
Rom.16:5,l0,11; 1 Cor.l:1l,16: Co1.4:15; 1 Tim.5:13; 2 Tim.1:16; 4:19; Phi1em.2), with ascending courts,
parallel to the civil arrangement of Ex.18:2l-22. There seems New Testament support for the primarily
bureaucratic organization of the local church so common in Protestantism today.

From all this it is clear that Biblical culture is a familistic or household-centered culture. The church and
state, having real powers distinct from the family's the Word-and-sacraments, and the sword), nonetheless
are organized in such a way that primary rule is exercised over small groups of households, averaging ten in
number. Only in such a context, where control and authority are joined with presence, can a reciprocal or
coequal kind of rule take place. A pastor over one thousand families simply cannot wash all the feet
involved (John 13:12-17), nor can a king over a million subjects. Effective rule must be severely local.


2. Statist Culture

Man's attempt to play god tends to obliterate the relationship of coequality, as it does that of dominion. The
sinfulness of man entails, as noted in section A, the absolutizing of the instrument of external force, the
state. The tendency of all ungodly culture, thus, is to centralize power and rule, divorcing rule from
reciprocity. Nor centralized church capable of effective foot washing, whether it be monarchically or
bureaucratically centralized.

Thus, the tendency of sin is ever to create a society in which all human relationships become dictatorial,
suzerainty relationships In such an accursed society, slaves, children, and wives are removed from the
familistic sphere and relocated as absolute subjects of the state (1 Sam 8:16,11,13; 2 Sam.11:2-4). The
state, being man's attempted self-divinization, will seek to replace God, arrogating a tithe to itself (1Sam
8:15, and cf Dan.3:1 in the context of Dan.2).

Part and parcel of a statist culture is some theoretical justification for the suzerainty of one group over
another. One component in such justifications is the notion of the scale of being, in its modern form the
doctrine of evolution. Women, children, the feeble-minded, and outsiders can be treated as sub-human, as
animals, on the basis of such a rationale. Thus, women, in some societies, could be "considered by their
husbands no better than chattel,
30
as among the Greeks; and the Roman paterfamilias could put his children
and his slaves to death if he chose. Aristotle could hold that some men are by nature slaves
31
, and that the
slave is but a living :


30
Woman, Status of," New Encyclopedia Britannica (15
th
ed.), 19:909.

31
Politics I.1255b.

19
...between a craftsman and his tool, or between the soul and the body [or between master (despotes) and
slave]: ...there can be no friendship, nor justice towards inanimate things, indeed not even towards a horse
or ox, nor yet towards a slave as a slave. For master and slave have nothing in common; a slave is a living
tool, just as a tool is an inanimate slave.
32


Here again can be seen the notion of personal, coequal rule absorbed into a suzerainty construct.

It is clear, then, that Christian social lordship, grounded ontological parity and characterized by coequality
or reciprocity proceeds in terms of a different motive or attitude than does the social lordship of the
ungodly. As Job remarked,

If I have despised the claim of my male or female slaves
When they filed a complaint against me,
What then could I do when God arises,
And when He calls me to account, what will I answer Him?
Did not He who made me in the womb make him,
And the same one fashion us in the womb? (31:13-15)

It is only the standard of Biblical specifics, however, which can spel out the implications for daily life of
the Christian distinction between essence and station.


D. Conclusion

Institutional slavery is grounded in the nature of man. As a creature, man is inevitably slave of his Creator.
Sinful man rejects such slavery, and thus becomes the slave of something else, which perverts his life and
the life of the world. Christian rule is designed to check this perversion, and Biblical household slavery may
become part of that check. Secondly, as the image of God, man is dominion-man. Sinful man rejects
dominion, while attempting to pervert the creation to his own evilly suzerain designs. Christian rule is also
designed to check this perversion. Thirdly, the image of God is a social being, but when he attempts to play
God, man destroys society in tyranny. His enslavement of his fellows assumes a vicious and perverse
character. This also must be checked.

32
Nicomachean Ethics VIII.xi. From time to time, not happily very often, the present writer came across, during his youth in the
Southern states, arguments to the effect that the Negro was properly the slave of the white man, either because he was an inf erior
product of evolution (lower on the scale of being), and/or because he was a soulless animal, a species of ape. Such are the
justifications of tyranny.

20
CHAPTER III

THE ORIGIN OF INSTITUTIONAL SLAVERY

Although Scripture frequently uses the term slave in the sense discussed in the preceding chapter, it also
has much to say about the specific institution of slavery. This chapter is concerned to formulate a definition
and description of slavery in this specific sense and to elucidate the purposes and character of institutional
slavery as these are contemplated in the Divine Word.


A. Definition of 'Slavery'

The 1966 edition of Webster's New World Dictionary of the American 1Enguage defines 'slave' as follows:
a human being who is owned by and absolutely subject to another human being, as by capture, purchase, or
birth; bond servant divested of all freedom and personal rights" (emphasis added). The other meanings
given are metaphorical. The modifiers 'absolutely and all have been emphasized because these two terms
highlight the inadequacy of the definition, and also point to the difference between slavery as instituted by
God and slavery as perverted by men. Non-Christian slavery tries to be absolute and comprehensive playing
God, while Biblical household slavery is always in the sphere of coequality.

It is, in fact, very difficult to formulate a universal description of institutional slavery. Stern has noted that
it is frequently difficult, particularly in Africa, where an extremely diversified range of attitudes toward
slaves prevails, to distinguish with any precision between such categories as slaves, serfs, subjects,
submerged classes, and low castes."
33
Finley's formulation is most helpful; he writes that "all forms of labor
on behalf of another, whether 'free' or 'unfree,' place the man who labors in the power of another; what
separates the slave from the rest, including the serf or peon, is the totality of his powerlessness in principle,
and for that the idea of property is juristically the key--hence the term 'chattel slave."'
34
In other words, in
the eyes of social law, the slave himself is regarded as property. The law may protect the slave in many
ways and may grant him many rights, and the slave may be treated by society in ways indistinguishable
from the treatment of free men; but in the eyes of the law, the slave is property.

Finley's discussion in this regard can scarcely be improved on and is worth citing at large:

Conceptually, every man has available to him, or is denied, a bundle of rights and obligations as diverse as
freedom of movement, the right to the fruits of his labor, the right to marry and establish a family, the
obligation (or right) of military service, the right to look after his soul. It is not normally the case that a man
possesses either all of them or none; hence the range and variety of personal statuses found in different
societies, and, within limits, even inside a single society, are very considerable. One may speak of a
spectrum of statuses between the two extremes of absolute rightlessness and of absolute freedom to exercise
all rights at all times (Finley 1964).* The latter has never existed, nor has the former, although the position
of the slave in the American South came very near to it. In between the two extremes, precisely as in a
spectrum, there is much shading and overlapping, which the servile vocabulary reflects.

Within the spectrum there are lines of demarcation. Throughout most of human history, labor for others has
been performed in large part under conditions of dependence or bondage; that is to say, the relation between
the man who works and his master or employer rested neither on ties or kinship nor on a voluntary,
revocable contract of employment, but rather on birth into a class of dependents, on debt, or on some other
precondition which by custom and law automatically removed from the dependent, usually for a long term
or for life, some measure of his freedom of choice and action. "The concept of labor as a salable
commodity, apart from the person of the seller, is relatively recent in the history of civilization (Lasker
1950, p.114).+ In all societies in which dependent labor is common, regardless of the variations within that
broad class of persons, one main demarcation line is between the dependents and the others.

Slavery is a species of dependent labor and not the genus. Slaves were to be found in many societies in
which other kinds of dependent labor--debt bondsmen, clients, helots, serfs, Babylonian mushkenu, Chinese
ko, Indian Sudras--were common, just as they coexisted with free labor. However, slavery attained its
greatest functional significance, and usually its greatest numerical strength, in societies in which other, less

33
Bernard J. Stern. "Slavery; Primitive," Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. ed. Erwin R. A. Seligman (New York; MacMillan,
1934) 14:73.

34
M. I. Finley, "Slavery, International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences, ed. David L. Sills (New York: MacMillan, 1968)
14:307

21
total varieties of bondage had either disappeared or had never existed. The distinction is particularly sharp
as between genuine slave societies--classical Greece (except Sparta) and Rome, the American South and the
Caribbean--on the one hand, and slave-owning societies as found in the ancient Near East (including
Egypt), India, or China, on the other hand. Only when slaves became the main dependent labor force was
the concept of personal freedom first articulated (in classical Greece), and words were then created or
adapted to express that idea. It is literally impossible to trans1ate the word freedom" directly into ancient
Babylonian or classical Chinese, and modern European languages cannot render mushkenum or k'o.
35


A relatively precise definition or description of slavery, then, is possible only within a given social order
and legal system, since it is the attitude of a given law-order which establishes the character of the
institution. It is necessary, then, to turn to a consideration of the Biblical conception of legitimate household
slavery, under God's legal system.


B. Biblical Household Slavery

The normal Hebrew word for slave' is ebed, a word used in the same way as the English 'slave, servant';
that is, both to designate a human being owned by another, and to designate a servant. Robert North writes,
The word ebed is used in a variety of senses verging on the metaphorical, and in most cases implies
nothing more than one who renders some service to another."
36
At another place, he states, ebed is merely
one who serves; far from implying a degraded bondage incompatible with freedom, it is applied to all
workers, to the subjects of a king, and to the worshipers of Yahweh, including especially the Isaian Servant;
but the term is used also to designate true slaves and bondmen.
37
Thus, a simple word study of ebed will
not be fruitful in examining Biblical household slavery. It is necessary to study concept, not the word.
38

The same may be said of the Greek terms diakonos and doulos, the latter being the more usual term for
s1ave, but again having the more "metaphorical usages. The other Greek word used for slave is pais, which
normally means 'boy, youth.' The comparison of the slave to the child is important, as the ensuing
discussion will elucidate.

Two words are used for female slaves. There is discussion regarding the precise meaning of these terms and
the differences between them.
39
The term amah is used for slave-wives or concubines (Gen.2l:l0; Ex.2l:7;
Ruth 3:9), and more generally for any female slave (Ex.2:5) The term shiphchah almost always has
reference to a lady's serving woman (Gen.16; 30), but the figurative usages break with this (1 Sam.1;18;
Ruth 2;13). The terms clearly are equivalent in many cases (1 Sam.1 :16+18; 2 Sam.14:15). In Lev.16:20,
the betrothed slave girl is called shiphchah; after her marriage it may be that she was called amah. Perhaps.
In Ruth 2:13, Ruth uses the polite shiphchah to call herself Boaz's maidservant; but in 3:9, when inviting
Boaz to consummate the Levirate marriage (as the present writer understands it), she calls herself his 'amah.
Just how significant this really is, is questionable.

Robert L. Dabney, in his lengthy work on household slavery, describes the institution as follows: "By this
relation we understand the obligations of the slave to labour for life, without his own consent, for the
master. The thing, therefore, in which the master has property or ownership, is the involuntary labour of the
slave, and not his personality, or his soul."
40
Dabney here stipulates a definition of slavery that covered the
situation in Virginia, with which he was concerned. Biblical slavery, however, is often impermanent by
law, and often voluntary. Dabney's description, thus, is in terms of a non-Biblical legal framework.

The most profitable discussion of the Biblical conception of slavery is found in John Murray's Principles of
Conduct.
41
There are sides to Murray's description. First, slavery entails, in some sense, property of man in
man. Against those who contend that this does injustice to the integrity of the human personality, Murray
argues that in marriage and the family there is property of one person in another, personality and
individuality are not obliterated by these relationships and further that these relationships indeed are the

35
Ibid., 14:308.
*M. I. Finley, "Between Slavery and Freedom," Comparative Studies in Society and History 6 (1964);233-249.
+Bruno Lasker, Human Bondage in Southeast Asia (Chapel Hill, NC: University of North Carolina Press, 1950), p.114.
36
Robert North, Sociology of the Biblical Jubilee. Analecta Biblica Investigationes Scientificae in Res Biblicas 4 Rome: Pontif ical
Biblical Institute, 1954), p.135.
37
Ibid., p.31.
38
A helpful study of the words and their uses is Albert Huls, "The Christian Religion as Service: a study of the word groups ABAD,
DOULEUEIN, DIAKONEIN." Th.M. thesis, Westminster Theological Seminary, 1959.
39
A. Jepsen, "Amah und Schiphchah," Vetus Testamentum 8(1958): 293-297.
40
Robert L. Dabney, A Defense of Virginia (New York: Negro Universities Press, [1867] 1969), p,94.
41
(Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1957), pp.96ff.

22
fields in which individuality and personality best flower. Thus, it is only an autonomous conception of
human personhood that is violated by the institution of household slavery. (Cf. the remarks on coequality,
chapter II.C.)

Second, however, Murray maintains that slavery is not precisely property of man in man, but property of
man in the labor of another man. In this respect, slavery does not differ from a binding labor contract.
Murray states: A man could voluntarily choose servitude for good reasons, or he might be forced into it if
exigencies required it. It is not to be taken for granted that slavery is per se involuntary servitude.
42


Murray is not oblivious to the fact that property in a man's ~ labor entails some degree of property in his
person. And we must not be naive enough to think that we can abstract our labour from our persons. If
another has property in our labour there is an extent to which, or an aspect from which, this must be viewed
as property in our persons.
43


How, then, does Biblical slavery differ from ordinary contractual labor? The present writer suggests the
following respects. First, the slave is regarded by the law as the property of the master. Second, the slave is
regarded by society as part of the master's household, which curtails to some degree or other his right to go
where he pleases and to do as he pleases. Third, the sanction against laziness on the part of the slave is
physical punishment (beatings). The sanctions against the lazy hired hand are financial (he may be fired);
and the hired hand who breaks contract may be sued in court (again, financial punishment). Fourth, non-
Christian slaves are slaves for life and receive no payment (cf. chapter V.A.6). The household slave has the
same status as a child. Both are regarded as property (Ex.21:7); both may be and should be beaten to correct
their faults (Prov.29:19,21; 13:24); and as de Vaux points out:

...he really formed part of the family, he was a domestic" in the original sense of the word. (That
was why he had to be circumcised, Gen.17:12-13.) He joined in the family worship, rested on the
sabbath (Ex.20:10; 23:12), shared in the sacrificial means (Dt.12:12,18), and in the celebration of
religious feasts (Dt.16;11,14), including the Passover (Ex.12;44), from which the visitor and the
wage-earner were excluded. A priest's slave could eat the holy offerings (Lv.22:11), which visitors
and wage-earners could not (Lev.22:10). Abraham's relations with his servant (Gen.24), show how
intimate master and slave could be. Prov.17:2 says: "Better a shrewd servant than a degenerate
son" (cf. Sirach 10:25). He could share in his master's inheritance (Prov.17:2), and even succeed to
it in the absence of heirs (Gen.15:3). We know of one slave who married his master's daughter (1
Chron.2:34-35). In these last two cases, obviously, the slave was ipso facto emancipated.
44


Finally, believing slaves, like children, outgrew and left the household (cf. chapter V.A.1-4; V.B.6).

Thus, household slavery is a labor relation in which the laborer is legally regarded as the property of the
master and socially regarded as a member of the master's household, and which is sanctioned by the
infliction of physical pain. A In the case of slaves who are not covenant-members, slavery is involuntary,
permanent, and involves no financial remuneration.

It is clear that the Bible approves, and even commands, some forms of slavery. The thief who cannot pay is
to be sold for his restitution money (Ex.22:3). This is not an option; restitution must be made, and no
alternative is available; it is a command to institute slavery for theft. The slave is clearly a form of property,
and is referred to as such in Gen.26:14; Ex.21:21; and Lev.25:45. That slaves may be beaten is clear from
Ex.2l:20f. ,26f. That God approves and even commands some forms of slavery compels us to reflect on His
wisdom and purposes in creating this institution among men.


C. The Cause of Slavery

Suzerainty slavery is a consequence of the fall or rebellion of man, and clearly is a curse. This is seen in the
various non-Christian forms of slavery, which are taken up in chapter IV. Much suffering has come to the
human race as a result of slavery, but this is only a just punishment for sin. Men deserve hell; slavery is mild
by comparison.

It may be asked whether Biblical household slavery s a result of sin, or if it might have existed in the sphere
of coequality regardless of man's rebellion. For the following reasons it is clear that the institution of

42
Ibid , p.98.
43
Idem.
44
Roland de Vaux, Ancient Israel (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1965), pp.85f.

23
household slavery is a byproduct of the sin of man. First. it is sanctioned by pain. Second, it is entered only
as a result of poverty, kidnapping, punishment, or war (cf. chapter V.A). Third, the goal of Biblical
household slavery is its own self-elimination (cf chapter v.C). Fourth, the slave does not have his own
separate household, and by inference from Gen.2:24 this was not God's original design.

Since God approves of the institution of household slavery for fallen men, t clearly is in some ways a
blessing. First of all, it is a blessing in that it restrains the natural laziness and anti-dominical tendencies of
sinful men. Ideally, the wicked are forced by the righteous to work whether they want to or not; indeed, this
is set forth as an eschatological benison in 15.14:2 and 61:5.

Second, it is a blessing in that it trains men to work, and it does so in the best possible environment, that of
the family. In that the slave is attached to the household, is not paid for his labor, and is beaten for
disobedience, the slave is really an adult child, and is receiving in his adult years the same kind of formative
education that children receive.
45
The Bible contemplates that there will come an end of this pedagogy, at
least for the faithful converted slave, after which he takes his place as a late-blooming but now mature
citizen. This maturation motif, slave to son [citizen], is put to redemptive-historical use in Gal.4:1ff

Third, it is a blessing in that places sinners and unbelievers in the best possible environment for
evangelization: the Christian home.

Thus, household slavery is a healing institution. Chapter II.A showed that man1s relationship to God had
been distorted by the rebellion of man. Household slavery restores order by forcing the unbeliever under the
rule of God, in the persons of the Godly; and places him in the way of the gospel. , Chapter 11.8 showed
that man's relationship to the cosmos had been perverted by sin. Household slavery restores sinners to a
right relation to the cosmos, by forcing them to work, and by directing their labors in a proper, Jerusalem"
direction Chapter II.C showed that mans relationship to his fellowman has been warped by man1s fall
Household slavery restores order by breaking down statism, and by placing natural subjects under their
proper rulers Slavery, then, is a byproduct of the rebellion of man, but in the proper form and administered
by regenerate people, it is a means for restraining and even rolling back the effects of the fall and of the
curse, by common grace" discipline and by "specia1 grace" evangelization.

In these respects it is like the institutions of divorce and disinheritance. Had there been no rebellion of man,
there would have been no occasion for divorce or for disinheritance. Because of the hardness of man's heart,
however, there come times when a spouse or child is so far gone into sin and rebellion that the only remedy
is that they be excised, cut off from the household. This is for the good of the Christian, for the health of the
home, and for the health of society. Sadly, the institutions of divorce and disinheritance, especially the
former, can be evilly used, and the same thing is true of the beneficently- designed institution of household
slavery.

Two kinds of abuse are possible: institutional and personal. One may pass unbiblical laws regulating
divorce, making it too easy or too hard to obtain. Similarly, one may construct unbiblical forms of slavery
On the other hand, one might have the proper form of slavery, but the people involved in these institutions
may be corrupt, abusing the slaves The same kind of personal abuse is possible when the divorce laws have
been properly constructed. Chapter IV is concerned with the institutional abuse of non-Christian forms of
slavery, and with the personal abuses common to non-Christian slavery in general. Chapter V summarizes
the Biblical regulations concerning the proper institution of household slavery.


45
This might be compared to the slogan commonly used among t1arine Corps Drill Instructors at Paris Island: We know it's
tough, boys, but we're only doing the job mama and papa never did."

24

CHAPTER IV

SLAVERY AND THE ANTITHESIS


History is a battleground on which God is presently the Aggressor Satan the defender. Satan initially struck
at God through man, and intends to crush Satan through the instrument of humanity (Gen.3:1-6, 13-15;
Rom.16:20; Rev.19:11,14,15). Christ is God's primary Agent, but in union with Him, the saints are also
members of the aggressor army, before which hell's gates cannot stand (Matt.16:l8). This great war of
history is a war to the death (Gen.4:1-17; John 19 : 30) . It is, within this extreme parameter, the goal of the
unbelieving world to enslave the members of the covenant (Ex.l; Is.14:3; etc. It is the destiny of the saints,
however, to emerge victorious in history, and to enslave the remnant of the unregenerate, in a figurative if
not wholly literal sense (15.14:2; 61:5) This chapter is concerned with the abuses of slavery in the hands of
the enemies of God. In turn will be examined the basic purposes of non-Christian slavery, the sin of
kidnapping, and the philosophy and practice of statism.


A. The Purposes of Non-Christian Slavery

As noted in chapter II.B, the sinner has a drive to exercise God- like dominion over the world, a dominion
that circumvents the limitations of time, space, and matter. He desires instantaneous results. Since in


the nature of the case destruction is more instantaneous than upbuilding, the sinner tends to destroy rather
than to build Moreover, the drive for instantaneous dominion leads to magic and to other perversions of the
created order. The attempt to have dominion without work results in thievery, rape, boasting, fiat-money
economic orders, and so forth Herbert Marcuse is the most noted advocate of the notion that total
destruction will magically issue in a new age of complete peace and freedom
46
, but his ideas are also found
in Marx
47
and in the practice of Mao Tse-Tung, who periodically destroyed the then-present social order in
China with the expectation that a better phoenix would arise from its ashes.
48


Another byproduct of this refusal to work is the non-Christian form of slavery, which is simply a means
whereby the wealthy and powerful keep themselves in luxury while other people do all the work and enjoy
little or none of the fruits Serfdom, collective farms, and other forms of slavery are the result.

There is, however, yet another qualification to be made with respect to the sinful form of slavery. In the
hands of sinners, slavery becomes an institution of torture. This may be elucidated by showing how hatred,
violence, vengeance, and sadomasochism in the general sense of taking pleasure in pain) are basic to the
unredeemed psyche.


1 . Hatred

Sinful man hates God (Ps.139:2l, and thus would like to murder Him. Thus, all violence is directed most
profoundly against God, except that violence that comes from Him via the magistrate and in the fires of
Man hates and seeks to destroy everything that reminds him of God. God is Life, and so man hates life and
loves death (Prov.8:35f. First of all, sinful men hate Christians, since these most closely resemble and reveal
God. For this reason they killed Christ and the prophets. Second, each sinner hates himself, since he exists
as the image of God. Third, sinners hate each other, since each is made in God's image. Fourth, sinful men
hate the creation, since it reflects the glory of God Thus, violence, hatred, and murder are basic to the
psychology of sinful man.
49


46
Herbert Marcuse, Counterrevolution and Revolt (Boston: Beacon Press, 1972); cf. Paul A. Robinson, The Freudian Left (New
York: Harper and Row, 1969. For Reformed assessments of Marcuse, cf. S. U. Zuidema, De Revolutionaire Maatschappijkritiek van
Herbert t1arcuse (Amsterdam: Buijten and Schipperheijn, 1970 ; and Rousas J. Rushdoony, The One and the Many (Nutley, r~J:
Craig Press, 1971), pp.344ff. A broader treatment of similar themes is Rousas J. Rushdoony, The Politics of Pornography (New
Rochelle, NY: Arlington House, 1974).
47
Gary North, Marx's Religion of Revolution: The Doctrine of Creative Destruction Nutley, NJ: Craig Press, 1968.
48
On this general philosophy and tendency in human life, cf. Mircea Eliade, Forge and Crucible: The Origins and Structures of
Alchemy (New York: Harper and Row. 1971).
49
4Cf. Samuel J. Warner, The Urge to Mass Destruction (New York: Grune and Stratton, 1957) for a general treatment of the
death-wish. Christian reflection on Warner's presentation is found in Rushdoony, Law and Liberty, chapter 32.

25


2. Violence

Chapter II.B showed that the dominical life of sinful man is doomed to continual frustration. The frustration
of attempted suzerainty-dominion spawns violence as a reaction. The first stage of dominion is lingual
(Gen.l:5; 2:19), so the first stage of violence is verbal: swearing and blasphemy. These are products of
frustration. When, however, verbal abuse and verbal violence prove inadequate as means of "letting off
steam, physical violence is used. Thus, modern anti-God psychologists tell people to "ventilate" their anger
by kicking doors or by beating their dogs.
50
Frustration of dominion, then, makes violence basic to the
psychology of sinful man. When put under pressure, sinners will lash out and kill, as when God put Cain
under pressure and he slew Abel.
51



3. Vengeance

Vengeance is basic to a world of sin, for sin must be avenged God alone is Avenger, though He delegates
this work in part to the magistrate Rom.12: 19; avenger (Deut.19:6, 12). 3:4) and his familial precursor, the
blood Vengeance entails sacrifice, and every man deserves to be sacrificed on the altar of God as a recipient
of His awful vengeance. Christ is God's appointed Substitute, but if a man will not own his sin and take
Jesus Christ as his Substitute Sacrifice, he will then make someone else the scapegoat and sacrifice him.
When man tries to play god, he takes upon himself the role of avenger, and this removes the restraints God
has placed on blood vengeance (cf. e.g., Gen.34; 49:5-7; Deut.22:28f.; 2 Sam.13). The tendency of the
wicked heart is to pay back evil for evil and to take its own vengeance, according to its own perverse
standards which cal evil good (Rom.12:l9; 1Thess. 5:15; 15.5:20). Here again is a basic aspect of the
psychology of sinful man, which qualifies slavery as practiced by him.


4. Sadomasochism

The sinner inevitably is a sadomasochist, in the general sense of this term, taking pleasure in pain He knows
that there is sin and in the world, but since he wil1 not admit to being partly responsible for it, he blames
others out of the situation. The evil must be purged or expiated, driven out of the situation.
52
For the
Christian this implies his need of cleansing by the Holy Spirit, but for the unbeliever it means that other
people must be eliminated, for they and not he are the cause of the problems of the world Because of his
love of death, and because he self-righteously calls evil good, the unbeliever can and does rejoice in the
destruction of the righteous.

Further, orthodox Christianity has always recognized that the expiation of sin cannot be effected save
against the backdrop of the propitiation of the wrath of God. Sin is not only a "thing to be purged, it is
also a personal affront which calls forth wrath. Playing god, the unbeliever has a wrath which must be
propitiated. His wrath is propitiated by treading down and eliminating the evil people who have angered
him.

Moreover, the principle of the transference of guilt and liability is seen here as well. The salvation of the
world is founded on the transference of the guilt and liability of sin from the redeemed to the Person of the
Messiah (2 Cor.5:21). For the unregenerate, the salvation of society is effected by the transference of their
own personal guilt to the persons of some scapegoat. Because the unbeliever hates God and whatever
reminds him of God, and because he reacts against those who wake him conscious of his own personal guilt,
the tendency is to transfer blame to the most righteous element in society. In this way, the society of
humanism tends to be built on the blood of the righteous (cf. section C below).

Guilt is basic to the psychology of unjustified man The sinner is by nature a murderer who enjoys murder
sadistically (John 8:44) If a man will not have Christ as his Atonement, he will either try to pay for his guilt

50
On ventilation, cf. Jay Adams, The Christian Counselor's Manual (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1973), pp.349ff. The
degeneration of an encounter-ventilation seminar into torture and sadism is horrifyingly chronicled in a true account by Gene
Church and Conrad D. Carnes, The Pit: A Group Encounter Defiled (New York: Outerbridge and Lazard, 1972).
51
On Cain, see section C below.
52
Leon Morris writes that "expiation properly has a thing as its object." Further, if sin is a thing, and can be dealt with as a
thing, blotted out, cast from us, and the like, then we may properly talk of expiation." Cf. "Expiation," New Bible Dictionary (Grand
Rapids: Eerdmans, 1962).

26
himself (masochism) or he will make someone else pay for it (sadism). Since a guilty man wants everyone
to share his guilt (Gen 3:12,13), sadism and masochism are inseparable.
53


In history, the sinner's deep-level drive to manifest hatred, violence, vengeance, and sadomasochism is
somewhat restrained. They are often manifested in less extreme fashion than killing. and one of those
manifestations is slavery (Enslavement and death are associated in Scripture; cf. chapter VI.B.11.) Slavery
becomes an institution of torture. An example familiar to modern man in the prison, an institution of slavery
that places some people completely at the mercy of others. The camps of National Socialism in Germany
and of international socialism in the U.S.S.R. are the most pronounced illustrations of this phenomenon but
are not the only ones. Homosexual rape would not exist in American prisons except by the tacit consent of
the prison guards, some of whom apparently also participate in this act of sadism.
54
Putting one man wholly
in the power of another places a strong temptation in the way of the unregenerate master, a temptation
increasingly less resisted as the influence of the Gospel wanes in Western Society.


B. Kidnapping

Having noted the character of non-Christian slavery, it is appropriate now to take up household slavery in
its pagan form. Because the drive to dominion has been absolutized in the consciousness of fallen man, the
institution of household slavery among unbelievers will tend not to have the kinds of limitations and
restrictions imposed by Scripture, but will reflect man's attempted suzerainty. Arthur c. Danto writes,

A slave, to be sure, is by definition used as a means to another's ends, but in ancient legal tradition
slaves had no rights in the eyes of the law and were therefore not regarded as persons. Aristotle,
who supposed that there were natural slaves, would have regarded them as not human beings
anyway, but as "[living] instruments for the conduct of life," and hence not persons in even the
most generic sense.
55


Furthermore, because the sphere of coequality has been virtually eliminated for the non-Christian,
kidnapping becomes a legitimate means of acquiring slaves.

From a Christian viewpoint, human rights are imputed rights: privileges and valuations granted by the
Creator.
56
The non-Christians continue to recognize the universal value of human beings, but refuse to
ascribe human rights to the valuation of the Creator, claiming instead that there are "natural rights."
Historically, attempts to delineate what these "natural rights" are have foundered due to disagreements
among the propounders of natural right theory, simply because in fact rights are imputed. Each philosopher
imputes to humanity the rights he thinks they have or ought to have. The sinner, playing God, makes himself
the imputer of rights, and he is then able to designate certain groups of people and say with reference to
them that they have no rights Since such-and-such a people have no rights before (man's) law, they may be
abused, kidnapped, and enslaved.

Scripture requires the death penalty for kidnapping. In Deut.24:7 the kidnapping of Covenant members s
particularly forbidden, but in Ex.2l; 16, all man-stealing is punished by death, whether the slave be sold or
not. The kidnapping of fellow believers is particularly prohibited because Christians are the peculiar slaves
of God; but in that all men are God's image and property one way or another, and are not to be abused a
kidnapping is punished by death. It might be maintained that, reading Ex.21:16 in the context of 21:2, it is
only Hebrews who are protected and avenged by this law. The text simply says man , however, and there
is no indication in the immediate context [21 :12,14] that "man" is restricted to covenant members, so this
law should be assessed as universal in application. The prohibition of kidnapping speaks to a number of
issues, such as the proper penalty for ransom-kidnapping, the impressment of seamen, and perhaps even the
military draft.

The death penalty is appropriate because of the connection between slavery and death, enslavement and
murder (cf. chapter VI). Kidnapping is an assault on the very person of the image of God, and as such is a

53
More extensive comments on this matter are to be found in Rousas J. Rushdoony, Politics of Guilt and Pit~ (Nutley, NJ: Craig
Press, 1970).
54
0n prisons, cf. Roger Campbell, Justice through Restitution (Milford, MI: Mott Media, 1977).
55
Arthur C. Danto, Persons, The Encyclopedia of Philosophy, ed Paul Edwards (New York: MacMillan, 1967), 6:110.
56
Cf. Robert V. Andelson, Imputed Rights: An Essay in Christian Social Theory (Athens, GA: University of Georgia Press, 1971).

27
radical manifestation of man's desire to murder God Like rape, it is a violation of personhood, manifesting a
deep-rooted contempt for God and His image. As such it deserves the death penalty.
57


The introduction of Christianity into the nations of the world created anomalies in the institution of
household slavery. The most celebrated or notorious example of this is the Old South of the U.S.A. The
household slavery practiced there was largely non-Christian in form, though often modified by evangelical
influence. The proper legal forms and protections demanded by Divine Law were not respected, and thus
the institution, as an institution, was an abuse. In chapter V the Biblical regulations in this area are taken up,
but here it may be noted that the Old South deliberately refused to entertain God's Law at this point. Robert
L. Dabney wrote, in his book defending the institution of house- hold slavery, that God "also gave, by the
intervention of Moses, various religious and civil laws, which were peculiar to the Jews, and were never
intended to be observed after the resurrection of Jesus Christ."
58
Dabney does not support this assertion, but
makes use of it immediately. He notes that God approved slavery in ancient Israel, but holds that the sixth
year release does not apply to the Christian era. Here is a sad example of a smorgasbord approach to the
seamless Law of God.

In the hands of unbelievers, and of inconsistent Christians, slavery is a curse upon sinful man, a
manifestation of death It can easily become an institution of torture, and even in familial form it can be a
curse state. The greatest curse, however, comes from slavery to the state.


C. Statism

This monograph has made mention of certain motives for the centralization of power in the state, chiefly to
the effect that the power of the sword enables sinful man to play god more efficiently than any other means.
In terms of the discussion of vengeance and sacrifice earlier in this chapter, an additional light needs to be
shined on the character of the ungodly state. This is made clear in the fourth chapter of Genesis God had
respect for Abel and for his offering v.4), but not for Cain and for his offering (v.5). Abel brought a lamb, a
blood substitute, and in so doing owned his own sin and that he deserved to be consumed by God's fire.
God was pleased, however, to spare Abel and consume the sacrifice in his place. Cain, however, brought an
offering of vegetables, the works of his hands. While it would have been right and salutary for Cain to offer
a cereal offering on top of a blood substitute, thus consecrating his own works to the Lord (Lev.2;
Num.28:l2-l3);
59
by themselves his works could not please God, but were an affront to Him. In common
with pagan sacrifice the world over, Cain was trying to bribe God, but he was not rewarded with the sign of
favor. His bribe had no effect in cleansing his conscience; indeed, God came to Cain and put him under
further pressure (vv.6-7) Under this pressure, his murderous heart was revealed (John 8:44). In the course of
a conversation with his faithful brother, who may have exhorted him to repentance, Cain slew him to
propitiate his own wrath, and to expiate the problem-person from the situation. This was the first human
sacrifice, a fact made plain by Gen.4:l0, "The voice of your brothers blood is crying to Me from the
ground
(cf. Heb. 12:24).
60
Cain now must leave the vicinity of Eden,
61
to dwell in a land of wanderings. Unlike the
pilgrim, Cain is a nomad with no destination.

Though Spiritually a nomad, Cain built a city. This city he called 'Enoch,' which was the same name he gave
to his son. Both his city and his son he regarded as products of his own power, his own creations,

57
To a great extent the African slave trade was based on kidnapping, and had this law been respected by the governments of
Europe and of the New England states, the slave trade would have been hindered, if not impossible. It would be too facile to
condemn the entire slave trade solely on the basis of this law, however, because many of the African slaves were war captives or
were already slaves in the African societies from which they came. Chapter V.A.6 of this monograph provides a critique of the
practice of uprooting peoples from their God-given cultures. An examination of the African slave trade in the light of Scriptural
specifics is far too massive an undertaking for this monograph. The writer must content himself with a few observations along the
way. On the complex manner in which the African slave trade functioned, cf. Roger Anstey, The Atlantic Slave Trade and British
Abolition 1760-1810 (New York: MacMillan, 1975), pp.58-88.
58
Dabney, p.114.
59
0n the cereal offering, see G. J. Wenham, The Book of Leviticus (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), pp.69ff.; and Patrick
Fairbairn, Typology of Scripture (Grand Rapids: Baker, [1900] 1975), II:310ff.
60
In the opinion of the present writer, this passage is paradigmatic for a proper understanding of blood vengeance, sacrifice, and
murder. A Christian depth-analysis of all murder and violence should reveal that they always have a sacrificial intent in t erms of
vengeance, expiation, propitiation, and sadomasochism.
61
The geographical language of Gen.4:3,4,16 indicates that the offerings were most likely brought before the cherubim, who
indicated God's pleasure by igniting acceptable sacrifices with the flaming sword (cf. Lev.9:24-10:2; 2Chron.7:l). The Old
Covenant was throughout characterized by a geographically centralized sanctuary.

28
Cainophanies as it were, so he gave them the same name. Thus was born the anti-Eden and anti-
Jerusalem, the city of Man.
62
This city was founded on the blood of a brother,
63
the blood of the saints (cf.
Rev.17:6). Meredith G. Kline has shown the likelihood that the statist oppression of the city of Man lay
behind the corruption of all flesh before the Flood.
64
After the Flood, mankind right away set to work
constructing a statist order at the Tower of Babel, and so it has gone ever since. The bloody horrors of the
city of Man, the statist order that oppresses the saints in the Book of Revelation, are so familiar as to require
no comment.
65
It also hardly needs remarking that the enslavement of populaces and the crushing of the
human spirit have marked the humanistic state throughout its sordid history.

The Christian magistrate, as delineated in Scripture, has limited powers, and this limitation of power serves
to eliminate the possibility of slavery to the state. Deut.17:15-17 forbad Israel to make a foreigner king over
them. By implication, Israel's rulers should not be like foreign kings (cf. Mark 10:42). Thus, they were
forbidden to build up a standing army,
66
to multiply wives and make treaties with foreign powers, and to
increase wealth to the state.
67
The command, nor shall he cause the people to return to Egypt to multiply
horses," certainly implies that he may not sell his people into slavery in return for any goods, as Joseph was
sold into Egypt, although 15.31:1 and Ezk.17:15 show another implication of this command.
68


The drift toward a humanistic kingship is a major concern of the Book of Judges (cf. 8:22-24,30,31; 9:1-57;
10:3-5; 11:9,34,37; 12:8-10, 13-15; 17:6; 18:1; 19: ; 21:25) Wolff remarks on the parable of Jotham,

The fable harshly ridicules the idea of kingship. What irony when the thornbush offers shade which
it is powerless to give, but at the same time threatens to destroy the cedar, the best shade tree of
all! Although the bramble itself can provide nothing, it intends to destroy those trees so rich in
what they have to offer. According to this a king is only a scoundrel among men who can do
absolutely nothing for the betterment of his people. The motivation for this criticism of the
monarchy is its desire to control and dominate, which results in the destruction of those things
most valuable in life. The genre employed here is a fable; its aim is to stand in the way of the
monarchy so that those forces that promote life in Israel may be left free to develop.
69


Gradually God's decentralized and familistic social order and His invisible Kingship were distrusted, and
the desire for a visible, splendid, central statist order was arising.
70


62
On the city of Cain, cf, Rushdoony, Revolt Against Maturity, pp.91ff
63
It may be noted that the fourth beast, which is pictured in Rev.17 as drunk with the blood of the saints, was founded by Romulus
on the blood of his brother Remus. Human sacrifice to propitiate the wrath of man lies at the foundation of the human state in all
ages.
64
Meredith G. Kline, Divine Kingship and Genesis 6:1-4, Westminster Theological Journal 24(1962):187-204.
65
An idealistic commentary on Revelation, written with a more than ordinary awareness of the problem of statism, is Rousas J.
Rushdoony, Thy Kingdom Come (Nutley, NJ: Presbyterian and Reformed, 1971).
66
First, the king is instructed not to increase his chariot-corps (the word 'horses' refers to the war-chariot corps, the king's
mercenary troops), ...Hans Walter Wolff, Masters and Slaves: On Overcoming Class-Struggle in the Old Testament,
Interpretation 27(1973);263.
67
. ..nor is the' king to increase his harem, or the royal treasure (v.16f.). He must take no interest in those things upon which the
power and pomp of an oriental king are based. Ibid, p,263f.
68
When then remains for the king to do? (d) He should be nothing other than a model Israelite, their 'representative.' He is chosen
'from among the brethren' (17:15); his heart may not be lifted up above his brethren' (v.20). The actual ruler in Israel is Yahweh,
who rules through his Torah. The priests are its protectors; the judges, its administrators; the prophets, its interpreters. But the king
is supposed to be the exemplary Israelite, a brother among brothers, who lives according to Yahwehs will. The authority of
Yahwehs Torah is to be guaranteed through the division of power outlined above. This represents a restructuring of the monarch's
functions: His customary sovereignty is reduced, while his fellow countrymen are elevated to the status of the king's brother. A truly
revolutionary view of kingship!" Ibid., p,264. While Wolff's remarks are insightful, he is not completely correct. The king was the
highest court of appeal (1Ki.3;16-28) and the captain of the army (2Sam.ll :1).
69
Ibid, p.261.
70
The status of the Israelite monarchy in God's eyes has always been problematic. In the opinion of the present writer, the
explanation is as follows. The first Pentecost, at Mt. Sinai, constituted the people of God a community under Law (Ex.19:24),
represented by the loaf waved before God on each subsequent Pentecost (the grains, Lev.23:10f. + John 20:22; the loaf, Lev.23:15-
1B + Acts 2). Law, however, cannot cement a community, and so throughout the period of Judges the community repeatedly fell i nto
sin and anarchy (cf. esp. Jud.19-21). The loaf kept crumbling, and had to be re-baked periodically (annually, Lev.23:15-18; weekly,
Lev.24:5-9). Thus, the people were made aware of the need for a king to be present with them. The next stage was the institution of a
centralized monarchy, which had to rule by external means and thus was semi-statist in character; but this also proved unable to
complement the Law and provide social cement. Again the loaf kept crumbling, although loyalty to the Messianic king did provide a
greater measure of social cement. With the coming of Christ, the King was in the midst, but He Himself testified to the inadequacy of
mere Law plus Messiah (John 16:7). What was needed was the second Pentecost, when the King would be made decentralizedly
present in the midst of myriads of local groups (Matt.1B: 20) by the action of the Spirit Who ever proceeds from Him. Now the fruit
29

1Samuel 8:5-22 records the end. The people wanted a king like all the nations" (vv.5,20). Samuel
prophesied that such a king would enslave the people, forcing their sons into a standing army (v.11) making
them agricultural slaves and smiths (v.12), and taking their daughters for his purposes as well (v.13). He
would take their own slaves to be his (v.16). Putting himself in the place of God, he would aggrandize a
tithe to himself (vv.15,17). Finally, you yourselves will become his slaves (v. 17). This clearly is a curse,
for "then you will cry out in that day because of your king whom you have chosen for yourselves, but the
LORD will not answer you in that day" (v.18). They will cry out under their own precious king just as
they cried out under Pharaoh (Ex.2:23), but unlike that earlier occasion, the LORD will not hear them this
time.
71


Not until the period of Solomon did massive slavery to the state come into being. Mendelsohn comments:

It is a known fact that slave labor (excepting house slaves) is highly unprofitable unless employed
on a large scale in non-technical production. The slave has neither the will nor the skill to operate
with delicate techniques and expensive tools. The natural field for the exploitation of slave labor
is, therefore, on large latifundia and especially in mining industries where rough tools are used,
where skill is not required, and where human beings can be wasted to an appalling degree without
causing loss to the employer. The metallurgical industry in the Arabah presented just such an ideal
field for the exploitation of slave labor.
72


Solomon used forced labor to mine, quarry, timber, and build the Temple and his own palace. Had this been
only a temporary measure, for the glory of YHWH, it doubtless would not have met with resistance; it was
continued, however. Thus. upon the death of Solomon. the people demanded of Rehoboam that he lighten
their yoke." Rehoboam's refusal to do this resulted in the division of the kingdom, according to the principle
laid down at the Tower of Babel whereby God splits and shatters centralized statist powers. 1 Kings 12:18
states, "Then King Rehoboam sent Adoram, who was over the forced labor, and all Israel stoned him with
stones that he died. This action not only demonstrated Rehoboam's monumental stupidity, but also showed
the attitude of the people toward forced labor. The penalty for kidnapping is death, and like Pharaoh's
taskmasters of old,

Adoram was visited by death as a consequence of his oppressing God's people. True, it was the residual
Canaanites and not the Israelites who had been forced into the more menial and dangerous tasks, but all
Israel had been enlisted to one degree or another by the state (1Ki .9: 21,22). Statist slavery is ultimately
incompatible with the Edenic program, that each man should have his own garden to dress and to keep
(Lev.25:13; 1Ki.21).

Some further observations may be made regarding slavery to the state. First, statism is not a condition that
occurs in opposition to the desires of the enslaved populace. As is plain from Sam. 8, people preferred
slavery to the state to a condition of risky freedom under faith. Sinful man's desires to evade responsibility
and to submit to any suzerain except God make him a willing slave of the state. Because each man also
desires to be his own suzerain, and always hates whatever god he erects, the slave of the state invariably
sustains a love-hate relationship with the state. Criticism and bitterness abound, occasional transfers of
power (revolutions) take place, but in none of this is there any movement toward submission to God and a
coequal society entailing liberty and equality in the Christian senses of those terms (cf. p.27, note 22 of this
monograph). Apart from regeneration, humanity can only tend to become slaves of statist orders, and so
political attempts to liberate oppressed peoples (e.g., the U.S. action in South Viet-Nam, and all the other
attempts to make the world safe for democracy") cannot attain long-run success.

Second, because men desire to be slaves of the caretaker state, it can be seen that in God's providence the
punishment fits the crime The horrors of statist slavery are what people deserve, but also what they
masochistically desire. Men desire death (Prov.8:36), since they hate the God Who is life. Ungodly slavery
is a mitigated form of death, as chapter VI illustrates. Thus, while the desire to be enslaved is endemic to
man, the desire to be enslaved to the creature is masochistic and self-destructive, while the Christian's desire
to be enslaved to life-giving God is self-liberating.

of the Spirit (Gal.5:22f.) provides the social cement (1 Cor.13), complementing Law and King, but replacing neither. The loaf
crumbles no longer (Matt.13:33; 1Cor.10:17).

71
Just as YHWH's Kingship was established on the basis of His delivering Israel from bondage to Pharaoh (cf. Jud.8;22f.; Luke
1:71,74,75), so David's kingship was established on his delivering Israel from bondage to Saul and to the nations, with which Saul
had proven friendly (1 Sam.15).
72
Isaac Mendelsohn, S]avery in the Ancient Near East (New York: Oxford University Press, 1949), p.96.

30

Third, it may be seen that, given the unregenerate condition of men, statism affords something of a restraint
on wickedness, and slavery makes for a certain modicum of productive dominion.
73
God deals with sin by
destroying it. Slavery, being a mitigated form of death, works to destroy sin. For the believer, enslavement
works to destroy his indwelling sin, and is chastisement. Thus for the believer, enslavement can be a
resurrection experience: through death to life, through chastisement to maturity. For the unbeliever,
enslavement works to destroy his whole being, since his heart is apostate. Thus, it is not chastisement in a
sphere of resurrection, but is destruction in a sphere of death. The fact that non-Christian civilizations are
statist in character is a blessing to Christian civilization, for it prevents the enemies of God acquiring that
degree of destructive energy that otherwise might be possible. At the same time, statist slavery can be a
blessing, under "common grace," to the ungodly who live under it, for it restrains anarchy and allows for a
modicum of production and life. Statist slavery, then, is a condition appropriate to sinful man in history,
prior to the consummation when death and hell will express the ultimate in Gods destruction of sin.
Recognition of the appropriateness of statism to the life of the ungodly sheds light on why Joseph could
participate in the reduction of Egypt to slavery under Pharaoh Gen.47; and cf. chapter VI.B.3 of this
monograph).

Fourth, given the mixed character of history, mixed social economies abound, particularly in societies
incompletely transformed by the gospel. The tendency is ever for an elite to manipulate the powers of the
state in order to acquire the unwitting services of the masses. The elite maintains itself by appealing to the
envy and irresponsibility of the masses, so that a welfare state is inevitably correlative to elitism. To the
degree that a society is welfarist (desirous of slavery to a caretaker state), to that degree it is elitist
(sustaining a centralized master class).
74



D. Summary

Biblical household slavery is a healing institution, designed not only to restrain evil, but to do so in such a
way as to transform and reform the sinner. Submission to God and to Godly rule gives life. Submission to
evil and to the rule of evil deals death, and non-Christian slavery, characteristically involving kidnapping
and statism, is a sphere of death and destruction. Redemption is appropriately seen as deliverance from
such slavery into life under God's Suzerainty.




73
This is the point of Thomas Hobbes's Leviathan.
74
On the manipulation of envy, cf. Helmut Schoeck, Envy: A Theory of Social Behavior (New York: Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich,
1966). On the elitist-welfarist correlation in the U.S.A., see the writings of evangelical scholar Antony Sutton: Wall Street and the
Bolshevik Revolution (New Rochelle, NY: Arlington, 1974); Wall Street and FOR {New Rochelle: Arlington, 1975); Wall Street and
the Rise of Hitler (Seal Beach, CA: 176 Press, 1977); Trilaterals Over Washington (Scottsdale, AZ: The August Corporation, 1979).
The central thesis of this series of studies, which are highly detailed, is set forth in chapter 5 of Wall Street and FDR: The
development of the welfare state in the U.S.A. has been "but a thin veneer for the acquisition of wealth by a few at the expense of the
many" (p.80). The elite has maintained itself in the U.S.A. by the manipulation of the state, and the manipulation of voters through
appeals to envy and irresponsibility. (Cf. note 9. p.79 below.)

31

CHAPTER V


THE BIBLICAL REGULATIONS CONCERNING HOUSEHOLD SLAVERY


Sinful man has a drive to evade dominion and to be irresponsible, and even believers still have problems
with laziness and sin. There are times, then, when some people cease to function as responsible citizens of
a free society. A man may become so poor, as a result of irresponsibility or providential dealings that he
can no longer care for himself and his family. A man may be guilty of theft and not be able to come up with
the requisite restitution. Or, although the Bible does not speak directly to this, a man may be born with little
mental capacity, and consequently require protection and care all his life, which for some reason his own
family does not provide.

The family s the womb of society God, in His gracious care for and desire to restore fallen man, has been
pleased to ordain familial slavery as a means of training debtors and thieves, that the cultural mandate may
go forward (Gen :26-28). The strict rules and hard work of the Christian family and household, coupled
with devotion to the Word of make for the ideal environment for the rehabilitation of such people. Being
restored to the womb of society, they receive the training they either did not originally get or have forgotten,
and at the end of their period of enslavement they are born anew into human society as free and responsible
citizens Rightly does Robert North refer to Biblical slavery as a paternal refuge for the impoverished and a
sanctuary for conquered a1iens.
75



A. Legitimate Kinds of Slavery


Chapter IV examined the sinful kinds and purposes of slavery under the Curse. Here is taken up those kinds
and purposes that are approved or even recommended by Holy Scripture. The Bible distinguishes carefully
between the enslavement of believers and of unbelievers Previous chapters of this monograph have
established a context in which this distinction may be understood. The difference in treatment is grounded
in the profound differences between the unregenerate and regenerate psychologies, and is thus not arbitrary
or merely symbolic in some barely nominal sense. Believing slaves are to be freed in time, b~t the
unbelieving. The enslavement of believers arises out of debt, as a punishment for theft. or from voluntary
indenture.



1. Debt Slavery

If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man
without payment" (Ex.2l:2). While it is less than clear that this verse contemplates debt slavery, in the
parallel in Deut.15:l2-l8, it is clearly the poor who are in view. The final verse of Deut.14, verse 29, enjoins
charity to the poor and provides the tithe of the third (and sixth) years for that purpose. The first verse of
Deut.15 provides for a septenniel cancellation of debts, and this is the concern of the paragraph contained in
verses 1-6. Then the second paragraph, verses 7-11, enjoins generosity to the poor. The third paragraph,
verses 12-18, concerns the enslavement of fellow believers, and the provisions in the pericope make it plain
that the impoverished Israelite is in view.

The Law as found in both Exodus and Deuteronomy speaks of the Hebrew" slave. The Hebrew term ibri
is the same as the name of an important patriarch, Eber (br). Genesis 10:21 calls attention to this man
when it says that Shem was "the father of all the children of Eber," although Eber was actually Shem's great-
great-grandson. Klines remarks are to the point:

Moreover, the departure from the stereotyped presentation of the genealogical data in Gen.1O to
describe Shem as the father of all the children of Eber (v.21) is most readily accounted for as an
anticipation of the author's imminent concentration (cf. Gen.ll:27ff.) upon the Semitic Eberites par
exce1lence, i.e., the "Hebrews whom Yahweh chose to be the channel of revelation and
redemption.
76


75
North, Sociology of the Biblical Jubilee, p.l35.
76
Meredith G. Kline, The Ha-BI-ru--Kin or Foe of Israel?" Westminster Theological Journal XX(1957-58):51. The much debated
Hebrew-Habiru question is dealt with in Klines essay, WTJ XIX(1956-57):1-24, 141-169; XX(1957-58):46-70. If Courvillels
32

This is substantiated by the notice of Abram's Eberite ancestry in Gen. 14:13. The Shemites are the especial
covenant-seed line; within the Shemites the Hebrews are the especial covenant-seed line; within the
Hebrews the Israelites (not Ishmael, not Esau) are the especial covenant-seed line. It is for this reason that
the terms 'Shemite and 'Hebrew' come to be equivalent to 'Israelite.'

The Hebrew debt slave may serve only for six years, and then he is to be set free. Many commentators
believe that this is not a reference to the sabbath year, some even maintaining that there was no sabbath year
at all, but only seven-year cycles differing according to circumstances.
77
There are a number of
considerations that militate against this view, however. First, in the Deuteronomic pericope, the sabbath
year is clearly in view in 15:1-6. Indeed, verse 2 speaks of the year's being "proclaimed.
78
All debts were
released in this year, and so it follows that all debt slaves were also released. Similarly, Exodus 23:10-11
requires a sabbath year. Those who regard Exodus 21:1 - 23:19 as a miscellaneous agglomeration of
random legislation see no connection between the sabbath year of 23:11 and the seventh year of 21:2, but
evangelical readers must admit some connection. Third, the matter is settled to the present writer's
satisfaction by an appeal to Deuteronomy 31:10-11:

10. Then Moses commanded them, saying, "At the end of seven years, at the time of the year of
remission of debts, at the Feast of Booths,
11. when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place where He will choose,
you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing.

This is clearly a covenant renewal, in which the people come before the LORD, as they had at Sinai, and
reaffirm their submission to Him as Law-giver Just as the release of Israel from slavery in Egypt preceded
the Sinaitic law-giving, so the release of debts and of debt slaves must precede covenant renewal.

During his servitude, the believing slave is not to be treated in the same way as an unbelieving slave, with
severity, but is to be regard- ed as a hired hand (Lev.25:39-43). This means that he is not to be beat- en
harshly. Leviticus 25:53 says that he is not to be dealt with severely before your eyes. This same concept
of dealing carefully "before your eyes" is adduced in Deut.25:3 as a reason why no more than forty strokes
are to be given in beating a fellowman. One image of God is not to be degraded in the eyes of a fellowman.
There are degrees of degradation, and it may be inferred that the unbelieving slave may be ruled with
severity, by implication from Lev.25:46. The Law does not go so far as to order that the believing debt
slave may never be beaten at all, but it does reflect the fact that there is another sanction that may be
brought to bear against him, which is ecclesiastical discipline.
79
Church discipline is of no avail against the
pagan slave, but should be effective in correcting frowardness in a believer (cf. section 8.6 below).

The comparison with the hired hand is important. Deuteronomy 15:14 and 18 require that the debt slave,
when freed, be furnished liberally from the master's store. Verse 18 argues that "it shall not seem hard to
you when you set him free from you, for he has given you six years, twice as much as the service of a hired
man. Some have translated the term mishneh, "double," as "equivalent to," so that the six years of slave
service is equivalent to six years of the wages of a hired hand.
80
This latter interpretation does not contribute
to an understanding of why the slave should be given gifts, however. Thus, it seems that the text is arguing
that the six year slave service is double the labor of a wage-earner. Interestingly, Is.16:l4 speaks of a wage
contract as three years in length, but Is.2l:l6 speaks of a one year contract. Insofar as Deut.15:l8 specifically
compares the length of slave service with double the length of a wage contract, one may be justified in
assuming that the maximum length of a wage contract was three years. A very slight corroboration of this is
the fact that the three-year span plays a part in other aspects of Israel's social life (Deut.14:28). At any rate,
it seems that the master has purchased the debt slave by paying his debts, up to the amount of a three year
wage contract. This would be the outside limit on the price of a debt slave. If his debts were less than this
amount, his term of bondage would be correspondingly shorter. The disadvantage of slavery over against
contractual labor is that the slave works six years for the price of three, and all the money is spent at the

revised chronology be correct, the Habiru existed several centuries too late to be confused with the Hebrews; cf. Donovan A.
Courville, The Exodus Problem and its Ramifications (Loma Linda, CA: Challenge Books, 1971) 11:314-323.
77
This is the argument of R. North, Sociology, p.33.
78
North attempts to avoid this. Weil sees nothing absurd in the fact that a proclamation should accompany a non-universal
release. Such publicity was a necessary formality. ... Ibid., p.183.
79
The separation of church and state in the Old Testament economy is a sometimes debated point. The writer is persuaded by the
arguments adduced by George Gillespie in Aarons Rod Blossoming (Edinburgh: Robert Ogle, 1844), Book 1, to the effect that
there was a separate ecclesiastical discipline in the Old Covenant, generally expressed by the phrase cut off from the
congregation." Cf. also James Bannerman, The Church of Christ (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, [1869] 1974), pp.121ff.
80
Cf. P. C. Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1976), comm.. ad loc.

33
outset, so that he has nothing at the end of his term of bondage Since the master has received three years of
"free" service (though he has provided food, clothing, and shelter for the slave and his family), the master is
ordered to set the newly freed slave up in business for himself, or at least to make some contribution to that
end. In a sense the six year slave contract may be divided into two parts, the first three years being
retrospective, a payment for debt, and the last three years prospective, an earning for the future.

Deuteronomy 15:14 orders the master to furnish the freed slave "liberally from your flock and from your
threshing floor and from your wine vat: from the flock that the slave might have a sacrifice for a thank
offering and to help him get his own flock started; from the threshing floor so that the slave might have a
cereal offering and that he might eat; from the wine vat that he might have a drink offering and that he might
celebrate his liberty (cf. Lev.7:l5-l7,11-14; Num.15:l-10). These gifts are to be according as the LORD
your God has blessed you (v.14). This has reference to the treble harvest the Lord promised Israel for the
sixth year (Lev.25:20-22). The three-fold harvest would not only carry the farmers through the sabbath year,
but also provide a large amount to be shared with the poor and with the now-freed slaves. It might also be
noted here that the first year of the slave's new liberty is a sabbath year, when commerce in foodstuffs is
minimal, and in which any food found in any field is Edenically free for the picking (Ex.23:11 The land
reverts to an Edenic condition in the year the slave is set free. Thus, every circumstance is providentially
worked to help establish the freedman as an economically functional unit of society.

While the Law enjoins charity, and especially forbids the wealthy to become parsimonious as the year of
release approaches (Deut.l5:9-ll, at the same time it does not forbid a man's arranging to go into servitude
after a sabbath year, so as to work a full six years. Also, it would be to the advantage of a debt slave who
owed less than six years to arrange if possible to enter slavery so as to be released in the seventh year. To
show the practicality of these provisions, let us invent a scenario to clarify these points. Michael has proved
to be a poor businessman, and his business has folded up. He owes $50,000 to his creditors. Being an
honest Christian, Michael wants to pay his creditors as much as he can, but the sabbath year is at hand. His
loans were not charity loans but business debts, and he does not want to cop out on them. He therefore
contracts to commence a six year term of slavery immediately the sabbath year. He loans out his family
estate to a relative for use, and apprentices himself to Master Joseph, a successful businessman who has
trained other incompetents in the past. Joseph pays over to Michael's creditors the equivalent of a three-year
contract, in this case say $36,000. This, together with Michael's sale of most of his possessions, enables
Michael to payoff his creditors at 90~ on the dollar, which is at least better than defaulting altogether. For
six years, then, Michael is apprenticed to Joseph. Joseph knows that there is a small town in Gilead that
needs a man of certain skills, so he trains Michael in those skills. At the end of six years, Joseph helps
Michael to Gilead, and helps him set up his business, as a payment for the last three years of Michael's
servitude. (In the Old Testament situation, Michael would return to his family estate. As can be seen,
Biblical debt slavery is a refuge for those impoverished by disaster, and a form of apprenticeship for the
incompetent.

2. Sale of Children into Slavery

A poor man might sell a son or a daughter to pay for his debts. The son would be released after six years,
the same as any other male slave. Daughters would normally be sold to become wives for the buyer his own
son, or one of his slaves; thus, they would not be released (Ex.21:7). On the other hand, Deut.15:l2,17 treats
the female slave in the same terms as the male, to be released in the sabbath year. This is seen by some of
the commentators of more critical persuasion as a contradiction, but it need not be such. A Hebrew female
slave not intended for marriage would be in the same category as a male slave.

As regards the daughter sold to be a wife, the following may be observed Ordinarily a husband provided his
wife with a "bride price" which was a form of insurance for her R. North explains:

The purchase of the bride was generally made by the father of the youth. The lady retained the
payment, at least in some cases, in the form of coins strung upon her body as ornaments, so that if
at any time she was divorced, she would not be wholly unprovided; moreover the cupidity of her
spouse would deter him from rashly giving up control of such tangible assets.
81


In the case of the daughter sold into slavery, this bride price went to the father of the girl instead of to her
insurance, and therefore not a free woman Thus, she was a wife without Exodus 21:7-11 speaks of a gir as
the wife of the master or of one of his sons, but vv.2-6 indicate that the girl might be purchased to become
the wife or one of the master's slaves. This would be part of the contract at the time of Mendelsohn points
out that documents from Nuzi reveal that the status of the man whom the girl married was written into the

81
R. North, Sociology, p.l5l.

34
contract when she was sold.
82
Because the uninsured slave-wife was exposed to greater liabilities than her
free counterpart, special provisions are included in the Law to protect her (cf. section 8.4 below).

The Law required that mercy be extended to the poor, so that if a man did not want to sell his children to
pay for his debts, he was not forced to do So (Deut.15:7-11; Lev.25). This principle was violated in ancient
Israel, and brought about the condemnation of God (2 Ki.4:l; 5:5; Amos 2:6, Is.50:1). It was, then,
doubtless rare for a man willingly to sell a son into slavery, except perhaps as an apprentice. In such a case
the details of the apprenticeship would be included in the contract; but such an arrangement would be so
mild as hardly to warrant calling it slavery. The sale of a daughter as an uninsured wife was probably a
blessing for the girl, for it brought her a better husband and a better living environment than any other
arrangement a poor man was likely to be able to come up with.


3. "Jubi1ary Slavery

According to Lev.25:39-43,

39. And if a brother of yours becomes so poor with regard to you that he sells himself to you, you
shall not subject him to a slave's service.
40. He shall be with you as a hired man, as if he were a sojourner with you, until the year of
jubilee.
41. He shall go out from you, he and his sons with him, and shall go back to his family, that he
may return to the property of his forefathers.
42. For they are My servants whom I brought out from the land of Egypt; they are not to be sold in
a slave sale.
43. You shall not rule over him with severity, but are to revere your God.

This law addresses a different kind of situation from that envisioned in Ex.21:2 and Deut.15. While a man
might sell himself for up to six years to pay for his debts, he might withal retain his family estate. His land
might be farmed by relatives, or simply lie fallow.

A more severe providence might force him to sell his land, or rather its use and produce, until the Jubilee.
As the sabbath year released debts and consequently freed debt slaves, so the Jubilee released land to its
permanent owners (Lev.25:8-55) and consequently released those whose enslavement was connected to the
loss of their land. A landless Israelite, awaiting the Jubilee, might move to a town and try his hand at being
an artisan; but such positions would already be filled by far more competent practitioners: sojourners in the
land and landless converts to Israel (who would not have been in on the initial distribution of the land). It
was likely, therefore, that an Israelite who was reduced to selling ill his family estate would also need to
attach himself to the household of a relative or friend until the Jubilee.

It is significant that the Jubilary slave" is said to work ''as a man (Lev.25:40). Indeed, each year of
service is equivalent to one year's service from a hired hand and is calculated as such vv.50-54) The debt
slave gave double the service of a hired man (Deut.15:l8). Thus, the "Jubilary slave," though truly "sold"
(Lev.25:39), was much less of a slave than was the debt slave, and was not to be subjected to the service
typical of a slave (Lev.25:39).

Since Christians do not in the New Covenant acquire land in the way Israel initially did, there can be no
implementation of Jubilary legislation in the New Covenant era, for there are no permanent, God-given
family estates.
83


82
Mendelsohn, Slavery in the Ancient Near East, pp.10ff.

83
This is not to say that the present writer believes there is no abiding equity in the Jubilary legislation. It clearly is the intention of
the Lawgiver to prevent the development of massive economic power blocs, by ensuring a return to small, family-run businesses
each fifty years. The action of the free market, guaranteed by the eighth commandment, is the abiding means for the accomplishment
of this salutary end. When established businesses, the haves," are permitted to use state power to protect their interests against
competition from the "have nots, then we see the growth of massive and oppressive economic power blocs. Such measures as
minimum wage legislation, closed union shop laws, tariff barriers, and red tape" all work to destroy small business, while they are
merely inconveniences to big business. It has repeatedly been shown that one of the greatest enemies of small business is big
business. See on this the works of Antony Sutton cited in the bibliography, as well as the recent study by Milton Friedman, Tax
Limitation, Inflation and the Role of Government (Dallas: The Fisher Institute, 1978).

Contrary to the sentiments of some, the Jubilee was not a semi-centennial land redistribution scheme. Rather, the land reverted to
its original owners, and all immigrants were displaced. Upon the enthronement of Jesus Christ, the whole earth, during the present
35


4. Restitution Slavery

Enslavement for theft is noted in Ex.22:3, where it is directed that the thief "shall surely make restitution; if
he owns nothing, then he shall be sold for his theft." The price, obviously, is the cost of whatever restitution
the Law of God demands. The Scripture has virtually nothing else to say on this matter, and it is difficult to
know how the pertaining to other forms of slavery apply. Was this simply a special case of debt-bondage?
If so, then a thief might steal plentifully as the sabbath year approached, knowing that he would be freed
soon no matter what penalty were exacted. Of course, evidence of incorrigibility could bring the general
equity of Deut.2l:l8-2l down on him. Still, such a construction seems to render the law unjust and absurd.

A more fruitful line of approach seems to be to notice that the sabbath year is a release of debts, and thus of
debt slaves; restitution, however, is a punishment, and the sabbath year is not a remission of all civil
punishment. Thus, debt slavery and restitution slavery ought to be distinguished, the latter being penal in
character, but not the former (An example of penal enslavement for theft is Joseph's enslavement of
Benjamin in Gen.44 7; cf VI.B. 3. ) There is, additionally, no notice of the release of thieves in connection
with the Jubilee (Lev.25) Thus, it is the considered opinion of the present writer that the term of slavery for
a thief was tied to the price paid for him, and continued irrespective of intervening sabbath and Jubilee
years.

Could this term exceed six years in total length? Josephus, who argued that it could not: Zeitlin cites
Josephus, who argued that it could not:

...those laws ordain that the thieves shall restore fourfold; and that if he have not so much, he shall
be sold indeed, :but not to people of foreign religion, nor so that he be under perpetual slavery, for
he must have been released after six years.
84


The Bible does not back Josephus up in this, however. It seems reasonable, since the universe of discourse
is penal restitution and not debt, to think that the period of bondage could extend beyond six years if
necessary. Some provision would have to be made, however, for freeing the sons and daughters of the thief
whenever they came of age. Josephus's other statement, to the effect that a believer was not to be sold to a
foreigner, is wholly defensible. Leviticus 25:47ff indicates that all measures should be taken to prevent the
enslavement of the righteous by the wicked. Additionally, the whole history of deliverance from Pharaoh's
Egypt establishes the principle that God's people ought not to be returned to bondage to unbelievers.
Moreover, Ex.21:8 forbids the sale of slave girls to foreigners, and what is true for the lesser must also be
true for the "greater," that is, male slaves.

Could the thief be beaten to get him to work? The debtor was not to be treated harshly, though the pagan
slave could be (cf. 8.5 below). It seems to the present writer that the thief, having shown disrespect for the
Law and the Lawgiver, could be ruled over "with severity" when necessary, since other forms of discipline
were probably less effective on him. If excommunicated from the church, the thief would be in the position
of a heathen anyway.


5. Voluntary or Homeborn Slavery

Provision for voluntary slavery s made in Ex.21:5-6 and Deut 15:16-17. Although the provision for
voluntary slavery occurs in the laws pertaining to debt slavery, there s no reason why a thief (or anybody)
could not also make use of this provision. Some people prefer to be governed as slaves rather than to
compete in free society.

Possibly all were to be released in the Jubilee (Lev.25:9ff. ,40f.). Ellison, however, disagrees with this
notion, because the language in Ex.21:l and Deut.15:1l denotes permanence.

The Targumic attempt at reconciliation by interpreting "for ever" as meaning until the Jubilee
shows that the difficulty had been recognized, but it may be dismissed with the contempt it
deserves.
85


Jubilary age (Luke 4:18-21), is in a process of reverting to its original Owner, Who allows His children the use of it until the
consummation.
84
Solomon Zeitlin. "Slavery During the Second Conmonwealth and the Tannaitic Period." The Jewish Quarterly Review 53(1962-
63):189.
85
H. L. Ellison, "The Hebrew Slave: A Study in Early Israelite Society," The Evangelical Quarterly 45(1973):31
36

The difficulty is that the enslaved covenant member is released both in the 7th and the 50th year. Ellison
attempts to resolve this difficulty by affirming that the "Hebrew is Habiru, contrary to Kline and to the
position of this monograph. The "Hebrew" slave, then, was, according to Ellison, a landless artisan, who
was set free in the sabbath year with provisions to help him get started in his own business, while the
persons set free in the Jubilee were landed Israelites who needed no gifts because they were returning to
their land.
86
This monograph has shown, however, that it is possible for both the sabbatical release and the
Jubilary release to apply to the same class of landed Hebrew Israelites, and since the identification of
Hebrew and Habiru is almost certainly impossible,
87
the resolution of the difficulty must be sought in some
other wise.

Seemingly the only other possibility that presents itself is the traditional one, that "forever" here means
"until the Jubilee." In defense of this construction it may be said that just as the sabbath year was a
significant eschatological event, pointing to the Year of the Lord even as the sabbath day pointed to the Day
of the Lord, so the Jubilee, coming after seven sabbath years, was the final or most ultimate of
eschatological years in the Old Testament calendar. The problems resolved in the Jubilee are more massive
than those set right in the sabbath year; and far more than the sabbath year, the Jubilee institutes a new
creation in God's kingdom. When the Jubilee is understood in this eschatological light, it no longer appears
so preposterous to identify forever with "until the Jubilee.

There are considerations, however, which lead the writer to conclude that unending bondage is, in fact, in
view. First, the actual language of the text is "forever," which means prima facie that unending bondage is
in view. Second, as the latter part of this monograph wil1 make plain, permanent enslavement may be seen
as in keeping with the relative weakness of the Old Covenant. Third, viewing the boring of the slave's ear as
a ritual of adoption, creating a "homeborn" slave, leads in many fruitful directions theologically and
explains just what a "homeborn" slave most likely was. All of which is to say that a comparison of the three
explanations--Habiru, Jubilee, and homeborn adoption--has led the present writer to accept the third as by
far the most likely.

The way in which a man became a permanent slave is set forth in two passages, which are subject to a
variety of interpretations:

Ex.2l:6. Then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the
doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently.

Deut.15:l7. Then you shall take an awl and put it through his ear into the door, and he shall be your
servant forever. And also you shall do likewise with your maid servant.

Critica1 commentators assume that God" here, elohim, refers to Hebrew household gods. This is
unacceptable in terms of Christian presuppositions, which govern this monograph; there is no evidence for
this view anyway.
88
Thus, the reference is to the Tabernacle or Temple. The slave is taken before the God
of Israel, that is, to the elders and judges of church and state (cf. e.g. , Ps.82:l,6) at the palace of the Lord.
There he declares his desire to remain in bondage. This is to prevent his being forced into bondage by the
master, which is the interest of the magistrate. The reason why the term 'God' is used rather than the usual
words for judges and priests is explained by Falk, who notes that since the Hebrews were God's own
peculiar slaves, He (in the persons of the priests) was concerned that they be free under His rule. Therefore,
such a matter as voluntary servitude was "of divine concern and had to be settled in His presence.
89
The
slave's ultimate master remains YHWH, Who here delegates his charge to an earthly master. Here again it
may be seen that Biblical household slavery is not absolute but coequal under the overall Suzerainty of
God.

At what doorpost was the slave's ear pierced? The passage in Deuteronomy makes no mention of bringing
the slave to the palace of God, so we assume that it is not the doorpost of the Tabernacle that is in view.
The slave is attaching himself to the household of his master, so it is at the latter's house that the ear is bored
Mendelsohn points out that a ring was probably put into the ear, with a leather tag attached thereto with the
master's name on it.
90



86
Ibid., pp.31ff.
87
Cf. p.70, note 2, of this monograph.
88
Examples of such interpretations are provided in R. North, Sociology, p.154f., and in Anthony Phillips, "Some Aspects of Family
Law in Pre-Exilic Israel," Vetus Testamentum 23(1973):357.
89
Z. W. Fa1k - "Note on Exodus 21:6, Vetus Testamentum 9(1959): 86-88
90
Mendelsohn, p.49. (But cf. B.5 below.)
37
The incarnation of the Second Person of God is spoken of in terms of this provision. Psalm 40:6 states,
"Sacrifice and mea1 offering Thou hast not desired; My ears Thou has opened;" the NASV margin notes
that opened is literally dug, or possibly, pierced." This verse is cited and paraphrased in Hebrews 10:5
thus, "Sacrifice and offering Thou hast not desired, but a body Thou hast prepared for Me." The boring of
the ear, making a free person into a slave, is here a figure for the incarnation. As Paul puts it, He "made
Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a slave, being made in the likeness of men" (Phil.2:7).

There is more involved here than appears at first glance. When the slave's ear was bored through, blood
flowed out onto the doorpost.
91
At the first Passover, the blood was put on the doorpost, blood
representative of the firstborn, and this established the household as a covenant community, redeemed and
under the blood of the Sacrifice. The blood of the firstborn applied to the door correlates to the blood of
circumcision. In Ex.4:22, God declared that Israel was His firstborn In the following verse, God threatened
to kill Pharaoh's firstborn. The message to Moses was clear: God threatens the firstborn of all the families of
the earth, and only some sacrificial provision can turn away that threat Moses, however, failed to act on this
and circumcise his own firstborn so God attacked Moses on the way to Egypt, to cut him off from the
people according to the threat of Gen.17:14. Moses being incapacitated, Zipporah circumcised their
firstborn and smeared the blood on either Moses' or Gershom's legs, before the eyes of God, and God let
him go (Ex.4:24-26).

The firstborn is a living synecdoche for the household, for it is the firstborn who inherits the blessing, the
rule, and the double portion. The firstborn is the father's vice-gerent while the latter lives. God redeemed
the nation of Israel by means of redeeming their firstborn. As long as Moses' firstborn was not circumcised,
he and his whole household stood under the threat of God's wrath. The blood of the foreskin, applied to
Moses (or Gershom's) thighs, turned away the Angel of Death. Similarly, the blood of the sacrifice, the
substitute for the firstborn of all the families of Israel, applied to the doorposts of their houses, turned away
the Angel of Death. (The legs of the human Theophany correspond to the doorposts or pillars of the house
Theophany.)
92


The sacrifice of the firstborn, through circumcision or through sacrificial substitution, makes possible the
new birth, from death to life, of the household and of the firstborn himself. Ordinarily the blood of the
foreskin was not spread anywhere, and was thus not an atonement or covering. The shedding of blood,
however, signifying death, showed that judgment and death were prerequisite to new birth: it was a true rite
of passage from death to rebirth for the child. His old life in sin was murdered, blood was shed, and he was
born anew into the household of God. Just so, the blood of the slave is shed, and he is born anew into the
household of his master. He passes to a new life. He is thus adopted, and becomes a son of the house,
though a slave. This is, the writer believes, alluded to in Jer.6:l0, "To whom shall I speak and give warning,
that they may hear? Behold, their ears are uncircumcised, and they cannot listen. Behold, the word of the
LORD has become a reproach to them; they have no delight in it." But for the use of the term
'uncircumcised,' this verse might merely be speaking of spiritual deafness. The verse goes deeper than that,
however, and shows that the reason these people refuse to hear is that they do not regard themselves as
God's slaves, sons of His household.

No sacrifice is implied by the slave's rite of passage. Of the birth of the Firstborn Son of God, however, this
is not simply the case. It was with a view to sacrificing Himself that He was born into the world. Thus, the
boring of His ear speaks not only of His birth as a slave (man) but of His precious ear's circumcision to
provide blood to mark the doorposts of His people's households. It is not bare incarnation that the author of
Hebrews has in mind in 10:5, but teleological incarnation with a view to sacrifice (10:7-10). The same is
true of Phil.2:7-8. The sacrifice of the Substitute Firstborn effects the salvation and rebirth of the firstborn
and their households. The bloody circumcision of the ear of the Son, now Slave, makes it possible for His
people to be reborn as God's slave-sons.

The fact that the ritual was performed at the door highlights the notion of rebirth, or rite of passage.
Willesen summarizes the Biblical notion of the threshold as place of birth:

In this connection one may point to the religious concept relative to the door. Threshold sacrifices
have been unearthed by the excavators; Hiel laid the threshold of Jericho on his firstborn and
placed the posts on his youngest son (1 Ki.16:34); at the door of the tent Sarah overheard the


91
The text of Scripture does not call attention to this fact, so the discussion which follows is inferential in nature, but not
unpersuasive. For this entire discussion, the writer is indebted to Folker Wil1esen, "The Yalid in Hebrew Society," Studia
Theologica 12(1958):192-210. Wil1esen's perspective does not coincide with that of the present writer, however.
92
Cf. Meredith G. Kline, "Investiture with the Image of God," Westminster Theological Journal XL (1977-78):39-62.

38
oracle promising her the birth of a son (Gen.18:10); at the door-posts of the Shiloh shrine Eli was
visited by the barren Hannah (1 Sam.l:9), and the outcome was a son; in front of this door lived the
Shiloh prostitutes (2:22); Dagon's votaries straddled across the threshold of his temple (1 Sam.5:5,
in contrast to Ex.20:26?); Jephtah's vow concerned the first human being to greet him in the door
after the victory (Jud.ll:31), etc. The propagative aspect of the door in these and similar passages
is obvious--cf. above all Hos.2:l7 which should also be understood in the light of the erotic slang
of Canticles--and in good keeping with the shedding of the blood. They both suggest a birth, be it
in the proper or in the metaphorical sense of the word.
93


From these positive and negative illustrations the following observations may be drawn. The consummation
of marriage involves the penetration of the human door (keeping in mind the Theophanic comparison of the
human form with a house) and the shedding of blood. The birth of a child is also a passage through this
same door, and involves the shedding of blood. Analogically, the threshold of the house is the place of birth
and rebirth.
94
The slave is born anew into the household of the master at the door, the place of rebirth.

Blood is involved in all these births. According to Lev.17:11,14, life is identified with blood. The spillage
of blood, then, is life poured out in death.
95
Death is the curse (Gen.2:l7), and all that partakes of death is a
result of the curse. There would, it seems, be no bloodshed had man not sinned. Uncleanness is predicated
of what partakes of death, and so cleansing is equivalent to resurrection.
96
The bloody birth of a child
makes a woman unclean, showing that in the world under the curse, all life of necessity arises out of death
(Lev.12) The spillage of blood in rites of passage indicates death to an old life, and rebirth to a new life.
The consummation of marriage makes the woman one flesh with the man, she and he both dying to their
parents' households, since the blood of the consummation is on them both. Interestingly, the Law does not
specifically place the stigma of uncleanness on this, indicating conceivably that the blood of marital
consummation is not an aspect of the curse; but there is pain involved, and so the present writer is inclined
to believe that the presence of blood is significant.
97
It is noteworthy that the blood of marriage is
compared to that of circumcision in Ex.4:25-26. The stigma of uncleanness is, however, expressly placed on
childbirth. Since all parents are dead under the curse, childbirth is impossible except by grace, life out of
death. Thus, all childbirth partakes in the "common grace" extension of the work of Christ to all men.

Insofar as blood is spilled when the slave transitions from his old life to his new attachment to the master's
household, the slave has experienced a death and rebirth. He judges himself, cuts himself off from his old
life, and enters a new life. Unlike natural childbirth, his transition is not from death to life, but from one life
to another. Voluntary enslavement does not carry the explicit stigma of uncleanness, and thus is analogous
to marriage as described above.

The other rites of passage are clearly from death to life, by means of blood. Slavery itself is a kind of death,
involving forfeiture of life in its fullest covenantal sense. The slave who goes from normal slavery to
adopted slavery is improving his condition, but in that he rejects the sabbath-year offer of freedom, he is
rejecting covenant life in its fullest sense. The passages in question do not notice this, however, but rather
stress that it is because of his love of the master and because he fares well with him that the slave wants to
attach himself permanently to the master's household. The analogy to marriage points to the fact that the
transition is a slightly bloody and slightly painful passage from one life to another, not from death to life.
The difference between marriage and adoptive slavery is that marriage is a prelapsarian estate, tainted by
the Fall, while slavery is a wholly postlapsarian estate, in the realm of death.

The Christian who voluntarily enslaves himself to God, however, is passing from the sphere of death to life
In the words of Ex.21:5-6 and Deut.15:l6, the Christian gladly states that he loves his Master and will not go
out as a free man, because he loves Him and His household, and since he fares well with Him. So, the
Master brings him to the door of His house and circumcises his ear, so that he serves Him permanently.

93
Willesen, p.204f.
94
At the first Passover, Israel was not allowed to leave their houses all night (Ex.12:22). Then, in the morning they crossed their
bloodied thresholds and exited Egypt forever. Here also is a new birth, from the dead wombs (houses) of Egypt, to a new life.
95
A. M. Stibbs, The Meaning of the Word "Blood" in Scripture (London: Tyndale Press, T948l1.
96
The association of cleansing and resurrection can be seen in Num.19:ll-22, a passage which is somewhat paradigmatic for all
laws of cleanness and uncleanness, in that it shows that uncleanness is that which partakes of death, and cleansing takes place on
the third and seventh days. The release of the live bird in the cleansing for leprosy is apparently another emblem of resurrection
(Lev.14). Wenham, in his fine Commentary on Leviticus (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1979), associates uncleanness with abnormality
and cleanness with normality. This does not, in the opinion of the present writer, go far enough. and partakes too much of a
comparative religions approach" to the matter. The background of all Biblical discussion is Genesis 3, and all abnormalities are
such precisely because they partake in some way in the curse of death.
97
In an unfallen world, would the hymen be necessary as a seal of virginity? Fornication would never take place.

39

In each of these bloody rites of passage, covenant making seems to be entailed. According to one
interpretation of Heb.9:16-l7, all covenants require death for their validity. The shedding of blood signifies
the requisite death. The marriage covenant (Mal.2:14) is sealed in blood, as is the parent-child covenant,
and the God-man covenant in circumcision and sacrifice. Ultimately, no bond of human fellowship
(covenant communion) is possible save on the basis of Christ's death and the severance of the intra-
Trinitarian bond of covenant life (Matt 27:26) Marriage is impossible (Gen.3:l2) and the womb remains
forever dead (Gen.11:30; 29:31; etc. apart from His substitution In this sense, all "common grace life and
fellowship is based on the death of Christ.

The point is that adoption is also a covenant relationship, and is sealed in the blood of the circumcised ear.
The ritual of permanent voluntary enslavement is a kind of adoption, and explains the meaning of the term
homeborn s1ave or yalid bayit. It is the new birth of circumcised ear that is meant by the designation
"homeborn." Willesen notes the similarities and differences between the regular slave and the "homeborn":

In Lev.22:ll the person so qualified is put on a level with a purchased slave with regard to the right
to be fed on sacred food from a priests share which is prohibited to the tosab and the sakir; though
socially and economically dependent on their employer they were not slaves, did not belong to his
house and consequently were not listed in Gen.17:l2-27, where instructions are given as to
circumcision of those pertaining to the household. Here again yelide bayit and purchased slaves
are catalogued (4 times) in the same breath, and in Jer.2:l4 where the prophet laments because
Israel has suffered the fate of a slave, the parallelism of ebed and yelid bayit testifies once more to
the slave status of the latter. It was similarly understood by LXX, which rendered it by ---- in all
cases.

On the other hand, there is a difference between the yelid bayit and the purchased slave that can be
seen already from the fact that two different designations were necessary. The yelid bayit was a
person of slave status, it is true, but he took precedence before the purchased slaves, as is clear
from Gen.17:l2f. where he is mentioned before the purchased slave, but after the next of kin. In
v.23 Abraham circumcised first his son, then his yelide bayit, and lastly his purchased slaves. In
Lev.22:11 the order of the souls to be given sacred food is the reverse of the aforementioned
passages, but again the yelide bayit are placed between the purchased slaves and the relatives.
From this we can grasp their intimate relationship to the household, and further to the kith and kin,
which made them persons more trusted than ordinary slaves. So it seems only natural that the
emigrant Abram, who could not summon his family, should muster his yelide bayit for the
dangerous undertaking against the Eastern Kings, Gen.14:l4. In all these instances it is clear that
yalid when linked to bayit means a sort of slave, cf. Gen.17:27 compising yelide bayit purchased
slaves in the phrase anse bayit.

But in connection with other words yalid is supposed to denote a son, or at any rate a descendent.
98



Willesen goes on to argue that in such places, adoption into a special corps of men is in view.

According to Genesis 15:2,3, the homeborn adopted slave could inherit if there were no physical scion of
his master. Willesen remarks:

In Gen.15:2-3 Eliezer, Abram's ben bayit ...was the heir to the patriarch's property, and presumably
this was one of the rights accompanying admission to the kin, but from the same passage it is clear
that he could not take over the pedigree, could not carry on the lineage and perform the filial
religious duties.

...Abram's question v.2 concerns this: Without offspring I can have nothing, it is all for Eliezer, the
land will never be mine (through my descendents). Consequently, Eliezer as the heir meant the
wiping out of Abram's name and clan and pedigree.
99


In the case of Christ, He was not only an adopted homeborn slave, but also the true Son and Heir of the
house. Identifying with His people in their sin, He cast Himself out of the house, and took the form of a
slave. His bloodied ear (so to speak) opened the door of the house for Him and His people to enter. The
blood of His ear, His death, marks the door, so that His people can come into the house. As the parable of

98
Willesen. pp.192f.
99
Ibid. , pp.207f.

40
the Prodigal Son makes clear, the Son asks to be received as a slave, but because He s a Son, He is received
as a Son. It is because Christ was made sin for us, became Prodigal in our stead, that the Father can say,
this Son of Mine was dead, and has come to life again" (Luke 15:24). We, saved in Him, are adopted, not
as mere homeborn slaves, but as sons and joint heirs, for we were sons at the first (Luke 3:38).

Because the Old Covenant compares with the New as slavery compares with sonship (Gal.4:l-5), permanent
voluntary homeborn slavery was appropriate to that era. The Old Covenant believer did not inherit, but
looked forward to the age of the sons of God, of the New Covenant (Heb.11: 13,40). With the revelation of
the Son of God, however, it may be expected that Christians are no longer permitted to become permanent
voluntary slaves.

Paul, in 1 Cor.7:23, orders Christians, You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men. (On
this passage, cf. chapter VI.B 11.) With the coming of the Holy Spirit in power at Pentecost, far greater
power and life was made available to the regenerate psychology than had theretofore been the case. There
was a real transition in history in the first century, and Christ is now enthroned as Master of every Christian
household. While God's Law never changed, there has come about a situational change in the administration
of the kingdom of God, which makes more power available to the regenerate heart (cf. chapter VI.B.1O,11).
Faith requires of the Christian that he act on the promise that the power for free living is available and will
be given him.


6. Enslavement of Unbelievers

Heathen slaves were also acquired. These came from two sources, purchase and war. The purchase of
unbelievers as slaves is presupposed by Lev.25:44f., and v.42 indicates that, unlike Hebrew slaves, they
might be sold from household to household. The acquisition of unbelieving slaves as war captives is seen in
Num.3l:26-47; Deut.2l:1O-l4; and by contrast in 2 Chron.28:8-l5. Since Israel was not permitted to
maintain a standing army (Deut.17:l6; cf. chapter IV.C), she could never be the aggressor nation in any war
outside the boundaries of Canaan. Rather, the covenant blessing and prosperity of Israel would result in the
attack of neighboring nations (cf. e.g., Ezk.38). When this happened, Israel was to offer terms of peace,
which would include the reduction of the aggressor population to slavery (Deut.20:10-ll). If the aggressor
refused to surrender, every male adult was to be slain, and only women and children taken as slave
prisoners.

Although Israel could own such slaves, there were circumstances which somewhat militated against her
acquiring them in large numbers. Fairbairn comments:

But from the very constitution of the kingdom, which secured a general distribution of the land
along with the rights of citizenship, and rendered next to impossible large accumulations of
property, or fields of enterprise that would call for much service labour, there wascomparatively
little scope or occasion for the growth of this kind of population. The circumstances of the
covenant-people presented no temptation to it; beyond very moderate limits, the presence of such a
population must have been a source of trouble and annoyance, rather than of comfort or strength;
and hence, in the historical records, no indication exists of any regular commerce being carried on
in this line, or even of any considerable numbers being held in the condition of bondmen. The
Phoenician slave trade is noticed only in connection with what Israel suffered by it, not for
anything they gained;* and so little sympathy were they to have with the slave system practiced
among the nations around them, that a slave flying to them for refuge from his heathen master was
not to be delivered up, but to be allowed, under Israelitish protection, to fix his abode in whatever
city he himself might choose.+ The strangers or foreigners sometimes mentioned, and especially
in the times of David and Solomon, as ready for the execution of servile work,** seem rather to
have been a kind of serfs, than slaves in the ordinary sense--chiefly the descendents, in all
probability, of the heathen families that remained in the land. Of that class certainly were the
Gibeonites, only with a special destination as to the form of service they were taken bound to
render.++
100



100
Patrick Fairbairn, The Reve1ation of Law in Scripture (Winona Lake, Ind.: Alpha Press, [1869 1979 , pp.118f. Footnotes:
*Mic. 1: 9; Ob. 20
+Deut.23:15-17
**1 Ki.9:20;
2 Chron.2:16; 8:7.
++Josh.9:23; 2 Sam.21.

41
Why does the Law differ in regard to unbelievers? Is this merely to symbolize the difference between a
covenant people and those outside it? Not so. As the earlier chapters of this monograph demonstrated, the
psychology of the unregenerate man is radically different from that of the regenerate man, at the most basic
level. The unbeliever is by nature an anti-dominion man, and thus lazy and unproductive. He is suicidal as
well, and a rebel against all authority. He is a murderer. The Bible is realistic about this, and makes slavery
a provision for the unbeliever, both for his own protection and well-being, and for the protection of society.
Additionally, the enslavement of the heathenist as has been noted before, an excellent means of
evangelization and acculturation. There is to be one Law and one standard for believer and unbeliever
(Lev.24:22); the differences in the application of this one Law are due to the differing psychological
situations of the believer and the unbeliever. The writer has more to say about this in chapter VI.B.l,3.) The
difference in treatment of believing and unbelieving slaves is parallel to the difference in lending laws. The
unbeliever, being at heart an irresponsible man, not subject to ecclesiastical discipline, may be charged
interest on a charity loan, while the believer may not be (Deut.15:3; 23:20; Luke 6:34f.).

In history, of course, there is a mixture of principles. The Gospel influences people who are not actually
regenerate, and some regenerate people come from such sordid backgrounds that much psychological repair
is needed. Thus, Scripture does not command that every unbeliever is to be enslaved, nor does it command
that no believer may ever be ruled by a fellow Christian. Rather, in terms of the (perennially) existing
condition of slavery under the Curse, Scripture distinguishes between the two in terms of their basic psycho-
Spiritual natures and tendencies.

Scripture does not shrink from affirming the triumph of the saints over the wicked, and the enslavement of
the latter. The story of Joseph points to this. Two passages in Isaiah, depicting the blessedness of the New
Covenant era, boldly portray it as a time in which the wicked will be slaves of the saints:

14:2. And the peoples will take them along and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel
will possess them as an inheritance in the land of the LORD as male and female slaves; and they
will take them as their captors, and will rule over their oppressors.

61:2. And strangers will stand and pasture your flocks, and sons of foreigners will be your farmers
and your vinedressers.

The offense of such language to the modern egalitarian mindset is strong, but this kind of promise stands in
line with the repeated affirmations of victory found in Scripture. When the righteous rule the earth, the
remnant of the wicked will be their slaves; in a general, cultural, and metaphorical sense, if not in a literal
one as well.

Since the kingdom of God is not tied to any particular social order in the New Testament era, enslavement
by war is no longer a normal means of evangelization. It is conceivable that there might be times in history
when a covenanted Christian nation is attacked by a heathen one, and in terms of the basic equity of the Law
of God, it might be proper to enslave the conquered populace. There are differences between the Old and
New Covenants, however, which must be respected in this regard. In the Old Covenant, the nations and
their people were required to come to Jerusalem to receive the Law. In the New Covenant, however, the
gospel goes to the nations, teaching them to observe all things Christ has commanded in His Law. Rather
than bringing conquered populaces home as slaves, to Jerusalem as it were, it would be more in keeping
with the New Covenant to make it a condition of peace that Christian missionaries be permitted to work in
the conquered land with the protection of the magistrate. Such a policy would reflect the relatively greater
dynamic of the New Covenant.

The enslavement of unbelievers by purchase remains a New Covenant possibility. An example of this might
be the purchase of Negro slaves by Christians in the Old South. The problem is that most of these slaves
were enslaved by kidnapping, and the Law punishes kidnappers with death. The law of Ex.2l:l6 does not
require that the purchaser of the kidnapped person be punished, but the equity of Scripture, the principle of
restitution, would require that the kidnapper repurchase any slaves sold to others, and return them to their
homes. Once God's Law has been violate en masse and over several generations, conditions arise which are
very difficult to resolve in a simplistic fashion. Such was the case in the Old South. As Dabney never tired
of point out, the Negroes were brought to Southern shores by Yankee slave ships, and begged to be bought.
Life on the farm was eminently preferable to eventual certain death on a slave ship. Thus, they were
purchased and placed in homes. This is, as has been argued, the best possible arrangement for
evangelization and acculturation. If the New England States would not legislate against the trade in slaves,
the Southern States could have closed their ports to slavers; this was tried, but the Christians never had
42
enough votes in the legislatures to pull it off.
101
Thus, eventually Gods judgment fell, as the situation
worsened and nothing was done to correct it.




B. The Regulation of Slavery

1. The Sale and Price of Slaves

Christian slaves could not be sold from one owner to another (Lev.25:42). The fact that the Law prohibits
the sale of believers implies that the sale of unbelieving slaves was awful. Indeed, it is specifically noted
that they may be bequeathed as inheritances (v.46). It stands to reason that they could be sold. (Cf. section 6
below.)

The homeborn slave could also be bequeathed to succeeding generations within the family. Being in line for
the inheritance, and having attached himself to a specific family, he doubtless could not be sold outside the
household that had adopted him. Moreover, the homeborn slave was a Hebrew.

G. J. Wenham has suggested that the prices for slaves are found in Lev.27:2-8, which delineates the
valuation of persons. Such a valuation would reflect the normal selling price for unbelieving slaves, since
debt slaves and restitution slaves would be valued according to the years of service they were being sold to
accomplish, and the homeborn slave was not bought for a price. According to Ex.21:32, the price of an
unspecified dead slave was 30 shekels, which does not exactly fit the schedule of Lev.27:

Male Female

Age 5-20 20 shekels 10 shekels

Age 20-60 50 shekels 30 shekels

Age 60--- 15 shekels 10 shekels


Wenham comments further:

There are three additional reasons for supposing that an Israelite slave price-list underlies this
tariff. First, the valuations in Lev.27 closely correspond to the prices of slaves mentioned in extra-
Biblical texts of the first and second millennia B.C. Second, the ratio of male to female valuations
in this list is similar to that found in slave prices. In Lev.27 females of a particular age are valued
at 50 to 67% of a male of the same age. This ratio of male to female price is comparable to that
attested elsewhere. From pre-Sargonic to neo-Babylonian times female slaves generally fetched
between 50 and 100% of the corresponding male price. Finally the figures in this list correspond to
the price of slaves mentioned in two biblical texts. Joseph, aged 17, was sold into slavery for 20
shekels, precisely the right price for a slave his age, if Lev.27 reflects the standard tariff for slaves
(Gen.37:2,28, cf.Lev.27:5). Compensation for the death of a male or female slave of unspecified
age is fixed at 30 shekels in Ex.2l:32. It seems likely that the compensation awarded was closely
related to the market price for slaves in Israel.
102



2. The Redemption of Slaves

It was the duty of the next of kin to redeem a brother whose poverty led him into slavery. Even if a
Christian became a slave of an unbeliever, if the unbeliever were within the sphere of a Christian social
order, he was compelled to yield his Christian slave to a redeemer, if such came forward (Lev.25:47-52).

A slave might save up and redeem himself, according to Lev.25:49,26. For this to be a possibility, it was
necessary that the Law protect the slave's right to his own property, called his peculium. The master would
not be allowed to take it from him, and he would be free to accumulate property (cf. 1 Sam.9:8; 2 Sam.9:l0).

101
Dabney, Defense of Virginia

102
G. J. Wenham, "Leviticus 27:2-8 and the Price of Slaves Zeitschrift fur die Alttestamentliche Wissenshaft 90(1978):264f.

43
This is a healthy provision, for it encourages thrift and responsibility in the slave, so that he earns his place
in society as a free man.

By this mechanism, if by no other, the descendents of homeborn slaves could acquire freedom, as could
heathen slaves (cf. section 6 below).


section 6 ;-.

3. Refugees

According to Deut.23:15-16,

You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has delivered himself from his master to you. He
shall live with you in your midst, in the place which he shall choose in one of your towns (gates)
where it pleases him; you shall not mistreat him.

Since restitution slavery was a punishment, and since debt slavery and homeborn slavery were contracts,
and since foreigners were held in perpetuity, this law does not apply to Israelite slaves. Rather, what is in
view is a slave who escapes from a pagan land (cf. 15.16:3,4; 1 Sam. 30:15). He is to be given refuge
within the covenant community. (After all, the Israelite slave already lives in your midst.") Thus,
evangelization is here in view.

R. North sets this law in context:

In the Old Testament background, every alien was a refugee who had a specially sacred character
in virtue of putting himself under the protection of Yahweh. This does not imply necessarily
embracing his religion, but at least recognizing its worth and not positively acting against it. That
the ensuing protection was simultaneously a form of servitude is suggested by the extensive use of
ebed to designate worshipers. Thus light is shed on the status of the slave. Whereas in a
democratic society the loss of liberty is an unmixed evil, in an unpoliced tribal society it was far
less than the evil of being free.
103


In other words, just as all Israel were God's slaves (Lev.25:23), so the refugee made himself God's slave.

This speaks to the issue of fugitive slave laws Slaves escaping from a Christian social order (a Theocracy)
must be returned, they are serving legitimate time-contracts or have otherwise justly been enslaved. Slaves
escaping from a non-Christian social order, where the kind of cruelty set out in chapter IV of this
monograph is unchecked, are not to be returned.
104




4. Female Slaves

Because the purpose of female slavery is markedly different from that of male slavery, special laws exist
regarding it. Unlike women of many other cultures, Israelite (Christian) women are protected by the Law,
and this is no less true of slaves.

According to Ex.2l:7-ll, the female slave is not to go free in the sixth year as the male slaves do (v.7). This
is because she is a wife in a true but secondary sense, an uninsured wife; and as a wife she has genuine
rights under the law. The contract of sale would specify either the person or the social status of her husband.

If the master had intended to marry her, but upon reaching puberty she was not pleasing to him (v.8), he was
required to sell her back to her family. He could not sell her to anyone else. If he had already taken her as
wife (lain with her), he could not dispose of her except by giving her her freedom without payment
(vv.10f.).

In the second case, the master contracted not for a wife but for a daughter-in-law. The girl must be treated
as a daughter v.9), which makes this an adoption contract.

103
R. North, Sociology, p.142
104
Mixed societies, incompletely transformed by the Gospel, must be evaluated case by case. The present writer holds that the
defining mark of an unjust mixed situation is that the slave is not permitted to work his way free. Such was the case in the Old
South, so that fugitives from that situation should not have been returned.
44

In the third case, which is understood from vv.4f., the girl is purchased in order to be given as a wife to
another slave. Mendelsohn wrongly assumes that such a woman was given to slave after slave in
succession, as a bed partner, because she remained with the master upon her husband's manumission
(v.4).
105
This is false to the system of Biblical ethics the seventh commandment), cruel, and polyandrous. In
fact, the woman remained the wife of the now-freed slave, who could doubtless visit her for conjugal
purposes. Samson seems to have had some such arrangement with his wife (Jud.15:1). Indeed, if the
master did not allow the husband to visit, the wife would have to be freed (vv.10f.). The master's
investment in the woman is safeguarded by this arrangement, but also the wife is not freed with her husband
for her own well-being. If her husband proves that he is a responsible man, he will be able to earn the
money to redeem her. On the other hand, it is not assumed that he is such a responsible man, since he has
wound up in slavery for a season, and so for the woman's protection she continues to be cared for in the
master's household.

The three things that the master must do for the female slave are listed in v.10. The identification of these
has proven problematic. The first is the Hebrew word shayrah, flesh. Usually this is taken to mean food,'
but it means 'living flesh, not meat and not bread. R. North suggests that it means flesh' in the sense of
fleshly satisfaction, including also conjugal pleasure in a general well-being of the flesh. This is quite
suited to the Septuagint ta deonta.
106
The second is k-sootah , 'covering.' Usually this is taken to mean
'raiment,' but North suggests that it refers to the veil in a metaphorical sense, and means 'protection,' or
normal treatment.
107
The third word is a hapax legomenon, onatah. Traditionally this has been taken to
mean 'sexual relations.' Shalom Paul suggests, based on parallel laws in other cultures, but not on word
derivation, that t means 'oil.
108
North may have the best answer:

In fact, as is well known from the stories of Rachel Gen.30:l, Anna 1Sam.l:8, and Ruth 3:9, the
Hebrew woman valued above all the prize of parenthood, and surely would have preferred its
safeguarding to that of sense-pleasure or companionship with a disaffected master; hence we may
venture that the legislator is here referring to the 'marriage-right' in the sense of 'the right of
becoming a mother'.
109


The traditional trio, then, is "food, clothing, and sex. North's revised trio is physical well being, protection
and honor, and right of parenthood." However it is translated, it is apparent that the lifestyle of the slave-
wife is not to be lessened in the least. The slave-wife had the right to sue for divorce on the ground of
maltreatment. (Obviously, the endowered wife had the same right. That this is genuine divorce should be
obvious, and is proved by a comparison of the language of Deut.21:14 with that of 22:19,29.)

A second section of the Law dealing with female slaves concerns the rape or seduction of a betrothed slave
girl. If a man raped or seduced a free woman, he was obliged to marry her unless her father objected
(Deut.22:28f.). If, however, the woman were married or betrothed the rapist was to be executed, and the
woman as we if she cooperated 22:22-27). The case of the prospective slave-wife differs from both of these,
Lev.19:20-22,

20. When a man has intercourse with a slave-girl who has been assigned to another man, but has
not been redeemed or given her freedom, an investigation [bikkoreth] shall be held. They shall not
be put to death, since she has not been freed.

21. The man shall bring to the entrance of the tent of meeting as his penalty to the LORD, a ram of
reparation offering.

22. With the ram of reparation offering the priest shall make reparation for him before the LORD
for the sin that he committed so that the sin that he committed may be forgiven.
110


In a sense she is betrothed, but in a sense she is not, since she has actually only been purchased for a man.
Therefore, since she is not a free woman, the rapist is not put to death, and neither is she if she cooperated.

105
Mendelsohn, Slavery, p.14.

106
Robert North, "Flesh, Covering, and Response, Ex.21:10, Vestus Testamentum 5(1955) :205.
107
Idem.
108
Shalom M. Paul, Studies in the Book of the Covenant in the Light of Cunieform and Biblical Law. Supplements to Vetus
Testamentum XVIII (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1970), pp.59ff.
109
North, op.cit., p.206.
110
Trans1ation by Jacob Mi1grom, The Betrothed Slave-Gir1, Lev. 19:20-22, Zeitschrift fur die A1ttestament1iche Wissenschaft
89(1977):43f.
45
The text does not state whether he is obliged to marry her but in accordance with the law of Ex.22:l6-l7, he
undoubtedly might be required to do so, paying the purchase price for her to the master, this was the
master's determination.

Verse 20 orders "there shall be bikkoreth. The term is a hapax legomenon, and its meaning is much
debated. Tradition has it that the girl was scourged, but the term actually seems to mean 'investigation.
111

Since masters have the right to beat their slaves, the punishment of the girl does not need to be spelled out.
The investigation would reveal whether she consented or not.

The rapist-seducer is guilty no matter what the circumstances He is required to make a reparation offering to
the Lord. According to Lev.6:1-7, the sinner would have to make 120% restitution to the man he wronged
by his sin. In this case, the girl's price plus a fifth would have to be paid to her master, or to her betrothed if
he had already paid for her. The offense is not merely social: God, the great Slave-Owner of all Israel and
the special Protector of the defenseless, has a special interest in the matter (cf. the remarks above on
Ex.21:6). The reparation offering, according to Wenham, peculiarly focuses on debts owed to God:

The sacrificial system therefore presents different models or analogies to describe the effects of sin
and the way of remedying them. The burnt offering uses a personal picture: of man the guilty
sinner who deserves to die for his sin and of the animal dying in his place. God accepts the animal
as a ransom for man. The sin offering uses a medical model: sin makes the world so dirty that God
can no longer dwell there. The blood of the animal disinfects the sanctuary in order that God may
continue to be present with his people. The reparation offering presents a commercial picture of
sin. Sin is a debt which man incurs against God. The debt is paid through the offered animal.
112


Milgrom argues, additionally, that the reparation offering is needed because adultery was a peculiarly great
sin against God, the Giver of marriage. It involved the breaking of the marital oath, which was taken by all
Israel for all time at Sinai the seventh commandment). The reparation offering peculiarly concerns
unfaithfulness and broken oaths (Lev.5:l4-6:7) and is thus peculiarly appropriate here.
113
At any rate, from
these stipulations can be seen the protection the Law gives to slave girls.

A third regulation of concern to slave women is found in Deut.2l:10-14. The war bride was in the worst
possible position in the cultures surrounding Israel, but God extended to her the protection of the covenant
in a tellingly gracious manner. The war bride is just that, a wife, not a sex object. Rape is not tolerated by
God. When the war bride was brought home to Israel, she was to shave her head and cut her nails
(Deut.2l:l2), and remove the clothing she wore in her native land (v.13). In this manner she was cleansed
from the defilement of being outside the covenant (cf. Lev.14:8; Num.8:7), and "born again" into the
covenant people. This action is parallel to baptism or circumcision. Also, in that a woman's hair is her glory
1Cor.ll:5-10), shaving her old hair and growing a new head of hair symbolized the exchange of glories, the
glory of the world for the glory of God. The same is probably meant by the exchange of garments.

In kindness to her she is allowed to mourn her family for a month, and then she may be taken as a wife
(Deut.2 13). If she proved unsatisfactory as a wife, she was to be freed like any other slave wife (v.14; cf.
Ex.21:11). She could not be resold, or treated as merchandise. Also, the verb translated "let go means
divorce" in Deut.22:l9,29, and so she must be in some way treated as a genuine wife even in the divorce.
This would be true of any slave wife.


5. Punishment and Abuse of Slaves

Slaves may be beaten to extract their labor. Unlike free men, they have no economic incentive to work, and
those who are not serious believers cannot be appealed to by evangelical motives or ecclesiastical
discipline. What remains is the rod, and Solomon recommends strictness (Prov.29:19,21; cf.13:24). The
proper portion of the human body to which the rod is to be applied is the buttocks, which is well padded.
Some masters may exceed this commonsense restriction, and if they do any irreparable damage to the slave,
he is to go free on that account. Exodus 2l:26f. specifies the loss of eye or tooth, but any permanent
damage would be equivalent.

111
Milgrom, idem. Wenham, Leviticus, comm. ad loc., summarizes various alternative views. Wenham's own view isapparently
based on misinformation, and Milgroms treatment is the most recent.

112
Wenham, Leviticus, p.111. Interestingly, the three basic sacrifices--personal, purgative, and reparatory--correspond to the
existential, situational, and normative perspectives in ethics. Possibly, correlations might also be drawn with the three ki nds of
peace offerings, with votive offerings, at least, corresponding to the financial model.
113
Milgrom, op.cit., pp.46-49.
46

If the slave is beaten to death, the master is to be "punished" (Ex.2l:20).
114
The punishment is spelled out in
Lev.24:l7,22 as death.





Fensham comments:

The death penalty is possibly prescribed in the case of assault on a slave resulting in his immediate
death (21:20). This is, however, uncertain, because of the ambiguity of the phrase naqom
yinnaqem. Some take it as meaning only "punish" without any reference to what kind of
punishment (NEB). It may mean to avenge" which means that the family of the slave has the right
of blood-revenge. This would then only be possible if the slave is an Israelite and thus a debt-slave.
(Ex.21:1-6) It is also possible to translate nqm by "vindicate" and to presume that judges would
take action on the slave's behalf. But still it might mean that the owner is put to death which is an
extraordinary stipulation in light of legal practices in the Ancient Near East.
115


Kidner's explanation is also helpful:

By having no fixed penalty in the present case it was not necessarily showing indifference, but
leaving room to assess the factors which make the distinction between murder at one end of the
scale, and misadventure at the other (where some accident or abnormality turned the blow into a
fatal one).
116


Murder is murder. If, however, the slave lingers for a day or two before dying, the Law assumes that the
master did not intend to kill him, and the loss of the financial benefit of the slave is regarded as sufficient
punishment (Ex.21:21).

A notorious ox which gores a free person to death brings death to its owner (Ex.2l:29), although a pecuniary
compensation is possible in this case (v.30f.). In the case of a slain slave, however, the owner of the ox is
not executed, but merely gives 30 shekels to the slave's owner.

The master who tended to be callous and indifferent towards his servants and their problems was warned
that God was watching and that he would answer to Him (Job.3l:l3-l5).

The nations surrounding Israel disfigured their slaves by putting tattoos of ownership on their foreheads
and/or wrists.
117
Scripture uses this concept of slave-mark in its prophetic figures (ls.44:5; 49:16; Ezk.9:4;
Rev.13:16), but slaves in Israel were not disfigured. Their earlobes were sometimes bored, and such slaves
may have worn an earring with a leather tag identifying their owner; even this is unlikely, however, since
the homeborn slave was preeminently loyal to his master, and such a visible badge would doubtless be
unnecessary.

To be a slave was to run something of a risk: the risk of being beaten to death, of losing an eye or a tooth, of
being exposed to goring oxen. Are these laws unjust? Obviously not, being Gods laws. To understand this
situation it is only necessary to keep in mind that slavery is a remedy for sin, and that the goal of slavery is
its own self-elimination. If slavery were paradise, many people would be overly attracted to it as an escape
from responsible living. The condition of slavery is made sufficiently harsh that men will be discouraged
from entering it, and encouraged to seek to earn freedom.


6. Were Converted Slaves Released?

114
Shalom Paul points out that this stipulation is absolutely unique in the Ancient Near East legal material; Paul, p.69. This is also
true of the Ex.2l:26f protection of the slave against permanent bodily injury; Paul, p.78.

115
F. Charles Fensham, "Transgression and Penalty in the Book of the Covenant," Journal of Nortbwest Semitic Languages
V(1977):34f.
116
Derek Kidner, Hard Sayings: The Challenge of Old Testament Morals (London: Inter-Varsity Press, 1972 , p.33. A summary of
other views on this passage may be found in J. P. M. van der Ploeg, "Slavery in the Old Testament," in Congress Volume, Uppsala,
1971. Supplements to Vetus Testamentum 22 (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1972, pp.78ff.
117
Mendelsohn, Slavery, p.49.

47

The obvious answer to this might seem to be yes. After perpetual enslavement is characteristic of the
unregenerate; the convert has acquired the psychology of responsible freedom, and so should be freed. This
argument, however, is flatly contradicted by Scripture. The fact is that all purchased slaves were
circumcised when they became part of the master's household, according to the express command of God
(Ex.12:44; Gen.17:12f.). The act of circumcision made the slave into a covenant member, in the same class
as the "native of the land" or Israelite (Ex.12:48; Lev.15:29), able to partake of the Passover, which no
foreigner could partake of (Ex.12:43-45). Thus, the act of enslavement itself "converted" the heathen slave
to a Christian slave, entitled to all the benefits of the church, regarded as a covenant member.
118


Well, then, if the slave has become a circumcised Hebrew, should he not be released? if not immediately,
after six years? Apparently not, for Lev.25:44-46 makes it plain that circumcised heathen slaves are in
perpetual bondage. The only way to resolve this dilemma is to assert that a free Hebrew who is reduced to
slavery must be set free in time; while a pagan who becomes a Hebrew while in slavery is not set free by
any automatic mechanism in the Law. He is required to save up his peculium and earn his own freedom.

Such foreign slaves might or might not profess faith in the God of Israel; regardless, they were circumcised
as part of the master's direct household. This monograph has argued that the unconverted, unbelieving,
heathen" slave was likely not responsive to ecclesiastical discipline and evangelical exhortation, and
therefore might be beaten to get work out of him. The application of the covenant sign testifies to God's
claim on the slave, not to the slave's profession of personal faith. If such a circumcised slave did, in time,
improve on his circumcision, then of course church discipline would be effective in motivating him.

The presence of a class of circumcised foreign slaves is seen in the books of Ezra and Nehemiah: the
nethinim and the servants of Solomon. J. S. Wright describes the former:

The name means "those who are given," and Ez.8:20 says that David and the princes had given
them for the service of the Levites. It has been held that they and the children of Solomon's
servants were the descendants of Canaanite or foreign prisoners, like the Gibeonites of Josh.9:27.
The foreign names in Ez.2:43-58 would support this. In 1Esdras 5:29 and Josephus (Ant.ll:5:l)
they are called "temple slaves," heirodouloi.
119


W. B. Wallis adds,

Presumably the Nethinim were not Levites. Oehler (Old Testament Theology, p.376) supposes,
following Aben Ezra, that the Gibeonites were the original Nethinim (Josh.9:27).

After the depletion of the Gibeonites by Saul (2 Sam.2l:l), there were given by David additional
Nethinim for special service. Perhaps they were slaves acquired in war.
120


Finally, Keil and Delitzsch write concerning the servants of Solomon:

The servants of Solomon must not be identified with the Canaanite bond-servants mentioned 1
Kings 9:20ff., 2Chron,8:7ff., but were probably prisoners of war of some other nation, whom
Solomon sentenced to perform, as bondsmen, similar services to those imposed upon the
Gibeonites. The sons of these servants are again mentioned in Neh.11:3. In other passages they are
comprised under the general term Nethinim, with whom they are here compared.
121


These people were slaves generation after generation. One wonders if they were permitted to earn their
freedom, or were sentenced to permanent slavery.

Light on this problem is shed by Deut.23:3-8 The Moabites and Ammonites were excluded from the
assembly (qahal) forever--until the tenth generation, which signifies forever (Neh.13:1-9; 2:10). The
Edomite and Egyptian, however, might join Israel's assembly in the third generation. It might be thought

118
The present writer shrinks from entering a discussion of the sign of the covenant at this point, but some comment is necessary.
The Reformed have always identified baptism and circumcision, but the tendency has been to see baptism as God's claim on an
infant, but as a declaration of faith in an adult. The doctrine of slave circumcision (baptism) shows that a declaration of faith need
play no part in adult baptism. Baptism expresses God's claim, administered at the household level. The heathen slave is given the
sign of the covenant and put into the covenant whether he wants to be or not.
119
J. S. Wright, "Nethinim,'1 in New Bible Dictionary.
120
W. B. Wallis, of the Bible. "Nethinim, in Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible.
121
C. F. Keil and F. Delitzsch, Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament, comm. ad Ezr.2:40-58.

48
that this exclusion is from the worship of God, so that these people were forbidden to convert, be
circumcised, and worship the God of Israel. Such an interpretation not only is a monstrosity, but also is
contra-indicated by the history of the Moabitess Ruth, who clearly was not excluded from the worship of
YHWH. Rather, what must be in view is participation in the governmental assemblies of Israel. which
involved, in part, triennial assemblies of the men of the covenant before the King and God of Israel
(Ex.23:l7).
122
Edomites and Egyptians who converted to the true faith were required to re-acculturate for
two generations; their grandchildren were admitted to full citizenship.

This provision in the Law shows that God does not expect overnight cultural and psychological changes in
new converts from pagan cultures. Similarly, circumcised foreign slaves, even if they accepted the truth of
the Scripture, would not instantly be ready for freedom in a covenanted community. A far wiser provision
would be to let the slave demonstrate his readiness for freedom by requiring him to save up and buy himself
free, at the going rate seen in Leviticus 27.

The case of the Gibeonites was special: being Canaanites, they were sentenced to unending slavery
(Gen.9:25-27; Josh.9:27). In that as the Canaanite culture of Sodom and Gomorrah found a continuation of
expression in Ammon and Moab (Gen.19:20-38; Zeph.2:8-9; Deut.23:3-6), they also were permanently
excluded from citizenship, though there is no reason why Moabite and Ammonite slaves could not earn
freedom and live as God-fearing aliens in the land. The precise origins of the nethinim and the servants of
Solomon remain a mystery. as shown above. but there is no reason to think that non-Canaanites among them
were not allowed to become free if they wanted to earn it. Both groups in rather privileged positions, and
doubtless most of them had no interest in an abstract freedom that would remove them from the center of
things.

C. Summary: The Tendency of the Law to Produce Free Men

In Biblical Law as it pertains to slavery there are a variety of provisions designed to stimulate freedom. The
sabbath and Jubilee years ensured the manumission of many slaves, and the ability of the slave to earn his
freedom ensured the possibility of freedom for all the rest, except the Canaanites. The beneficial effects of
living in a believing household, under Godly discipline and order, restrained the slavish and irresponsible
tendencies in the life of fallen man, and prepared him for a new birth into society as a free man. At the
other end of the spectrum, the fact that slaves could be beaten and ran the risk of being killed meant that
slavery was no paradise, and stimulated the desire for liberty.

Sadly, these Biblical provisions were not respected in the Old South, and there was no mechanism whereby
slaves might be freed. Upward mobility was cut off, first by slave laws, and later on by the laws protecting
"paternalism in the first half of the 20th century. Such legislation, designed as always to protect the
haves from the competition of the "have nots , thwarted the tendency of the Gospel to produce free men.
It was easy to see slavery as a perpetual condition, teleologically designed to prepare men for the next
world, but having no melioristic benefits in the present one. An otherworldly spirituality was ready at hand
to defend unbiblical forms of slavery.
123
Although Southern Christians were not altogether unaware of these
problems, so that Dabney "decided in 1840 that slavery as currently practiced could not exist in the
millennium,"
124
they nevertheless failed to grasp the self-eliminating tendencies in the Biblical concept of
household slavery.







122
The most helpful discussion of these laws is Rushdoony, Institutes of Biblical Law, pp.85f., 99f.
123
Cf. e.g., B. M. Palmer, The Family in its Civil and Churchly Aspects (Richmond: Presbyterian Committee of Publication, 1876),
p. 124.
124
Jack P. Maddex, Jr., "Proslavery Millennialism; Social Eschatology in Antebellum Southern Calvinism," American Quarterly
XXXI (1979):53. Drew Gilpen Faust points out that Southern intellectuals produced a variety of books and essays painting a
pleasant portrait of slavery, but with reformist intent. These same men were highly critical of Southern ways. Yet these
intellectuals' repeated criticisms of the South for its moral failures indicate that slavery's defenders recognized that this portrait of
the region reflected their hopes and fears more than reality. They sought ultimately not to describe the South but to inspire it. The
only way to legitimate slavery, their arguments implicitly warned, was to transform the region into the moral utopia of their essays.
The proslavery argument was fundamentally a charter for reform." Faust, "A southern Stewardship: The Intellectual and the
Proslavery Argument)" American Quarterly XXXI(1979):74.


49





CHAPTER VI

SLAVERY IN COVENANT-HISTORICAL PERSPECTIVE


A. Theological Assumptions

Two principal assumptions need to be set out at this point. The first is the writer's commitment to the
unchangeability of Divine Law. The Law of God is, the writer believes, a transcript of His moral character.
As such it can no more change over time than can He. Men do change, growing from childhood to
adulthood, assuming new responsibilities, entering into the covenant of marriage, converting from darkness
to light; and such changes as these brinq men into new relationships with the unchanging Law of God.
Additionally, differences in situation--geographical, cultural, redemptive-historical, etc.--dictate differing
implications of the unchanging Law. The Law itself, however, does not change.

Therefore, the specific laws concerning slavery, its nature and its regulation, contain an eternal equity. Had
man never fallen, God's Law would never have needed to manifest itself in the form of slavery legislation;
but for man under the curse, slavery is an abiding reality, only to be removed as the curse is removed
progressively during the New Covenant era and finally in the consummation. Unless psychological or
situational alternations can be shown which would dictate new manifestations of God's Law, that Law,
slave statutes included, continues to have the same force for all time. That there are some such changes has
already been argued, and this chapter provides further arguments along such lines.

Clearly God published His social laws before Sinai, at least such as fitted the Patriarchal situation. The
Book of Genesis shows that the people knew and were accountable for the laws of the Levirate (Gen.38),
the laws concerning rape and seduction (Gen.34; Ex.22:l6), the laws concerning evidence (Gen.3l:39;
37:32; Ex.22:l3), and in particular, as this chapter demonstrates, the laws concerning slavery.

A second assumption is that God maintained a knowledge of His social law among the nations of the
ancient world. The covenant structure and common law of the Ancient Near East, seen in the various law
codes, resembles at many points that found in Exodus - Deuteronomy. The reason for this is that the
Noachic revelation lies behind all of them, though the apostates had departed from it in principle.
125



125
The present writer would go farther and defend a short chronology of history, based on Biblical data, although such a defense
is not integral to this monograph. The Flood took place in 1656 Anno mundi (A.M. and the Exodus in 2513 A.M. For one half of
these thousand years, the patriarchs Noah, Shem, Arpachshad, Shelah, and Eber were influencing culture in the Ancient Near East.
Abraham had visited the Pharaoh of Egypt around 2100 A.M., and Joseph had made a tremendous impact on Egyptian culture
until his death in 2369 A.M., only 150 years prior to the Exodus itself. Thus, it is not surprising to find Pharaoh acquaint ed with
the social law of God, especially as that Law pertains to slavery. Cf. James B. Jordan, "The Biblical Chronology Question: An
Analysis," Creation Social Sciences and Humanities Quarterly II, No.2 (Winter 1979): 9-15; II, No.3 (Spring 1980):17-26.

50
B. Slavery in the History of the Covenant


1. The Curse of Canaan (Genesis 9:20-27)

This passage of Scripture has been the cause of much grief to Hamitic peoples, especially the American
Negro, as a result of its misinterpretation and misapplication. The passage contains a number of
interpretative difficulties, and a great variety of suggestions have come forth attempting to resolve them.
126


In the first place, and over against the various critical theories, this passage is clearly concerned with
predictive prophecy. Both times that Ham is mentioned, he is called the father of Canaan. This anticipates
the curse on Canaan, and its fulfillment in the Israelite conquest of Palestine. The benediction on Japheth
finds its fulfillment in the New Covenant era.

The major problem, secondly, is the question of why Noah cursed Canaan for the sin of his father, Ham.
The reason for this may be understood by contemplating the psycho-dynamics of history. The fifth
commandment ties earthly prosperity to the honoring of parental authority because all authority comes from
God, and the honoring of authority, even evil authority (Jude 8-10), is an honoring of Him. Those who
honor God and His delegated authorities will rear children who honor their parents. Those who despise
their parents will in turn be despised by their children. Noah's prediction is based on psychological
dynamics that can be observed every day. Rebellious fathers rear rebellious children.

Why were Ham's other three sons not cursed (Gen.10:6)? Doubtless because, under the influence of their
grandfather and uncles, they were not following in their father's footsteps. They had chosen to dwell,
Spiritually, in the tents of Shem.

The curse is aptly slavery. Those who are rebellious against authority cannot be free men in society, for
they will not responsibly and freely submit to the powers that be. Thus, they must be kept in line by force,
by becoming slaves. They will be slaves, first of all, to the other Hamites, their brothers (v.25). Also, they
will be slaves of Shem and Japheth. (vv.26f.).

Cassuto rightly points to an immediate fulfillment of these prophecies in Genesis 14.
127
The territory of
Canaan is identified as including the cities of the plain (10:19). Precisely these cities were conquered by
Chedorlaomer and served him for twelve years (14:4). Chedorlaomer was king of Elam (14:1), a Shemite
land (10:22); in fact, Elam was Shem's firstborn, though not in the seed-line (ll:l0ff.). Allied with
Chedorlaomer was Tidal king of Goiim or nations (14:1), which Cassuto identifies with the nations of
Japheth mentioned in 10:5.

Once Abram was in the land, however, it became in one sense his land, even though he did not possess it.
Abrams control of the land superseded that of Chedorlaomer, as is shown in Abram's defeat of
Chedorlaomer (14:17).
128
The Canaanite king of Sodom had to request of Abram the right to take his
property back (14:21). Dominion over these Canaanites passed from the broader Shemite line to the
narrower Hebrew (Eberite) line (14:13). Ultimately, however, the curse of Canaan came to expression in
the Israelite conquest of the land of Canaan; except that the actual command was to exterminate, not to
enslave, the Canaanites (Deut.20:16-18). As a matter of fact, however, some of the Canaanites survived and
were enslaved to the descendents of Shem (Josh.9:23; 1Ki 9:21).

Slavery involves a diminution of life in its fu covenantal. The total diminution of life is death, hell.
Slavery, as a curse, manifests death in a lesser degree (even when a stage to renewed life, as in Biblical
household slavery). Thus, the curse of Canaan, when it reaches its most profound expression, entails the
death of Canaan.

The primary motives and terms of this prophecy are Spiritual and ethical, not racial. It is because of his sin
of contempt for authority that Ham and his spiritual descendents were cursed; and it is for their piety that
Shem and Japheth were blessed. Thus, the abiding equity of the pericope is Spiritual and ethical, not racial.
Those who choose to dwell in the tents of Ham and Canaan will receive the curse of Canaan; those who

126
A survey of a plethora of interpretations (not including the present writer's, however) is in Gene Rice, "The Curse That Never
Was (Genesis 9:18-27), Journal of Religious Thought 29(1972);5-27. Cf. also James 0. Buswell III, Slavery, Segregation, and
Scripture (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1964), pp.16ff.
127
Umberto Cassuto, A Commentary on the Book of Genesis (Jerusalem: Magnes Press, 1964)11:166-170.
128
0n Abraham's provisional dominion, cf. ibid., pp.304f. The replacement of the firstborn is a constantly recurring theme of
Genesis.

51
choose, like Japheth, to move into the tents of Shem will receive the inheritance of the Lord, the God of
Shem.

One final note: the slavery in view is, in part at least, the enslavement of unbelievers by the covenant
people of God. For some reason, this notion is offensive to many modern Christians. They do not wish to
think of themselves as ruling over people who reject the faith, yet this is precisely what is prophesied here.
Those faithful to God will in time be predominant in the world, and the rebels will simply be forced to
submit to Godly government. Christians should not shrink from but rather rejoice in the promise that they
will enslave the wicked.


2. Slavery and the Patriarchs

A comparison of Ex.12:4 with Gal.3:17 shows that the 430 years of Egyptian bondage began with Abram's
entrance into Canaan (Gen.12:1-4).
129
Thus, the Canaanites were, at this time, enslaved by their brethren,
the Hamitic Egyptians, and Abraham and his seed (15:13) lived under the shadow of Egyptian domination.

Though formally under Egyptian rule, Abraham, like Joseph after him, managed to rule in life. His
homeborn slaves numbered 318 (14:l4), which indicates, according to Willesen's estimation, that
Abraham1s household numbered around 3000 persons.
130
This shows the tremendous importance of
Abraham's household, and may shed light on why he visited the Pharaoh soon after entering Egyptian-held
territory (Gen.12) Pharaoh may have assumed that Abram's visit was that of a would-be vassal, and have
taken Sarai on that assumption. At any rate, the descendents of Abraham's household were passed down to
Isaac and Jacob (26:19,25,32; 32:16); which explains why, though only seventy persons from Jacob's loins
descended into Egypt (Ex.l:5), the land of Goshen was needed to accommodate all the people (Gen.47:27).

It may appear startling to the reader to see it asserted that Abraham was in a sense in bondage to Egypt
during his sojourn in Palestine, in the sense that Palestine was a satellite of Egypt. One is not used to
thinking of Abraham in such terms. It should not come as a surprise, however, in that the Old Covenant was
precisely a provisional economy, and its benefits and benisons were provisional (Heb.l1:13). It was,
characteristically, a slave economy (Gen.4), and Satan was not bound during its duration (Rev.20:1-6). In a
very real sense, God's people were bound under Satan's dominion throughout the entire Old Testament
economy, although within that dominion they were enabled provisionally, to reign in life.

The story of Jacob and Laban is the story of a covenant member reduced to a condition close to slavery in a
foreign land, a foretaste of Israels later experience in Egypt. Jacob is never called a slave but the verbal
form of the root bd is repeatedly used to describe his work. Moreover, it is significant that Laban's
treatment of Jacob parallels in certain respects Pharaoh's treatment of the Hebrews. Although Laban
initially welcomed Jacob, there came to be a change in Laban's attitude that resulted in Jacob's being
reduced to an inferior position, bordering on slavery. This change may be recorded in Gen.29:15, Then
Laban said to Jacob , 'Are you my brother, and should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what
shall your wages be? A family member would not have worked for wages, so Laban here excludes Jacob
from the family.
131
After earning his wives, Jacob labored six additional years (31:41), the period of slave
service. Jacob was oppressed (Gen.31:39f.). God saw his affliction (31:12,42), even as He saw the
affliction of the Hebrews in Egypt (Ex.3:7). In violation of custom (Deut.15:l2-l5), Laban would have sent
Jacob away emptyhanded (Gen.3l:42). Even though Jacob had earned Leah and Rachel, Laban acted as
though they were slave wives given by him to Jacob and so should not go free with their husband
(Gen.31:43). It was Laban who reduced the women from a free to a slave status by using up their insurance
money (31:15). Jacob was not a slave, but Laban tried to reduce him to slavery, As Daube sums it up;

No doubt the general scheme, God helping his protege out of danger and distress, is independently
common to both. So is a good deal else. The falling into slavery or a sort of slavery abroad; the
falling into it owing to an arbitrary change of attitude on the part of a host; the ambiguity in the
conduct of the master who wishes at once to be rid of the dangerous subject and to keep him for
the benefit he derives, and who tries to recapture him when he finally runs away with considerable
wealth; the interposition of God by force or the threat of force; the defeat of the master's gods (in
the Jacob story, the theft of the idols indeed provides an additional ground for pursuit). ...Above
all, the application in both stories of laws and customs governing the release of slaves or captives

129
Philip Mauro, The Wonders of Biblical Chronology (Swengel, PA: Reiner Publications, 1970), p.27. Amplification of this
matter is found throughout Arthur Custance, The Exodus Problem, especially I:137ff.
130
Willesen, p.198.
131
David Daube and Reuven Yaron, "Jacob's Reception by Laban, Journal of Semitic Studies 1(1956):60-62.

52
is fully explicable from the situation. Thus Jacob's negotiations about his wives and children,
corresponding to those in Egypt, can cause no surprise.
132


Daube also notes that "in both the exodus story and the Jacob one God advises the subject as to a method
of extracting liberal provision from the master.
133


It is to be marked that this narrative of enslavement and deliverance is not a dynamic liberation worked
apart from legal strictures. Quite the contrary, the legal foundation in the laws of slavery is in the
foreground of Jacob's defense against Laban's charges is never divorced from a juridical base.


3. Slavery and the Joseph Narrative

An examination of the story of Joseph in terms of slavery can most felicitously be made by breaking the
narrative up into sections: Joseph's enslavement; Joseph's virtuous slave service; the reduction of Joseph's
brothers to slavery in Egypt; and the enslavement of the Egyptians to Pharaoh by Joseph 1.


Joseph's Enslavement

The first appearance of Joseph in Genesis 37 is as a righteous judge, and right-hand man of his father (v.2).
It is as a righteous judge that he is hated by his brethren, and it is as such that he is placed it on his
shoulders, thereby conferring on Joseph all the authority of his father. Though not actually firstborn. from
the beginning Joseph acts the part of the firstborn, and this preeminence is confirmed by dreams, the Word
of God . Thus. Joseph is the preeminent son of Israel. God will use him to deliver His people, but first
Joseph, though a son, must learn obedience (Heb.5:8) as a slave (Phil.2:8).

The second part of Genesis 37 records how Joseph was, in a sense killed by his brethren, and passed from
life to death in the eyes of his father. Cast out from the sphere of covenant life and the household of his
father, Joseph is sold as a slave to none other than Ishmaelites (v.28), sons of the bondwoman
(Gen.4:21ff.). Now Joseph is a slave of slaves, and is "under the Law" (Gal.4:4,2l). There is a connection
here among death, enslavement, and exile in a foreign land, is seen in the parable of the Prodigal Son (Luke
15).


Josephs Virtuous Slave Service

This same triplex Joseph was sold to a household in Egypt, making manifest what was the condition of the
patriarchs' existence all along, of his service was in the house of Potiphar (39:1-7). The first phase Joseph
did not see his enslavement as a cause for resentment or bitterness. He is not seen throwing spanners into
the works, or sand into the machinery. Rather, he served dutifully and well. As a result, the lazy Potiphar
gladly entrusted more and more of the household responsibilities to Joseph Soon, it was really Joseph who
was in charge, and Potiphar "did not concern himself with anything except the food which he ate (v.6).
Potiphar had the name of master, but he had a slave mentality and lived as a slave, a slave of food. Joseph
had the name of slave, but he was a dominion man, and he ruled in life. The point was not lost on the wife
of Potiphar; she knew who the real power in the house was.

The vengeance of the wife of Potiphar landed Joseph in prison. There again, however, he ruled in life
(39:20-23). Because of his responsible and effective service to those in charge, Joseph was soon put over
the entire prison. He had the name of prisoner, but he was exercising dominion. From that position, he
could do much good. By being a slave par excellence, Joseph acquired mastery (Mark 10:43).

From prison Joseph was elevated to Pharaoh's right hand. The narrative of Joseph's prison experiences in
Gen.40 shows the means whereby he was enabled to rule in the midst of enslavement: He under- stood and
applied the Word of God, which came to him in the form of dreams, and to us in the form of Holy
Scripture. Because he understood Gods principles whereby He rules the world, and because he was able to
apply them accurately to the situation in which he found himself, Joseph proved of inestimable value to
every master who had him. In time he was exalted to second in command over all Egypt (4l:40f). Again he
was invested with authority, this time with the robe of Pharaoh (v.42). As Joseph later put it, he came to be

132
David Daube, The Exodus Pattern in the Bible (London: Faber and Faber, 1963), pp.69f.
133
Ibid., p.70.

53
a father to Pharaoh (45:8), in other words, the power behind the throne. Pharaoh made no decisions without
consulting Joseph. From this position of authority, Joseph was able to feed the entire earth (41:57).
There are lessons here for oppressed Christians, wherever in the world they may be. It is all too easy to
yield to the sinful temptation to obstruct the designs of heathen masters by halfhearted obedience or active
meddling. The story of Joseph (cf. Daniel, Mordecai, Nehemiah) tells us that the road to victory, dominion,
mastery, is through service the humble service of a slave. Through suffering, God purges and destroys
indwelling sin in the believer, builds character in him, and fits him for the mastery of the world. As the lazy
wicked see that they can trust the hardworking righteous to keep the machinery running, they will tend to
turn it over to them.


Joseph's Reduction of his Brothers to Slavery in Egypt

It is a fitting reward for those who unjustly sell others into slavery that they themselves be enslaved. Joseph
threw his brothers into prison (42:17), and their thoughts turned, as those of the guilty often do, to the
preeminent wrong they had committed years before (42:21f. Fear of judgment in genera brought their
specific guilt to mind. By refusing to accept their money, Joseph put them in his debt; increased their
worry, for they knew that the debtor is slave to the lender (Prov.22:7). Finally, Joseph arranged for them to
"steal" his divination cup. The brothers, believing themselves innocent, vowed to become slaves if found
guilty, and the actual thief would be put to death (44:9). The penalty for theft, however, is not death but
enslavement (Ex.22:3), and so Joseph required the enslavement of the guilty party only (Gen.44:l7). Judah
begged to be enslaved in Benjamin's stead demonstrating the attitude Joseph had looked for all along
(v.33). Upon this disclosure, Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and in giving them changes of
garments (45:22), he elevated them to dominical offices of some sort (again. through investiture).

An unexplained curiosity in the text is the notice given to Joseph's silver cup as a supposed cup of
divination (44:5) and Joseph's hint that he practiced divination (v.15). Divination is a demonic practice,
forbidden to the children of God (Lev.19:26; Num.23:23). It wi1l not do to pretend that in the pre-Sinaitic
period God's people did not know divination was wrong, for they knew all kinds of other laws. Was Joseph
guilty of sin here, or is there some more subtle purpose in his claim to be a diviner? The character of
Joseph's life leads the present writer to believe that Joseph did not, in fact, practice divination. The cup is
initially referred to simply as my cup, the silver cup (Gen.44:2). Joseph told his steward to claim that it
was a cup of divination, and Joseph also makes this pretense. Why? because divination was part of the
Egyptian occultist-demonic religion, and the covenant people were looking to Egypt (and her gods seen as
an accidental or rather than to the Lord for food. This may be unintentional" sin (Lev.5:l5) of forgetfulness,
but it is no less a sin for that. Instead of looking for deliverance to their God, the Lord, they were looking to
an apparently heathen Egyptian vizier. In the crisis, their thoughts did not turn to the Lord for help, but to
the statist power which overshadowed their land. Thus, Joseph asks them, Do you not know that such a
man as I can indeed practice divination? That is, did you not realize that a person in my position would
certainly be a diviner in a culture such as Egypt? Joseph's action was a dramatic parable designed to show
them that if they looked to Egypt for salvation, they were looking to Egypt's gods as well; and to Egypt for
salvation, they would become slaves of Egypt. This is according to the Biblical principle that the one who
saves is the one who rules (Jud.8:22; Luke 1 :71 ,74,75; Ex.20:2ff.). What rescued them from bondage to
Egypt at this point was the fact that Joseph was, in fact and contrary to appearances, not an Egyptian but a
covenant worshipper of the true God.


The Enslavement of the Egyptians by Joseph to Pharaoh

It seems that the book of Genesis traces in microcosm and by way of provisional anticipation the entire
history of redemption. The enslavement of Jacob in a foreign land, his deliverance by God, God's
triumphing over Laban's gods, all adumbrate the Exodus to come. The birth of Joseph, his "murder" by his
brothers, his provision for his people, all point to the Messiah to come.
134
The prosperity of God's people,
restored in type to Eden, is consequent upon the work of Joseph, and it is in this warm glow that the book of

134
It is doubtless not without significance that the "third day" motif is found markedly in the history of Joseph. The two dreams that
Joseph interpreted in prison pointed to the third day as a day of judgment and resurrection out of prison (40:12f., 18-20). It was on
the third day that Joseph took his brothers out of prison (42;18), and it was in the third year that Israel left a land of famine for one
of blessing and plenty (45:6). It was on the third day that Christ was raised. The paradigm of third day and seventh day cleansings
or resurrections is set forth definitively in Numbers 19. That the history of Joseph is concerned with third day deliverances and
resurrections point to its association with the first coming of Christ.

54
Genesis comes to an end. Egypt is specifically compared to the garden of Eden in Gen.13:10, and Goshen
was the best of Egypt (47:6). The text states (47:27) that "Israel lived in the of Egypt, in the land of Goshen,
and they acquired property in it" (garden restoration) "and were fruitful and multiplied" (same terms as in
Gen.l:28).

By way of contrast, the heathen Egyptians were de-capitalized (47:17), lost their land v.20), and finally
were reduced to abject slavery (vv.23,25). Slaves by nature, they became slaves in very fact Joseph and his
kin were the rulers of Egypt; the Egyptians were slaves of Pharaoh. Pharaoh, being a false god, exacted a
double tithe from his slaves (v.24). Joseph's involvement in a scheme to reduce a nation of people to slavery
to a false god seems problematic, but two things need to be kept in mind. First, the scheme came from God,
not from Joseph (Gen.41). Second, as has been mentioned earlier (p.66 above), sinful man is appropriately
bound under slavery to the state, God's principle is that men should experience slavery to their gods, and if
they will not have Him as their God, He gives them into the hands of whatever god they choose. Pharaoh
was the god of Egypt, and his priests were his extensions. God gave the Egyptians into Pharaoh's hands.
Third, the reduction of the heathen Egyptians to slavery was a blessing for the saints--initially.

The fact that Pharaoh was not himself enslaved points to the visional character of this victory of the saints.
The victory of Joseph over the Egyptians is eschatologically typical, but also eschatologically provisional.
Its provisional character is dramatically brought hare in the first chapter of Exodus, where the centralized
state Joseph helped create is turned against God's people.

Should Christians in the New Covenant imitate Joseph's service in this particular, enslaving unbelievers to
the state? The present writer believes not, for three reasons. First, Joseph's work in this respect seems to be
analogous to the annihilation of the Canaanites by Israel; that is, it was a special judgment of God against a
particular people affected by God's people on the basis of special revelation. In the New Covenant, there is
no singling out of certain races or peoples that are to be put to death or reduced to the shadow-death of
slavery to the state. Second, as has just been intimated, deliberate reduction to slavery is a killing action,
since slavery is a sphere of death Covenant believers do not engage in holy war by the sword (as opposed to
just wars), and Joseph's action should be seen as a species of holy war Third, with the crushing of Satan's
head and the smashing of the world-imperial administration of the world cf. section 8 below), there is no
longer any reason for the kingdom of God to exempt the Pharaohs of history from the demand for
submission. Rather, what is expected is that the kings of the earth will receive God's rule, and that statism
will decline and disappear (Micah 4:1-5; Is.60:3).

4. The legality of the Exodus

Israel prospered in the land of Egypt, while the Egyptians were enslaved. This is a situation that makes for
resentment, and so it is no surprise that the Egyptians in time retaliated by reducing Israel to bondage. God's
redemption of Israel from bondage was based squarely on the legal foundation provided by the laws of
slavery. An examination of the interchanges between Moses and Pharaoh serves to bring this out. What is
involved is not merely an oppressed people's being delivered from bondage, but a firm legal foundation for
that deliverance, and thus a firm legal foundation for the covenant connected therewith. God declared that
Israel was His son (Ex.4:22f.), His kin. They had been wrongfully enslaved. In terms of the laws specifying
the redemption of kin by the blood avenger, God would redeem His son. In terms of the laws concerning
slavery, He would set them free.

Daube points out:

The authors of the exodus story represented Pharaoh as flouting established social regulations, and
God as making him comply with them, malgre lui,or suffer the sanctions of his breaches. They
construed the exodus as an enforcement of legal claims. As one example of many we may quote
God's demand to Pharaoh: "Israel is my son. ...Let my son go,"

What we are at the moment concerned with is the confidence and stability that resulted from this
anchoring in firm legal relations. As God had vindicated those relations in the exodus, one could
be certain that he would vindicate them again, and again, unto the last. The kind of salvation
portrayed in the exodus was not, by its nature, an isolated occurrence, giving rise to nebulous
hopes for similar good luck in the future: it had its roots in, and set the seal on, a permanent
institution--hence it was something on which absolute reliance might be placed.
135



135
Ibid., pp.13f. The present writer is greatly indebted to this book for the insights developed in this section of the monograph.

55
Culture is an extension of religion, and Egyptian culture was no exception to this rule. Its pyramids showed
it to have been an extension of blasphemous Babel, and its oppression of God's people showed it to have
been Cainitic. At the top of the pyramid, heir of Cain and Nimrod, was the Pharaoh, the incarnation of the
sun god.
136
Although Israel was in cultural bondage to Egypt, this was because she was in religious
bondage to Egypt (Josh.24:14). Israel had been taken out of Canaan in order to separate her from pagan
influences, as the Canaanite civilization filled up its cup of wrath (cf. Gen.34, 38). In Goshen they were
separate from paganism geographically, and also due to the fact that their way of life was repugnant to the
Egyptians (46:34). Even so, they went after the gods of Egypt, and so God gave them into the hands of these
gods. This same principle operated during the period of the Judges. God's actions and judgments in history
are never arbitrary.

Rather than let Israel settle down in Egypt, God made it miserable for them, showing them what slavery to
the Babelic state entails. His grace reached them and they repented, crying out to Him for deliverance.

Because culture is an effect of religion, when God set about to free Israel it would have done no good to
free them from cultural bondage without breaking their religious bondage foundationally. Thus, it was not
necessary at the outset for God to say to Pharaoh. "Let My people go free. All that was needed was a
demand to "let us go on a three journey into the wilderness, that we may sacrifice to the LORD our God"
(Ex.3:l8).
137
In our modern day of pretended religious neutrality and pluralism this might appear to be
deception: God intends to free Israel but He only asks that they be allowed to go on a religious retreat. That
was not, however, the way it was understood then. Pharaoh knew that a man is a slave of whatever God or
gods he worships, and that culture flows from religion. Thus, Pharaoh knew that this request carried with it
a demand for political freedom.

Pharaoh could not have acceded to this request without freeing Israel. If Pharaoh had allowed them their
three day trip, he would have been recognizing the Lord as Israel's God and Master. He would have had to
free them. If Pharaoh had himself converted to the LORD, he would have had to grant Israel equal status
with the rest of Egypt as free men under the Lord.

The fact that God demanded the release of Israel indicates that Israel was illegitimately held in bondage.
According to the Law, slaves from anti-God cultures, being slaves by nature, can be held indefinitely, but
Christian slaves can only be held six years (Ex.2l:2). Pharaoh had broken this law. Moses' demand for
Israelite freedom was grounded in this law, which was familiar to Pharaoh. Since Pharaoh did not recognize
the Lord, he did not recognize that the Hebrews were true believers. In his eyes the Hebrews were the
heathen--and so could be enslaved indefinitely.
138


Finally Pharaoh relented and said that the men could leave, but not their families (Ex.l0:7-l1). Pharaoh was
invoking the law recorded in Ex.21:4. From Pharaoh's viewpoint, it was he who had provided the wives and
children of the Hebrew men, so he had a legal claim to them. Again, however, Pharaoh was wrong, for
Jacob had brought his women, children, livestock, and servants with him when he settled in Egypt, and so
the Hebrews were under the law of Ex.2l:3. There were, doubtless some non-Hebrew wives who had been
provided by Pharaoh, and Pharaoh might have had a legitimate claim to these. The Law states, however,
that a female slave goes free if the master reduces her lifestyle (Ex.2 l0f.), and Pharaoh had certainly done
that. Thus, Pharaoh had a legal claim neither on the Hebrews nor on their "mixed multitude" wives. On the
contrary, Pharaoh was guilty of man stealing, a capital offense (Ex.21:16).
139


God's Law, familiar to the Pharaohs because of Joseph's influence and because it underlay the common law
of the Ancient Near East, also orders that when a slave is set free he is to be given going-away gifts
(Deut.15:l2-l6) to help him celebrate and to help him set up in business. God told the Hebrews to request
(not "borrow") such presents from their neighbors (Ex.3:22). Moses demanded such presents from Pharaoh
(10:25). Those who give such presents are blessed by God (Deut.15:l8), and the he specifically asked for
this blessing (12:32).

If a man takes a slave wife in addition to his free, insured there is always the danger that the slave wife and
her son wil1 rise up to inherit the family estate. Thus, to eliminate this threat the free wife in great fear
would be motivated to drive out the slave wife, as Sarah did Hagar (Gen.21;10). As the Israelites became
ever powerful it began to look as if they would conquer and inherit all Egypt. After all, Goshen was exempt
from the catastrophic plagues (number four through nine) visited on the rest of Egypt. God told the

136
Rushdoony, One and Many, pp.40ff.
137
Note that the third-day resurrection motif recurs here; cf. footnote above.
138
The Book of the Covenant opens with laws regarding slavery, the very laws violated by Pharaoh (Ex,2l:l-11). The placement of
these laws first in the codebook makes little sense apart from the preceding narrative.
139
Courville, Exodus Problem I:36ff., argues cogently that Pharaoh died at the Red Sea.
56
Hebrews that Pharaoh would drive them out as a slave wife (Ex.11:1).
140
Here we see God's ironic humor,
as He says to Pharaoh: "You have wrongly held My kin as slaves. Thus, you will set them free in great fear,
as you would drive out a slave wife.

Also, as a false god, Pharaoh was not a true and loving husband to Israel. Thus, Israel was free to divorce
Pharaoh, as was the slave wife's privilege (Ex.2l:l0f.). YHWH, their true Husband and Lord, would never
mistreat them.

The Exodus was not a political revolution but a religious deliverance, entailing cultural change, but
rigorously grounded in the Law of God and in the common law of the Near East, familiar to all parties.


5. Slaves in the Wilderness

The Lord claimed Israel as His son, and delivered them from bondage to Pharaoh, and into freedom as His
slave-sons. They were not faithful, however. Identifying with Egypt in their hearts and lives, they received
the judgment of Egypt upon their persons. As the carcasses of the Egyptians littered the beaches by the Red
Sea (Ex.l4:30), so the corpses of the Israelites littered the desert of Arabia (Num.14:29).

Israel had been privileged to spoil the Egyptians of material wares. They spoiled more than mere gold,
however, for at the earliest opportunity they used the golden spoils to make a golden calf (Ex.32:2). They
preferred to be the servants of Egyptian gods, so they received the judgment meted out against the
Egyptians and their gods (ten plagues, ten tests, Num.14:22).

As they continued to be slaves of Egypt's gods, so they continued to be slaves of Egyptian culture, for
culture (again) is an effect of religion. This is seen in their dietary habits, a seemingly mundane matter, but
dietary habits are among the most difficult of all habits to change. Gary North comments:

Once they had been delivered from their Egyptian enemies, they were determined to keep their
heads riveted to the rear anyway. They were stiff necked indeed. No longer able to hear the rumble
of Egyptian chariots, they were deafened by the rumbling of their stomachs. Better to have died in
Egypt, they complained, "when we did eat bread to the full," than to die in the wilderness
(Ex.16:3). They had short memories about their former condition. So the Lord gave them manna.
Not good enough, soon came the cries: we need meat. We had onions and leeks and melons and
garlic in Egypt; mere manna, even if accompanied with liberty, can hardly compare. So God gave
them meat for a month--so much, He promised them, that it would come out of their nostrils and
they would loathe it (Num.11:4-6,18-2l).

Their problem was not a protein-deficiency. Their problem was theological. Their God was their
belly (Phil.3:l9). Their stiff necks did not permit them to look up to the heavens and rejoice in the
source of their manna.
141


North goes on to point out that they were slaves to the past. They looked back on their life in Egypt as a
golden age, thereby trading the opportunities of the present for the imaginary comforts of the past. Is it any
wonder that God imposed the ritual observance of the Passover on them? Mouthing words they could not
understand, the fathers of that generation transmitted a true vision of the past to their children."
142


The same principle is seen in the period of the Judges. Whenever the people exchanged the glory of the
worship of God for the dunghill of idolatry, God sold them as slaves to the culture produced by that
particular idolatry (Jud.2:11-14; 3:8; 4:2; 10:7). When they returned to His worship, He delivered them and
made them once again His son-slaves.


6. Deliverance from Philistine Bondage

The sequence of enslavements in the period of Judges culminates with the enslavement of Israel to Philistia.
Samson was a thorn in the side of the enemy, but he effected no final deliverance, only a holding action
typical of the Old Covenant situation. God's determination to deliver Israel once and for all from Philistia

140
This translation is defended in several recent articles. Cf. Daube, op.cit., p.58.

141
Gary North, The Psychology of S1avery, Cha1cedon Report 116 (April, 1975).
142
Idem.

57
becomes manifest in the early chapters of 1Samuel, and in order to deliver Israel from Philistia, God must
deliver Israel from its bondage to Philistine spirituality and morality (2:22). God will eradicate Eli, his sons,
and his lineage (2:27-36), and replace them with a Godly judge and priest (1 Sam.3).


When Israel went out to fight Philistia, they superstitiously took the Ark along with them as a magical
guarantee of victory (4:3) The reaction of the Philistines is important. They immediately associated the Ark
with the Lord Who destroyed Egypt with plagues, smiting Egypt's gods, and delivering Israel from slavery
(4:8.9). Slavery is at issue here. Rather than permit Israel to continue in bondage to Philistia, God permits
Himself to be taken slave into Philistia (4;11).

The Ark-Messiah enters the realm of death in order to destroy death, the realm of slavery in order to set His
people free, a foreign land in order to restore His people to the promised land. In the land of Philistia, the
Ark-Messiah destroys the gods of Philistia as He had those of Egypt (5:1-5), and visits Philistia with
plagues as He had Egypt (5:6-12). The language of 5:12 is very reminiscent of the language of the Egyptian
deliverance, "And the men who did not die were smitten with hemorrhoids and the cry of the city went up to
heaven" (cf. Ex.10:5; 12:30).
143
In great fear, the Philistines return the Ark-Messiah to Israel, to the land of
the living: a resurrection. From this time forth, Israel begins to gain victory over Philistia, culminating in
the triumphs of David. Correlative to the victories of David is the ascension of the Ark-Messiah to a place
of glory on Mount Zion (2 Sam.6:l2-19). The fullness of victory over Philistia, and ensuing peace, is
associated with the reign of Solomon; and correlative to this is the enthronement of the Ark-Messiah in the
Temple-Palace built by Solomon (1 Ki.8).

Several relevant observations can be made on this narrative. First, the enslavement and death of the
Messiah or of the sacrifice is correlative to the destruction of His enemies. The night the Passover lamb
was slain to substitute for the firstborn of the covenant people, the firstborn of Egypt were destroyed. The
redemption of His kin, worked by Christ at Golgotha, was simultaneously the working of vengeance on His
enemies. That this was on His mind is clear from Luke 23:28-3l, and Psalm 69:20-28 makes it abundantly
manifest. Thus, we are not surprised to find that the day the Ark-Messiah was slain" and taken into the
realm of death, Eli and his two godless sons and one of his daughters-in-law were slain. There is no
contradiction is saying that the Ark-Messiah gave His life for that of Israel in descending into Philistia, and
also destroyed His enemies while in the land of Philistia. That, indeed, what should be expected. It is by
means of death that evil is destroyed, either in the death of the Substitute, or the death and destruction of the
sinner. The sacrifice and vengeance of the Messiah are two sides of one action, and both were necessary to
deliver Israel from Philistine bondage.

Second, it is noteworthy that the language of freeing a slave from bondage is used in connection with
releasing the Ark-Messiah. In 1Sam.6:3 we read, if you send away the Ark of the God of Israel, do not
send it empty. In Deut.15:13 we read, And when you set him free, you shall not send him away empty.
The slave was freed in the seventh year; the Ark-Messiah in the seventh month (1 Sam.6 : 1). Release from
bondage was an eschatological event, a resurrection, a rebirth into society.

The actual gifts, third, are seen here as a reparation offering 1 Sam.6:3f.,8,17). As has been shown, the
reparation offering was made among other things, for the violation of a betrothed slave girl (Lev.l9: 20-22).
Israel under the Old Covenant was a betrothed slave girl marriage and elevation to true wifely status
awaited the coming of the Bridegroom and the New Covenant.
144
Philistia's enslavement of Israel was a
violation of Israels covenant to marry the Lord, and thus a reparation offering was needed. In this case, the
Ark-Messiah has substituted for Israel, so the reparation offering is made for Its violation.


7. Israel in Bondage to Her Kings

This subject has already been addressed in chapter IV.C. One would think that upon the defeat of Philistia
and the ascent of an Israelite king to the oversight of Israel, all would be well. The Old Covenant, despite its
offers of life, lacked the Spiritual Power (Acts 2) to effect life definitively; and so its life was always
provisional: The Old Covenant was set in an age of bondage. Solomon treated the people as slaves, and
Rehoboam refused to lighten their load, so the kingdom was broken up. Israel had wanted an oriental
potentate (1Sam.8), and that is what they got.

143
Daube, Exodus Pattern, pp,73ff., builds most of his case for a parallel between this deliverance and the Exodus out of linguistic
parallels. The present writer is again indebted to Daube for some of the basic concepts found in this section of the monograph.
144
From another perspective, Israel was the wife of YHWH even under the Old Covenant (e.g. , Ezk.16), From yet another, the New
Covenant church is still betrothed, not-yet-married (Rev,19:7).

58




It is possible that the request to free Israel from bondage place in a sabbath year. This suggestion is based
on the apparent that the year 587 B.C. was a sabbath year (see section 8 below), and on the assumptions that
Jubilees occurred every fifty years and that they commenced with the Exodus in 1445 B.C. Thus, B.C.
dates ending in -45 and -95 would have been Jubilees, and the following schedule of dates would have been
sabbath years:

16 52
09 59
16 66
23 73
30 80
37 87
44 94

The request to Rehoboam took place in 930 B.C.,a sabbath year.
145


The tendency of the kings of Israel and Judah to enslave their people continued throughout the years.
Shortly before the exile, Jehoiakim was using the people as slaves (Jer.22:l3,l8).


8. Bondage and Exile

Was it just for God to send Israel into bondage once again to a foreign nation? That question is answered
dramatically in Jeremiah 34. Nahum Sarna summarizes the historical situation succinctly:

Nebuchadnezzar invested Jerusalem from the middle of Jan. 588. Toward the end of that year an
emancipation of Hebrew slaves, male and female, was effected within Jerusalem. This was
rescinded, however, with the raising of the siege following the arrival of the Egyptian
expeditionary force sent by Pharaoh Hophra to relieve the city early in 587.
146


Sarna's argumentation demonstrates that the freeing of the slaves must have occurred toward the end of the
year, around the time of the Feast of Tabernacles.
147
This was the time at which, in sabbath years, slaves
were released.

It has been shown earlier that Zedekiah's proclamation of emancipation must have taken place late
in the year 588 B.C. The most likely time would have been the Autumn New Year festival.
Lev.25:8-10 indicates a Fall to Fall cycle for the sabbatical year. Deut.31:10 provides for a
septenniel national assembly in the Fall in connection with the year of release. The national
conclave held in Jerusalem in the time of Nehemiah took place in the seventh month (Neh.8:2; 9:1)
and, significantly enough, the provisions of the covenant then drawn up included the fulfillment of
the sabbatical year legislation requiring the fallowness of the land and the remission of debts
(Neh.10:32). This last item was directly connected with the distraint of persons for reasons of
insolvency (Neh.5:l-13).
148


Jeremiah's indictment of Israel for reclaiming their slaves begins with a reminder that God had delivered
them from slavery, and it was on that basis that God required them to release their Hebrew slaves in the
sabbath year (Jer.34:13f.). Because they had not released their slaves, God was going to release them

145
Some slight corroboration of this scheme appears from the fact that, using it, the completion of the Temple took place in a
sabbath year (959 B.C.), and the first return from Exile (537 B.C. --assuming they arrived in Palestine one year after the decree in
538) as well. Also, Nehemiah's return took place in a Jubilee, 445 B.C. No correlations arise on the assumption that the Jubi lee was
the 49th year. These dates come from J. Barton Payne, "Chronology of the Old Testament," Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of
the Bible.
146
Nahum Sarna, Zedekiah's Emancipation of Slaves and the Sabbatical Year," in Harry A. Hoffner, Jr., ed., Orient and Occident:
Essays Presented to Cyrus H. Gordon. A1ter Orient and Occident und Altes Testament 22. ( Neukirchen: Verlag Butzon & Bercher
Kevelaer, 1973), p.144.
147
Ibed, pp.143f.
148
Ibed. , p.149. Corroboration of the thesis that the emancipation took place in a sabbath year is provided by Sarna's argument
showing that the fourth year" in which Zedekiah's reign began (Jer.28:l) must be the fourth year of a sabbatical cycle; cf. idem.

59
(v.17). They would no longer be His slaves, and would revert to being slaves of the nations. Because they
did not respect the principle of liberty, God would remove their liberty from them. This incident makes it
manifestly clear that Israel deserved to be returned to bondage.

According to Lev.26:43, the number of years of exile would corres- pond to the number of times the
sabbath of the land had been neglected Part and parcel of the sabbath of the land, the sabbath year, is the
release of Hebrew debt slaves. Seventy times this had not been done (2 Chron.36:2l), and so the exile would
last seventy years 'Jer.25:11f 29:10; Zech 12; 7:5; Dan.9:2) Those who refuse to release their debtors w 1
not have their debts released by God (Matt.6:l2).

The exile in Babylon is compared to the bondage in Egypt by Hosea (8:13; 9:3; 11:5), and by Moses
Deut.28:68). According to Ezk.4:4-6, the punishment of Israel and Judah for their combined iniquities,
punishment borne by Ezekiel, came to 430 day-years. This number derives from Ex.12:40, and indicates
that the exile in Mesopotamia is a new Egyptian bondage. Again the enslavement motif is prominent. Those
who refused to act as God's slave-sons would be returned to "Egypt" as slaves.

Additionally, the bondage of Israel under Antiochus Epiphanes is likened to the Egyptian bondage in
Dan.l2--13. The duration of this enslavement is said to be 1290 days, which is thrice 430, but measured in
days instead of years. It is thrice as intense a bondage, but far shorter in length (days, not years). Those
who endure 45 more days, reaching the l335th day, are blessed. It was 45 years after the deliverance from
Egypt Joshua had completed the definitive conquest of Canaan (Josh,14:6-l0). After the bondage to
Antiochus, there will come a deliverance and a new occupation of the land by God's people.

Daniel was troubled to learn that the beastish, statist powers would dominate history for the next several
centuries (7:15). It would not be until the New Covenant that the saints would possess the kingdom, that
Satan would be bound (7:22). Here again it can be seen that the Old Covenant was provisional and set
within a wider context of Satanic dominion. Daniel might have reflected back over the history of Israel and
Judah, for as often as not God's people were in a vassal status vis-a-vis the larger nations round about them.
Ezekiel had denounced Judah for violating her oath of loyalty to Nebuchadnezzar (Ezk. 17:11-18).
Although Israel was not to seek involvement in the power politics of the Ancient Near East (cf. e.g.
2Chron.35:20-25), for God's kingdom is advanced politically, nonetheless involvement sought her over and
again. Israel's national sovereignty was a limited and occasional phenomenon throughout the Old Covenant.
Usually they were dominated by others. The Old Covenant was a small enclave of freedom in a world.
enslaved to Satan.


9. Return from Exile

The return from Exile under Nehemiah took place in 445 B.C., one thousand years after the first deliverance
from bondage in 1445 B.C., and apparently a Jubilee year (see section 7 above). The Book of Nehemiah
shows how the kingdom of God got its second start, and there is a heavy use of sabbatical and debt release
motifs in this book.

In chapter 5 it appears that many of the returnees had been forced by poverty to go into debt slavery and
Jubilary slavery (vv.3-5). This was because the elite in Israel was falling back into the pre-Exilic pattern of
taking advantage of the misfortunes of the poorer class, in violation of the Law's demands for charity.
Indeed, they were exacting interest on charity loans (v.7), in clear violation of Ex.22:25. Nehemiah exhorts
the wealthy not to enslave their brethren, for these brethren are those who have been redeemed from slavery
(v.8). This is the same argument God uses in Deut.15:15. What is encouraging about the outcome of the
incident is that the aristocracy repented and changed their ways.

The Feast of Tabernacles, the climactic feast of the Old Covenant year celebrated in the sabbath month,
assumes importance in the post-Exilic period (Hag.2:l-9; Zech.14:l6-2l). In Nehemiah chapters 8 and
following, there is a description of the activities in the sabbath month of (apparently) a Jubilee. The sabbath
month opens with the Feast of Trumpets (Lev.23:24f.). The blowing of the trumpets was to be a reminder
to the people of the Lord's covenant and redemption (cf. also Num.10:10). An exposition of the meaning of
this is seen in that Ezra read and declared the covenant to the people at this feast (Neh.8:1-12). They then
celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles (vv.13-18), during which the book of the Law of God was read daily
(cf. Deut.3l:10-13).

The effect of the study of God's Law on the people was to cause them to be aware of their sins, and led to a
covenant renewal recorded in Nehemiah 9 and 10. What is striking about the document of confession
signed on the 24th day of the sabbath month (9:38) is that it states that despite their return to the land, and
their experience of covenant blessings,
60

Behold we are slaves today,
And as to the land which Thou didst give to our fathers to eat of its fruit and its bounty,
Behold, we are slaves on it.
And its abundant produce is for the kings
Whom Thou hast set over us because of our sins;
They also rule over our bodies
And over our cattle as they please,
So we are in great distress. (vv.36f.)

Here can be seen the fulfillment of God's word to Daniel, that until the coming of the Messiah and definitive
deliverance. God's people would live under the yoke of statist, Satanic powers, an enclave of covenant
freedom in a world of slavery. Again the provisional nature of the kingdom of God in the Old Covenant
period can be seen from this.

Within this enclave of the kingdom of God, there was freedom, for the people vowed to keep the Law of
God, in particular the release of the sabbath year and of debt (10:31).


10. Slavery in the Teachings of the Messiah

Our Lord's teachings on the subject of slavery may conveniently be gathered into three groups. First, there
are teachings and parables that make the same point as is made by the history of Joseph: Those who devote
themselves to being the best possible servants of those in charge, will rise to rule. It is by service that
genuine government takes place. Attention has been drawn repeatedly throughout this monograph to Mark
10:42-45 in this regard. The same principle is implied in the parable of


Matt.24:45-47, in which eschatological benisons are the reward of faithful service to God. The organic
relationship between service and dominion receives here its ultimate expression. Similarly, the parable of
the talents, in Matt.25:l4-30, shows that God expects His servants to labor willingly in His interests, and not
merely perform grudgingly a minimum of service. The refrain of this parable , "Well done, good and
faithful slave; you were faithful with a few things, I will put you in charge of many things (vv.21 ,23),
perfectly encapsulates the principle. It is Gods intention, through His active providence, to reward faithful
service with increased dominion. That this principle is not only eschatologically but also historically
implemented is seen in the story of Joseph; though it follows as well the obvious point that God is One, and
His covenant is one, so that the eschatological administration of that covenant cannot differ in principle
from its historical implementation.

Second, there are teachings that reflect upon the legislation concerning debt slavery. Preeminent among
these is the parable of the unmerciful slave, Matt.18:2l-35. The amount owed by the unmerciful slave is
fabulous, which immediately gives the parable an eschatological cast. The slave could never have paid off
this debt, and when he is handed over into prison at the end, we are to understand that his torment will never
end. Initially, the master justly intends to sell the slave and his household into bondage to someone else, in
order to recover a portion of his loss. Because of the expressed penitence of the slave, the master declares
his debt remitted and does not sell him. The slave, however, does not analogically reproduce the masters
compassion, and refuses to remit the debts of those owing money to him, though these debts were paltry by
comparison. Thus, the master takes back his previous remission of the slave's debts, and casts the slave into
prison until he pays it a11.

While the parable is couched in the language of pecuniary debts, its meaning transcends financial matters
and lodges in the area of moral (vv.21,23,35). As we have seen, the reparation sacrifice of Leviticus 5 and
6 contemplates human sin from the perspective of a debt incurred. The forgiveness of debt and sin is not
promiscuous in the reparation sacrifice, but requires some declaration of repentance and the payment of
restitution in appropriate cases, as the parable also demonstrates. Just as God is willing, in history, to remit
debts (sins) on this basis, so analogically must we. Those who, like Peter (v.2l), question the fairness of this
exhortation are reminded by the parable that on the final day there will be a more searching accounting. In
history, man looks on the outward appearance; on the last day, hearts will be viewed.

A Biblically holistic exposition of the Lord's Prayer must embrace both the financial and moral aspects of
debt release, and must do so against the background of all that the Bible teaches on the subject. The
sabbatical debt release sheds light on the injunction, forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors"
(Matt.6:12). Viewing this against the Old Testament background, we are not here enjoined to forgive all
monetary debts promiscuously or immediately, but to observe the six year sabbatical pattern. If we do so,
61
the Lord will forgive us on the great sabbath at the end of history, the Day of the Lord. The weekly sabbath,
the Lord's Day, is a time of judgment in the special presence of Christ according to Paul (1Cor.ll:31). The
Lord's Supper, the covenant meal, eaten in the special presence of the Lord, is a covenant-renewal
celebration and thus requires self-judgment as a precondition. In this way the New Covenant weekly
sabbath worship embodies what was present in the monthly and yearly sabbaths of the Old Covenant
communion meal (Deut.14:22-27; Lev 23:23-44), reading of the covenant (Deut.3l:l0-l3), and the release of
debts (sins). If the Christian will cancel the payments owed by his debtors in the seventh year, then Christ
will cance1 his debts on the seventh day. In another setting, Jesus taught substantially the same prayer to
His disciples (Luke 1:1-4), only here the language makes explicit what is implicit in the Matthean version,
forgive us our sins, for we ourselves also forgive everyone who is indebted to us.

Third, there is light shed in the teaching of Jesus on the relation of slavery to sonship and dominion. In
John 15: 14,15, Jesus says:

You are My friends, if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you slaves; for the slave does not
know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all things that I have heard from My Father
I have made known to you.

There is a danger that this teaching can be reduced to mere sentiment. The present writer believes, however,
that there is a very specific meaning to the term 'friends, which is all important to a proper understanding of
the text. Leon Morris points out that many commentators (not including himself associate the friends, with
"a small group of specially favored peop1e who "were ca11ed Friends of the Emperor."
149
It is not
necessary to go outside Biblical revelation to understand the significance of the language, however. The
King's Friend in the Old Testament was his privy councilor. 1 Kings 4:5, in context, makes it plain that the
King's Friend was an officer in the royal cabinet. Hushai the Archite was King's Friend during part of
David's reign (2 Sam.15:37; 16:16; 1Chron.27:33). What distinguished the King's Friend, according to
Jesus, was that he was privy to everything the King himself was privy to. Thus, the King's Friend was vice-
gerent in the fullest possible sense. He was invested with all the authority of the King. Clearly, Joseph
(Gen,4l:40-44) and perhaps Mordecai (Esth.8:2,15) are examples of what is here called a King's Friend.
Joseph had been a slave, but was elevated to King's Friend. Jesus effects the same change of status in His
disciples.

The preeminent King's Friend in the Old Testament was Abraham (2 Chron.20:7; 15.41:8; Ja5.2:23). This is
obvious from Gen.18:17, where God expresses His determination to confide everything in Abraham. It is
precisely the privilege of the King's Friend to have access to all that the King knows. Abraham becomes
God's privy councilor, and he and God work together to determine what must be done with the cities of the
plain (Gen:18:23ff.) In this conversation, Abraham never loses sight of the fact that, though he is King's
Friend (and in a sense coequal with God), he is still a servant (a creature and a slave). Similarly, Jesus
reminds the disciples, right after calling them King's Friends, that they are slaves (John.l5:20). (Cf. also the
language of Matt.2l:34; 22:3; Luke 14:17-24.) The vice-gerency of man, the son of God, is always
qualified by the slave-status of creaturehood. To be a slave of God is to be a son, and to be King's Friend is
still to be but a servant par excellence. It is in the New Covenant that the concept of believer as King's
Friend comes to definitive expression. This is because the King's Friend is one who knows the full
revelation of God, and that fullness does not come until the revelation in the Son (Heb.l:1-3). Thus,
Abraham as King's Friend was such provisionally, by way of anticipation; the New Covenant believer, with
his completed canon of Scripture, Friend definitively.

Investiture with all the authority of the King, and being taken totally into His confidence, can hardly be
distinguished from adoption, even though this language is not used. It is precisely the firstborn son who, in
the household, corresponds to the Kings Friend in the palace. Thus, the King's Friend is no longer called a
slave (John 15:15), for his position is too high for that.


11. Paul on Slavery

Pauls teachings on slavery have been used throughout this monograph, particularly in the first sections. It is
useful, however, to summarize here the teachings on slavery found in Paul and in the first epistle of Peter.
They may be summarized under seven heads.

First, Paul points to the diversity God intends to exist in the unified body of Christ (1 Cor.12;12-26). While
slaves and slavery are not necessary parts of regenerate society, the condition may exist in that society

149
Leon Morris, The Gospel According to John (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1971), comm. ad loc.

62
without contradicting Christian unity. The passage goes on to emphasize the reciprocity or coequality of al
members of the body. Every member, even the seemingly weaker and less honorable, is equally necessary.

Second, Paul stresses the need for the slave to be obedient to his earthly master (Eph.6:6-8; Col.3;22-25;
1Tim.6:l-2; Tit.2:9-l0; and cf. 1 Pet.2:18-25). Slaves are to obey with fear and trembling as if the master
were Christ Himself (Eph.6:5), which is the general principle of all Godly submission to established
authority. They are to work willingly, and with good will, not grudgingly (6:6,7). They are to keep in mind
that God sees their labor, and will reward it (6:8). In Col.3:24 the reward is called "inheritance," and in
terms of all that Scripture has to say about inheritance, the concept of dominion can hardly be excised from
it. The implication is that the slave, through service, will acquire dominion, and consequently freedom.

It is Peter who sets out the hardest teaching along these lines. In 1Pet.2:18ff., slaves are told to submit
respectfully to perverse masters as well as to gentle ones. Peter knows that rebellion is a sin, while suffering
is only an inconvenience in the light of eternity. He calls attention to the sufferings of the Slave of YHWH
(Is.53), Whose suffering was wholly undeserved, but Who did not revile, or threaten, but trusted completely
in God vv.21-23). Christ, then, becomes the Exemplar for all slave service, including the most degraded.

Paul leaves no doubt as to the sinfulness of rebellion. Immediately after enjoining slaves to hearty
obedience, he writes:

If anyone advocates a different doctrine. and does not agree with sound words, those of our Lord
Jesus Christ, and with the doctrine conforming to godliness, he is conceited, understands nothing;
but has a morbid interest in controversial questions and disputes about words, out of which arise
envy, strife, abusive language, evil suspicions, and constant friction between men of depraved
mind and deprived of the truth. ...(1Tim.6:3-5a)

Although this must not be limited in its reflection solely to the question of slavery and rebellion, nonetheless
it surely embraces the matter. The rebel, as Paul describes him, in his teaching does not conform to ethical
godliness, but has a way of stirring up strife and conflict. Submission , not rebellion, is the way to Godly
dominion, and the only answer to the condition of slavery.

Third, Paul enjoins charity on the master. Were a modern Christian writing these epistles, he doubtless
would devote most of his attention to exhortations directed to the masters; but Paul devotes only two verses
to them Eph.6:9; Col.4:1. His exhortation is to fairness, and he reminds the master that he has a Lord in
heaven Who will take account of his actions. Paul seems to regard the possible abuse of power by the
Christian master as far more unlikely than a rebellious spirit on the part of the Christian slave, so he devotes
most of his writing to the latter.

Fourth, Paul teaches and shows by his actions that conversion to Christian faith does not automatically free
slaves (Book of Philemon). The New Covenant is no more revolutionary than the Old in this respect. The
runaway slave, Onesimus, is returned to his Christian master Philemon, even though Onesimus has
converted in the meantime. Paul encourages Philemon not to punish Onesimus for running away, for to do
so would be to hurt Paul, who is as close to Onesimus as his very heart (v.12). Oneness in Christ should
lead to charitable dealings, and obviate harshness, which is the point also of Lev.25:39. Onesimus is still
Philemon's property, so that Paul did not want to make use of him without Philemon's consent (v.14).

Paul states that the converted Onesimus is no longer a slave, but more than a slave, a beloved brother"
(v.16), implying that conversion to Christianity removes the heart of slavery from a man and gives him a
heart of brotherhood. This does not necessarily imply that Onesimus should be freed. If New Covenant
baptism follows the same pattern as Old Covenant circumcision--and the present writer believes that it does
and should--Onesimus would have been baptised as part of Philemon's household. Paul distinguishes that,
by implication, from true conversion, but still does not draw from true conversion any inference of
automatic emancipation.

The next verse seems to imply more, however. If then you regard me as a partner, accept him as me"
(v.17). Philemon is encouraged, if not actually ordered, to accept and regard Onesimus as a partner in the
same sense as he regards Paul as a partner. The word for partner, koinonon) means "one who shares or
partakes," so that the verse might be paraphrased, "If you regard me as sharing in the same enterprise as
yourself the gospel , receive him as you would me." In such a sense, the verse only implies that Philemon
should treat Onesimus as a joint heir of the grace of life, not that he should set him free. At the same time, a
holistic understanding of Paul's condition as a free agent of the gospel might imply that if Onesimus is to be
as Paul, Onesimus must be free.

63
At the same time, Paul goes on in v.1B to express an awareness of the need for restitution if Onesimus has
stolen anything from Philemon. Paul stands ready to make it good, since Onesimus will not have the money
for it. This raises two questions. First, if Paul is so concerned about Philemon's financial investments and
losses, how can he imply that Onesimus must should be freed without payment? If Paul is solicitous about
the money Philemon lost when Onesimus robbed him (if he did), what about the money Philemon will lose
when Onesimus is freed? And second, if Paul has the wherewithal to make restitution, why does he not offer
to purchase Onesimus and free him, or keep him as a partner?

For these reasons, the present writer does not believe Paul is hinting that Onesimus should simply be set
free. Rather, Paul clearly and unmistakably teaches Philemon that Onesimus is now a Christian slave,
entitled to the benefits of that milder form of brotherly slavery set forth in the Old Testament in terms of the
Hebrew slave. Such an elevation to brotherly status carries with it a much closer kind of relationship with
the master, and implies that Onesimus can be freed he wants to be and when he can make arrangements to
cover Philemon's financial loss.

The proof that Christian masters were not required to free their slaves, and that many did not (if any did), is
seen in 1Tim.6:2, which singles out those Christian slaves who have Christian masters and exhorts them to
obedience. There were Christian masters who held Christian slaves in the apostolic church; they were not
penalized in any way, and were not exhorted to give them up.

It is helpful to read Paul in terms of the social context of day. While Greco-Roman slavery in the first
century was not as easy as Jewish slavery, the slave still had many opportunities to become free. Bartchy
writes:

For example, a slave living during the first century A.D. was often granted the right of private
ownership, and to this extent he was considered a person. While the domestic slave living under
Greek law quite often had no possessions, this was not the result of his inability to own property
but rather of the unfavorable situation of his kind of slavery. That is, as a domestic slave he was
rewarded not with money but with food and shelter. Thus some domestic slaves sought and
obtained permission to take employment beyond their normal assignments.
150


Thus, a slave might save up and buy his freedom. Moreover, manumission was a common reward for good
behavior. Indeed, especially among the Greeks, it was recognized that the best way to secure efficient
service from domestic slaves and skilled workmen was to make manumission the final reward for good
work."
151
Thus Paul, in stressing just how useful Onesimus had become, was laying the foundation for
manumission. If Philemon were similarly impressed, manumission might follow of its own accord.

Such practices are fully in keeping with the tendency of Biblical slave legislation to produce free men.
Rather than order the freeing of Christian slaves, the New Testament sets up the preconditions for such
liberation--good service, wiling and hearty obedience--and lets the matter take its course. In the first
century context, all of Pauls admonitions to Christian slaves would have been fruitful their natural
manumission in time.

Fifth, in 1Cor.7:21-23, Paul enjoins Christians not to allow themselves to become slaves if they can help it:

21. Were you called while a slave? Do not worry about it; (NASV margin: Let it not be a care to
you;) but if you are able also to become free, rather do that (margin: use that).

22. For he who was called in the Lord while a slave, is the Lord's freedman; likewise he who was
called while free, is Christ's slave.

23. You were bought with a price; do not become slaves of men.

Verse 21 seems to contemplate a situation wherein a slave has been given the option of manumission, and
Paul is exhorting Christian slaves to take advantage of this opinion. Other translations and interpretations
read the verse as Paul's injunction not to take the offer of manumission. Neither of these possible readings
can be correct, however, because manumission was never optional in the Greco-Roman civilization. A slave
was not offered manumission; he was manumitted, whether he liked it or not.
152
Thus, the proper meaning
of the verse is that a Christian slave should faithfully pursue his concrete calling under Christ in whatever

150
S. Scott Bartchy, First Century Slavery and 1 Corinthians 7:21. Society of Biblical Literature Dissertation Series 11 (Missoula,
MT; Society of Biblical Literature, University of Montana, 1973), pp.41f.
151
Ibid., p.82 and following.
152
Ibid., pp.96ff.
64
condition he finds himself, slave or freed. Such a reading is in keeping with the whole thrust of 1Cor.7.
Bartchy paraphrases it this way, Were you a slave when you were called? Don't worry about it. But if,
indeed, your owner should manumit you, by all means (now as a freedman) live according to God's call."
153


The 23rd verse is more relevant to the question of enslavement. Bartchy's conclusions are as follows:

4) In light of the well-known Greek practice of time-limited self-sale into slavery,
154
it is easy to
conclude that in 7:23 Paul was saying straightforwardly: Your total somatic existence belongs to
God. Therefore do not sell yourselves into slavery." The pertinence of such an admonition is
suggested by the specific case, reported in 1Clement 55:2, of self-sale into slavery by Christians
who wanted to gain money to ransom others.

5) The vagueness of this verse, however, is increased by the verb used in 7:23b. It is not a term
expressing the idea "to sell" but rather the ambiguous word "to become." This general way of
speaking seems to refer to any of the ways by which the Christian might become enslaved to
anyone else than Christ. From this perspective, the verse could be read as an expression in yet
another key (see 7:19c) of the basic exhortation in 7:17-24. That is, to become slaves of men
would be to regard social or religious status as more decisive than the calling from God in
Christ.
155


Thus, there are good reasons for finding physical and spiritual slavery in 7:23. It may be that Paul intended
to use language that would cover both kinds of slavery, since in his anthropology the spiritual and the
physical are very closely related.

Believers could become slaves by becoming indebted during the Old Covenant. In Romans 13:8 (in context
of v.7), Paul enjoins Christians to avoid debt. By avoiding debt, they would avoid the possibility of
enslavement. Clearly, temporary slavery to payoff an honest debt is preferable to defaulting altogether, so
Pauls injunction not to become slaves of men ought not to be read as an exhortation to irresponsibility.
Rather, Paul's exhortation is that Christians must not voluntarily enter a life of slavery, spiritual or physical.

This excludes from New Covenant believers the possibility of permanent household slavery, which was
open to Old Covenant believers (cf. chapter V.A.5). Neither foreskins nor ears are to be circumcised in a
physical sense anymore.

Sixth, Paul contrasts the Old Covenant and the New in terms of slavery and freedom. The Old Covenant
was written on stone (2 Cor.3:3) and was a ministry of death (v.6), while the New Covenant is written on
the heart (v.3) and is a ministry of the Spirit (v.8), and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty"
(v.17). Thus, the Old Covenant was characterized not by liberty but by bondage.


Similarly, in Galatians 4 and 5, the Old Covenant is spoken of in these terms:

4:1 Now I say, as long as the heir is a child, he does not differ at all from a slave although he is
owner of everything,
2. but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father.

The present writer understands these verses, and the rest of Galatians 4, to be saying that the Old Covenant,
when contrasted with the New, was a bondage. If contrasted with the nations round about them, Israel was
free under God's gracious covenant; but if contrasted with the position of believers in the New Covenant,
they were children and as such did not differ much from slaves. To go back under the Old Covenant would
be to re-enslave oneself (5:1); but Christians have been called to freedom (5:13). This freedom in the Spirit
does not negate the Law, but reestab1ishes it in power (5:13-16).

From a consideration of these verses, one arrives at a set of contrasts:

Old Covenant New Covenant

weak through the flesh strong through the Spirit
ministered death ministers life

153
Ibid., p.159
154
Ibid., pp.46-48
155
Ibid., pp181f.

65
bondage liberty
Divine Suzerainty prominent Divine Fatherhood prominent

The present writer understands these contrasts of power, not of Law, except "law" in the sense of
administration (Heb.7:l2). It was not the Law of God that was imperfect under the Old Covenant
(Rom.3:3l); rather, the problem was that the Spirit had not been given in fullness because Christ was not yet
glorified (John 7:39). Under the Old Covenant, the Spirit was not given in a definitive, full, and abiding
manner; as a result, the Law was seldom obeyed, and could only minister condemnation (Jer.31 :31-34;
Ezk.36:24-27). Thus, the Old Covenant was Spiritually provisional and anticipatory, awaiting the
glorification of Christ, after which the definitive and full form of the Covenant could be administered.

During the provisional administration of the kingdom under the Old Covenant, God's people kept slipping
back into bondage to sin consequently into bondage to the nations, all of which were in bondage to Satan.
This entire system of things was broken by the work of Christ, Who crushed Satan's head. As a result, the
nations are no longer definitively in bondage to Satan, and are open to the gospel (Matt.28: 18-20;
Rev.20:1-6). The Stone cut without hands has shattered the world-imperial system, and is now growing to
fill the world (Dan.2).

The provisionality and limited scope of Spiritual power entailed a restriction of Gods presence among the
people in the Old Covenant. Thus, God appeared in the Old Covenant more as a distant Suzerain and less
as a Father, while the New Covenant stresses adoption, sonship and the familial character of God's
relationship with His people. While God's fatherhood is pointed out in Ex.4:22f. as the legal foundation of
God's claim upon Israel, throughout the rest of the Law God presents Himself as Suzerain and Slave-master.
Israel is now His slave, no longer Pharaoh's. The fullness of proximity manifest in the New Covenant means
that Gods Fatherhood can eclipse His Suzerainty, though the latter remains ever also the case (cf. chapter
II.A above).

Thus, the Old Covenant manifested itself as a slave economy for at least three reasons. First, Israel was
almost always in bondage, more or less stringently, to the nations surrounding her, which were in bondage
themselves to Satan. Second, the Law, severed from the Spirit, could only minister bondage to its hearers,
and the provisional presence of the Spirit in Israel was insufficiently powerful to effect liberty. Third, since
God was comparatively not very near to His people, and since He had not yet revealed Himself in His Son,
the relationship between God and man in the Old Covenant was portrayed in terms of master and slave,
seldom as father and son.

Because the Spirit has come now in power, and permanently, there is no longer any reason for Christians to
engage in voluntary enslavement. The change is a change in the amount of power available to the regenerate
person, a change in situation, in the nearness of God, not a change in the Law or a change in the quality of
the regenerate personality. The availability of the Spirit makes continual liberty possible, and Christians are
to take advantage of that provision.

Seventh, Paul associates slavery and death, liberty and life. The curse on Canaan, slavery, rightly
manifested itself as death in the end. This may be seen in two ways.. First, apart from the Spirit, the Law
places men in bondage, and when God1s Law came into Canaan the Canaanites were placed under that
Law. The Law came (Rom.7:9) into their lives, and they died. While the Law was relatively farther away,
under "common grace," they could live the marginal life of slavery when God drew near, they died. Apart
from the Spirit, the Law not only enslaves, it also kills. The difference is not in kind but in degree. Under
common grace" the Law works to restrain evil by placing men in fear and bondage When, however, II
common grace runs out for a given culture, and that cultures depravity becomes too fully manifest, the
Law goes further and kills. With the coming of the Spirit in power, the Law no longer enslaves or kills, but
assumes its proper place within the Covenant of Grace as the standard of righteousness, and as such the Law
shows the way to covenant blessing through obedience.

A second way of understanding the connection between slavery and death was pointed out in chapter II.A.4.
Slavery to anything except God, man's only proper Suzerain, is destructive to the life of man. Bondage to
the creature can only bring death to one whose constitution demands bondage to his Creator. Bondage to the
creature is what sin is (Rom.l:23), so that sin or "bondage to sin brings death. It is through the Law that sin
works death, for the Law is but a transcription of the character of God and the character of His analogue.
The Law shows what man at his root really is, and for man to sin against the Law is to oppose himself. "He
that sins against Me wrongs his own soul; all those who hate Me love death" (Prov.8:36). Thus, the
following four statements are equivalent:

1. Man in sin is killed by the Law.
66
2. Man enslaved to anything other than God is destroyed by the antagonistic relationship he sustains to his
own fundamental constitution.
3. Man enslaved to anything other than God is killed by the Law.
4. Man sold as a slave to sin (Rom.7:l4) is killed by the Law.

This correlation of enslavement to anything other than God with death under the Law explains how the
curse of slavery on Canaan could be fulfilled by Canaan's destruction. It also shows that Christ, in assuming
the position of a slave, also assumed the curse of the Law, death (Phil.2:7-8). For it was not simply the
slave-flesh of man-the-creature that He assumed; such would not have entailed the progression to death.
Rather, it was the slave-flesh of man-the-sinner, under the Law," flesh which was "likeness of sinful"
though impeccable (Rom.8:3), so that His incarnation was bathed in blood: the blood of his birth from
Mary's womb, the blood of His circumcision, and the blood of the circumcision of His ear (Ps.40:6;
Heb.10:5). His was not an Adamic slavery, but a bloody slavery in the sphere of death and uncleanness.
He assumed that bondage which belongs to the estate of sinful slavery, and that death as well. So doing, He
set His people free. Because the blood of His circumcised ear forever marks the threshold of God's house,
that doorway is forever open (Heb.6:19; Matt.27:51). Because He was nailed to the doorpost, the exiled
sons of God may now reenter His house, not as the slaves they petition to be, but as the sons they are.

In union with Him, slavery is privilege, for t is the means to dominion. In union with Him, slavery may
entail the greater degree of suffering or the greatest degree of martyrdom, but the Christian slave-martyr
knows that the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the church. The end of suffering, of slavery, is dominion.
The early church was able to prove her Lords faithfulness in this. Oppressed by the statist power of the
fourth beast, she found that the very statist power which had bound and slain her Lord (John 19:12,16) was
unable to withstand the Power of the resurrection in its midst, and in time was overcome by the suffering
slave service of the saints. The enslaving state, built on the human sacrifices of God's people (Luke 13:1),
was overcome by the sacrifice of the Slave of YHWH.
67
CHAPTER VII


CONCLUSIONS

Man is a creature, and as such he is the slave of his Creator. The rebellion of man, however, perverted his
life and entered him into a realm of death. From this sinfulness flowed a warping of human social and
dominical relationships. Gods remedy for sin is to destroy it, and to let it destroy itself, since sin is self-
destructive. Since man will have some other god as his master, his life is characterized by slavery, but of an
oppressive sort. The eschatology of such suzerainty slavery is death and destruction.

On the other hand, God instituted household slavery as a check on sin, and as a mild form of death and
destruction designed to purge the sin while offering life to the sinner. Household slavery as an institution in
Scripture is designed to discipline the sinner, and fit him for freedom in a Godly society. As such, its goal
is its own self-elimination.

This grace, resurrection grace, is offered to the sinner on the basis of the substitutionary enslavement and
death of the Son of God. Before that definitive work was accomplished, the world lay in darkness, and
oppression and slavery were the order of the day. After the resurrection of Christ, the Power from on high
descended to liberate the souls of men from the shackles of sin, and thereby to roll back and overcome the
slavish institutions of the age of darkness.

It is God's design that true dominion is exercised by means of willing service. For this reason, and because
submission to authority and suffering under it if need be. are God's means of purging indwelling sin from
the believer's being, the key to dominion is through service. The true liberation theology of Scripture
asserts this paradox, a stumbling block for the rebellious: liberation from oppression is by means of
submission under the yoke of oppression, joyful and willing service, and martyrdom if need be.

Is Biblical household slavery amenable to modern society as a cure for social ills? This monograph has
argued that enslavement by war, permanent household slavery, and Jubilary slavery are not fitted to the
New Covenant situation. Enslavement as a means to pay debts, however, is manifestly preferable to
debtor's prison on the one hand and irresponsible declarations of bankruptcy on the other. Enslavement for
restitution is manifestly preferable to the execution or imprisonment of thieves. Such persons could be sold
to local businesses or large corporations, for set terms, to be trained and supervised and rehabilitated. The
requirement that a man provide his wife with insurance money would be a healthy custom to re-institute,
and in such circumstances the custom of purchasing girls as wives might once again prove to be grace to the
poor, as it was in Israel. Finally, while the cruel slave trade is not found in the Western world today,
Christians in North Africa might consider the value of purchasing slaves as a means of evangelization, as
under the Old Covenant.

The history of slavery in America illustrates the point that a casual approach to the Biblical regulations
surrounding household slavery leads to much abuse and suffering. If slavery were instituted in our day as a
means of dealing with debt and restitution, we may be permitted to express our hope that Biblical Law will
be taken more seriously than it has been in recent years by evangelical theologians.

A further observation might be made. The English term slave has rightly acquired a considerable stigma as
a result of the history of slavery in America. There is no need to retain the term. A fine substitute would be
indentured service, though doubtless other terminology could be found as well. Sensitivity toward the
feelings of the Negro population in America dictates that if slavery were to be instituted in a Biblical form,
some other terminology be adopted.

68
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The New King James Bible. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1979.


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International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences. S.v.
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The New Bible Dictionary. S.v.
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"Expiation," by Leon Morris.
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70

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71
IV. Articles

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72
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V. Unpublished Material

Frame, John M. Doctrine of the Word of God. Unpublished Syllabus. Philadelphia: Westminster
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Huls, Albert. The Christian Religion as Service: a study of the word-groups ABAD, DOULEUEIN,
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Morecraft, Joseph C. III. Commentary on the Book of Proverbs. Unpublished material circulated by the
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