Slavery and the Bible

On more than one occasion I have read atheists, like Christopher Hitchens, who accuse Christians of being hypocrites because we denounce slavery while it is permitted by the Mosaic Law. I have read the Torah and I know that some form of “compulsive servitude” was allowed it was different than what we would recognize as chattel slavery. I have always wanted to know more about this but I have never been able to find a good discussion on the topic until now.

Earlier this week I followed a link to Project Gutenburg and while looking around I found a gem titled “Is Slavery Sanctioned by the Bible?” by Isaac Allen. This appears to have been a tract that was published sometime before 1861 here in the U.S. Mr. Allen really knew his Old Testament and answered a lot of my questions.

Here is a short quote to, hopefully, whet your appetite:

These accumulated arguments, each separately weighty and forcible, but collectively insurmountable, we think prove conclusively that the form of servitude among the Israelites was not chattel slavery, and that there is no sanction or authority for it in the Mosaic laws and regulations.

Thus in Jewish history we see the Israelites groaning under Egyptian bondage, and God’s arm outstretched to rescue them when fugitives, and punish their pursuers—a warning to all such thereafter; we see laws enacted to prevent the existence of chattelism among them, by restricting the master’s power, and securing the servant’s freedom at regular intervals, and the opposite doctrine of equality among men asserted; we see the Israelites disobeying these commands, and adopting, with the idolatry of their neighbors, their slavery also, and God’s fiery wrath denounced on them for it by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, and fulfilled by Nebuchadnezzar in the destruction and captivity of the state.

Does anyone think that the second paragraph is possibly a veiled threat?

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2 Comments on “Slavery and the Bible”


  1. i enjoyed this story thank you for sending me and the interest you gave me

  2. Glenn Says:

    You’re welcome!


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