If you buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.…
These judgments of God are the declarations of human rights.
I. These judgments dealt WITH AN EXISTING INSTITUTION. The circumstances under which an Hebrew might be reduced to servitude were —
2. The commission of theft.
3. The exercise of paternal authority.
II. This admitted institution does NOT SANCTION MODERN SLAVERY. There is in the Divine revelation a spirit ever working to the enfranchisement of the race. More closely consider the conditions of Mosaic slavery —
III. This system asserted the SLAVE'S PERSONAL SOVEREIGNTY. In modern systems, the man is a mere chattel, but in the Mosaic system the slave's manhood is declared. He is sovereign over himself, and is allowed the power of choice. The Southern slaveholder would not permit his slave to say, "I will not"; but the Hebrew slave is permitted to say, "I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free."
IV. This system declared the slave's right TO BE A MAN OF FEELING. The man was not to be separated from the wife he had chosen prior to his days of servitude. This part of the Mosaic regulations would not harmonize with the painful scenes which took place at slave marts.
V. This system proclaimed the SLAVE'S RIGHT TO FREEDOM, AND THAT IT IS THE HIGHEST CONDITION. The Hebrew slave worked on to the day of happy release. This term of service was no longer than a modern apprenticeship. The bells of the seventh year rang out the old order of slavery, and rang in the new glorious order of freedom.
VI. This system typically SETS FORTH THAT THE SERVICE OF LOVE IS THE HIGHEST, AND ALONE ENDURING. He only was to serve "for ever" who chose continued servitude on account of love to his master, and love to his wife and his children. The service of love outstrips in dignity and surpasses in duration all other forms of service.
(W. Burrows, B. A.)
Parallel VersesKJV: If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.