The Historical And Legal Judgment Of The Old Testament Scriptures Against Slavery -- By: George B. Cheever

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 013:51 (Jul 1856)
Article: The Historical And Legal Judgment Of The Old Testament Scriptures Against Slavery
Author: George B. Cheever


The Historical And Legal Judgment Of The Old Testament
Scriptures Against Slavery

George B. Cheever

Law Of Jubilee—Specific Enactments Of The Law

The enacting clauses from Lev. 25:39–46 are occupied with the regulation of the treatment of such Hebrew and heathen servants respectively, as were bound to servitude until the Jubilee. The Hebrew servants so bound were to be treated as hired servants, not as apprenticed servants; but the heathen servants so bound might be employed as apprenticed servants, and not as hired servants, up to the period of the Jubilee. And always there was to be maintained this distinction; forever the quality of apprenticeship to the Jubilee was to belong to the heathen, not to the Hebrews; the heathen were to be the possession of the Hebrews and their posterity, as an inheritance or stock, from whom, and not ordinarily from the Hebrews, they might provide themselves for such a length of time with apprenticed servants, as well as hired. Subject always to the law of freedom every fifty years, during that interval all their apprentices for longer than six years, all their servants purchased as apprentices till the Jubilee, and to be treated as apprentices up to that time, and not as hired servants, were to be of the heathen, or the stranger, forever, and not of the Hebrew. But every fiftieth year was a year of Jubilee throughout the land for all the inhabitants thereof, Hebrew or heathen, all the inhabitants, of whatever class or station. The heathen apprenticed servant was not regarded, because purchased of the heathen, as on that account not an inhabitant of the land; on the contrary, this grand statute was evidently made additional to all the other statutes of relief and release, for

the special benefit of all those whose case the other statutes would not cover.

The chapter of laws in regard to the Jubilee is occupied, first, with specific enactments as to the operation of the Jubilee on the distribution or restoration of personal possessions; secondly, with similar specific enactments as to personal liberty. It is necessary to separate the respective clauses in regard to liberty, and to analyze them with great care.

Clause First, Of Personal Liberty

The first clause is from verse 39 to 43 inclusive. We quote it in our common version, because it is essential at this point to remark the false sense put upon the law by the use of the English word bondmen, assumed as meaning slaves. The effect of this construction is like that of loading dice, or of forging an additional cipher to a ten pound note, making it worth, apparently, instead of 10, a 100. The clause is as follows: ...

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