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the statutes against those crimes, see Ex. xxi. 12–14, 26, 27, 32, &c. It is proper to remark in this connection that though the oriental custom permitted parents, as we have seen, to chastise their children with the same instrument, yet no similar statute was provided in the Levitical law, for the homicide of children by their parents. The reason of this omission was the presumption that the natural affection of the latter would always prevent that crime, but which would be wanting sufficiently to protect the rights of servants, and prevent the abuse of the same by their masters without the assistance of special legislation.




Examination of Lev. xxv. 39-43, 44-46, 47–54. ;

LEV. xxv. 39—43, and 47–54, are other Levitical statutes regulating the voluntary sales of free Hebrew servants, made for the payment of their debts previously contracted, as is evident from the statutes themselves, and as has been sufficiently illustrated and explained. This fact appears very plainly from the latter statute, and from the 25th to the 32d verses of the same chapter, where the redemption provided for would be impossible and absurd, were they not for the payment of such debts; for it is certain that the servants “sold themselves,” which they could not have done without payment, which they must have received at or before the time of their sales, for otherwise they would have nothing to redeem themselves for or from after sale. It also appears from these “redemptions that these “sold” and “bought" servants must have been in debt to or owed their masters, which they could not have done had they been slaves, any more than beasts or other lawful property could. They were therefore all free and voluntary servants. We see also from these statutes that foreigners settled in the nation had the same customary right to purchase native servants, that the native Israelites themselves had. But in the latter case the servants might be redeemed at any time by the


payment of the debts they had sold themselves for, and as (v. 49) the servants might if they were able redeem themselves, this very fact also proves that they could not be property or slaves, because no slave has a right to property, and can acquire none but what belongs to his master. The same statutes taken in connection with the 10th and 13th verses of the chapter also prove, that the contract for these voluntary sales could last only till the next Jubilee, when all poor servants were not only discharged from such contracts, but the native servants were restored to the possession of their paternal inheritance or estates.

A multitude of laws have been contrived in the world, to prevent the suffering and oppression of the poor and the helpless, but the whole of them put together are but trifles, for that purpose, when compared with the statutes embodied in the Levitical law, and especially those contained in Leviticus xxv., for it was impossible for much oppression of the poor to exist where these regulations were faithfully observed, it being only where they were disregarded and violated that such oppression was ever complained of among the Jews, see Neh. v. 1–13; Jer. xxxiv. 8, 22, &c. Multitudes of persons, including many professed preachers of the gospel, seriously contend that the Scriptures do not teach politics or political matters at all. But the single statute in Lev. xxv. 8—15, providing for the great institution of the Jubilee, had a more extensive and abiding political effect, and produced more extensive political as well as moral consequences, than the whole of the political measures heretofore made the objects of party strife in the United States put together. The statutes under consideration and others of a similar character interspersed throughout the Levitical law (see Ex. xxii. 21–27, xxiii. 9; Lev. xix. 33, 34, xxv. 35-37; Deut. xv. 7, 11, &c.), also exhibit the extreme care and tenderness manifested in that law, for the support and protection of the poor, and needy, and helpless, and especially for poor foreigners and strangers. No such statutes are provided in this code for the protection of the wealthy and powerful, and their usurped rights, as abound in most human codes, for the very sufficient reason that the rich need no such protection under that or any other righteous code. I hold it to be the height of wickedness to pretend that such a code as this was intended to sanction such a practice as human slavery.


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Preparatory to a critical examination of the celebrated statute contained in Lev. xxv. 44-46, it will be necessary to correct the common English translation of it, the same being the falsest translation I ever saw. The exact literal translation of it is as follows: verse 44—“And thy man servant, and thy maiden, which shall be to thee (shall be) from the nations which surround you. From them shall ye procure (the) man servant and the maiden.”

Verse. 45. “And also from the sons of the foreigners, the strangers among you, from them shall ye procure—and from their families which (are) among you, which they brought forth into your land, and (they) shall be to you for a possession.”

Verse 46. “And ye shall possess them yourselves for your sons after you, for to possess (as) a possession. For ever of them shall ye serve yourselves. And over your brethren the sons of Israel, man towards his brother, thou shalt not rule over with rigor.”

This is as exact a literal translation of the statute as can be made, though the phraseology of it may be so varied in several instances, as to read in a more elegant English idiom, without any alteration or variation of its true meaning. The words wanting in the Hebrew text, but supplied for the sake of perspicuity and precision in English, are enclosed in brackets. The slightest comparison of this with the common English translation, will show how false and absurd the latter must be. Thus the two Hebrew words evedh and amau, falsely translated “bond men” and “bond maids” in the common translation, are both in the singular number in the Hebrew text, literally meaning “man servant" and “maid” or “maiden,” in Hebrew, and as such are correctly translated servant” and “maid” in the common translation of the 6th verse of the same chapter!! The word quaunah," improperly translated “buy” in the 44th and 45th verses, ought to have been literally rendered, procure, acquire, obtain, &c., in the same passages. The Hebrew word goim, falsely translated “heathen" in the 44th verse, always literally means “nations," and should in whatever it occurs be thus rendered. The Hebrew word nauhal, rendered possess” in my translation, which is the nearest to its literal meaning, may sometimes perhaps be correctly rendered “inherit," " redeem,” &c., according to the subject matter treated of, as it is in some parts of the English Scriptures, but which do not express its true meaning in the present case, as

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we shall soon see. The true meaning of these words was thus perverted in the common translation, because since there were no words in the Hebrew language answering to our English word “slave,” slaveholder," "slavery,” &c., King James' translators, in imitation of the Catholic priests who first forged these perversions, falsely dressed up their English version of this statute, so as to resemble the modern Christian practice of negro slavery as nearly as possible that species of slavery having at the period of their translation, under the sanction of these and similar perversions of the Scriptures, become very extensive, respectable, and popular, in several Christian countries, especially in their tropical territories. Like the false priests and Pharisees of old, these translators, in connection with many other corruptionists of their time, and with still more now existing, thus falsified the true word of God to gratify a corrupt public sentiment, and please their principal patrons for the sake of worldly popularity.

This statute was rendered necessary in the Levitical code from the fact, that by the operation of the statutes for the original distribution of land and the institution of the Jubilee, it was impossible for foreigners settling in the Israelitish nation and for their posterity to hold any real estate except during very short periods, so that it was necessary for them and their posterity, so long as they remained in the nation, to be the servants of the native Israelites, the lineal descendants of Abraham and Shem. It was in this sense alone that the Jewish nation as such, and not the individuals composing it, were to “inherit," or rather possess these adopted foreigners and their posterity, for the purpose of free and voluntary service only. To understand this intent of the statute the better it is necessary to premise, that in many parts of the Old Testament, agreeably to a Hebrew, or rather ancient oriental idiom, where a general address is in the singular number (see Ex. xx. 2-16; Prov. i. 8; Eccle. xii. 1), each individual of a nation to whom the directions of the address are applicable, is addressed separately or singly—but where a general address is in the plural number (see Deut. iv. 1–8, 15, 16, &c.), the whole nation is addressed as one people. This is a general rule in the Old Testament, the principal exception to it being where a nation is personified and addressed accordingly, as in Deut. xxvii. 1, 2, 4, xxxi. 20, &c.

Bearing this rule in mind, the critical reader of the statute


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under review will observe, that at the commencement and conclusion of the statute, the Jews were addressed distributively, or in the singular number, as separate individuals, while in the remainder of the statute they were addressed collectively, or in the plural number, as a whole nation or people.

This change of the address is a circumstance which indicates more than any other the principal object of the statute which was to encourage the settlement of foreigners in the Jewish nation, and provide for their support, for the more effectual promotion of the true religion-for which purpose it was the most equitable and excellent naturalization act that ever existed in this world. For the same righteous purpose each native Israelite was allowed by the statute, to procure as many of these foreign servants as he chose, by contracts made with the servants themselves, or with their parents or guardians, in which sense, and by which means alone, the native Jews and their posterity, were to “inherit” or “possess” these adopted foreigners and their posterity, by circumcision and incorporation into the body of the nation, after which the latter became as much “ brethren” and “ children of Israel” as the lineal descendants of Abraham were ; while to prevent abuses of the custom, the usual salutary caution was appended to the end of the statute, forbidding the oppression of their poor brethren by individual masters. Lev. xix. 13, xxv. 17, 43; Mal. iii. 5, &c. It is well here to inform the reader that this is the universal construction of this statute by the Jews as a people, a circumstance that could not have happened, had the intent of it been to sanction human slavery. No respectable Jew now living pretends to any such belief, because the Jews have always considered it wicked. They still retain their ancient custom of employing servants differing from them in religious belief, which seems to be a perversion of it, agreeably to which the servants were to be of the same religious faith with their masters ; and also absurd, since the reason of the original custom has long since ceased.

This scriptural ancient Hebrew use of the words “buy” and “sell” will be the better understood and appreciated by compar. ing it with the modern use of the English word “hire," used for a similar purpose. Free servants are now customarily said to be " themselves hired,” and to “hire out themselves," &c., which is not in fact literally true, though to us from habit it is so. The employer of modern free servants has in fact no property in the

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