Page:The Bible Against Slavery (Weld, 1838).djvu/39

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breath, authorize them to "use his services without wages;" force him to work and rob him of his earnings?


V.—Were masters the proprietors of servants as legal property?


The discussion of this topic has already been somewhat anticipated, but a variety of additional considerations remain to be noticed.

I. Servants were not subjected to the uses nor liable to the contingencies of property. (1.) They were never taken in payment for their masters' debts, though children were sometimes taken (without legal authority) for the debts of a father. 2 Kings iv. 1; Job xxiv. 9; Isa. 1., 1; Matt, xviii. 25. Creditors took from debtors property of all kinds, to satisfy their demands. Job xxiv. 3, cattle are taken; Prov. xxii. 27, household furniture; Lev. xxv. 25—28, the productions of the soil; Lev. xxv. 27—30, houses; Ex. xxii. 26—29, Deut. xxiv. 10—13, Matt. v. 40, clothing; but servants were taken in no instance. (2.) Servants were never given as pledges. Property of all sorts was given in pledge. We find household furniture, clothing, cattle, money, signets, and personal ornaments, with divers other articles of property, used as pledges for value received; but no servants. (3.) All lost property was to be restored. Oxen, asses, sheep, raiment, and "whatsoever lost things," are specified—servants not. Deut. xxii. 13. Besides, the Israelites were forbidden to return the runaway servant. Deut. xxiii. 15. (4.) The Israelites never gave away their servants as presents. They made costly presents, of great variety. Lands, houses, all kinds of animals, merchandise, family utensils, precious metals, grain, armor, &c. are among their recorded gifts. Giving presents to superiors and persons of rank, was a standing usage. 1 Sam. x. 27; 1 Sam. xvi. 20; 2 Chron. xvii. 5. Abraham to Abimelech, Gen. xxi. 27; Jacob to the viceroy of Egypt, Gen. xliii. 11; Joseph to his brethren and father, Gen. xlv. 22, 23; Benhadad to Elisha, 2 Kings viii. 8, 9; Ahaz to Tiglath Pilezer, 2 Kings vi. 8; Solomon to the Queen of Sheba, 1 Kings x. 13; Jeroboam to Ahijah, 1 Kings xiv. 3; Asa to Benhadad, 1 Kings xv. 18, 19. But no servants were given as presents—though it was a prevailing fashion in the surrounding nations. Gen. xii. 16; Gen xx. 14. It may be objected that Laban gave handmaids to his daughters, Jacob's wives. Without enlarging on the nature of the