One of the most controversial subjects of the Bible, due in large part to the false and misleading assertions of atheists and progressive scholars, is the idea that the God of the Bible endorses slavery:
In his books and publications, Dr Josh Bowen asserts that slavery in the Bible was ordered by God, and He approved of this practice. As with most of Dr. Bowen’s claims about the Bible, he does not tell the truth concerning what the text actually says.
There is often an attempted link between the slavery of the Bible, and the slavery that took place in Europe and the United States of America. This causes the reader to feel a great abhorrence towards the Bible. The problem is, the slavery found in the Bible, is not even close to the brutal and unjust slavery of American and European nations.
In reality, slavery has existed since 6,800 BC. The type of slavery that is asserted by Dr. Josh Bowen in the Old Testament Pentateuch, is not the brutal slavery that existed seven mellinian before the Israelites, nor after: The following is from the site: “Slavery In History:”
- 6800 B.C. “The world’s first city-state emerges in Mesopotamia. Land ownership and the early stages of technology bring war—in which enemies are captured and forced to work: slavery.”
2575 B.C. “Temple art celebrates the capture of slaves in battle. Egyptians capture slaves by sending special expeditions up the Nile River.”
550 B.C. “The city-state of Athens uses as many as 30,000 slaves in its silver mines.”
From the beginning the God of the Bible makes it clear that He hates slavery
Josh Bowen in his attempt to malign and impugn the Pentateuch, makes unprovable claims that the God of the Bible, “endorses slavery.” What he does not tell you, because he is seeking to malign the Pentateuch, is the slavery described in the Bible is distinct and diverse from all other periods of history.
The evidence this is true is found in the book of Exodus 3:7, where God states that He has heard the cries of the Israelites in their Bondage as slaves and will destroy the Egyptians for enslaving them. This statement takes place before any of the incidents of slavery that come later in the book of Exodus and Leviticus.
In Biblical Hermeneutics, we find an important principle that is established in order to facilitate proper exegesis of the biblical texts: This is the Principle of “The First Mentioned.” If we search the Bible for the first occurence of a word a phrase, or a principle; this becomes the defining meaning and established fact for that word, phrase, or principle. We find that wherever the first mentioned is found, this establishes a precedent that is observed throughout the rest of the Bible.
The first mentioned place in the Bible where a person is sold as a slave, is Joseph in Genesis 39:1. “Now Joseph had been taken down to Egypt. And Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh, captain of the guard, an Egyptian, bought him from the Ishmaelites who had taken him down there.” The Bible describes this as unjust, with the Lord helping and prospering Joseph when he was taken as a slave. The God of the Bible determines to set Joseph free from the slavery inflicted upon him by his own brothers and the Midianite traders, and Joseph becomes the second most powerful man in the world at that time:
“Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has revealed the meaning of the dreams to you, clearly no one else is as intelligent or wise as you are. You will be in charge of my court, and all my people will take orders from you. Only I, sitting on my throne, will have a rank higher than yours.” Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the entire land of Egypt.” ~Genesis 41:39-41
God’s abhorrence with slavery is further illustrated by the complete destruction of the Egyptian kingdom when He sent Moses to demand that Pharaoh, set the Israelites free from the slavery inflicted upon them. This place of first mentioned defines God’s true opinion of slavery; He hates it to such a high degree that He destroys the most powerful nation in the world for enslaving the Israelites.
Three Categories Of Slavery In The Pentateuch
Although the Bible specifies three types of slavery that are described in the Old Testament, Josh Bowen ignores what the texts specifies. Bowen repeatedly insinuates that all of the slavery we find in the Old Testament is the same type as the brutal slavery inflicted against African citizens taken from their homes by slave traders, and sold to Americans and Europeans. You will find that this is a constant and enduring principle in all the commentary published by Dr. Josh Bowen. He doesn’t care what the Bible says; he twists the biblical texts and makes these scriptures say what he wants them to say. In a previous essay, I illustrate this replacement technique Bowen uses for the Biblical texts, substituting what the Bible says, with Bowens own words.
We find this replacement technique confirmed by Josh Bowen in his books, “The Atheist Handbook,” where he writes: “All translations from the Bible are my own.”
Displaying a callous lack of genuine biblical scholarship, Bowen does not delineate the three types of slavery found in the Pentateuch; he combines every instance of slavery into the same category: forced brutality, horrendous evil. Even worse; Bowen asserts that God endorsed and ordered this type of slavery.
- The first type of slavery we find in the Old Testament, is the forced brutal slavery of the Egyptians who enslaved the Hebrew people against their will, under force. This is the same type of slavery inflicted upon African citizens who were stolen from their country against their will, and sold to Americans and Europeans. God hates this type of slavery; He destroyed the Egyptian nation for enslaving the Israelites. In the ten plagues God inflicted upon the Egyptians, their firstborn died, their crops were destroyed, animals, waterways, and the armies of Pharaoh were decimated. As a result of these ten judgments from God, the commerce of Egypt was obliterated, and It took many years for the Egyptians to recover (Exodus 1:11).
- The second type of slavery we find in the Old Testament, are the many instances where God is showing mercy to persons who are destitute, homeless, in debt, and often abandoned. God instituted laws that allowed the Hebrew people to take other Hebrews into their homes, voluntarily as servants, where they were provided for and saved. If they owed debts, after six years all debts were cancelled. A majority of these persons were treated so well by the families that put them into service, they felt as though they were really a member of the family, not a slave, and they wanted to stay with these families forever (Exodus 21:1, Leviticus 25:35-36).
- The third type of slavery we find in the Old Testament, are captives and prisoners of war. These persons came from the nations that surrounded the Israelites when they came into Canaan. For nearly 900 years God had warned these people to cease their worship of demon gods, and the murder of their newborn babies on the fiery hot arms of their god, Molech. When these nations were defeated by the Israelites, they should have been executed as a part of God’s judgment, which He ordered for their evil. God permitted some of these people taken in war, to be shown mercy by being placed into the service of Israelite families. By being spared death, and shown mercy, many of the Canaanites came to know the God of Israel and were saved. In every instance of Old Testament slavery, mercy was the primary goal of God (Leviticus 25:44-46).
Egyptian Slavery v. Israelite Slavery
The type of slavery inflicted upon the Israelites is precisely the same kind of slavery that most people abhor; the slavery of the American and European countries. In 1444, “Portuguese traders brought the first shipment of slaves from West Africa to Europe by sea—establishing the Atlantic slave trade.” In 1526 “Spanish explorers brought the first African slaves to settlements in what would become the United States. These first African-Americans stage the first known slave revolt in the Americas.”
A majority of the slavery that is described in the Old Testament, is far different from the unjust and brutal slavery inflicted upon African people by American and European citizens. The slavery described in the Pentateuch is more accurately defined as household servants, who willingly take employment to serve, survive, and pay debts (Exodus 21:1-11, Leviticus 25:35-43, below). This is what the biblical texts state clearly, while Bowen inserts his opinion to the contrary. Bowen makes no distinction between evil slavery and good slavery that is intended as merciful, and to save lives.
The Bible Describes Good Slavery And Bad Slavery
Using the term, “slavery” in our current generation, often connotes evil acts which are rightly attributed to the brutality and cruel treatment of slaves brought to America and Europe. During the American Civil War biblical texts were cited incorrectly to try and justify the slavery that some Americans inflicted upon African people. There is no place in the Bible where God ever approved of the brutality and dehumanizing slavery that was instituted in America and Europe.
There is good slavery described in the Bible, the type that allowed ancient Hebrew people, and even the enemies of the Israelites to be saved from poverty, abandonment, famine, debt, judgment and war. There are also many references in the New Testament to slavery as good, observed by the followers of Jesus who identified themselves as, “slaves of Jesus Christ.”
- Romans 1:1: “This letter is from Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, chosen by God to be an apostle and sent out to preach his Good News.”
- Jude 1:1: “This letter is from Jude, a slave of Jesus Christ and a brother of James.”
- Mark 10:44-45: “…and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
- Romans 6:18 “And having been set free from sin, you became slaves of righteousness.”
- Romans 6:22 “But now you are free from the power of sin and have become slaves of God. Now you do those things that lead to holiness and result in eternal life.”
The difference between good slavery and bad slavery, depends upon the context in which it is used, and the intent of the persons who bring persons into slavery. If the purpose is to help a person or show them mercy; if the intent is to fully commit a life to Christ, or to become a servant to others in helping them, the slavery is defined as good and righteous.
If the intent is to force a person into service against their will and deprive them of their humanity, freedom, and dignity, this slavery is condemned by God and all honest people.
Examining these Old and New Testament texts, proves that the Bible describes both good slavery and bad slavery.
Atheists and progressives often assert that the slavery described in the Bible is all evil. This is attempted because atheists and critics of God and the Bible want people to believe that the God of the Bible is evil and unjust.
When an intelligent person studies these biblical texts, they quickly discover that God approves of good slavery, i.e., for purposes of mercy, and to save lives; while He condemns brutal forced slavery that reduces human beings to property and deprives them of the life God intended.
Today we refer to this kind of service as, “indentured servitude.” Persons of poverty or who owed debts, worked off their debts or were able to survive during difficult times, by working for a person or family for a period of just six years. It is important to note that these laws concerning Hebrew servants and enemy combatants, were only instituted for the Israelites, not as general laws for every nation and people, for all time.
“These are the regulations you must present to Israel. “If you buy a Hebrew servant, he may serve for no more than six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom.” ~Exodus 21:1
We find this repeated in the book of Leviticus: “Do not treat Hebrew servants as slaves.”
Israelites In Poverty or Debt: “If one of your fellow Israelites falls into poverty and cannot support himself, support him as you would a foreigner or a temporary resident and allow him to live with you. Do not charge interest or make a profit at his expense. Instead, show your fear of God by letting him live with you as your relative.” ~Leviticus 25:35-36:
“Do not treat him as a slave”
“If one of your fellow Israelites falls into poverty and is forced to sell himself to you, do not treat him as a slave. Treat him instead as a hired worker or as a temporary resident who lives with you, and he will serve you only until the Year of Jubilee. At that time he and his children will no longer be obligated to you, and they will return to their clans and go back to the land originally allotted to their ancestors. The people of Israel are my servants, whom I brought out of the land of Egypt, so they must never be sold as slaves. Show your fear of God by not treating them harshly” Leviticus 25:39-43
The Law that Moses gave the Israelites specified that these persons would be released from their service, and all debts paid, after six years. This type of slavery is significantly different from American and European slavery which never ended until the death of the slave.
Allowing a person to work for you, voluntarily for six years maximum, so that they might survive or pay off a debt, is an act of mercy, not brutality. No American or European slave was ever given these rights or opportunities. Most intelligent people can see that Josh Bowen lied about the slavery found in the Pentateuch.
The secondary type of slavery that is described in the Old Testament is forced servitude for prisoners of war as a part of the terms for their defeat.
Canaanite People: “However, you may purchase male and female slaves from among the nations around you. You may also purchase the children of temporary residents who live among you, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat them as slaves, but you must never treat your fellow Israelites this way. ~Leviticus 25:44-46
Evidence that the enslavement of the Canaanites was a precursor for God’s imminent judgment of these nations, observed in Deuteronomy chapter 9:
“Listen, O Israel! Today you are about to cross the Jordan River to take over the land belonging to nations much greater and more powerful than you. They live in cities with walls that reach to the sky! The people are strong and tall—descendants of the famous Anakite giants. You’ve heard the saying, ‘Who can stand up to the Anakites?’ But recognize today that the Lord your God is the one who will cross over ahead of you like a devouring fire to destroy them. He will subdue them so that you will quickly conquer them and drive them out, just as the Lord has promised. “After the Lord your God has done this for you, don’t say in your hearts, ‘The Lord has given us this land because we are such good people!’ No, it is because of the wickedness of the other nations that he is pushing them out of your way. It is not because you are so good or have such integrity that you are about to occupy their land. The Lord your God will drive these nations out ahead of you only because of their wickedness, and to fulfill the oath he swore to your ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. You must recognize that the Lord your God is not giving you this good land because you are good, for you are not—you are a stubborn people. ~Deuteronomy 9:1-6 (NLT)
When God brought the Hebrews out of their slavery in Egypt, they were coming to a land that was inhabited by people just as evil and brutal as the Egyptians who had enslaved them.
Throughout the entire history of humans on earth, in many different cultures and upon hundreds of battles, enemy combatants who were a part of the losing side—those taken as prisoners of war, or who surrendered—were either executed or placed into forced slavery.
Did God Commit Genocide Against The Amalekites/Canaanites?
The Canaanites are the descendants of Canaan, the son of Ham, one of Noah’s three sons. Among the Canaanites are the most infamous—the Amorites, who lived in the hill country of Israel. The rest of the Canaanites include: the Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites, Hittites, Moabites, Edomites, Philistines, and Girgashites.
The people of the Canaanite nations were some of the most brutal and vicious human beings who have ever lived on the planet
While Israel was traveling across the desert on their way to the land that God had promised, the Amalekites ruthlessly tormented, attacked, and killed God’s people. As a result of their cruelty to Israel, the Lord instructs Moses to record these events, so that later generations might understand when God finally sends judgment upon the Amalekites—so that His actions would be justified.
Exodus 17:8-14 8. Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim. …Then the LORD said to Moses, “Write this for a memorial in the book and recount it in the hearing of Joshua, that I will utterly blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.”
Isaiah 30:18: “For the Lord is a God of justice.”
In the Book of Deuteronomy, as the Lord is instructing Moses in the statutes and requirements for the people, He also tells Moses:
“Remember What Amalek Did To You”
This is a reminder for the future when the people come into the land that God has promised them, so that they will understand why He will instruct them to completely annihilate the Amalekites from the face of the earth.
Deuteronomy 25:17-19 Remember what Amalek did to you on the way as you were coming out of Egypt, how he met you on the way and attacked your rear ranks, all the stragglers at your rear, when you were tired and weary; and he did not fear God. Therefore it shall be, when the LORD your God has given you rest from your enemies all around, in the land which the LORD your God is giving you to possess as an inheritance, that you will blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven. You shall not forget.
The Amalekites Attacked Israel From The Rear On Their Journey Through The Desert, Slaughtering, The Women, Babies, Children, Elderly, Sick, Disabled And Animals
When the Israelites departed Egypt, there were in excess of 2 million people. In a group this large moving through the desert, the weaker of the group will be traveling slower, formed at the rear of the caravan. When the Amalekites saw the Israelites coming across the desert, they attacked this large group from the rear and slaughtered the The Women, Babies, Children, Elderly, Sick, Disabled And Animals.
This is why God inflicted the same sentence of judgment upon the Amalekites that they inflicted upon the Israelites. The judgment of God inflicted was equal to their crime.
“This is what the LORD of Heaven’s Armies has declared: I have decided to settle accounts with the nation of Amalek for attacking Israel when they came from Egypt. Now go and completely destroy the entire Amalekite nation—men, women, children, babies, cattle, sheep, goats, camels, and donkeys.” ~1 Samuel 15:2-3
Atheists, progressives, and critics of God and the Bible don’t tell people about what the Amalekites did to the Israelites. They conveniently leave this part out, when they assert that God committed genocide against the Amalekites.
There are two places in the Old Testament where the Lord describes Israel as being attacked from the rear by the Amalekites: At Rephidim and Hormah.
Exodus 17:8 Now Amalek came and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
Number2 14:45 Then the Amalekites and the Canaanites who dwelt in that mountain came down and attacked them, and drove them back as far as Hormah.
In a large group of more than 2 million people—making their way across the desert of Sinai, there would be many thousands of elderly, the sick, and women with children, who would be at the rear of the multitude of Israel. The Amalekites viciously came up from behind and slaughtered the weak and the helpless who were already traveling by great difficulty.
At the beginning of the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses begins his instructions to the people whom he has led out of Egypt by God’s power and grace. In chapter 9, Moses reminds the people that God has not led them into this new land because they were righteous and deserved the land; it was because of the wickedness of the Canaanites that God was going to drive these nations out.
Deuteronomy 9:1-4 Hear, O Israel: You are to cross over the Jordan today, and go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourself, cities great and fortified up to heaven, a people great and tall, the descendants of the Anakim, whom you know, and of whom you heard it said, “Who can stand before the descendants of Anak?” Therefore understand today that the LORD your God is He who goes over before you as a consuming fire. He will destroy them and bring them down before you; so you shall drive them out and destroy them quickly, as the LORD has said to you. “Do not think in your heart, after the LORD your God has cast them out before you, saying, ‘Because of my righteousness the LORD has brought me in to possess this land’; but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD is driving them out from before you.”
God remembers the cruelty of the Amalekites, but He will not destroy them just yet. He is still granting time for repentance. This is a fact that those who condemn God for finally destroying the Amalekites—forget. Many people incorrectly assume that God suddenly gave an order to indiscriminately destroy women and children without mercy. What we discover is that the Lord allowed the Amalekites nearly 900 years before His judgment arrived.
Contrary To The Assertions Of Josh Bowen, God Did Not Commit Genocide, He Rendered A Righteous Judgement
Isaiah 30:18: “For the Lord is a God of justice.”
Most reasonable people would agree that warning a nation to cease offering their babies to the fiery hot arms of a pagan god, Molech, for nearly 900 years, is more than fair. Atheists like Josh Bowen, see this act as an example that proves the Old Testament texts are not true or reliable. Later Josh will tell us that we can trust the pagan texts he will present to us, more than the texts of the Bible.
The ironic thing about this assertion by Josh Bowen, is the people he is referencing for an authority to impeach the Old Testament, are the very people God destroyed for burning their babies to death as a sacrifice to their god, Molech.
Archeologists have uncovered the ruins of Canaanite villages and found the remains of clay jars that were used in their ritual worship. Newborn babies were dismembered, and their body parts were placed inside these jars and sealed inside the walls of newly built homes—to bring the blessings of their brutal gods.
It is not necessary to list all the horrendous acts that were perpetrated by the Canaanites. It is sufficient to say—if all the facts were known by people today, the horrific deeds carried out by these cruel people, we would likely commend God for ending their lives.
The Amalekites were among the four kings that Abraham defeated, who had taken Sodom and Gomorrah captive as well as Abraham’s nephew Lot. In the period of the Judges, the Amalekites joined forces with the Ammonites and King Eglon of Moab to attack and capture Jericho. The Amalekites were defeated by Gideon and his armies at the valley of Jezreel, where the future Battle of Armageddon will be fought. By the time Saul is king of Israel, the Amalekites had gained a mountain in the land of Ephraim in Israel, where they were once again living and multiplying.
Judgement Will Come; It Is A Part Of God’s Righteousness
God is making a statement to the world that He loves us all, but He will only put up with our sin and rebellion against His law for a finite period of time. The fact that we can observe the judgement of God so carefully depicted for us in various places throughout the Old Testament should greatly humble us and bring our hearts to repentance. As surely as God has judged the horrible acts of the Canaanites, He will also bring into judgement all of our sins—if we do not repent and turn to Him for Salvation.
What kind of nation would the United States be, if the laws instituted by the executive and legislative branches of our government were not enforced by the judicial branch, with penalties exacted against those who violated these laws? This land would be unsafe and unfit for any decent person to live in.
If God cannot be trusted to do what He has said, both positively and negatively, then He cannot be trusted at all. What makes God trustworthy is the certainty that He always does what He says He will do. More importantly, since God has promised to punish sin we can understand that there are moral absolutes in the world. We are not left to decide for ourselves what is right and what is wrong. All of the laws of civilized societies have, as their origin, the laws of God—defined first in the Old Testament.
God Had Already Pronounced Judgement And Sentence Upon The Canaanites
In Genesis 15, God informs Abraham that He will destroy the Amorites, but not until their iniquity is complete. He will give them adequate time to repent.
But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.
This verse was given to Abraham at about 1926 B.C.
God orders the total destruction of the Amalekites, in 1 Samuel Chapter 15, by King Saul.
This order came about 1028 B.C.
(The Lord speaking to Saul) Now go and attack Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and do not spare them. But kill both man and woman, infant and nursing child, ox and sheep, camel and donkey.
God told us in advance of His actions what He was planning, through the prophetic word. The intent and purpose of this prophecy is to demonstrate the transcendent and extraterrestrial origin of the Bible. We understand who God is by what He has written and how He fulfilled every promise of His word.
And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
Many people focus on God’s order of annihilation against the Amalekites while missing a far greater point: God spoke these words over 900 years before they were fulfilled. No matter how great the distance is from the prophecy that is given, God will fulfill entirely everything He has said.
…I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass; I have purposed, and I will do it.
Once we understand God’s justification in carrying out this judgment, we can move on to understand the significance of this event from a prophetic point of view.
God’s Judgment Is Always Preceded By A Long Interval Of Time
Before the Lord would order the destruction of the Amalekites, He would provide their nation with an extended period of time in which they might change their minds and come to Him for salvation. Before it is too late for each one of us, God allows an entire lifetime in order that we might decide to obey Him and receive His salvation. The Lord is always very patient, kind, and long-suffering towards us. Although each one of the Amalekites would face their own separate judgment at the conclusion of their life, the Lord would allow nearly 900 years before His judgment would fall on the entire nation.
What we find in the example of the Amalekites is that God is not angry and spiteful, instead He is extraordinarily kind and patient. Although the Lord warned these nations to cease their evil, He relented from destroying them for a very long time. The Lord always gives us as much time as possible, with the hope that we will see how much He loves us and that His ways are far better than those we have chosen for ourselves.
The Canaanites Are An Example Of God’s Patience
When Abraham was born in Haran, the Canaanites were already heavily occupying the entire area of land that would one day be the future home of Israel.
Interesting fact: Abraham, the father of the Jews, was born in 1948 by the Hebrew calendar. The nation of Israel became a nation once again in 1948 A.D.
The Dual Nature Of God
In the Old Testament, we see two important elements of God’s nature that is reflected in His Love, as well as His absolute desire for justice. Although God loves human being so much that He was willing to give His only Son to die for us; He will not allow those who continue in their wrongful actions to remain—without judgment, forever.
The New Testament is a wonderful commentary on the patience of God that has been displayed for all of us to see. We observe both the love of God and the justice of God; demonstrated by His allowance of Jesus to die for the sins of the world.
“In this the love of God was demonstrated for us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. This is love, not that we loved God first, but that He first loved us and sent His Son to be the payment for our sins.” ~1 John 4:9-10
- God loves people so much that He allowed His only Son to come to earth and die for us.
- God hates sin so much that He poured out His wrath on His Son, instead of us.
God will grant each person a full pardon for every wrong thought, word, and deed which we have committed, throughout our life; if we will only come to Him in sincere repentance and turn to Jesus as the payment for our sins.
God Is Also A Righteous Judge
Although He waits patiently for us to repent, He has promised a day—certain when His patience will run out; and He will judge all sin. We long for the Love of God; but we recoil in offense at His justice. When the Lord carries out the sentences that He warned us would come, people claim that God is cruel and impatient.
Moses giving permission for the Israelites to take enemy combatants as slaves, was an act of mercy
During this period of history, a majority or enemy combatants were executed. By permitting the Israelites to take the Canaanites as servants, they also gave them the chance to discover the love and great power of Yahweh.
It is certain that many of the Canaanites who were taken in battle as household servants, gained eternal salvation by coming into a knowledge of the One God of the Bible.
An additional type of slavery found in the Old Testament, is actually included in the third type of slavery, indentured servitude. Because this type of slavery describes young females. Dr. Josh Bowen insists that it is in the category of Misogynistic abuse.
In truth, we find that the young women who voluntarily place themselves into servitude, did so to become the wife of the person who owned the household.
Exodus 21:7-11 “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not satisfy her owner, he must allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. But if the slave’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave but as a daughter. “If a man who has married a slave wife takes another wife for himself, he must not neglect the rights of the first wife to food, clothing, and sexual intimacy. If he fails in any of these three obligations, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment.”
This type of servitude where a father would sell his daughter into marriage with a man who would pay a Dowry (alimony in advance), ensured that the remaining members of the family would have sufficient income to endure the difficulties they faced.
These were unique laws instituted only for the Jews, not for the world, and only during specific periods of their history. Any type of slavery or servitude was not the will of God. He would rather that wealthy Jews would loan money to the poor and allow them to pay it back without interest. Understanding that the men who held these funds would demand service in their homes to ensure repayment, the Lord gave the rules for servitude to the Jews through Moses.
- A daughter sold into servitude as a man’s wife, would not be released at the end of six years as she was married for life to the man who paid a Dowry to make her his wife.
- Moses permitted divorce at this time, a fact confirmed by Jesus in, Matthew 19:3-8, the Pharisees asked Jesus about divorce and why Moses permitted this, despite Jesus’ insistence that divorce was not permitted by God:
“Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?” “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’” And he said, “‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” “Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?” they asked. Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended.”
Jesus states that it was always the intent of God that a marriage could never be broken. The men of Israel had hard hearts, Jesus said, and they would not listed or obey the law of God. Jesus said that because of the hardness of their hearts, Moses permitted the Hebrew men to divorce their wife, with the conditions of support after the divorce. Without this provision women would be homeless, penniless, and destitute. Men were quite cruel at that time, and God wanted to ensure that women who were mistreated by their husbands and, “divorced for no reason,” they would have support for themselves under the terms of the divorce Moses permitted.
What we learn is that marriage was intended for life. For this reason when a young women was sold into servitude as the wife of a man, by the father who was poor, and the Dowry was paid to the father, this would ensure support for his daughter if the man divorced her.
For this reason, at the end of the six years, these young women could not be released from their marriage as with other Hebrew servants. They were married for life. Additional terms are described in Exodus 21:7-11, also instituted to protect the young women in the event of other extenuating circumstances. These laws tell us that God was very concerned about the fair treatment of vulnerable people, and that if men were going to take servants, they must follow the laws God gave through Moses, that would ensure their fair treatment, and release after six years.
This type of servitude is further clarified by Nehemiah 5:1-5
“About this time some of the men and their wives raised a cry of protest against their fellow Jews. They were saying, “We have such large families. We need more food to survive.” Others said, “We have mortgaged our fields, vineyards, and homes to get food during the famine.” And others said, “We have had to borrow money on our fields and vineyards to pay our taxes. We belong to the same family as those who are wealthy, and our children are just like theirs. Yet we must sell our children into slavery just to get enough money to live. We have already sold some of our daughters, and we are helpless to do anything about it, for our fields and vineyards are already mortgaged to others.”
In the early spring of 445 BC, Nehemiah led a group of Jews from the Persian Gulf to Jerusalem to restore the city’s walls and gates, and institute defenses against any potential enemy. The law that Moses gave only to the Israelites, and for the nation of Israel once they came into the land of Canaan, allowed for certain procedures to be put into place in the event of poverty, famine, or financial distress.
Nehemiah 5 recounts and clarifies what this type of servitude consisted of in actual practice. When the Jews returned to their former lands after the 70 years of captivity described by Jeremiah 25, many were in an advanced state of poverty.
The law of Moses regarding the taking of Hebrew servants—by other Hebrews, and particularly—the selling of a daughter into marriage, ordered that a Dowry would be paid to the father, which allowed the rest of the family to survive.
Slavery or Servitude in the Pentateuch, is not parallel to the brutal slavery of American and European nations that came much later. To insinuate the servitude described in the Pentateuch was the same as the brutality African slaves endured, is a lie. Slaves taken from various parts of Africa were brutally treated, and had no rights whatsoever. They were not released after six years, and they were never given the considerations God ordered for Hebrew servants. Slaves take from Africa were treated as less than human and nothing more that chattel to be used and thrown away. God hated this practice, and equally hated, it when disingenuous men like Josh Bowen insists that the God of the Bible, “endorsed slavery,” that was equal to the unjust, vicious African slavery that stained the history of the United States and Europe.
Not a single type of slavery or servitude, found in the Pentateuch, is equal to the brutal and horrendous slavery that took place in European countries and America. Dr. Josh Bowen has lied and misrepresented the texts of the Pentateuch to reinforce his own unbelief in the God of the Bible.
The Errors In Scholarship By Dr. Josh Bowen, Concerning The Texts Of The Pentateuch
In the two books published by Josh Bowen, seeking to impeach the texts of the Pentateuch, he admits that he is not trained in the texts of the Pentateuch, but in Ancient Sumerian. In spite of this confession, Bowen acts as a scholar in refuting Moses as the true author of the Pentateuch. In these two books we find errors in nearly every assertion he makes concerning the texts.
One of the surprising facts of Bowen’s comments, is the reality that he is using the exact same arguments of his colleague, Joel Baden. Many of Bowen’s arguments are not his own but mirror comments Dr. Joel Baden has published in his own books and essays.
Bowen begins his first book with the comments:
“All translations from the Bible are my own. Second, in order to keep the technical aspects of the book to a minimum, I tend to use simple transliterations when representing foreign words. For example, instead of writing the Hebrew word for “slave” as עבד, I will write it eved. While this lacks some precision, I think the benefits of this type of simplicity outweigh the costs, particularly for the reader.
According to Wilhelm Bacher, Lewis N. Dembitz, Gotthard Deutsch, Samuel Krauss, in their essay, “Slaves and Slavery,” the correct Hebrew word found in the texts of the Pentateuch that Bown cites for slavery, is “‘ebed. In these texts that cite Hebrew servants, “their condition is far above that of slavery.”
At an essay written by the above men, on their site: “Jewish Encyclopedia,” the following statement is posted regarding the treatment of Hebrew slaves:
“The duty of treating the Hebrew servant and handmaid otherwise than as slaves, and above all their retention in service for a limited time only, was deemed by the lawgiver of such importance that the subject was put next to the Decalogue at the very head of civil legislation (Ex. xxi. 2-11). It is treated in its legal bearings also (Lev. xxv. 39-54; Deut. xv. 12-18). The prophet Jeremiah (Jer. xxxiv. 8-24) denounces the permanent enslavement of Hebrew men and women by their masters as the gravest of national sins, for which the kingdom of Judah forfeits all claim to God’s mercy, and justly sinks into ruin and exile.”
The Jews of history understood that the type of slavery or servitude described in the Pentateuch, was far different from the African slavery inflicted upon the dear people stolen from the country by American and European slave owners.
The assertion by Dr. Josh Bowen that, “God endorsed slavery,” in the Pentateuch, is a distortion intended by to impugn and malign the God of the Bible
An Illustration Of Josh Bowen’s Inability To Understand The Texts Of The Pentateuch
In one particular graphic display of a callous lack of genuine scholarship, Dr. Bowen has great difficulty with reading comprehension concerning the texts of Genesis. In my opinion, this oversight is intentional, for Dr. Bowen has an agenda to try and make the Pentateuch look foolish and disoriented.
In Bowen’s effort to prove the texts of Genesis are contradictory, he recites the captivity of Joseph by his brothers, and sale of Joseph to Midianite traders, who are later described as Ishmaelites.
Bowen claims that the terms “Midianites and Ishmaelites,” are contradictory statements, proving that Moses could not have written these texts. The goal of Dr. Bowen is to impugn the reliability and truth of the Pentateuch, and convince gullible readers that he is a scholar who should be trusted.
Here’s the problem.: The Midianite traders are Ishmaelites. These two names are a description of the same people; the Midianites are Ishmaelites. If Bowen had only read a little further in these texts, he would have learned this by reading it in Genesis 37:28
“When the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern and sold him to them for twenty pieces of silver. And the traders took him to Egypt.”
The Following Is The Texts From Josh Bowen’s Book, “The Atheist Handbook,” on the subject of contradictory statements concerning Genesis chapter 37:
“Okay, Joseph arrives at his brothers’ location, but the welcoming party strips him of his special coat and throws him into an empty pit (to die). They then sit down to get a bite to eat, but notice a caravan of Ishmaelites passing by on their way down to Egypt…
“Then Judah said to his brothers, ‘What will be the profit if we kill our brother and cover up his blood? Come on! Let’s sell him to the Ishmaelites! Let’s not set our hands against him, for he is our brother and our flesh’. And his brothers agreed” (Genesis 37:27).
Okay, new plan. Judah compels his brothers to sell Joseph to this passing caravan of Ishmaelites instead of murdering him. I mean, come on… he is their brother. Plus, they’ll even turn a profit!
But now the story gets a little more complicated. “And Midianite merchant men were passing by, and they pulled Joseph up out of the pit, and they sold Joseph to the Ishmaelites for 20 shekels of silver, and they brought Joseph to Egypt” (Genesis 37:28).
Hmm. So, the brothers are eating, they see the Ishmaelites, and they decide to sell Joseph… but a group of Midianites comes along and pulls Joseph out of the pit and sells him to the Ishmaelites before the brothers can get back, apparently. Oh, it gets more complicated.
Reading Comprehension And A Clear Agenda
A majority of people who read the texts of Genesis 37 can easily distinguish between the Midianites and the Ishmaelites: they are described in the text as the same people.
Moses included a definition for who the Ishmaelites are, Midianite traders, in the same text where Bowen states there is a contradiction. The only contradiction found in this instance is that Bowen is known as a scholar of the Hebrew Bible, but he doesn’t know the Bible.
The Midianites, in the Hebrew Bible, were members of a group of nomadic tribes related to the Israelites and most likely lived just east of the Gulf of Aqaba in the northwestern location of the Arabian Desert.
It is important to remember that Abraham had more than one son. God gave his promises to Abraham and his descendants—through Isaac, but there were other sons that were also sons of Abraham. Ishmael came by Hagar, and Abraham had six additional sons by Keturah, who. he married after the passing of Sarah: Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah (Genesis 25:2).
The Midianites were the descendants of Midian, of course, and also children of Abraham. These descendants moved into in the land of the east (Genesis 25:6). It is highly likely that the location of Midiah was located on both sides of the Gulf of Aqaba. Habakkuk records in 3:7, that the Midianites were nomadic later in their history.
After Moses departed Egypt to escape the anger of Pharaoh, he journeyed to Midian (Exodus 2:15), where he met and married Zipporah. The father of Zipporah was Jethro, a shepherd for forty years, also described as “a priest of Midian” (Exodus 2:16).
This is evidence that the Midianites during Moses’ life, had knowledge of the God of their father Abraham. In Exodus 18, near the time when Moses departed Midian, God appeared before Moses while he still resided in Midian, and commanded him to lead the Israelites out of slavery (Exodus 3—4).
There was a very long and detailed history for the Israelites, concerning the Midianites. Knowledge of who these people were as they traveled through the location that Joseph’s brothers describe, was certain. When we read: “just as they were sitting down to eat, they looked up and saw a caravan of camels in the distance coming toward them. It was a group of Ishmaelite traders taking a load of gum, balm, and aromatic resin from Gilead down to Egypt,” there is no ambiguity as to who Moses met.
This is made clear in the text if we simply continue a little further, where we read: “So when the Ishmaelites, who were Midianite traders, came by, Joseph’s brothers pulled him out of the cistern,” The identity of this group is made clear.
Why Dr. Josh Bowen could not find this in the text of Genesis 37, is a stunning indictment against his credibility as a biblical.
Oh, I forgot. Josh Bowen said at the onset that he is not a Hebrew Bible scholar. But wait, he asserts expertise regarding these texts in his Atheist Handbooks. When I read the first volume of Bowen’s Atheist Handbook, I appeared to me to be a satirical joke book about the Old Testament. I could not find a single factual commentary in the entire book. This book was written from the perspective of a scoffer who doesn’t believe the Pentateuch is true.
The problem for Bowen is that the Pentateuch has a long history amongst the Jewish people, as a factual and historical narrative.
Dr. Josh Bowen, Copied The Work Of His Colleague, Joel Baden
Here is a revelation: Josh Bowen copied the work of another atheist scholar, Dr. Joel Baden. Yes, this is correct. Joel Baden, PhD, professor at Yale Divinity School, published the exact same errors that Joshua Bowen published in his, “Atheist Handbook.”
The following text is from Professor Joel Baden, concerning the exact same event described by Dr. Josh Bowen. This is not even an original work by Bowen, he copied it from his colleague, Joel Baden. Both Baden and Bowen make the same mistakes. Notice the error in the following description of the same event from the book of Genesis, by Joel Baden:
THE SALE OF JOSEPH, GENESIS 37:18-36, Dr. Joel Baden’s commentary regarding this event:
“There are, however, problems in the text that cannot be easily resolved, problems that preclude any straightforward reading of the plot. These derive from the narrative presence and action of both Ishmaelites and Midianites in the sale of Joseph. When we read the text as it stands, according to its plain meaning, these two foreign groups are the source of great confusion.
The Ishmaelite traders arrive on the scene first (v. 25), leading Judah to persuade his brothers that rather than kill Joseph, they ought to sell him; they will be just as effectively rid of him, and even profit in the process (vv. 26-27). Before the transaction can take place, however, the Midianite traders pass by, and though it was the brothers who had planned to sell Joseph to the caravan of Ishmaelites, it is the Midianites, according to the plain reading of the text, who pull Joseph from the pit, and it is the Midianites who sell him to the Ishmaelites.
The Midianites, therefore, appear to frustrate Judah’s plans, as it is they who reap the benefits of selling Joseph to the Ishmaelites. If the brothers are present for this, they are strikingly silent.
Far more difficult is the notice at the end of v. 28 that the Ishmaelites, upon purchasing Joseph, brought him to Egypt. This is expected in light of what preceded in v. 25, where the Ishmaelites are said to be heading toward Egypt. But it is expressly contradicted by what follows at the end of the chapter in v. 36: “The Midianites, meanwhile, sold him in Egypt to Potiphar.”5 If this were not problem enough, Genesis 39:1 states that Potiphar bought Joseph “from the Ishmaelites who had brought him there.”
Essentially Baden declares that in one instance the texts allegedly written by Moses in Genesis 37, states that Joseph’s brothers first say they are going to sell Joseph to “Ishmaelites,” then later to “Midianite traders.”
This particular assertion by Joel Baden is one that tells me his understanding of original languages is very poor. Professor Baden is so unfamiliar with the texts of the Hebrew Bible, that he doesn’t know that the Ishmaelites, are Midianite traders. They are one and the same, just different words used often in the Hebrew Bible to describe the same persons.
If Joel Baden is truly a scholar with an academic Phd, from Yale, and is currently resident at this organization as a Professor of the Hebrew Bible, why is he incapable of knowing what the texts he disputes, actually say?
Dr. Josh Bowen copied Joel Baden’s errors and also published his own book with this faulty commentary. If you read the Atheist Handbook on the Old Testament that Josh Bowen published, Volume 1, as I have, you will see this same type of errors repeated throughout the entire first and second volumes that Dr, Bown published.
Given The Callous Lack Of Genuine Scholarship By Dr. Josh Bowen, This Same Error Continues Concerning The Issue Of Slavery Found in the Old Testament
See The Treatise Proving Moses Wrote The Pentateuch, and the Exodus Really Happened
There is an important principle in Biblical Hermeneutics, called, “The Principle of First Mentioned. The Principle or Law of First Mentioned, is a method used to discern the correct meaning and application texts in the Bible. Because God is the Author of the Hebrew and Greek scriptures, it is certain that He has engineered the Bible so that we can understand it. One of the methods that works in discovering what a term or word means, is by searching for the first place a term or word is used. In every case, at this first mentioned place, we find the correct meaning.”
In Genesis 22, the first mentioned place where “Love,” is described in the Bible, is where Abraham, who loves His only Son, is told by God to offer him on the mountain. The purest example of what love is, is found in the text of the New Testament where God sent His only Son to die for the sins of the world, because He loved us. The love of Abraham for His only Son, was intended by God, to point us to His love for His only Son, Jesus, and He gave the world what He loved most, to save us. John later wrote that In God giving us His only Son, whom He loved, the love of God is manifested.
Abraham believes that the promises of God will be fulfilled by the resurrection of an only son, a direct parallel to the Gospel narrative of Jesus in the New Testament. Essentially, Genesis 22, is the Christian Gospel in the Hebrew Bible.
 A direct quote as cited by, https://freetheslaves.net/slavery-today-2/slavery-in-history/
 Jason Wickham, “The Enslavement of War Captives by the Romans up to 146 BC, University of Liverpool PhD Dissertation. Wickham notes that for Roman warfare the outcome of capture could lead to release, ransom, execution or enslavement.
 Genesis 15:16
 According to the timelines given in the Bible for births and deaths:Genesis 16:16, http://www.matthewmcgee.org/ottimlin.html 1 Samuel 15:1-2
 1 Samuel 15:3
 2 Peter 1:19-21
 Isaiah 46:11 (ESV)
 http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/biography/abraham.html and Judaism101.com
 Graphic Illustration Map of the Nations of the Canaanites by Rob Robinson
 Illustrated Map by Rob Robinson
 J.B. Hennessey, Palestine Exploration Quarterly (1966)
 “There is archaeological evidence that the Canaanites of the second millennium BCE followed the custom of child sacrifice owing to excavations of a shrine near the city of Gezer which has yielded clay jars containing the charred bones of babies.” Retrieved from: http://www.baal.com/baal/about/divine_overview.shtml
 1. Beth Alpert Nakhai: “When Considering Infants and Jar Burials.” Studies in the History and Archaeology of Israel. “The custom of buying infants in storers has been identified in the archaeological records from as early as the Pottery Neolithic Period. In the Levant, the infant jar burial remained a revered funerary custom in the Iron Age and beyond. The era in which it was most popular, however, was the Middle Bronze Age, during which time IJBs could be found at site ranging from Syria to the easter Nile Delta; most, however, are found in the souther Levant.”
2. JAR-BURIAL CUSTOMS AND THE QUESTION OF INFANT SACRIFICE IN PALESTINE
W. H. WOOD, PH.D.”An unqualified affirmative answer has been received from Mr. Macalister, director of the British work at Gezer, based on his interpretation of the unique find made “in the earth underlying the temple area” of that ancient city. This “cemetery of infants deposited in large jars” when carefully explored produced such positive evidence that the conclusion was reported at once: “that we have here to deal with infant sacrifices is, I think, so self-evident that it may be assumed without argument.” This opinion has not since been changed but has been further affirmed by the other Palestinian excavators, Professor D. E. Sellin and Dr. Schumacher, and also by the distinguished Father Vincent of Jerusalem, author of “Canaan d’apres 1’exploration recente.”
“The description of the discovery as given by Mr. Macalister may be summarized as follows: In the earth underneath the temple area were found a number of large jars, each of which contained, besides the infilling earth, the bones of either a young infant or a child up to 166
JAR-BURIAL CUSTOMS AND INFANT SACRIFICE 167 six years of age; the bodies had not been mutilated; they had been deposited in the jar usually head downward; the jars were full of earth which there was reason for believing had been put in at the time of burial; in four cases the bones showed some traces of fire; the usual food and liquid vessels accompanied each burial. These observations, strengthened by the opinion of Robertson Smith -that in human sacrifice “effusion of blood was normally avoided,” immediately produced the conviction that these infants had been “suffocated-perhaps smothered in the earth with which the jars were filled,” and therefore the Canaanites followed the practice of sacrificing their first-born children to their gods.”
 Bowen, Joshua Aaron. The Atheist Handbook to the Old Testament: Volume 1 (Kindle Locations 158-162). Digital Hammurabi Press. Kindle Edition.
 Source: https://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/13799-slaves-and-slavery.
 Bowen, Joshua Aaron. The Atheist Handbook to the Old Testament: Volume 1 (Kindle Locations 2582-2587). Digital Hammurabi Press. Kindle Edition.
Categories: Robert Clifton Robinson
You keep citing Beth Alpert Nakhai but I can tell you’ve not read her actual piece since 1) you never cite specific page numbers, 2) quote it incorrectly, and 3) apply it incorrectly. She doesn’t argue that infant burial jars are indicative of child sacrifice. She notes, for example, high infant mortality rates in the Middle Bronze Age and the loss – both emotional and economic – that the death of children represented. You’re doing little more than proof texting to support a specific conclusion that you can’t otherwise substantiate.
I appreciate the heads up. I will look into this and make any necessary corrections.
I did a review of the citation for  1. Beth Alpert Nakhai:
Beth does confirm that: “the infant jar burial remained a revered funerary custom in the Iron Age and beyond.”
This is not the only citation for the burial jars, if you will notice in the #2 portion of the same citation, there is considerable confirmation by other sources that, “in the earth underlying the temple area” of that ancient city. This “cemetery of infants deposited in large jars” when carefully explored produced such positive evidence that the conclusion was reported at once: “that we have here to deal with infant sacrifices is, I think, so self-evident that it may be assumed without argument.” ~W. H. WOOD, PH.D
This “cemetery of infants deposited in large jars” when carefully explored produced such positive evidence that the conclusion was reported at once: “that we have here to deal with infant sacrifices is, I think, so self-evident that it may be assumed without argument.” This opinion has not since been changed but has been further affirmed by the other Palestinian excavators, Professor D. E. Sellin and Dr. Schumacher, and also by the distinguished Father Vincent of Jerusalem, author of “Canaan d’apres 1’exploration recente.”
Perhaps you missed these secondary citations in Notes, 15?
In any event, teamed with the finding of Beth Alpert Nakhai, Dr. Wood, and Professors Sellin, and Schumacher, and Vincent of Jerusalem, confirm Beth’s finding by stating these jars were used for infant sacrifices: “that we have here to deal with infant sacrifices is, I think, so self-evident…”
There is also substantial confirmation in the biblical texts that the Canaanites practiced child sacrifice to their god, Molech, and God did not want His people to begin this practice in their lives:
Leviticus 18:21 “Do not permit any of your children to be offered as a sacrifice to Molech, for you must not bring shame on the name of your God. I am the LORD.
Leviticus 20:1-5 “The LORD said to Moses, 2 “Give the people of Israel these instructions, which apply both to native Israelites and to the foreigners living in Israel. “If any of them offer their children as a sacrifice to Molech, they must be put to death. The people of the community must stone them to death. 3 I myself will turn against them and cut them off from the community, because they have defiled my sanctuary and brought shame on my holy name by offering their children to Molech. 4 And if the people of the community ignore those who offer their children to Molech and refuse to execute them, 5 I myself will turn against them and their families and will cut them off from the community. This will happen to all who commit spiritual prostitution by worshiping Molech.
I hope this clears up the text and findings for you, Ben