The Bible and slavery
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The Bible contains many references to slavery, which was a common practice in antiquity. Biblical texts outline sources and legal status of slaves, economic roles of slavery, types of slavery, and debt slavery, which thoroughly explain the institution of slavery in Israel in antiquity. The Bible stipulates the treatment of slaves, especially in the Old Testament. There are also references to slavery in the New Testament.
Many of the patriarchs portrayed in the Bible were from the upper echelons of society and the owners of slaves and enslaved those in debt to them, bought their fellow citizens' daughters as concubines, and perpetually enslaved foreign men to work on their fields. Masters were men, and it is not evident that women were able to own slaves until the Elephantine papyri in the 400s BC. During certain reigns, especially those of Solomon and David, statewide slavery may have been instituted for large building projects or work that was deemed intolerable for free men to do. Other than these instances, it is unclear whether or not state-instituted slavery was an accepted practice.
It was necessary for those who owned slaves, especially in large numbers, to be wealthy because the masters had to pay taxes for Jewish and non-Jewish slaves because they were considered part of the family unit. The slaves were seen as an important part of the family's reputation, especially in Hellenistic and Roman times, when the slave companions for a woman were seen as a manifestation and protection of a woman's honor. As time progressed, domestic slavery became more prominent, and domestic slaves, usually working as an assistant to the wife of the patriarch, allowed larger houses to run more smoothly and efficiently.
The rabbis are rarely described as having many slaves, but in documents in which they write about slaves, it is always from the master's point of view, which is seen by scholars as an attempt to distinguish the middle-class citizens from slaves who could possibly have held higher positions in society because they were owned by a wealthy man. However, owning many slaves was regular among priests in the First Temple days. This was an especially common practice in Greek religion, as seen in the references to high priestly slaves in the works of the historian of Judaism, Josephus. These works painted the priests in a negative light, and showed the end of the institution coming after the Second Temple was destroyed in 70 CE.
Philo (c. 20 BC – c. 50 AD), one of the philosophers of the time, wrote texts on how to properly treat slaves, indicating that slavery was an important part of Jewish life, but also emphasizes the humanitarian perspective offered up by many Ancient Near East scholars. One such way of showing this was through the sharing of products, such as food and cloth, with other, underprivileged members of society.
In the 19th century, in the United States, abolitionists and defenders of slavery debated the Bible's message on the topic. Abolitionists used texts from both the Old and New Testaments to argue for the manumission of slaves, and against kidnapping or "stealing men" to own or sell them as slaves.
Slavery in the Greco-Roman world and their contemporary surrounding cultures
Slaves had a variety of different purposes. To determine the function, many scholars look at repetitive descriptions in texts that were written around the same time and reports of other cultures from the well-documented Graeco-Roman culture. One of slaves' main functions was as status symbols for the upper members of society, especially when it came to dowries for their daughters. These slaves could be sold or given away as needed, but also showed that the family was capable of providing generous amounts for their daughters to be married off. They also catered to the needs of the temple and had more domestic abilities such as keeping up the household and raising farm animals and small amounts of crops. Masters often took advantage of their slaves being at their beck and call by requiring them to perform duties in public that the master had the ability to do himself. This showed a level of luxury which extended beyond the private sphere into the public. In addition to showing luxury, possession of slaves was necessary for a good family background, and many wealthy men viewed their colleagues who possessed only few slaves as the type of individual who needed to be pitied.
Types of slavery
Enslavement of captives
In the Deuteronomic Code, captives obtained through warfare become slaves, as long as Israelites were not among the victims; Exodus and Deuteronomy institute the death penalty for the crime of kidnapping Israelite or any other man to enslave them. The Code appears to require enslaving the people of cities who surrender during wartime, excepting the cities of six nearby tribes which it requires be destroyed without offer of surrender.
If the soldier desired to marry a captured foreigner, there were stipulations. She would shave her head and wear no jewelry or cosmetics to mourn the friends and family who were killed in the war. While the term may be different depending on how many were lost, it would be for a minimum of one month. After the grieving was over, then he was free to make wedding plans. If he wished to end the relationship, the code stipulated he must free her. Because he forced her by the point of the sword or tip of the spear into a sexual relationship, he forfeited the option to sell her into slavery. The Israelites did not generally get involved in distant or large-scale wars, and apparently capture was not a significant source of slaves.
Harold C. Washington of the Saint Paul School of Theology cites Deuteronomy 21:10-14 as an example of how the Bible condones sexual violence committed by Israelites; they were taking advantage of women who, as war captives, had no recourse or means of self defense.
M.I. Rey at the Graduate Institute of Religious Studies at Boston University argues that the passage is an endorsement of not only sexual slavery but genocidal rape, as the capture of these women is justified on the grounds of their not being Hebrew. Rey further argues that these women were not viewed as equals to Hebrew women, but rather as war trophies, and thus their captors had no qualms in engaging in sexual violence.
The taking of female captives is also encouraged by Moses in Numbers 31. After being instructed by Yahweh to take vengeance upon the Midianites, Moses tells the Israelites to kill the male children and nonvirgin females but take the young virgins for themselves.
Kent Brown at Whitworth University claims that since the army did not receive a direct instruction by Yahweh to take the virgin girls captive, this cannot be justified as the obeying of a divine order; the Israelites were enslaving the virgin women for their own sexual pleasure.
The Deuteronomic Code forbids the people of Israel from handing over fugitive slaves to their masters or oppressing them, and instructs that these fugitives should be allowed to reside where they wish. Although a literal reading would indicate that this applies to slaves of all nationalities and locations, the Mishnah and many commentators consider the rule to have the much narrower application, to just those slaves who flee from outside Israelite territory into it.
It was also possible to be born into slavery. If a male Israelite slave had been given a wife by his owner, then the wife and any children which had resulted from the union would remain the property of his former owner, according to the Covenant Code. Although no nationality is specified, 18th-century theologians John Gill (1697–1771) and Adam Clarke suggested this referred only to Canaanite concubines.
Like the rest of the Ancient Near East, the legal systems of the Israelites divided slaves into different categories: "In determining who should benefit from their intervention, the legal systems drew two important distinctions: between debt and chattel slaves, and between native and foreign slaves. The authorities intervened first and foremost to protect the former category of each--citizens who had fallen on hard times and had been forced into slavery by debt or famine."
Poverty, and more generally a lack of economic security, compelled some people to enter debt bondage. In the Ancient Near East, wives and (non-adult) children were dependents of the head of household and were sometimes sold into slavery by the husband or father for financial reasons. Evidence of this viewpoint is found in the Code of Hammurabi, which permits debtors to sell their wives and children into temporary slavery, lasting a maximum of three years. The Holiness code also exhibits this, allowing foreign residents to sell their own children and families to Israelites, although no limitation is placed on the duration of such slavery. Biblical authors repeatedly criticize debt slavery, which could be attributed to high taxation, monopoly of resources, high-interest loans, and collapse of higher kinship groups.
Debt slaves were one of the two categories of slaves in ancient Jewish society. As the name implies, these individuals sold themselves into slavery in order to pay off debts they may have accrued. These individuals were not permanently in this situation and were usually released after six to seven years. Chattel slaves, on the other hand, were less common and were usually prisoners of war who retained no individual right of redemption. These chattel slaves engaged in full-time menial labor, often in a domestic capacity.
The earlier Covenant Code instructs that, if a thief is caught after sunrise and is unable to make restitution for the theft, then the thief should be enslaved. Children of a deceased debtor may be forced into slavery to pay off outstanding debts. Similarly, it is evident that debtors could be forced to sell their children into slavery to pay the creditors.
Sexual and conjugal slavery
There were two words used for female slaves, which were amah and shifhah. Based upon the uses in different texts, the words appear to have the same connotations and are used synonymously, namely that of being a sexual object, though the words themselves appear to be from different ethnic origins. Men assigned their female slaves the same level of dependence as they would a wife. Close levels of relationships could occur given the amount of dependence placed upon these women. These slaves had two specific roles: a sexual use and companionship. Their reproductive capacities were valued within their roles within the family. Marriage with these slaves was not unheard of or prohibited. In fact, it was a man's concubine that was seen as the "other" and shunned from the family structure. These female slaves were treated more like women than slaves which may have resulted, according to some scholars, due to their sexual role, which was particularly to "breed" more slaves.
Sexual slavery, or being sold to be a wife, was common in the ancient world. Throughout the Old Testament, the taking of multiple wives is recorded many times. An Israelite father could sell his unmarried daughters into servitude, with the expectation or understanding that the master or his son could eventually marry her (as in Exodus 21:7-11.) It is understood by Jewish and Christian commentators that this referred to the sale of a daughter, who "is not arrived to the age of twelve years and a day, and this through poverty."
And if a man sells his daughter to be a female slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. If she does not please her master, who has betrothed her to himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt deceitfully with her. And if he has betrothed her to his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters. If he takes another wife, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, and her marriage rights. And if he does not do these three for her, then she shall go out free, without paying money.
The code also instructs that the woman was to be allowed to be redeemed if the man broke his betrothal to her. If a female slave was betrothed to the master's son, then she had to be treated as a normal daughter. If he took another wife, then he was required to continue supplying the same amounts of food, clothing, and conjugal rights to her. The code states that failure to comply with these regulations would automatically grant free manumission to the enslaved woman, while all Israelite slaves were to be treated as hired servants.
The betrothal clause seems to have provided an exception to the law of release in Deuteronomy 15:12 (cf. Jeremiah 34:14), in which both male and female Israelite servants were to be given release in the seventh year.
The penalty if an Israelite engaged in sexual activity with an unredeemed female slave who was betrothed was that of scourging, with Jewish tradition seeing this as only referring to the slave, (versus Deuteronomy 22:22, where both parties were stoned, being free persons), as well as the man confessing his guilt and the priest making atonement for his sin.
As for Israelite slaves, the Covenant Code allows them to voluntarily renounce their seventh-year manumission and become permanent slaves (literally being slaves forever). The Covenant Code rules require that the slaves confirmed this desire "before God", a phrase which has been understood to mean at either a religious sanctuary, before judges, or in the presence of household gods. Having done this, slaves were then to have an awl driven through their ear into a doorpost by their master. This ritual was common throughout the Ancient Near East, being practiced by Mesopotamians, Lydians, and Arabs; in the Semitic world, the ear symbolised obedience (much as the heart symbolises emotion, in the modern western world), and a pierced earlobe signified servitude.
The Holiness code of Leviticus explicitly allows participation in the slave trade, with non-Israelite residents who had been sold into slavery being regarded as a type of property that could be inherited. Foreign residents were included in this permission, and were allowed to own Israelite slaves.[dubious ]
The Ten Commandments make clear that honouring the Shabbat was expected of slaves, not just their masters. The later The book of Deuteronomy, having repeated the Shabbat requirement, also instructs that slaves should be allowed to celebrate the Sukkot festival.
Although Leviticus instructs that during the Sabbatical Year, slaves and their masters should eat food which the land yields, without being farmed, it does not explicitly forbid the slaves from the farming itself, despite restricting their masters from doing so, and neither does it grant slaves any other additional rest from work during these years.
Unlike the other books, Leviticus does not mention explicit occasions of respite from toil, instead simply giving the vague instruction that Israelite slaves should not to be compelled to work with rigour; Maimonides argues that this was to be interpreted as forbidding open-ended work (such as keep doing that until I come back), and that disciplinary action was not to include instructing the slave to perform otherwise pointless work.
A special case is that of the debtor who sells himself as a slave to his creditor; Leviticus instructs that in this situation, the debtor must not be made to do the work of slaves, but must instead be treated the same as a hired servant. In Jewish tradition, this was taken to mean that the debtor should not be instructed to do humiliating work - which only slaves would do - and that the debtor should be asked to perform the craft(s) which they usually did before they had been enslaved, if it is realistic to do so.
Injury and compensation
The earlier Covenant Code provides a potentially more valuable and direct form of relief, namely a degree of protection for the slave's person (their body and its health) itself. This codification extends the basic lex talionis (....eye for an eye, tooth for a tooth...), to compel that when slaves are significantly injured by their masters, manumission is to be the compensation given; the canonical examples mentioned are the knocking out of an eye or a tooth. This resembles the earlier Code of Hammurabi, which instructs that when an injury is done to a social inferior, monetary compensation should be made, instead of carrying out the basic lex talionis; Josephus indicates that by his time it was acceptable for a fine to be paid to the slave, instead of manumitting them, if the slave agreed. Nachmanides argued that it was a biblically commanded duty to liberate a slave who had been harmed in this way
The Hittite laws and the Code of Hammurabi both insist that if a slave is harmed by a third party, the third party must financially compensate the owner. In the Covenant Code, if an ox gores a slave, the ox owner must pay the servant's master a 30 shekel fine.
The murder of slaves by owners was prohibited in the Law covenant. The Covenant Code clearly institutes the death penalty for beating a free man to death; in contrast, beating a slave to death was to be avenged only if the slave does not survive for one or two days after the beating. Abraham ben Nathan of Lunel, a 12th-century Provençal scholar, Targum, and Maimonides argue that avenged implies the death penalty, but more recent scholars view it as probably describing a lesser punishment. A number of modern Protestant Bible versions (such as the New Living Translation, New International Version and New Century Version) translate the survival for one or two days as referring to a full and speedy recovery, rather than to a lingering death, as favoured by other recent versions (such as the New Revised Standard Version, and New American Bible).
In a parallel with the shmita system the Covenant Code offers automatic manumission of male Israelite slaves after they have worked for six years; this excludes non-Israelite slaves, and specifically excludes Israelite daughters, who were sold into slavery by their fathers, from such automatic seventh-year manumission. Such were bought to be betrothed to the owner, or his son, and if that had not been done, they were to be allowed to be redeemed. If the marriage took place, they were to be set free if her husband was negligent in his basic marital obligations. The later Deuteronomic Code is seen by some to contradict elements of this instruction, in extending automatic seventh year manumission to both sexes. Others see the latter as a general decree, with the aspect of female manumission not being applicable within the specific circumstances of the former case, with marriage taking the place of manumission.
The Deuteronomic Code also extends the seventh-year manumission rule by instructing that Israelite slaves freed in this way should be given livestock, grain, and wine, as a parting gift; the literal meaning of the verb used, at this point in the text, for giving this gift seems to be hang round the neck. In Jewish tradition, the identified gifts were regarded as merely symbolic, representing a gift of produce rather than of money or clothing; many Jewish scholars estimated that the value of the three listed products was about 30 shekels, so the gift gradually came to be standardised as produce worth this fixed value. The Bible states that one should not regret the gift, for slaves were only half as expensive as hired workers; Nachmanides enumerates this as a command rather than merely as a piece of advice.
According to Jeremiah 34:8-24, Jeremiah also demanded that King Zedekiah manumit (free) all Israelite slaves (Jeremiah 34:9). Leviticus does not mention seventh-year manumission; instead it only instructs that debt-slaves, and Israelite slaves owned by foreign residents, should be freed during the national Jubilee (occurring either every 49 or every 50 years, depending on interpretation).
While many commentators see the Holiness Code regulations as supplementing the prior legislation mandating manumission in the seventh year, the otherwise potentially long wait until the Jubilee was somewhat alleviated by the Holiness Code, with the instruction that slaves should be allowed to buy their freedom by paying an amount equal to the total wages of a hired servant over the entire period remaining until the next Jubilee (this could be up to 49 years-worth of wages; in 2017, this would roughly equate with £922,500 sterling). Blood relatives of the slave were also allowed to buy the slave's freedom, and this became regarded as a duty to be carried out by the next of kin (Hebrew: Go'el).
In the Old Testament, the differences between male and female enslavement were vast. Deuteronomic code applied mostly to men, while women were able to be subjected to a much different type of slavery that encompassed permanent, sexual enslavement. Deuteronomy 15:17 and Exodus 21:5-6 outline such a code in which women's slavery became more permanent by way of voluntary extension. Both women and men are able to be used as sexual slaves, effectively to breed more slaves; however, such sexual use requires change in status for female slaves, but not for male slaves. This change in status would require a female debt slave to become a permanent fixture of the household: by way of marrying the father or the father's son. Deuteronomy 21:9 states that the female slave must be treated as a daughter if such permanent status is to be established. The Covenant Codes were thus insufficient in protecting the manumission those who are forced into sexual slavery, whether male or female.
Abolition of slavery
According to the Jewish Encyclopedia, the slavery of Israelites was abolished by the prophets after the destruction of the temple of Solomon. The prophet Nehemiah rebuked the wealthy Israelites of his day for continuing to own Israelite slaves.
Slavery is mentioned numerous times in the New Testament. The word "servant" is sometimes substituted for the word "slave" in English translations of the Bible.
The Bible claims that Jesus healed the ill slave of a centurion and restored the cut off ear of the high priest's slave. In his parables, Jesus referenced slavery: the prodigal son, ten gold coins, unforgiving tenant, and tenant farmers. Jesus' teaching on slavery was metaphorical: spiritual slavery, a slave having two masters (God and mammon), slavery to God, acting as a slave toward others, and the greatest among his disciples being the least of them. Jesus also taught that he would give burdened and weary laborers rest. The Passion narratives are interpreted by the Catholic church as a fulfillment of the Suffering Servant songs in Isaiah.
Jesus' view of slavery compares the relationship between God and humankind to that of a master and his slaves. Three instances where Jesus communicates this view include:
Matthew 18:21-35: Jesus' Parable of the Unmerciful Servant, wherein Jesus compares the relationship between God and humankind to that of a master and his slaves. Jesus offers the story of a master selling a slave along with his wife and children.
Matthew 20:20-28: A series of remarks wherein Jesus recognizes it is necessary to be a slave to be "first" among the deceased entering heaven.
Matthew 24:36-51: Jesus' Parable of the Faithful Servant, wherein Jesus again compares the relationship between God and humankind to that of a master and his slaves.
In Paul's letters to the Ephesians, Paul motivates early Christian slaves to remain loyal and obedient to their masters like they are to Christ. Ephesians 6:5-8 Paul states, “Slaves, be obedient to your human masters with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ” which is Paul instructing slaves to obey their master. Similar statements regarding obedient slaves can be found in Colossians 3:22-24, 1 Timothy 6:1-2, and Titus 2:9-10. In Col 4:1 Paul advises members of the church, who are slave masters, to "treat your slaves justly and fairly, realizing that you too have a Master in heaven.” Adding to Paul's advice to masters and slaves, he uses slavery as a metaphor. In Romans 1:1 Paul calls himself “a slave of Christ Jesus” and later in Romans 6:18 Paul writes “You have been set free from sin and become slaves to righteousness.” Also in Galatians, Paul writes on the nature of slavery within the kingdom of God. Galatians 3:27-29 states “there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” We find similar patterns of speech and understanding about slavery in Peter's epistles. In 1 Peter 2:18, Saint Peter writes “Slaves, be subject to your masters with all reverence, not only to those who are good and equitable but also to those who are perverse.”
The Epistle to Philemon has become an important text in regard to slavery; it was used by pro-slavery advocates as well as by abolitionists. In the epistle, Saint Paul writes to Saint Philemon that he is returning Saint Onesimus, a fugitive slave, back to him; however, Paul also entreats Philemon to regard Onesimus, who he says he views as a son, not as a slave but as a beloved brother in Christ. Philemon is requested to treat Onesimus as he would treat Paul. According to Catholic tradition, Philemon freed Onesimus.
The prospect of manumission is an idea prevalent within the New Testament. In contrast to the Old Testament, the New Testament's criteria for manumission encompasses Roman laws on slavery as opposed to the shmita system. Manumission within the Roman system largely depends on the mode of enslavement: slaves were often foreigners, prisoners of war, or those heavily indebted. For foreign-born individuals, manumission was increasingly amorphous; however, if subject to debt slavery, manumission was much more concrete: freedom was granted once the debt was paid. Children were often offered to creditors as a form of payment and their manumission was determined ab initio(at the outset) with the pater(family head). This manicipia(enslavement) of children by the pater did not exclude the selling of children into sexual slavery. If sold into sex slavery, the prospect of complete manumission became much less likely under the stipulations of Roman Law. Much like the stipulations of the Covenant Code, being sold into sexual slavery meant greater chance of perpetual servitude, by way of explicit enslavement or forced marriage.
One of the first discussions of manumission in the New Testament can be seen in Paul's interaction with Philemon's slave Onesimus. Onesimus was held captive with Paul, as he was a fugitive, run-away slave. Paul proceeds to baptize the slave Onesimus, and then writes to his owner, Philemon, telling him that he will pay whatever fee Onesimus owes for his fugitive status. Paul does not explicitly ask Philemon for Onesimus's manumission; however, the offer a "fee" for Onesimus's escape has been discussed as a possible latent form of manumission. Paul's treatment of Onesimus additionally brings into question of Roman slavery as a "closed" or "open" slave system. Open slave systems allow for incorporation of freed slaves into society after manumission, while closed systems manumitted slaves still lack social agency or social integration. Roman slavery exhibited characteristics of both, open and closed, systems which further complicates the letter from Paul to Philemon regarding the slave Onesimus.
In the time of the New Testament, there were three modes in which a slave could be manumitted by his or her master: a will could include a formal permission of manumission, a slave could be declared free during a census, or a slave and master could go before a provincial official. These modes of manumission lend evidence to suggest that manumission was an everyday occurrence, and thus complicates New Testament texts encouraging manumission. In 1 Corinthians 7:21, Paul encourages enslaved peoples to pursue manumission; however, this manumission could be connoted in the boundaries of a closed slave system in which manumission does not equate to complete freedom. Modes of manumission, in the New Testament, are once again disputed in a letter from Paul to Galatians in which Paul writes "For freedom Christ has set us free". This declaration explicitly implies that Christ has manumitted his apostles; however, it is unclear as to whether this manumission is fleeting, and that Christ has now purchased them. The parables present within the Gospels further complicate ideas of manumission. Christ vividly outlines the actions of dutiful slaves, but these dutiful actions never warrant a slave's manumission from his or her master. Jesus thus never explicitly states that slaves should be manumitted for being consistently dutiful, but he is, however, complicit in violence shown towards unruly slaves, as seen in Matthew's parable of the Unfaithful Slave. This seemingly perpetual dutifulness is also shown to be expected in Ephesians: "Slaves, obey your masters with fear and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ; not only while being watched, and in order to please them, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart". Such sentiments in the New Testament suggest that dutiful work and obedience was not for the hope of manumission, but rather a necessary symbol of obedience in the eyes of God.
Nineteenth-century English and American debate
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The Bible is against slavery
An argument made repeatedly is that the slavery mentioned in the Bible is quite different from chattel slavery practiced in the American South, and that in some cases the word "slave" is a mistranslation. For example, Hebrew slaves in Biblical and Talmudic times had many rights that slaves in the American South did not have, including the requirement that slaves are freed after 7 years of servitude. The slave owner owned the slave's labor, but not their body, as opposed to chattel slavery where they owned the slave's body as well.
- "Does the Bible Sanction Slavery?" (PDF). Anti-Slavery Record. 2 (12). December 1836. Also issued as a pamphlet.
- Weld, Theodore (1838). The Bible Against Slavery. An inquiry into the patriarchal and mosaic systems on the subject of human rights. Anti-Slavery Examiner, 6 (4th, enlarged ed.). New York: American Anti-Slavery Society.
- Bourne, George (1845). A condensed anti-slavery Bible argument; by a citizen of Virginia. New York.
- Beecher, Charles (1855). The God of the Bible against slavery. Anti-Slavery Tracts, No.17. New York: American Anti-Slavery Society.
- Luther, Lee (1855). Slavery Examined in the Light of the Bible. Syracuse, New York: Wesleyan Methodist Book Room.
- The Bible and Slavery. 185?. American Reform Tract and Book Society.CS1 maint: others (link)
- A Tennessean. The Bible gives no sanction to slavery. 185?. American Reform Tract and Book Society.
- Snyder, W. H. (1857). American slavery contrasted with Bible servitude. Lexington, Illinois.
- Elliott, Charles (1857). The Bible and Slavery: in which the Abrahamic and Mosaic discipline is considered in connection with the most ancient forms of slavery; and the Pauline code on slavery, as related to Roman slavery and the discipline of the apostolic churches. Cincinnati: L. Swormstedt and A. Poe, for the Methodist Episcopal Church.
- Cheever, George B. (c. 1857). God against slavery: and the freedom and duty of the pulpit to rebuke it, as a sin against God. Cincinnati: American Reform Tract and Book Society .
- Cheever, George B. (1858). Address of Rev. George B. Cheever, D.D. before the American Missionary Association, Boston, May 27, 1858 : The Commission from God of the Missionary Enterprise against the Sin of Slavery and the Responsibility on the Church and Ministry for its fulfilment. American Missionary Association.
- Cheever, George B. (1860). The guilt of slavery and the crime of slaveholding, demonstrated from the Hebrew and Greek scriptures. Boston: John P. Jewett.
- Cheever, George B. (1861). The salvation of the country secured by immediate emancipation : a discourse. New-York.
- Allen, Isaac (1860). Is slavery sanctioned by the Bible?. Boston: American Tract Society.
- Pond, Enoch (1861). Slavery and the Bible. Boston: American Tract Society.
- Hatch, Reuben (1863). Bible servitude re-examined; with special reference to pro-slavery interpretations and infidel objections. Cincinnati: Applegate and Co.
- Smith, Goldwin (1863). Does the Bible sanction American slavery?. Oxford and London: John Henry and James Parker.
- Dobbins, J. B. (1864). The Bible Against Slavery; A vindication of the sacred Scriptures against the charge of authorizing slavery. A reply to Bishop Hopkins. Philadelphia.
The Bible is not against slavery
- Priest, Josiah (1851). Bible defence of slavery : or, The origin, history, and fortunes of the Negro race, as deduced from history, both sacred and profane, their natural relations—moral, mental, and physical—to the other races of mankind, compared and illustrated—their future destiny predicted, etc. Bible Defence of Slavery; and Origin[,] Fortunes, and History of the Negro Race. Louisville, Kentucky: J. F. Brennan, for Willis A. Bush.
- Schaff, Philip (1861). Slavery and the Bible. A tract for the times. Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.
- Jones, John Richter (1861). Slavery sanctioned by the Bible. The first part of a general treatise on the slavery question. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott.
- A brief reply to an important question : being a letter to Professor Goldwin Smith from an implicit believer in Holy Scripture. London: Saunders, Otley, and Co. 1863.
- Hopkins, John H. (1863). Bible View of Slavery. See the reply of Dobbins, above.
- Abolitionism in the United Kingdom
- Abolitionism in the United States
- Christian views on slavery
- Catholic Church and slavery
- Islamic views on slavery
- Jewish views on slavery
- Slave bible
- Transatlantic slave trade
- Tsai, Daisy Yulin (2014). Human Rights in Deuteronomy: With Special Focus on Slave Laws. BZAW. 464. De Gruyter. ISBN 978-3-11-036320-3.
- Exodus 21:2-6
- Leviticus 25:39-55
- Deuteronomy 15:12-18
- Ephesians 6:5
- 1 Timothy 6:1
- Hezser, Catherine (2005). Jewish Slavery in Antiquity. Oxford.
- Stringfellow, A Scriptural defense of slavery, 1856
- Raymund Harris, Scriptural researches on the licitness of the slave, (Liverpool: H. Hodgson, 1788)
- John R. McKivigan, Mitchell Snay, Religion and the Antebellum Debate Over Slavery
- George B. Cheever, D.DGod Against Slavery, p. 140
- Deuteronomy 20:10-16
- Exodus 21 - Pulpit Commentary. Retrieved 30 October 2015.
- Deuteronomy 24:7
- Deuteronomy 20:10-15
- Deuteronomy 21:14
- Anchor Bible Dictionary, David Noel Freedman (main ed.), DoubleDay:1992
- Washington, Harold C. (1998). ""Lest He Die in the Battle and Another Man Take Her: Violence and the Construction of Gender in the Laws of Deuteronomy 20–22,"". Gender and Law in the Hebrew Bible and the Ancient Near East: 186–213.
- Rey, M.I. "Reexamination of the Foreign Female Captive: Deuteronomy 21:10–14 as a Case of Genocidal Rape". Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion. 32 (1): 37–53. doi:10.2979/jfemistudreli.32.1.04.
- Numbers 31:17–18
- Brown, Ken (Spring 2015). "Vengeance and Vindication in Numbers 31". Journal of Biblical Literature. 134 (1): 65–84. doi:10.15699/jbl.1341.2015.2561.
- Deuteronomy 23:15
- Gittin 45a
- Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary on Deuteronomy 23, accessed 28 December 2015
- Peake's commentary on the Bible (1962), on Exodus 21:2-11
- Exodus 21:1-4
- "Exodus 21 - John Gill's Exposition of the Bible - Bible Commentary". www.ewordtoday.com. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
- "Adam Clarke's Bible Commentary - Exodus 21". www.godrules.net. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
- A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law (2 vols). Raymond Westbrook (ed). Brill:2003
- Leviticus 25:44
- Richard Elliott Friedman, Who wrote the Bible?
- Jewish Encyclopedia (1901), article on Law, Codification of
- Anthony Campbell & Mark O'Brien, Sources of the Pentateuch (2000)
- William Edward Addis, The Documents Of The Hexateuch (2006), Volume 2
- Exodus 22:2-3
- 2 Kings 4:1-7
- Kriger, Diane (2011). Judaism and Jewish Life : Sex Rewarded, Sex Punished : A Study of the Status 'Female Slave' in Early Jewish Law. Brighton MA: Academic Studies Press.
- Gn. 25:1; cf. 1Ch. 1:32; Gn. 30:4; 31:17; cf. Gn. 35:22; 2Sam. 12:11; cf. 2Sam. 20:3
- David Noel Freedman, Allen C. Myers, Astrid B. Beck, Eerdmans dictionary of the Bible, p. 273
- "Exodus 21:7 Commentary - John Gill's Exposition of the Bible". Bible Study Tools. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
- cf. Leviticus 25:47-55
- Exodus 21:7-10
- Exodus 21:11
- Leviticus 25:46; cf. 1 Kings 9:11
- Gill, Deuteronomy 15:12
- "Leviticus 19:20 Commentary - John Gill's Exposition of the Bible". Bible Study Tools. Retrieved 15 September 2017.
- Peake's commentary on the Bible (1962), on Leviticus 19:20-22
- Leviticus 19:20-22
- Exodus 21:6
- New American Bible, footnote to Exodus 21:6
- Thomas Kelly Cheyne and John Sutherland Black, Encyclopaedia Biblica (1903), article on Slavery
- King James Version and the New International Version translations
- Benzinger, Immanuel (1903). "Slavery". In Thomas Kelly Cheyne; John Sutherland Black (eds.). Encyclopædia Biblica. 4. columns 4653–4658. New York: MacMillan.
- Leviticus 25:44-46
- Leviticus 19:33-34
- Exodus 20:10
- Deuteronomy 16:14
- Leviticus 25:1-13
- Leviticus 25:43; Leviticus 25:53
- Maimonides, Mishneh Torah
- Leviticus 25:39
- Exodus 21:24
- Exodus 21:26-27
- Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews, 4:8:35
- Peake's commentary on the Bible (1962), on Exodus 21:18-27
- Exodus 21:32
- Exodus 21:12
- Exodus 21:20-21
- Jewish Encyclopedia (1901), article on Avenger of Blood
- Exodus 21:2
- Exodus 21:7-11
- Deuteronomy 15:12; cf. Jeremiah 34:9,14
- Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible, Ex. 21:7
- Jamieson, Fausset and Brown, Ex. 21:7-11
- Peake's commentary on the Bible (1962), on Deuteronomy 15:12-18
- Deuteronomy 15:13-14
- Kiddushin 17a, baraita
- Deuteronomy 15:18
- Keil & Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament, Lev_25:36-41
- Dr. John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible, Lev 25:40
- Albert Barnes' Notes on the Bible, Lev 25:39-40
- Jewish Encyclopedia (1901), article on Go'el
- Jackson, Bernard S. "Biblical laws of Slavery: a comparative approach." Slavery and Other Forms of Unfree Labour 86 (1988): 101.
- Jewish Encyclopedia: Antislavery Movement and the Jews: Emancipation in the Bible
- Chabad: Nehemiah 5
- Luke 7:2
- Lukw 22:51
- Luke 15:22
- Luke 19:13
- Matthew 18:26
- Matthew 21:34
- John 8:35
- Matthew 6:24
- John 15:15
- John 13:14
- Luke 22:26
- Matthew 11:28
- Catechism of the Catholic Church 623
- [httpItalic text://www.usccb.org/bible/ephesians/6:5 Eph 6:5-8]
- Col 3:22
- 1 Timothy 6:1
- Titus 2:9
- Col 4:1
- Romans 1:1
- "Romans 6:18". www.usccb.org. Retrieved 2020-05-03.
- Galatians 3:27
- 1 Peter 2:18
- Religion and the Antebellum Debate Over Slavery, by John R. McKivigan, Mitchell Snay
- God Against Slavery, p. 140, by Rev. George B. Cheever, D.D
- Philemon 1:1-25
- Catholic.Com: St. Onesimus
- Glancy, Jennifer A. Slavery in early Christianity. Fortress Press, 2002.
- Galatians 5:1
- Matthew 24:45-51
- Ephesians 6:5