Saalschütz On Hebrew Servitude -- By: E. P. Barrows

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 019:73 (Jan 1862)
Article: Saalschütz On Hebrew Servitude
Author: E. P. Barrows

Saalschütz On Hebrew Servitude

Prof. E. P. Barrows

An exhibition of the subject of Hebrew servitude from the Jewish point of view has long seemed to us eminently desirable. For this purpose we had selected the 101st chapter of Prof. Saalschütz’s Treatise on the Mosaic Law, entitled “Dienende” Before we had found leisure to complete the translation of this chapter, our design was in part anticipated by the appearance in the American Theological Review1 of Prof. H. B. Smith’s translation of Dr. M. Mielziner’s work on “Slavery among the ancient Hebrews, from biblical and Rabbinic sources.” By this translation Prof. Smith has rendered to the Christian public an important service. We proceed, nevertheless, to carry out our original plan, and that for two reasons. First, because Saalschütz differs in some important points from the common Rabbinic view, to which Mielziner in general adheres; so that by a comparison of the two the reader will have the matter more fully before him in its various aspects. Secondly, because we propose in a series of consecutive articles to discuss the whole subject of slavery, in its relations to the Bible, the State, and the Church; and to such a series the subject of Hebrew servitude constitutes the most suitable introduction.

In Saalschütz’s Treatise on the Mosaic Law2 the numerous foot-notes are numbered consecutively from the beginning to the end of the work. In the translation of the present chapter it was important to retain this numbering for various reasons, especially for convenience of reference

to the notes appended to other chapters. The few brief notes of the translator are always indicated by brackets. To the translation are appended some general remarks, to which the reader’s attention is respectfully called.


§ 1. The Mosaic law knows nothing of slavery in the sense of considering freeman and slave as beings holding an opposite relation to each other in respect to their dignity as men, and on a scale of civil and social rights. The Hebrew language has no word for stigmatizing by a degrading appellation one part of those who owe service, and distinguishing them from the rest as “slaves,” but only one term for all who are under obligation to render service to others. For males this is Ebed3 servant, man-servant; properly laborer;4 for females, Shifchah, Ama,5

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