Wintery Knight

…integrating Christian faith and knowledge in the public square

Does the Bible condone slavery?

Matt and Madeleine Flanagan have a wonderful post up to answer this thorny question. These guys are professional apologists, not amateurs, like me! They have footnotes in their post!

Your strategy

If someone asks you a question like this, there are two responses you need to make:

  1. Explain why the Bible does not condone slavery
  2. Ask the challenger why slavery is wrong, on their worldview

Let’s start with number 1.

Does the Bible condone slavery?

MandM’s response is based on the writings of John Locke in his “Second Treatise on Civil Government”. Locke based his argument on a reading of Exodus 21, where the rules of “slavery” are defined.Locke’s argument is that the definition of slavery in the Bible is not the same as the slavery of modern times.

MandM quotes Locke’s argument. Then they summarize it:

[1] If a person is a slave then that person is “under the absolute, arbitrary power of another, to take away his life, when he pleases.”
[2] The institution referred to in scripture that people could sell themselves into, was not one where they were “under an absolute, arbitrary, despotical power.”

Then they explain some reasons why the indentured servitude in the Bible is not the same as slavery in the last few hundred years.

  • there was no kidnapping of an indentured servant, they served voluntarily in order to get rid of a debt
  • there was no racial component to indentured servitude
  • killing an indentured servant was a capital offense, striking one was illegal
  • indentured servitude was for 6 years, not for a lifetime
  • if the indentured servant fled from an abusive master, it was illegal to return teh servant to his master

References are provided for each of these points.

So the Biblical concept of “slavery” wasn’t what we mean as slavery when we look at British, Arab, or American slavery in history. Instead, the Bible is talking about indentured servitude.

What’s wrong with slavery, on atheism?

I think a more fundamental question that needs to be pressed on the atheist is whether slavery is wrong on their worldview. I’ve argued elsewhere that worldviews like atheism do not support the minimal requirements for rational morality.

Specifically, atheism does not ground:

1) Objective moral values: where is the standard?
2) Objective moral duties: to whom are moral duties owed?
3) Moral accountability: will I get caught if I am immoral?
4) Free will: are humans capable of free choice?
5) Ultimate significance: does it matter ultimately?

NEVER let atheists get away with making any moral statements, because even though an individual atheist might get lucky and act morally based on the objective moral law that God actually made, their actions are not rationally grounded by their worldview. Call them out!

This actually came out in the comments for MandM’s post, where John W. Loftus, a prominent lay-atheist, chimed in.

Here is a sample comment:

Rob says: (from Manawatu Christian Apologetics)

I presume John Loftus is a born-again atheist? If this is so, then upon what grounds would he criticize slavery at all?

If atheism is true truth, then I fail to see any possible ground that could provide a basis for outrage against moral evil, since moral evil cannot exist.

Indeed, if the universe is material only, then at what time did atoms create morality?

So John Loftus has to assume a Biblical morality to attack Biblical morality, but he would then be rejecting the basis for his indignation at slavery in the South, or any other slavery for that matter. He cannot logically have his cake and eat it too.

I can’t recommend this post and the comments enough. This is a great post and the comments are totally awesome, although you may find them difficult to understand. You will learn a lot from this post and exchange.

I am really impressed with MandM’s blog. Please pay them a visit and have a look yourself.

Related questions

You may be interested in similar challenges made by atheists that I answered in previous posts.

More questions here.

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43 Responses

  1. Problem two is a basic red herring. You see, the reductio ad absurdum strategy does not demand that the person using it must believe anything when using it. When using it we’re saying that based on the grounds you already accept (i.e. slavery is wrong) that, in my case anyway, God should’ve been clearer on this issue in the Bible and the church.

    • I snipped out the links to external sites and the advertisement for your book.

      So, to boil it down to essentials, you’re basically saying that you know that morality is an illusion, but that you find it useful to adopt the Christian morality, in which you don’t believe, in order to bash Christianity and to deceive Christians into thinking that you actually care about rational argumentation instead of sophistry.

      But on your view, slavery and everything else is not morally wrong. Nothing is morally wrong. We are just accidents, machines made out of meat. No matter what we do, we die anyway.

      I think it’s interesting to consider how a person will act if they believe that morality is an illusion. Oh, wait. We know how they act. We know by looking at the great mass murders of history, that flowed directly from the passionate atheism of dictators like Pol Pot, Idi Amin, Stalin and Mao. That’s 100 million dead. Not to mention the 25-50 million deaths from secular-left environmentalist extremism (banning DDT in Africa), or the 49 million unborn killed by secular-left sexual libertinism (in the USA alone).

      Loftus – you and I are not even in the same universe on morality.

  2. makarios says:

    Thanks – yet another helpful and interesting post. Thanks also for the links.

  3. Madeleine says:

    Thanks for your praise and the link. The group of kiwi Christians commenting in that discussion thread are all very good at what they do and most have post-graduate degrees in fields ranging through philosophy, theology, science and law hence the calibre of the debate.

    Loved this:

    “I snipped out the links to external sites and the advertisement for your book”

    • I enjoyed reading that post, and I will be following the essays that appear on your site. It’s truly high quality stuff.

      I blogrolled the Manawatu Christian Apologetics web site. You guys are punching WAY above your weight. Small country, BIG apologetics capabilities!

      Thanks for visiting!

  4. Madeleine says:

    There is a good team in New Zealand and being a small country we know the importance of working together. Equally we know the importance of working globally as well which is why we enjoy your blog and really appreciate your visitors leaving comments logged in as then we can discover other good blogs.

  5. [...] LINKS TO THIS POST:John W. Loftus Nitpickers Have Started to AttackGlenn Peoples Skeptics and the annoyance of the little things…. like facts.John W. Loftus Madeleine Flannagan is Happy to be Treated as Women Were in the Bible!Wintery Knight Does the Bible condone slavery? [...]

  6. jerry says:

    Since god’s decisions are arbitrary, what makes them praise worthy or worthy of worship? He could have told Moses to rape everyone woman you covet, torture children in your spare time, kill people you do not like, etc, and since that was his will that would be your new moral standard.

    But let me bring it back to the topic at hand and quote the bible:

    However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way. (Leviticus 25:44-46 NLT)

    Seems very contrary to what you’re claiming. The bible supports modern slavery.

    The six year limit you talk of ONLY applies to hebrews:

    If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may plainly declare, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would rather not go free.’ If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his master forever. (Exodus 21:2-6 NLT)

    And murdering a slave is permitted (it seems god does want us to kill, just not quickly):

    When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property. (Exodus 21:20-21 NAB)

    So you had to beat them hard enough that they would die, just not die immediately

    • Drew says:

      It’s true that foreigners could become permanent slaves. That’s because the foreigners were generally enemies of Israel. If an enemy became enslaved permanently, that was his punishment for fighting Isreal.

    • Scott says:

      First of all, with the first text you are quoting from a paraphrase. The word “permanent” is not in the original Hebrew text. The word “forever” should be translated “age-abiding,” “lasting,” or “for ages.” The verse needs to be interpreted in light of verse ten of the same chapter:
      “And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year, and proclaim liberty throughout all the land unto ALL the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his possession, and ye shall return every man unto his family.” Leviticus 25:10.
      So the verse you quoted, in context, says that the foreigner (who sold himself into slavery since forcing a freeman into slavery is punishable by death according to Exodus 21:16) and his children of the wife provided by his master could be indentured servants for up to fifty years until they were freed, while Israelites would only work up to seven years until they were freed.

      Therefore, Leviticus 25:44-46 still only refers to temporary indentured servitude for paying off debt, not modern slavery.

    • Scott says:

      The second verse you quoted still does not say that non-Hebrews can be kept permanently or forced into slavery.

      The third verse you quoted does not say it is right to beat the indendtured servant; however, it assumes people will because it was an agrarian society depending on labor so it gives what is to be punished.

      Also, you need to listen to what the Bible teaches about slavery elsewhere. For instance, servants who were treated poorly could legally run away without being punished or returned to their masters according to Deuteronomy 23:15-16: “Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee; He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.”
      The New Testament also says that the servant and the master are equal in the eyes of God, clearly condemning racial slavery: “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither servant nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” Galatians 3:28.
      The Bible clearly condemned modern chattel slavery in 1 Timothy 8-9 when is says forcing freemen into servitude if not to pay of debt is ungodly and sinful.

      Hence your claims that the Bible supports slavery are incorrect, although it does not forbid temporary indentured servitude. That is still much more merciful than forcing those in debt into Debtors’ Prison for life, as was done by secularists in the West up until the 19th century.

      I will not respond to any more of your claims. Do your research in the future.

  7. wbmoore says:

    It seems to me there is a confusion between regulation of a behavior and condoning said behavior. For instance, we see in the Law where men could give women a letter of divorce (Deuteronomy 24:1), but we see in what Jesus said that it was because of men’s hard hearts (Mark 10:4-5).

    The same is true for slavery. We see that when we look at how Paul told people to get free from slavery if they could (1 Corinthians 7:21).

    • jerry says:

      it’s impossible to get free from slavery when you’re some one else’s property because you’re an outsider (i.e, non-hebrew).

      You can try and twist your perception of the bible, but it spells it’s truths out very clearly – slavery is acceptable per the bible and so is killing your slave as long as he/she suffers for a day or two from your beating/murder attempt

  8. wbmoore says:

    Jerry,

    When you want to condemn God, it sounds good to say a slave can’t get out of slavery. And while it is not easy, there are some who have gotten their freedom and even today there are some slaves who do gain their freedom. Philemon was a book written about someone who had been a slave and was no longer – Paul asked his former owner to charge whatever was owed by the former slave to him. So yes, its possible.

    And there’s no twisting of the Bible when I tell you the truth.

    But you’re problem is not with what the text states, it seems to me. Your problem is with God. You seem to think God is someone He is not.

    Do you think God should have done something for you or someone you care about that He did not, or that He should not have done or allowed something that has occurred?

    Things happen in our lives for a number of reasons. Sometimes it is so people will be able to find God. Sometimes it is so they will be able to help others. Sometimes it is so others will be able to help them. Sometimes it is because people make choices that hurt others. Sometimes it is because people make choices that hurt themselves. There are a number of reasons why things happen. Sometimes things happen that enslave us in anger or fear or even worse.

    God wants people to be free. We know this because the truth will set you free – and the truth is God loves you. God wants you to know He wants you to change – to accept His Son as the one who died so you could have eternal life. But you can be free – just accept what God has done for you.

    • jerry says:

      Drew,

      How do you know what god wants? Has he come to you and told you these enlightening truths? No, he hasn’t because he does not exist. God couldn’t do anything for me because he is an imaginary being created by people who do not want to feel alone and to create a level of control over the populace, nothing more. But back on topic, if God wanted people to be free, he would have stated in his bible exactly that, instead he made those statements that I quoted.

      In short, I’m not looking to condemn god anymore than I’m looking to condemn a leprachaun – because neither exist. The question that wintery was asking was does the bible allow slavery and I showed very clearly that it does and this book has been used to commit atrocities through out history and enslave entire populations (including the christians – more of mental slavery nowadays).

      Jerry

      • Leno says:

        “if God wanted people to be free, he would have stated in his bible exactly that” Adam never asked to be free. Rather, God choose Adam (Man) to be free.

        “How do you know what god wants?” How could you? How can you know someone you say doesn’t exist? Your quote from Leviticus to show it really was modern day slavery is equivication at best. Exodus 21:20-21 does not say to slaves “die, just not die immediately” for all you know it could be that if the slave did die from the injuries it may not have been intentional for why would they destroy their property?

      • Scott says:

        You have just commited two logical errors: reducto ad absurdum and an ad hominem attack.
        Had the U.S. government followed the Bible it would have put to death the American Colonial Slavetraders as Exodus 21:16 commands.
        Christians are not “mental slaves” to Christianity anymore than atheists are “mental slaves” to atheism. It is a belief system that people can choose to leave at any time.

      • Robert says:

        Here is a link to arguments for the existence of God:

        http://philofreligion.homestead.com/files/Theisticarguments.html

  9. wbmoore says:

    Jerry,

    I’m not Drew, but I DO know what God wants – at least in part. In some cases, God HAS come to me and told me directly what He wanted me to do. In other cases, He has relied upon the BIble to guide me based upon principles He laid out within the text.

    And yes, God exists – more surely than you exist. You could be a figment or someone pretending to be who you claim to be. But God created us all. So if we’re figments, it would be of God’s mind.

    you are mistaken in what you understand the BIble to condone. I have shown very clearly that you have mistaken regulating something with condoning it. I have also shown that God is clear to be free if you can be.

    But you see, God gives us free will – God allows us to choose whether to love God and love others, or not. But that free will affects us all. If have the free will to choose to drink or drive – but that choice could kill someone. In the same way, you have the choice to love God and others, or not. If you don’t, you could harm someone. The same is true for slavery. Allowing someone to make a slave (as opposed to killing them) does not mean you are condoning said behavior. It means you are giving people free will. But just because God gives you the free will to choose does not mean He wants you to do it.

    But again, it does not seem your problem is not with the Bible, or even if God exists. Your problem is with God Himself. For some reason you are apparently so angry at God or so unsure of what you believe that you come to read a Christian blog and try to make God look bad. Why is that?

  10. Retha says:

    Jerry, you said murdering a slave is permitted. Have you read the piece that Wintery Knight refers to (the Matt and Madeleine Flanagan post)? It directly mentions the verse you mention, and the meanings of the Hebrew words involved.

    Some interpret this passage to mean that because a slave is the property of another they can severely beat the slave and providing the beating is not fatal, there is no punishment. This fails to deal adequately with the context and the Hebrew text; the word translated as ‘property’ here is actually ‘silver’ (a reference to money) and the word translated ‘punishment’ here is not the usual word for punishment. Christopher Wright notes that the word implies “the shedding of the blood of the master of the slave”[17] and so refers to capital punishment. It is used in direct contrast with the same word in the previous verse where it is stated that deliberately killing an ebed is to be avenged. Therefore it does not say the person will not be punished for beating a slave, it says he will not be executed for it unless he kills the slave. For further evidence that the passage is not a licence to beat, a couple of verses later even causing a minor injury on an ebed, such as a bruise, is explicitly condemned.

    Can you give a better explanation of the context and Hebrew meanings of the words?

    • Hey Retha, how are you? Thank you so much for coming to the rescue! I’m been trying to put together a new computer all day and just got it working, but I’ve been watching these comments hoping someone would defeat Jerry decisively. I think you did it!

      Jerry, please respond to Retha’s point. Are you able to interpret the Hebrew better than the Hebrew expert?

      (It might not be a bad idea to re-read the article I linked to one more time)

      • jerry says:

        I don’t have to interpret it better than a Hebrew expoert – the bible has already been interpreted and the passages I quoted are just that from the bible. Retha is quoting someone that did not like what the bible said, so they try to use a modern context to translate an ancient text – it doesn’t work that way. The passages I quoted are very clearly stated in the bible – you can beat your slave to death as long as they do not die immediately and this is because they are your property that can be handed down to your kids – you own them as property.

        I know this doesn’t ring well with Christians, but to say that a modern expert knows better than the past 2 eons of biblical experts and interpreters doesn’t make sense. On top of that, the various churches don’t buy Retha’s expert’s ideas since they haven’t changed the bible.

        My analysis stands.

        • And the analysis of the Hebrew expert stands. Perhaps if you could find someone who actually had your view published in a peer-reviewed journal, or who had sustained your view in a debate? It seems to me that difficulties in the Bible should be interpreted using scholarship. E.g. – if the Bible has a word in there like “son of man”, we should then consult an expert to know that “son of man” doesn’t necessarily mean what an English speaking atheist in the 20th century who reads atheist web sites for verses out of context thinks it means. It may be that we need a scholar to come along and point us to the book Daniel and to explain that “son of man” represents a divine figure who coems in judgment of humanity, and that’s how Jews understood that phrase. Similarly with other words like resurrection, slavery, etc.

          • jerry says:

            And how do you know this expert is right? All he can do is speculate what the language meant in context of a civilization that is 2000 years dead. I can find plenty of PhD’s that will have differing views from the Hebrew expert, much like the poeple I was arguing with were able to quote PhD’s that “knew” 9/11 was a conspiracy. And much like the christians that started the slave trade were able to quote the experts of their day on what the meaning of those passages meant and why it supported their world view.

          • Go ahead and produce one who has a different view than the Hebrew expert.

  11. vic says:

    that guy’s understanding of the Bible is horrible at best. he has an agenda to discredit that which he does not WANT to believe in. God is VERY real.

    • jerry says:

      God is real only in the minds of christians. Like the 9/11 conspiracy theorists (which I had to spend a good deal of last night arguing with, and ironically enough, where all devout christians) people don’t like things that can’t be easily explained. Why did 9/11 happen and why couldn’t we stop it. Instead of accepting that evil happens (and none of them wanted to) they came to believe these elaborate conspiracy theories. The same concept applies to the religious – instead of accepting that science hasn’t had enough time to discover, elaborate theories are created. A god that no one has ever witnessed nor can we prove/disprove his existence for someone reason decided one day to create an entire universe. Then billions of years later decided to create us. Then decided to hide his existence except for clues given to our ancestors in a time of extreme superstition and ignorance. Christianity, and religion in general is dangerous because it makes us believe we know more than we do. There’s no need to research medicine – if god wants us to die, it’s his will. There’s no need for science, god did it. God didn’t write the bible because he doesn’t exist. The bible was written by many mortal people, hence it’s many inconsistencies and it’s rampant immoral messages. If anyone today wrote a book as incosistent as the bible is and then tried to claim it was the word of a divine all knowing being, they would be locked up in a mental institution.

      • I understand that this is your view. So the only thing do now is to ask: “what arguments do you have to believe this?”. It seems to me that you’ve constructed an entire worldview based on an emotional response to God. Maybe you don’t like God and maybe you don’t like Christians and maybe you believe all kinds of things that you’ve never investigated, like how science and medicine developed. Fine. But some of us have looked into these things and our decisions are based on a different process than yours. For example, I would not put the cosmic microwave background radiation together with conspiracy theories.

        Regarding these other Christians, I am sorry that you have to deal with them, but I doubt whether they are Christians. Not everybody who claims to be something is something, and there are an awful lot of ignorant people who label themselves a certain way but who are not really followers of Jesus.

        • jerry says:

          I like christians (in general) and I mostly like their moral views. Having never believed in God and never raised with God, I guess I have a hard time with the fact so many people do believe in him. It wasn’t until I moved to the Midwest that I ran into a large population that believed in god and it really shook my world view. I always assumed that many people just gave god lip service – they didn’t believe, they just didnt want to feel alone…but talking with many of the christians, it was a deep, hard core belief they had, and it was contrary to what I thought was the case (I knew some had that, I just didn’t think it was this many).

          As far as “liking” god – I neither dislike him nor like him – I can’t dislike something that doesn’t exist. I dislike that many people like him, but that’s about it.

          I have many arguments to believe what I believe, but that’s for another thread.

      • Robert says:

        1. How could a 911 conspiracy theory easily be explained?
        2. First you say that the existence of a creator or God is impossible, and then you say that the existence of a creator can not be proven true or false. This is contradictory.
        3. It is impossible for people to believe in more than they believe in. It is, however, possible to believe in more than you are certain of and very rational to do so if the evidence is in favor of the belief.
        5. You refuse to accept the Bible because you believe it has inconsistencies, yet in that paragraph you wrote there are many contradictions and logical fallacies. So why do you accept your arguments for atheism?
        6. Do you honestly believe Christianity would cause someone to refuse medical treatment? You could just as easily say that atheism would cause someone to do that because it would only speed up the process of natural selection and almost everyone will die soon, having no impact on the world.
        7. How can you judge what is “moral” in an atheistic universe in which our standard of morality evolved due to its usefulness for fuffilling our desire for survival and power?
        8. Saying “God did not write the Bible because he does not exist” is circular reasoning. It would be like somebody saying “God exists because the Bible says so.”

  12. Racing Boo says:

    Wintery, regarding your advice to

    NEVER let atheists get away with making any moral statements, because even though an individual atheist might get lucky and act morally based on the objective moral law that God actually made, their actions are not rationally grounded by their worldview. Call them out!

    , I would put it to you that this has become something of a whiny cop-out used when the other arguments are flimsy, or where you find yourselves stuck in the quagmire of incoherence that is biblical morality.

    My response to this is; please show me the comprehensive study that you have undertaken that refutes the work of everybody that has studied the natural origins of morality, including, but of course not limited to Hamilton, Trivers, Martin, Pinker, Shermer, Miller, Greene, Hauser and Haidt.

    Because until you can do that you have no basis whatsoever to so confidently assert that atheistic ethics are necessarily subjective.

    • The people you mention merely describe conventions in human and animal behavior that they believe are the result of evolution. To them ethics is fashion, and they’ll say so. So let’s review how well evolutionary ethics does:

      1) No objective human rights or human dignity
      2) No objective moral values
      3) No objective moral duties
      4) No reason to abstain from evil if you can avoid punishment from the herd, except for happiness
      5) No free will and therefore no moral choices
      6) No consciousness and therefore no moral reasoning
      7) No objective meaning in life
      8) No objective purpose in life

      The fact that people have degrees and talk a lot doesn’t make them able to explain what needs to be explained for morality. What these guys do is EXPLAIN AWAY morality. And they are quite candid about it. The system of morality that emerges from atheism is “do what you like to maximize your pleasure for the time you are alive, but don’t get caught by the herd for breaking the arbitrary standards of the time and place you live in”. It’s the “morality” of the sociopath.

      If you want to talk about a specific person’s response to the issues I raised above, then cite that person’s response to those points. I think a good place to start would be an account of free will on atheism. Because if there is no fre will, then moral choices are impossible. This maybe OK for atheists who are trying to explain away morality, but it isn’t a foundation for grounding authentic morality (virtue or deontological) rationally. Any of those guys you mention able to ground libertarian free will in a materialistic universe? Case closed. And that’s just one point in the list. It’s a complete failure. Atheism is the rejection of morality, that’s the whole point of it.

      • Racing Boo says:

        The fact remains that neither you or anyone else has ever demonstrated that non-theistic ethics are necessarily subjective.

        So please excuse me while I go ahead and make moral claims when I feel the need to do so.

        • Right and then if I am there I’ll point out that these are just the fizzing of your genes without consciousness or free will. And that your fizzing was conditioned by the arbitrary socio-biological evolution of your herd’s development. I’ll point out that on your view humans are the same as other animals or even rocks since there is no way to affirm the value of anything on atheism. Not only is there no objective standard of right and wrong on atheism, but no REASON to be good when it goes against your own self-interest even if there were.

          The point is that atheists don’t want to act in any way that dminishes their pleasure. They rest of this “scholarship” is smokescreen. Do what the herd is doing if it makes you happy, but if you don’t, then don’t.

  13. Matt says:

    Jerry also responded to my post by saying

    The six year limit you talk of ONLY applies to hebrews:

    Unfortunately again he seems to have not read the post. I dealt with this very issue.

    Christopher Wright in God’s People in Gods Land: 253, noted that the law in Exodus 21:6 refers to Hebrew slaves. Wright notes that in its original context the word ibri designated a social class, not an ethnic group. This is clear because the very passage in Leviticus Jerry cites shows cases of Israelite slaves where it did not apply.

    So Jerry seems to have not read the post I wrote

    He goes on to state

    I don’t have to interpret it better than a Hebrew expoert – the bible has already been interpreted and the passages I quoted are just that from the bible.

    Yes, but what you did not note is that in the bible passage you cite there is a clear “context” the very passage before the one you cite (in the NASB) states

    “And if men have a quarrel and one strikes the other with a stone or with his fist, and he does not die but remains in bed; if he gets up and walks around outside on his staff, then he who struck him shall go unpunished; he shall only pay for his loss of time, and shall take care of him until he is completely healed.”

    This deals with an assault on a non-slave note it uses the word “unpunished” for this crime but then immediately states the perpetrator is required to pay restitution. Obviously then in context the word “unpunished” does not mean the action is permitted and incurs no legal penalty at all. Because a legal penalty clearly is affixed to the action. Given this why in the very next verse when it states

    “ “And if a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished. “If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property.”

    Do you interpret the word unpunished to mean that beating a slave incurs no legal penalty at all? This is all there “plainly” in the english text you read. So of course is the passage after the verse you cite which states

    “And if a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave, and destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye.”And if he knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, he shall let him go free on account of his tooth.”

    Again all there in the plain English text you cite. Beating a slave is prohibited and incurs a legal penalty.

    The reality is Jerry you quote a passage out of context, so that you could make it appear to mean something it did not.

    so they try to use a modern context to translate an ancient text – it doesn’t work that way.

    Actually no, they used a analysis of what ancient hebrew words mean’t and also looked at words in the ancient context they were uttered. Lying about what a person wrote is not a rebuttal.

    The passages I quoted are very clearly stated in the bible – you can beat your slave to death as long as they do not die immediately and this is because they are your property that can be handed down to your kids – you own them as property.

    Actually the passages I cited showing that ebed’s were not property are all in the text you cited, simply repeating a point I have shown is erroneous is not a response.

    • Whoa! Thanks for that massive comment, Matt!

      I hope that everyone also read MandM’s previous posts on whether Jesus said not to judge and whether Christians believed that the Earth is flat.

      Anyone who has a blog on Christian apologetics should blogroll MandM and check them every week. Matt is the William Lane Craig of New Zealand.

    • jerry says:

      Looking back through, I don’t think I ever directly replied to anything you wrote, I did reply to Wintery’s post. And you are correct, I did not go to your site and read your post, I didn’t think it was necessary, and I still question if it is needed.

      But most of your response is psuedo-explained by something I put forth earlier – you don’t like what you see and read in your good book so you create these elaborate theories on why what the book says is not really what the book says. But lets assume the 2000 years of continuity of the bible are wrong, i.e., for the past 2000 years there wasn’t anyone reading the bible smart enough to discover all the nasty things the bible was saying, it wasn’t really saying. What then is to stop someone from saying, if there are all of these current mis-interpretations, how do we know that most of the passages haven’t been mis-translated and changed context when it went from one sheep herder to another before being written down in ancient forms of languages that no one currently actively speaks before being translated into other ancient languages that no one actively speaks before being translated into modern langauages, all the while each of these translations being done from the context of the point in time that they occurred? just some food for thought

      • Anon says:

        Eh? The Bible hasn’t changed for a very long time.

        Last time I checked evolution books hold the record for being wrong so many times in just the last 60 years.

        Just some food for thought

  14. Racing Boo says:

    “The Israelites groaned in their indentured servitude and cried out, and their cry for help because of their indentured servitude went up to God.”

    Hey, this is fun, we can re-write the whole Bible, call it the Wintery M&M’s 2010 version, and watch Christians call each other heretics for the next fifty years over it. Who says we atheists hate Christianity, when it provides such great entertainment?

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