6. Torah and Slavery: Foreign Slaves

Scriptures: Lev. 25:44-46 and Deut. 23:15-16 (and Exod. 21:16, again, with its parallel Deut. 24:7). As we have observed in this series, slavery was a cultural fact of the ancient Near East. When an Israelite bought a foreign slave or a foreigner residing among them, what were his obligations to care for them and what rights did the slaves have? This post also has two parallel cases in colonial Virginia.

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4. Torah and Slavery: What Happened When Masters Punished Their Slaves?

Scriptures: Exod. 21:20-21, 26-27; Lev. 25:43, 46. There were two cultural (and unpleasant) facts in the ancient Near East, long before the Torah existed: (1) Masters hit their slaves to punish them, and (2) slaves had secondary status. How does the Torah intervene and regulate those two pre-existing facts? (I also include cases of a servant girl dying allegedly from a beating and a servant boy who was flogged for theft, in colonial Philadelphia.)

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Acts 5

Ananias and Sapphira are instantly judged. God through the apostles worked many signs and wonders, and the people greatly honored the Messianic community. Some feared to join, but others did. Peter’s shadow was cast on them and miracles happened. The council arrested the apostles and put them in prison, but an angel released them. They went into the temple and preached but were rearrested. Gamaliel gave his speech urging caution about executing them. The apostles were flogged and released but never stopped preaching.

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3. Torah and Slavery: Impoverished Father Sells His Daughter to Be a ‘Secondary Wife’

Scripture: Exod. 21:7-11. In a culture of arranged marriage and widespread poverty, fathers in the ancient Near East did this long before the Torah existed. Now the Torah has to intervene and tell the men what the daughter’s legal rights were. This post also looks at polygamy.

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Acts 4

The council (Sanhedrin) arrest Peter and John and the healed man and threaten them. The two apostles say they must obey God instead of man. They return to the Christian community and report what happened. The whole community pray for boldness and share everything in common. The place where they met was shaken, and they are again filled with the Spirit.

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