A response to the “Response to Dr Laura” Graphic – Part 2

Posted: June 26, 2012 in Culture, General
Tags: , , ,

Well, time for part 2!

If you missed part one, you can find it here!

Id suggest going there first, as it lays a lot of the ground work for the other objections.

Second objection:

2. I would like to sell my daughter into slavery, as sanctioned in Exodus
21:7. In this day and age, what do you think would be a fair price for her?

Exodus 21:7  states:

[7]  “If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do.

Now, on the face of it, this may seem instantly to be of very bad taste – how could this possibly be allowed in scripture? The problem is that we are reading it with many pre-conceived ideas, and 21’st century  concepts and sensibilities.

When most of us think of slavery, we instantly are drawn to the horrible things that were done to the African community and the great injustices that were done there! However, to read that kind of abuse back into the Exodus text, is by definition NOT how we do biblical interpretation.  Second, we also have to understand, back in that time, there was NO social benefits or government help – its not like you could just sign up for benefits at your local tax office or post office or whatever! You had a very stark choice. If you were poor and unable to get employment in a “hand to mouth” society, you could do one of three things:
One: Starve – Not really an option.
Two: Beg – obviously not a guarantee that you would actually get anything, and actually survive, especially if you had a family to feed!
Three: Sell yourself, or family member, or both as a slave –  If you sold yourself, you would be provided for, but who would provide for your family? You could use some of the money to provide for them, but what happens when your money runs out? You could sell your family member(s), and they would be provided for and cared for by the master, and you could use the money to survive in the world in the hope that you could get a job and use the money you raised to buy them back out of slavery, or simply wait until after the six years of serving had been fulfilled, and they would be released on the seventh year. You could also sell your whole family into slavery to server, and in turn be cared for if you worked for the particular master, again, at the end of the six years, you would all be released. Slavery was not the cursed thing that it is seen to be today, in fact, it was sometimes the only way a person would survive in difficult times!
The question comes though, what in the case of the daughter – she is not to go out as free as the male slaves do!? Why not?
The next few verses make it clear:

Exodus 21:8-11

“If she is * displeasing in the eyes of her master [ Another reading is so that he did not designate her ] who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He does not have authority to sell her to a foreign people because of his * unfairness to her. [9]  “If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters. [10]  “If he takes to himself another woman, he may not reduce her * food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights. [11]  “If he will not do these three things for her, then she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.

It is clear from the above that it is relating to if the particular daughter being sold for the purpose of marriage, so that she will be taken care of by that particular master, rather than face death by starvation. But even at that, there were particular guidelines to be given in relation to the agreement – one of which makes it clear that if she was being ill treated then she could leave without having to be redeemed by money.

So we have to conclude that slavery in this context was not AT ALL like what we instantly jump to in our minds today, but was rather a means of survival in hard times, and had plenitude of guidelines to ensure the safety and fair treatment of slaves, get out clauses, and also that they weren’t to serve more than 6 years unless they desired to stay with their master as they loved them! Hardly applicable today in western culture!

Stay tuned for more as we go through the rest of the objections! 🙂

Part 3 is here

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  1. […] A response to the “Response to Dr Laura” Graphic – Part 2 […]

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