Page:The Bible Against Slavery (Weld, 1838).djvu/20

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18

or persecution ariseth by-and-by (immediately) they are offended." Nothing is more mutable than language. Words, like bodies, are always throwing off some particles and absorbing others. So long as they are mere representatives, elected by the whims of universal suffrage, their meaning will be a perfect volatile, and to cork it up for the next century is an employment sufficiently silly (to speak within bounds) for a modern Bible Dictionary maker. There never was a shallower conceit than that of establishing the sense attached to a word centuries ago, by showing what it means now. Pity that fashionable mantuamakers were not a little quicker at taking hints from some Doctors of Divinity. How easily they might save their pious customers all qualms of conscience about the weekly shiftings of fashion, by proving that the last importation of Parisian indecency now flaunting on promenade, was the very style of dress in which the pious Sarah kneaded cakes for the angels, and the modest Rebecca drew water for the camels of Abraham's servants. Since such fashions are rife in Broadway now, they must have been in Canaan and Padanaram four thousand years ago!

The inference that the word buy, used to describe the procuring of servants, means procuring them as chattels, seems based upon the fallacy, that whatever costs money is money; that whatever or whoever you pay money for, is an article of property, and the fact of your paying for it proves it property. The children of Israel were required to purchase their first-born from under the obligations of the priesthood. Num. xviii. 15, 16; Ex. xiii. 13; xxxiv. 20. This custom still exists among the Jews, and the word buy is still used to describe the transaction. Does this prove that their first-born were, or are, held as property? They were bought as really as were servants. (2.) The Israelites were required to pay money for their own souls. This is called sometimes a ransom, sometimes an atonement. Were their souls therefore marketable commodities? (3.) Bible saints bought their wives. Boaz bought Ruth. "So Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife." Ruth iv. 10. Hosea bought his wife. "So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley." Hosea iii. 6. Jacob bought his wives Rachael and Leah, and not having money, paid for them in labor—seven years a piece. Gen. xxix. 15—29. Moses probably bought his wife in the same way, and paid for her by his labor, as the servant of her father. Exod. ii.