"You have commanded us to keep Your precepts diligently." Psalm 119:4
Text: Exodus 21 : 26-27
LAWS CONCERNING SLAVES
God gave specific laws concerning slaves! These judgments were given for good reason. Let us consider two of them in particular.
1. To teach Israel about the Lord
The laws of God were reflective of His character. The words of the psalmist well reflect this thought.
“The works of His hands are verity and justice;
All His precepts are sure.
They stand fast forever and ever,
And are done in truth and uprightness.”
Were Israel’s laws good and just? Were they full of truth and righteousness? They reflected the character of the One who gave the laws!
2. To teach Israel how to regard people
The laws of God were of great instructive value! While other nations may have little or no regard for slaves, Israel was taught that slaves had rights! They too were human beings and must never be treated callously!
Israel had suffered terribly under the Egyptians! Now that they were free, they must never be cruel and brutal to those who under unfortunate circumstances had become slaves!
CIRCUMSTANCES IN WHICH SLAVES MAY BE FREED
There were a number of circumstances where a slave may be emancipated.
1. When he has served six years (Exodus 21:1-2).
2. When a female slave has been given in marriage, but that institution did not work out (Exodus 21:7-11).
The third set of circumstances in which slaves may be set free is found in the following text:-
“If a man strikes the eye of his male or female servant,
and destroys it, he shall let him go free for the sake of his eye.
And if he knocks out the tooth of his male or female servant,
he shall let him go free for the sake of his tooth.”
The message to Israel couldn’t be clearer! Slaves were not chattel! They were not to be bullied! No master was allowed to ill-treat his slaves! Any intentional hurt to slaves may result in punitive judgment. The slave may be set free when he is physically abused!