Exodus 21:9
And if he chooses her for his son, he must deal with her as with a daughter.
Sermons
Regulations for the Treatment of SlavesD. Young Exodus 21:1-11
Hebrew Bond-ServiceJ. Orr Exodus 21:2-12
Degraded Condition of Girls in AfricaExodus 21:7-11


= - Slavery not usually Considered a desirable condition. the Israelites as a people were Just casting the slough of it, and God helps them in their social ordinances by emphasising the value of freedom. None the less, even here, a higher State than I. THE PREFERENCE. Naturally, to a slave freedom is an object. Slavery was a misfortune or a punishment resulting from debt or misconduct (cf. Leviticus 25:39; Exodus 22:3). Thus viewed God only permitted it to continue at most for six years. Every Hebrew had been redeemed by him; and therefore permanent slavery to man would have been an infringement of his rights of ownership. Temporary serfdom under the conditions which he imposed secured his rights and the privileges of those whom he had redeemed [cf. the right of a tenant to sublet a house by arrangement with the actual owner]. The relation between a serf and his employer was thus carefully defined and limited; in so far as they were linked together by a purely external bond, that bond ceased to exist at the close of six years' servitude. During six years, however, a firmer bond might have been formed and strengthened. Possession of the slave''s body does not carry with it the possession of his affections; they cannot be bought and sold, but they may be won. If the owner during six years could find bands to bind the heart (Hosea 11:4); in such case, the serf desiring it, a permanent relation might be established. It is not the abnegation of freedom, it is the exercise of freedom to choose for oneself; if a man was so bound to his employer that he preferred continuing in his service, God was willing to endorse such a preference with his consent. Nowadays, the relation of servant and employer is still more temporary than of old. At the same time, now as ever, love can prevail to win the affections and so weave by means of them a permanent and enduring bond. Love transmutes the conditions of servitude. It changes them into something which is preferable to freedom. The cords of a man bind more firmly than any other cords; but they do not confine or fetter.

II. THE SIGN OF THE PREFERENCE. The servant who wished to remain a servant was to be brought before the judges (Elohim), the representatives of God. As God''s ministers they were empowered to permit the satisfaction of his desire. The ear pierced against the door post was the outward sign of this sacrament of servitude. Henceforth the man by his own desire was permanently united to the family of his employer. The pierced ear testified to the pierced heart. The sign of slavery was the badge of love.

III. SERVANTS OF GOD. The relation of the slave to his employer is analogous to the relation between the natural man and God. All men are his servants - debtors who cannot pay their debts. The relation however may be of a temporary character; God seeks to make it permanent by winning our hearts and our affections. Work for him in this world we must, willingly or unwillingly. He would have us willing servants; compulsory service has no moral value. "The ears opened" (Psalm 40:6), in token of the heart won, are of more value than sacrifice and offering. Are we such willing servants? (Isaiah 1:5). He is willing to "open our ears," to take us as his own for ever, but we must also ourselves be willing: - "He hath opened mine ears and I was not rebellious." Slavery is a state of imperfection; but so also is the miscalled liberty of independence; the only perfect state for man is that "service which is perfect freedom." - G.







If a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant.
The condition of girls in Africa is thus described by a missionary: "A father looks upon his girl as being of the value only of so many goats, and he is ready to sell her as soon as any man offers him the required payment. Thus, while she is quite young — perhaps only four or five — her life and liberty may have been sold away by her own father, and sooner or later she must become the wife, the slave, the drudge of her owner. While at Mayumba, near the mouth of the Congo river, I one afternoon heard a child screaming frantically behind the house where I was staying, and going out I found a little Bavilla girl, not more than four years old, who had just been brought down the lagoon from her home away in the Mamba hills, where she had been bought by a Mayumba man. The crew of the canoe in which she had been brought down — six big, fierce-looking men — were standing around the little prisoner, pointing their guns and spears at her just for the sport of seeing her shake and scream with fright; and a band of women were dancing with wild delight at the heartless game. It was possible to save the poor child from the cruel treatment just then, but that was only the beginning of a lifetime of suffering for her in the midst of a strange people, with no friend at hand to help or protect her."

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