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Oct 23, 2009

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Travis Greene

There were non-Israelite slaves.

Michael W. Kruse

True, but the Jubilee provisions don't cover non-Israelite slaves. They may be kept for life. (Lev. 25:44-46)

There is the tricky question of what was meant by "slavery." The Jubilee is describing indentured servitude ... service for a set period of time or until a relative bought them out of servitude. By contrast, the non-Israelite slaves could be kept for life and willed to children. Lev. 25:42, says "Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves." So whatever the specifics of the indentured servitude, the Jubilee says it as something other than slavery. Thus, at the Jubilee, there were not Israelite slaves to set free and the non-Israelite slaves were not in view.

It doesn't appear the Jubilee was ever observed and I don't know to what to degree the prohibition against slave owning was followed. But the Code itself makes no provision for setting slaves free because it outlaws Israelite slavery in the first place.

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