Page images
PDF
EPUB

(gotten.) Jer.xiii. 4. "Take the girdle that thou hast got" (bought.) Neh. v. 8. "We of our ability have redeemed (bought) our brethren that were sold to the heathen." Here "bought" is not applied to persons reduced to servitude, but to those taken out of it. Prov. 8. 22. "The Lord possessed (bought) me in the beginning of his way." Prov. xix. 8. "He that getteth (buyeth) wisdom loveth his own soul." Finally, to buy, is a secondary meaning of the Hebrew word Kānā.

99*

Even at this day the word buy is used to describe the procuring of servants, where slavery is abolished. In the British West Indies, where slaves became apprentices in 1834, they are still "bought." This is the current word in West India newspapers. Ten years since servants were "bought" in New-York, as really as in Virginia, yet the different senses in which the word was used in the two states, put no man in a quandary. Under the system of legal indenture in Illinois, servants now are 66 bought Until recently immigrants to this country were "bought" in great numbers. By voluntary contract they engaged to work a given time to pay for their passage. This class of persons called "redemptioners," consisted at one time of thousands. Multitudes are "bought" out of slavery by themselves or others. Under the same roof with the writer is a "servant bought with money." A few weeks since, she was a slave; when "bought" she was a slave no longer. Alas! for our leading politicians if "buying" men makes them "chattels." The Whigs say that Benton and Rives are 66 bought" by the administration; and the other party, that Clay and Webster are "bought" by the Bank. The histories of the revolution tell us that Benedict Arnold was "bought" by British gold. When a northern clergyman marries a rich southern widow, country gossip thus hits off the indecency, "The cotton bags bought him.” Sir Robert Walpole said, "Every man has his price, and whoever will pay it, can buy him," and John Randolph said, "The northern delegation is in the market; give me money enough, and I can buy them;" both meant just what they said. The temperance publications tell us that candidates for office buy men with whiskey; and the oracles of street tattle, that the court, district attorney, and jury, in the

*The following statute is now in force in the free state of Illinois-"No negro, mulatto, or Indian, shall at any time purchase any servant other than of their own complexion: and if any of the persons aforesaid shall presume to purchase a white servant, such servant shall immediately become free, and shall be so held, deemed and taken."

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

late trial of Robinson were bought, yet we have no floating visions of "chattels personal," man auctions, or coffles.

The transaction between Joseph and the Egyptians gives a clue to the use of "buy" and "bought with money." Gen, xlvii. 18—26. The Egyptians proposed to Joseph to become servants. When the bargain was closed, Joseph said, "Behold I have bought you this day," and yet it is plain that neither party regarded the persons bought as articles of property, but merely as bound to labor on certain conditions, to pay for their support during the famine. The idea attached by both parties to "buy us," and "behold I have bought you," was merely that of service voluntarily offered, and secured by contract, in return for value received, and not at all that the Egyptians were bereft of their personal ownership, and made articles of property. And this buying of services (in this case it was but one-fifth part) is called in Scripture usage, buying the persons. This case claims special notice, as it is the only one where the whole transaction of buying servants is detailed-the preliminaries, the process, the mutual acquiescence, and the permanent relation resulting therefrom. In all other instances, the mere fact is stated without particulars. In this case, the whole process is laid open. (1.) The persons bought," sold themselves, and of their own accord. (2.) Obtaining permanently the services of persons, or even a portion of them, is called "buying" those persons. The objector, at the outset, takes it for granted, that servants were bought of third persons; and thence infers that they were articles of property. Both the alleged fact and the inference are sheer assumptions. No instance is recorded, under the Mosaic system, in which a master sold his servant. That servants who were "bought" sold themselves, is a fair inference from various passages of Scripture.

In Leviticus xxv. 47, the case of the Israelite, who became the servant of the stranger, the words are, "If he SELL HIMSELF unto the stranger." The same word, and the same form of the word, which, in verse 47, is rendered sell himself, is in verse 39 of the same chapter, rendered be sold; in Deut. xxviii. 68, the same word is rendered "be sold." "And there ye shall BE SOLD unto your enemies for bond-men and bond-women and NO MAN SHALL BUY YOU." How could they "be sold" without being bought? Our translation makes it nonsense. The word Makar rendered "be sold" is used here in the Hithpael conjugation, which is generally reflexive in its force, and, like the middle voice in Greek, represents what an indi

66

vidual does for himself, and should manifestly have been rendered, "ye shall offer yourselves for sale, and there shall be no purchaser." For a clue to Scripture usage on this point, see 1 Kings xxi. 20, 25— "Thou hast sold thyself to work evil. "There was none like to Ahab that sold himself to work wickedness."-2 Kings xvii. 17. They used divination and enchantments, and sold themselves to do evil." Isa. 1. 1. "For your iniquities have ye sold yourselves." Isa. lii. 3, "Ye have sold yourselves FOR NOUGHT, and ye shall be redeemed without money." See also, Jer. xxxiv. 14-Romans vii. 14, vi. 16-John viii. 34, and the case of Joseph and the Egyptians, already quoted. In the purchase of wives, though spoken of rarely, it is generally stated that they were bought of third persons. If servants were bought of third persons, it is strange that no instance of it is on record.

66

DESIGN OF THE

II. THE LEADING
SERVANTS, WITH THE RIGHTS

CURED TO THEM.

LAWS RELATING TO
PRIVILEGES SE-

AND

The general object of the laws defining the relations of master and servant, was the good of both parties-more especially the good of the servants. While the master's interests were guarded from injury, those of the servants were promoted. These laws made a merciful provision for the poorer classes, both of the Israelites and Strangers, not laying on burdens, but lightening them-they were a grant of privileges and favors.

1. No servant from the Strangers, could remain in the family of an Israelite, without becoming a proselyte. Compliance with this condition was the price of the privilege.—Gen. xvii. 9—14, 23, 27.

II. Excommunication from the family was a PUNISHMENT.-Gen. xxi. 14. Luke xvi. 2-4. ·

III. Every Hebrew servant could COMPEL his master to keep him after the six years contract had expired. This shows that the system was framed to advance the interests and gratify the wishes of the servant quite as much as those of the master. If the servant demanded it, the law obliged the master to retain him, however little he might need his services. Deut. xv. 12-17. Ex. xxi. 2—6.

·

IV. The rights and privileges guarantied by law to all servants.

1. They were admitted into covenant with God. Deut. xxix.

10-13.

2. They were invited guests at all the national and family festivals. Ex. xii. 43—44; Deut xii. 12, 18, xvi. 10—16.

3. They were statedly instructed in morality and religion. Deut. xxxi. 10-13; Josh. viii. 33-35; 2 Chron. xvii. 8-9.

4. They were released from their regular labor nearly ONE HALF OF THE WHOLE TIME. During which they had their entire support, and the same instruction that was provided for the other members of the Hebrew community.

(a) The Law secured to them the whole of every seventh year; Lev. xxv. 3-6; thus giving to those who were servants during the entire period between the jubilees, eight whole years, including the jubilee year, of unbroken rest.

(b.) Every seventh day. This in forty-two years, the eight being subtracted from the fifty, would amount to just six years.

(c.) The three annual festivals. The Passover, which commenced on the 15th of the 1st month, and lasted seven days, Deut. xvi. 3, 8. The Pentecost, or Feast of Weeks, which began on the 6th day of the 3d month, and lasted seven days. Lev. xvi. 10, 11. The Feast of Tabernacles, which commenced on the 15th of the 7th month, and lasted eight days. Deut. xvi. 13, 15; Lev. xxiii. 34—39. As all met in one place, much time would be spent on the journey. Cumbered caravans move slowly. After their arrival, a day or two would be requisite for divers preparations before the celebration, besides some time at the close of it, in preparations for return. If we assign three weeks to each festival-including the time spent on the journeys, and the delays before and after the celebration, together with the festival week, it will be a small allowance for the cessation of their regular labor. As there were three festivals in the year, the main body of the servants would be absent from their stated employ. ments at least nine weeks annually, which would amount in forty-two years, subtracting the sabbaths, to six years and eighty-four days.

·

(d.) The new moons. The Jewish year had twelve; Josephus says that the Jews always kept two days for the new moon. See Calmet on the Jewish Calendar, and Horne's Introduction; also 1 Sam. xx. 18, 19, 27. This in forty-two years, would be two years 280 days.

(e.) The feast of trumpets. On the first day of the seventh month, and of the civil year. Lev. xxiii. 24, 25.

(f.) The atonement day. On the tenth of the seventh month. Lev. xxiii. 27.

These two feasts would consume not less than sixty-five days not reckoned above.

Thus it appears that those who continued servants during the period between the jubilees, were by law released from their labor,

TWENTY-THREE YEARS AND SIXTY-FOUR DAYS, OUT OF FIFTY YEARS,

and those who remained a less time, in nearly the same proportion. In this calculation, besides making a donation of all the fractions to the objector, we have left out those numerous local festivals to which frequent allusion is made, Judg. xxi. 19; 1 Sam. ix. etc., and the various family festivals, such as at the weaning of children; at marriages; at sheep shearings; at circumcisions; at the making of covenants, &c., to which reference is often made, as in 1 Sam. xx. 28, 29. Neither have we included the festivals instituted at a later period of the Jewish history. The feast of Purim, Esth. ix. 28, 29; and of the Dedication, which lasted eight days. John x. 22; 1 Mac. iv. 59.

Finally, the Mosaic system secured to servants, an amount of time which, if distributed, would be almost ONE HALF OF THE DAYS IN EACH YEAR. Meanwhile, they were supported, and furnished with opportunities of instruction. If this time were distributed over every day, the servants would have to themselves nearly one half of each day.

THIS IS A REGULATION OF THAT MOSAIC SYSTEM WHICH IS CLAIMED BY SLAVEHOLDERS AS THE

PROTOTYPE OF AMERICAN

SLAVERY.

v. The servant was protected by law equally with the other members of the community.

Proof." Judge righteously between every man and his neighbor, and THE STRANGER THAT IS WITH HIM." "Ye shall not RESPECT PERSONS in judgment, but ye shall hear the the great." Deut. i. 16, 17. Also Lev. xxiv. 22. one manner of law as well for the STRANGER, as for one of your own country." So Numb. xv. 29. "Ye shall have ONE LAW for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the chil

SMALL as well as "Ye shall have

« PreviousContinue »