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A DEFENCE OF
SLAVERY AMONG THE JEWS.
The existence of Slavery among the Ancient Jews, throughout the entire period of their national existence, is a fact which all candid and intelligent persons will readily admit. Dr. Way. LAND, an uncompromising opponent of Slavery, and one of the most popular moral writers of the present day, says:
“I grant, at once, that the Hebrews held Slaves from the time of the conquest of Canaan, and that Abraham and the Patriarchs had held them, many centuries before. I grant, also, that Moses enacted laws with special reference to that relation. Of the nature of these laws, it
be renient to speak shortly. I wonder that any one should have the hardihood to deny so plain a mat
ter of record : I should almost as soon deny the delivery of the Ten Commandments to Moses."
Abraham, the great progenitor of the Jewish nation, the “ Friend of God," and the Father of the Faithful,” was an extensive owner of Slaves.. We are enabled to form some estimate of the number of slaves owned by Abraham, from the number that he took with him to the field in pura. suit of the kings who had taken Lot and his fami.. ly, prisoners. In Genesis, (xiv. 14) we are in formed that 6. When Abram. heard that his bro... ther was taken captive, he armed his trained ser-, vants, born in his own house, three hundred and eighteen, and pursued them unto Dan.” Besides the servants born in his house, Abraham owned others which he had purchased with his money. In the institution of circumcision, (Gen. xvii.) we are informed that Jehovah, (verse 13) told Abraham that “He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcis.. ed," &c. Adding to all these a fair proportion of women and children, and we are led to the conclu.. sion that Abraham could not have been the owner of less than from 1,000 to 1,500 slaves. Isaac, the
* Domestic Slavery considered as a Scriptural Institution, in a Correspondence between the Rev. R. F'ulIar and the Rev. F. Wayland, p. 49.
segitimate son and heir of Abraham, was likewise" an extensive owner of Slaves. Moses, in descri.bing luis riches and his power, states that "he had possession of flocks, and possession of herds, and great store of servants,” &c. Genesis, xxvi. 14. Jacob, the son and heir of Isaac, was likewise an extensive Slare-owner. In his attempt to appease the wrath of his brother Esal, he sent him an account of his great riches; among. which were
oxen, and asses, Hocks, and mene serranis, and women-servants,” &c. Gen. xxxii. 5.
It may be proper here, once for all, to notice the meaning of the word “Servant.” All com. znentators agree that the word "Servant,” signia fies a Slave. “The word doulos,” says Dr. CLARK, *“ which we translate servant, means a Slave; one who is the entire property of his master.”
CALMET, under the head "Servant,” says:
“This word in Scripture, generally signifies a Slave; because, among the Hebrews, and the neighboring nations, the greater part of the ser. rants were such, belonging absolutely to their masters, who had a right to dispose of their per. suns, goods, and, in some cases, even of their lives."
Aiter ages of servitude, the most abject, in the Land of Egypt, the Jews, through the omnipotentpower of Jehovahy were delivered from bondage..
and restored to the land which had been promis. ed to their fathers. They found the land in the possession of several tribes of Heathens; most of whom, according to Divine direction, they slew. One of these tribes, the Gibeonites, were redu. ced to a state of perpetual servitude. In the 9th chapter of Joshua, we have an account of the rea. son why the Gibeonites were treated differently from the other tribes. They succeeded in obtaining a peace from Joshua, on false pretences; which, when detected, was considered a sufficient justification of the course which was pursued to. wards them: that is, in reducing them to a state of perpetual bondage.
Slavery continued throughout the entire nation. al existence of the Jews. Some of the most pious and distinguished among them, as David, Solomon, &c., were extensive Slave-owners. Even the priests, according to the Jewish law, were allowed to hold Slaves. In Leviticus (xxii. 10-11) it is said that
“A sojourner of the priest, or a hired servant, shall not eat of the holy thing. But if the priest by any soul with his money, he shall eat of it; and he that is born in his house, they shall eat of his mcat."
When our Saviour was upon Earth, Slavery existed not only in Judea, but throughout the
world. In Matthew (viii. 5-13) we have an account of a miracle performed by the Saviour, in healing the servant of a Roman centurion. The servant was afflicted with palsy, and of course was entirely useless to his master. The Saviour healed him—thus restoring him to usefulness but in doing so, never uttered a word against the institution of Slavery.
There were two classes of Slaves among the Jews:
1. The perpetual bondmen. These were om tained mostly from the Heathen nations living in the vicinity of Canaan. Persons might become perpetual bondmen from—1st: Sale by their Heathen masters. “Both thy bond-men, and thy bond-maids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the Heathen that are round about you: of them shall ye buy bond-men, and bond-maids.” Leviticus, XXV. 44.
2d: The Jews were allowed to purchase Slaves of the strangers that dwelt among them. “Moreover, of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land; and they shall be your possession." Leviticus, xxv. 45. 3d: The children of perpetual bondmen, like their parents, were Slaves for life. 4th: The first perpetual