"When Israel was a child, I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son." Hosea 11:1
Text: Exodus 21 : 1-2
WERE THE TEN COMMANDMENTS THE ONLY THINGS GOD GAVE TO MOSES?
The answer is quite obvious, actually! The Ten Commandments were not the only things God gave to Moses to deliver to the children of Israel! The following text bears this out.
“Now these are the judgments which you shall set before them…”
There were other things God communicated to Moses! However, the Decalogue that the Lord gave to Moses may be considered deictic commandments! Hence, they were highlighted as the Ten Commandments! (A quick survey of Exodus 21-24 would reveal the fact that God spoke to Moses on a variety of subjects)!
THE QUESTION OF SLAVERY
One of the major issues that God had to teach Moses was the subject of “servants”. (This word is better translated “slaves”)!
“If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years;
and in the seventh he shall go out free and pay nothing.”
The context suggests that the issue is one of “slavery”. The key word is the verb “buy”. If it is only a question of a domestic help, then the key word would be “hire” and not “buy”.
A DIFFICULT MORAL ISSUE
Some have raised the pertinent question of why God did not ban slavery totally! Israel had been enslaved for years on end! Would it not be a simple matter if God had just outlawed the practice? Let us consider the following thoughts as possible answers to the question of slavery. Two thoughts may be highlighted!
1. Allowing civilization to take its natural course
We have to appreciate the fact that God understands that it would take civilization to grow slowly. Man would have to learn how to make good moral decisions along the way! Slavery was a very real part of the ancient world! The system continued to exist till the modern era!
2. With Good controls
What God has done is to provide good safety measures so that slaves were not abused! This approach is humane! Slavery under good governance was a better solution than many offered in those days! War victims could have been massacred. Poor people could have been incarcerated because of their failure to pay debts!