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THE BOOK OF EXODUS.
OW these are the judgments | 2 b If thou buy an Hebrew ser
which thou shalt a set before vant, six years he shall serve: and them.
b Lev. 25. 39, 40, 41. Deut. 15. 12. Jer. a ch. 24. 3, 4. Deut. 4. 14. & 6.1. CHAPTER XXI.
statutes, judicial laws, or rules of judg. This and the two following chapters ment, by which their civil government contain the record of what God spake was to be conducted, and according to to Moses when he drew near to the which the magistrates were to give thick darkness, after the people had judgment in disputed cases or differ. retired from their close vicinity to the ences arising between man and man. sacred mount. Their contents relate, Gr. dikatwuara, just judgments. As for the most part, to the judicial or po- their government was a Theocracy, litical regulations which God, as the their entire legislation was from God. Theocratical sovereign of the chosen No part of their code, whether civil or people, was pleased now to enact and ecclesiastical, originated with themimpose upon them. These 'judgments,' selves, or was left to be modified by however, though in themselves mainly the dictates of human prudence. of a temporal character, having respect to matters between man and man, which Laws respecting Servants. might become the subject of judicial 2. If thou buy an Hebrew servant, decision, still involved moral consider. &c. Heb. napon ki tikneh, when ations, and were in fact based upon some thou shalt purchase, procure, acquire; one or other of the express precepts of a term of which the general import is the Decalogue. They are, therefore, that of acquisition or possession in very properly introduced in this con- whatever manner obtained. See Notes nexion, immediately after the moral on Gen. 4. 1.-14. 19: The following code, to which they have continual instances of the use of the term will go reference. In our estimate of the polity to show that its sense is modified by of which these laws form a part, we the subjects to which it is applied, and must have regard to the circumstances that it does not by any means necessaof the people, and the period for which rily convey the idea of Hebrew serv. they were designed, and though we may ants' being bought and sold as goods admit that it would be very possible and chattels, as they are under the sys. for God to have given a code intrinsic. tem of modern slavery, especially in ally more excellent and holy, yet we our own country. Eve said, Gen. 4. 1, shall be ready to conclude that no bet- 'I have gotten (70227 kanithi) a man ter one could have been given in the from the Lord.' And she accordingly then circumstances of the Jewish race. named him Cain (7 kayin), that is,
1. These are the judgments, &c. Heb. gotten, acquired. Prov. 15. 32, 'He that DUbwa mishpotim; from wbw sha- heareth reproof getteth (1727p koneh) phat, to judge, and here signifying the understanding. Is. 11. 11, “The Lord
in the seventh he shall go out free 3 If he came in by himself, he for nothing.
shall go out by himself: if he were shall set his hand again to recover possessed of a brother Hebrew, so as (67213 liknoth) the remnant of his peo to have a right to command his services ple. Ps. 78. 54, 'He brought them to (in consequence of which right alone this mountain which his right hand had he becomes a 'servant'), retain him not purchased (7763p kanethah).' Neh. 5. in a state of servitude more that six 8, We of our ability have redeemed years.'- In the seventh year. In (72700 kaninu) our brethren the Jews, what sense 'the seventh year' is to be that were sold unto the heathen. Prov. understood here is not obvious; whether 8. 22, "The Lord possessed me (n90p as the sabbatical year, in which the kanani) in the beginning of his way.' land lay fallow, or as the seventh year Here, as the service among the He- from the time when the servant was brews was for the most part voluntary, bought. Maimonides was of the latter the 'buying an Hebrew servant' may as opinion, and this appears on the whole legitimately imply the buying him from the most probable ; for Moses uniform. himself, that is, buying his services, as ly calls it'the seventh year,' without any other mode of purchase. Indeed, using the term 'sabbatical year,' or apas there is no positive proof that He parently at all alluding to it. And bebrew servants were ever made such or sides, when he describes the sabbatical kept in that condition by force, against year in Lev. 25. 1–7, he says nothing their own consent, except as a punish- about the manumission of servants. Yet ment for crime, the decided presump- it is to be presumed that if the jubilee tion is, that such is the kind of “buying' year should occur before the six years' here spoken of. As to the term 725 service had expired, his manumission obed, servant, it comes from 29 abad, would take place of course in virtue of to serve, which is applied variously to the general law, Lev. 25. 40, unless the serving of worshippers, of tributa. he had been sold for a crime. ries, of domestics, of Levites, of sons 1 He shall go out free for nothing. to a father, of subjects to a ruler, of That is, without being required to pay hirelings, of soldiers, of public officers, his master any thing as a consideration &c. With similar latitude, the deriva for the shortened term of service. Be. tive noun is applied to all persons doing ing made free by law he was to pay service for others, irrespective of the nothing for his liberty. Nor was he ground or principle on which that service required to pay for any thing else. Al. was rendered. Accordingly it embraces though he might during the period of in its range of application, tributaries, his service have labored under sickness, worshippers, domestics, subjects of gov- and put his master to cost, yet no comernment, magistrates, public officers, pensation was to be expected from him younger sons, prophets, kings, and the at the time of his release ; for a man's Messiah himself. To interpret it'slave,' servant wall during his servitude as his or to argue, from the fact of the word's own possession for which he was bound being used to designate domestic serv. to provide at his own charges.-One ants, that they were made servants by cannot but be struck with admiration force, worked without pay, and held as at perceiving what kind provisions were articles of property, would be a gross made for the Hebrew bondman; how and gratuitous assumption. The mean. carefully he was guarded from vio. ing of the present passage undoubtedly lence, injustice, and wrong. The ciris, 'If thou dost in any way become cumstances under which a native He.
married, then his wife shall go out or daughters, the wife and her with him.
children shall be her master's, and 4 If his master have given him a he shall go out by himself. wife, and she have borne him sons brew might become a slave were the If a free-born Hebrew, who had sold following ; (1.) When under the pres himself for a bondman, had previously sure of extreme poverty he sold his had a wife, this relation was not disliberty to preserve himself or his fam- turbed by his servitude, at the expiraily from suffering ; Lev. 25. 39, 'If thy tion of which her freedom was to be rebrother be waxen poor and be sold unto stored along with her husband's. But thee,' &c. (2.) When sold for a like a different case is supposed in the next reason by a father ; v. 7, 'If a man sell verse. There the marriage is one that his daughter to be a maid-servant,' &e. takes place during the continuance of Comp. Neh.5.5. (3.) Insolvent debt- the servitude, and seems to be of the ors might, as a punishment, be sold for same nature with the contubernium,' servants, or, by way of payment, put into cohabitation, of the Romans, which, in. the hands of their creditors as slaves; stead of conjugium,' wedlock, was the 2 Kings, 4.1, ‘My husband is dead-term applied to the marriages of slaves. and the creditor is come to take unto A master gave his servant a wife durhim my two sons to be bondmen.' (4.) ing the period of his service, but reA thief who was unable to make resti. tained her and her children after he retution for what he had stolen, accord. gained his liberty, the connexion being ing to the proportion required of him of course dissolved by a divorce. But by the law, was sold by way of re. it is generally maintained by commenquital to him whom he had robbed; tators, that the wife thus given was to Ex. 22. 3, 4, 'If he have nothing, then be a heathen or Gentile bond-maid, and he shall be sold for his theft. (5.) not a Hebrewess, which they gathered Slaves were acquired by the issue of from Lev. 25. 44, 'Both thy bondmen: the marriages of slaves. The condition and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt of slavery, however, is undoubtedly re- have, shall be of the heathen that are garded in the Scriptures as an evil, yet, round about thee; of them shall ye buy as it was an evil that had prevailed in bondmen and bondmaids.' This pasthe world long before the establishment sage, however, does not of itself make of the Jewish polity, infinite wisdom it certain that such was the case, al. did not see fit at once to root it out, but though the idea is undoubtedly counenacted such meliorating laws in re- tenanced by v. 7—11, of the chapter bespect to it as would tend to divest it fore us, which would seem to intimate of its most aggravated and cruel fea. that if a Jewish woman were given in tures, and render it as tolerable as a marriage at all, it must be to her master state of bondage could well be. In like or his son. Moreover, as it appears manner he regulated without extirpat- from Deut. 15. 12, that Hebrew bond. ing polygamy.
men and bondmaids came under the 3, 4. If he came in by himself. Heb. same law of manumission at the end of 7533 begappo, with his body. That is, six years, we cannot perceive on what with his body only; in his single per lawful grounds such a wife, if of the son ; having neither wife nor children. Hebrew stock, should be detained in Gr. avros povos, himself alone. It is servitude after the close of the allotted evidently used in contradistinction to time. The Jewish critics adopt the the being married in the next clause. same view. The children produced from
5 c And if the servant shall plain-, unto the d judges: he shall also ly say, I love my master, my wife, bring him to the door, or unto the and my children; I will not go out door-post; and his master shall free:
e bore his ear through with an awl 6 Then his master shall bring him and he shall serve him for ever. c Deut. 15. 16, 17.
d ch. 12. 12. & 22. 8, 28. e Ps. 40. 6. such a contubernium were regarded as when one is summoned to the place of being also slaves, and constituted the justice is in these words, 'Thou art in. class called 'born in the house,' Gen.vited to the tribunal of God. It would 14. 14.-17. 23; 'sons of the house,' seem that they regarded a judge or ma. Gen. 15. 3; or sons of the handmaid,' gistrate in the administration of justice Ex. 23. 12. of those Abraham had as such a lively image of the Deity that 318; and as it might naturally be sup- they were led to apply to him in that posed that servants thus forming a part capacity a divine title. It is easily of the household, and imbibing attach conceivable that a servant, who had a ments to their master from their earliest good master, might wish to remain with years, would be more deserving of con- him permanently during life, particufidence than strangers, he puts arms in- larly if he had lived in contubernio to their hands, when his service required with one of his master's female slaves it; a measure, by the way, entirely in- and had children by her, for whom he consistent with the genius of American would naturally cherish a strong affec. slaveholding, which will not admit of tion, and from whom he must separate masters' putting swords or fire-arms if he accepted his freedom. In such a into the hands of their slaves.
case he was permitted to bind himself 5,6. And if the servant shall plainly forever to the service of the master; say, &c. Heb. 28 max amar yo- but in order to guard against all abuse mar, saying shall say. That is, shall of this permission, and especially that say it again and again, so that his pur- it might appear that he was not fraudupose shall become a matter of notori. lently or forcibly detained against his ety. This is intimated in order that will, it was ordained that the transthere might be evidence of such an in- action should be gone about judicially, tention being in the highest degree volun- and with appropriate formalities. For tary and unconstrained.- -9 Then his this purpose, after being brought before master shall bring him unto the judges. the magistrate, and declaration probably Heb. D-773877 38 el ha-Elohim, to the made of his intention, he was taken back gods. That is, to the magistrates, who and his ear bored through with an awl at are called 'gods,' Ps. 82, 1, 6. John, the door of his master's house, in token of 10. 34, 35. Chal. "Before the judges.' his being, as it were, affixed to it henceGr. tpos to wpirmpiov tov Osov, to the forward the rest of his days. This bor. judgment, or tribunal, of God. The ing of ears was in the eastern countries, phraseology is remarkable, but the pre- a badge of servitude. Thus Juv. Sat. I valent sentiments of the Orientals in 102, “Why should I fear or doubt to de. regard to sovereignty of all sorts tend fend the place, though born upon the to illustrate it. The Egyptians, ac- banks of the Euphrates as the tender cording to Diodorus Siculus (B. I. c. perforations in my ear evince ? upon 90), looked upon their kings in the light which the ancient scholiast remarks, of divinities; and from the travels of that this was a sign of slavery.' It is Arvieux we learn that among the mod supposed that the Psalmist, Ps. 40. 6, ern Arabs the usual form of citation, I speaking in the person of the Mes.
siah alludes to this custom; ‘Mine ear, and be sold unto thee; thou shalt not hast thou opened. Heb. dug, pierced compel him to serve as a bond-servant: through ;' expressive of his entire devo. But as an hired servant, and as a sotion to his father's service. Michaelis journer he shall be with thee, and remarks, "That this statute of Moses shall serve thee unto the year of jubi. made boring the ears in some degree lee: and then he shall depart from thee, ignominious to a free man; because it both he and his children with him, and became the sign whereby a perpetual shall return unto his own famıly, and slave was to be known, and that for unto the possession of his fathers shall this reason he would have been very he return. For they are my servants glad to have procured the abandon which I brought forth out of the land ment of the practice of servants' thus of Egypt; they shall not be sold as permanently adopting a state of vassal. bondmen. The drift of the enactment
- 1 He shall serve him for ever. here cited is entirely different from that That is, as long as he or his master of the one under consideration. The lived. Some make it to be till the latter speaks of one who was in the period of the next ensuing jubilee, but fullest sense of the Jewish law a 'bondthe other sense is probably more cor. servant or slave; the former of one rect. Thus, 1 Sam. 1. 22, “That he may who was not to be made a 'bond-servappear before the Lord, and thus abide ant, but only a hired-servant.' The for ever;' i. e. as long as he lives. This latter relates to one who was sold for will appear still more evident by sup his crimes; the former to one who disposing a case that might easily have posed of his services on account of his happened. A slave was sold three years poverty, which was no crime. The term before the beginning of the jubilee. of servitude appointed by the law before What was to be done with him at the us was invariably six years; the period expiration of that time? If he were fixed by the other was till the next jubithen released by the law of the jubilee, lee, which might be any number of years how was it possible for him to serve from one to fifty. The design of the the six years here prescribed in the law in Exodus, in ordaining that the law? This brings us to so palpable an thief should be made a slave for six inconsistency in the law, that we are years, was that he might thereby be on the whole forced to the conviction punished for his crime, and that the that the regulation before us had no re money given for him should make spect whatever to the jubilee. Let the some compensation to the person he grand object of that institution be con- had injured; while the object of the sidered. It was, that every man might law in Leviticus was that the poor man return to his possession--which could should be received as a menial into an not be alienated for a longer time—and Israelitish family, not to punish him, to his family; Lev. 25. 10—24. But it but that he might find the means of does not appear that the privilege ex. comfortable support in his necessities. tended alike to every class of servants. The design of the statute giving the A difference would naturally be made slave his option, at the end of six years, between the case of one made a slave either to leave his master or to remain by his crimes, and one who became such with him 'forever,' could not possibly by his misfortunes. Consequently the be that he should return to his own law contained, Lev. 25. 39.-42, seems family and to the possession of his fa. to have no reference to cases like thers, for as long as he lived in bond. that before us; And if thy brother age he could not do this, and his crime that dwelleth by thee be waxen poor, I was supposed to have cut him off from