Exodus 21:26 is about letting a slave go free if they are injured by their owner. This appears to be a good thing, but I'm also wondering if it would be detrimental to a slave to be freed when they have now lost an eye.

I guess I see slavery at that time as similar to employment of today. The Hebrews were to treat their slaves well. It's not really that different from having a job in today's world - except room and board was provided. So would freeing a slave be like firing an employee, and then the former slave having to go find a new owner?

Am I entirely wrong in my understanding of this culture?

1 Answer 1


I am not an expert, but the way I understand it, Hebrews were permitted to take slaves as prisoners of war, or as indentured servants, however they were required to take good care of them and free them in the seventh year, sending them off with gifts. Generally speaking, if the Hebrews were rich enough to own the land and the slaves to work it, he was expected to be able to afford to send them with some livestock and food. Many of the workers in those days were day-laborers, travelling from farm to farm during the harvest seasons and working for the day, as the ones did in later centuries in Jesus'parable of the Prodigal son and the parable of the Laborers in the Vineyard and the Generous Employer. Thus, a freed slave, set with some livestock and food to last a few days could continue to work, for money, for his old master or a new master, rather than sell himself back into slavery.

  • Well, they were also allowed to purchase the contracts for fellow Hebrews in debt cases (which I'm guessing is indentured servitude in your answer?). From the look of things in Dueteronomy 15:12-14, only a Hebrew slave was freed at the end of 7 years/generously gifted. A prisoner of war may have had family/land back in their own country, though, so this could still be helpful. Mar 13, 2014 at 14:04

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