The Law Concerning Servants

General Charles G. Gordon was an outstanding man of God. When the English government wanted to reward him for his distinguished service in China, he declined all money and titles. Finally, after much arguing, he accepted a gold medal inscribed with his name and a record of his ac … More

Servitude

The law of Moses had three major divisions:

  • The moral found in the ten commandments
  • The civil found in Exodus chapters 21-23
  • The ceremonial found in Leviticus

We find in today’s passage a series of civil statutes which God gave unto Israel for the purpose of regulating their social and civil life (v. 1). Specifically it pertained to the servant or slave. Slaves were not forbidden to the Israelites. Within the economic structure of that day a slave of a good master was often better off than if he was free. A person could sell himself and his wife into slavery if he was in poverty or deep debt (Deut. 15:12). However, this servitude was to be limited to 6 years (v. 2). A husband and wife would be set free but if they have children only the husband is set free  and the wife and children remain the property of the owner (vv. 3-4). If the man wants to stay with his family he must go to the place of worship and allow the owner to punch a hole through one of his ears which will make him a slave for life (vv. 5-6). Under rare circumstances of poverty a man might be forced to sell his daughter into a work or marriage relationship. Her rights were strictly spelled out here (vv 7-11). She could not be sold to foreigners (v. 8); she had to be treated like a daughter (v. 9), and she had to be freed if any of the conditions were not kept (v. 11).

Application

In Philippians I read of how Christ “made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant.” May I also experience this same sense of servitude in my life.

Exodus 21:1-11 (English Standard Version)


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