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In the Gates

Rights of a Slave

The Sixth Commandment

God’s Law allowed slavery, but with restrictions.


Exodus 21.20, 21

When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod and the slave dies under his hand, he shall be avenged. But if the slave survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, for the slave is his money.”

Slaves in the ancient world before the Gospel had no rights and were typically worked to death – literally. Israel knew something about being slaves, and they knew this was not a happy condition for anyone. While the Law of God allowed for slaves, the New Testament moved away from the practice – although not in a revolutionary manner – and subsequent Christian history frowned on it and worked to end it. It’s a sad testimony to the state of Christian faith in the early modern period that chattel slavery was so much a part of the success of colonial economies.

Slaves in ancient Israel enjoyed certain protections. Owners were discouraged from abusing them and could expect to pay a price if, by mistreatment, they actually killed a slave. To be a slave in Israel was not the same as being a slave in a pagan nation. In Israel, at least, one’s life was protected by Law.

We are now accepting registrations for the course, Spiritual Maturity 1: Revival. This free, six-session course by T. M. Moore allows you to study by yourself or with a mentor, and includes free resources from Patrick, Columbanus, Luther, and Edwards, among others. Visit The Ailbe Seminary for more information on this training opportunity.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
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