Yea more, his master was compelled to keep him, however much he might wish to get rid of him.
VIII. The method prescribed for procuring servants, was an appeal to their choice. The Israelites were commanded to offer them a suitable inducement, and then leave them to decide. They might neither seize them by force, nor frighten them by threats, nor wheedle them by false pretences, nor borrow them, nor beg them; but they were commanded to buy them; that is, they were to recognize the right of the individuals to dispose of their own services, and their right to refuse all offers, and thus oblige those who made them, to do their own work. Suppose all, with one accord, had refused to become servants, what provision did the Mosaic law make for such an emergency? None.
IX. Various incidental expressions corroborate the idea that servants became such by their own contract. Job xli. 4, is an illustration, "Will he (Leviathan) make a covenant with thee? wilt thou take him for a servant forever?
X. The transaction which made the Egyptians the servants of Pharaoh was voluntary throughout. See Gen. xlvii. 18—26. Of their own accord they came to Joseph and said, "We have not aught left but our bodies and our lands; buy us;" then in the 25th verse, "We will be servants to Pharaoh."
XI. We infer the voluntariness of servants, from the fact that rich Strangers did not become servants. Indeed, so far were they from becoming servants themselves, that they bought and held Jewish servants. Lev. xxv. 47.
XII. The sacrifices and offerings which all were required to present, were to be made voluntarily. Lev. i. 2, 3.
XIII. Mention is often made of persons becoming servants where they were manifestly and pre-eminently voluntary. As the Prophet Elisha. 1 Kings xix. 21; 2 Kings iii. 11. Elijah was his master. The word, translated master, is the same that is so rendered in almost every instance where masters are spoken of under the Mosaic and patriarchal systems. Moses was the servant of Jethro. Ex. iii. 1. Joshua was the servant of Moses. Num. xi. 28. Jacob was the servant of Laban. Gen. xxix. 18—27.
- The case of thieves, whose services were sold until they had earned enough to make restitution to the person wronged, and to pay the legal penalty, stands by itself, and has nothing to do with the condition of servants.