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from under the obligations of the priesthood, Numb. xviii. 15, 16; Exod. xxxiv. 20. It was called buying their firstborn. This custom is kept up to this day among the Jews, and the word buy is still used to describe the transaction. Does this prove that their first-born were, or are held as property? They were bought as really as were servants. So the Israelites were required to pay money for their own souls. This is called sometimes a ransom, sometimes an atonement. Were their souls therefore marketable commodities?
2. Bible saints bought their wives. Boaz bought his wife Ruth. "So Ruth the Moabitess, the wife of Mahlon, have I purchased to be my wife." Ruth iv. 10. The Prophet Hosea bought his wife. "So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley."-Hosea iii. 2. Jacob bought his wives Rachel and Leah, and not having money, paid for them in labor-seven years a piece.-Gen. xxix. 15-29. Moses probably obtained his wife in the same way, and paid for her by his labor as the servant of her father.-Exod. ii. 21. Shechem the son of Hamor, when negotiating with Jacob and his sons for Dinah to be his wife, says, "What ye shall say unto me I will give. Ask me never so much dowry and gift and I will give according as ye shall say unto me." Gen. xxxiv. 11, 12. David purchased Michal, Saul's daughter, and Othniel, Achsah, the daughter of Caleb, by performing perilous services for the benefit of their fathers-in-law.-1 Sam. xviii. 25-27, and Judges i. 12, 13. That the purchase of wives, either by a payment in money or an equivalent in service, was the general practice under the Mosaic system is plain from various passages, such as Exod. xxii. 17, and 1 Sam. xviii. 25. Among the Jews of the present day this ancient usage exists, though it is now a mere form, there being no real purchase. Yet among their marriage ceremonies, is one called "marrying by the penny." The coincidences not only in the methods of procuring wives and servants, and in the terms. employed in describing the transactions, but in the prices paid for each, are worthy of notice. The highest price of wives (virgins) and servants was the same. Compare Deut. xxii. 28, 29, and Exod. xxii. 17, with Lev. xxvii. 2-8.
The medium price of wives and servants was the same. Compare Hosea iii. 2, with Exod. xxi. 2. Hosea appears to have paid one half in money and the other in grain. Further, the Israelitish female bought-servants were wives, their husbands and their masters being the same persons. Exod xxi. 8, and Judges xix. 3. 27. If buying servants among the Jews shows that they were property, and if the fact of their being bought is proof sufficient, then their buying wives shows that they were property, and the fact that they were bought is proof sufficient. The words in the original which are used to describe the one, describe the other. Why not contend that the wives of the ancient fathers of the faithful and of the men after God's own heart, were their chattels and used as ready change at a pinch. And thence deduce the rights of modern husbands. How far gone is the Church from primitive purity! How slow to emulate the illustrious examples of patriarchs and prophets ! When will pious husbands, by living up fully to their Bible privileges, become partakers with Old Testament worthies in the true glories of a husband's immunities! It demands a doubt whether professors of religion now are not bound to buy and hold their wives as property. Refusing so to do, is questioning the morality of those "good old" wife-trading "patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob," with the prophets, and a host of whom the world was not worthy. Besides, let Christian husbands cash their wives, and what might not be accomplished with the proceeds? When the world is to be converted through Bibles, tracts, and missionaries, when all the religious anniversaries are just at hand, and money three per cent a month in Wall-street!
The use of the word buy, to describe the procuring of wives is not peculiar to the Hebrew. In the Syriac guage the common expression for "the married," or "the espoused" is "the bought." Even so late as the 16th century the common record of marriages in the old German Chronicles was "A. BOUGHT B."
3. That the Hebrew word translated buy takes its modification from the nature of the subject to which it is applied is manifest. Eve says, "I have gotten (bought) a man of the Lord." She named him Cain that is bought. "He that
heareth reproof, getteth (buyeth,) understanding.-Prov. xv. 32. So in Isa. xi. 11. "The Lord shall set his hand again to recover (to buy,) the remnant of his people."-So Ps. lxxviii. 54. He brought them to this mountain which his right hand had purchased, i. e. 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" instead of proving that the person was bought into the condition of a slave, proves him free. Prov. viii. 22. "The Lord possessed (bought) me (Christ) in the beginning of his way before his works of old." Prov. xv. 32. "He that heareth reproof getteth (buyeth) understanding."-Ps. xix. 8. "He that getteth (buyeth) wisdom loveth his own soul."-Prov. xvi. 16. "How much better is it to get (buy) wisdom than gold?"-Ezk. viii. 3. Where was the seat of the image of jealousy which provoketh (buyeth) to jealousy. It may be remarked that to buy, is a secondary meaning of the Hebrew word Kaunau.
4. Even at this day the word buy is used in common parlance to describe the transaction of procuring servants, where the system of slavery is abolished. In the British West Indies, where the slaves have become apprentices, whether their services are procured for the whole or only a part of the remaining term they are "bought." This is now the current word in West India Newspapers. So a few years since in New-York, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and even now in New Jersey servants are "bought" as really as in Virginia. And the different senses in which the same word is used in the two states, puts no man in a quandary, whose common sense amounts to a modicum.
So under the system of legal indenture in Illinois, servants. now are "bought." That is the word and the only word used to describe the mode of procuring their service. A short time since hundreds of foreigners coming to this country were "bought" annually. By voluntary contract they came under obligation to work for their purchasers a given time to pay for their passage. This class of persons called "redemptioners" consisted at one time of many
The following statute is now in force in the 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."
thousands. Hundreds are every year bought out of slavery by themselves or others, and remove into free states. Under the same roof with the writer is a "servant bought with money." A few weeks since she was a slave. As soon as "bought" she was a slave no longer. All the classes of persons enumerated above were "bought servants" but not a slave among them. Alas for our leading politicians if "buying" men makes them "chattels." How long is it since all the Whig papers told us that Benton, Rives, Buchanan and Wright were "bought" by the administration. with the surplus revenue; and those of the other party, that Clay, Calhoun, Webster, and Poindexter, were "bought" by the Bank. Quite a speculation!
The histories of the Revolution tell us that Benedict Arnold was "bought" by British gold. Did that make him an article of property? When a northern clergyman marries a rich southern widow, they have a current phrase in country gossip that hits off the indecency graphically" The cotton bags bought him."
When Horace Walpole said "every man has his price and whoever will pay it, can buy him," and when John Randolph said, while the Missouri question was pending in Congress, the "whole northern delegation is in the market, give me money enough and I can buy them," they both meant just what they said. When 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 a late celebrated trial, were "bought" we are at no loss as to the meaning, have no floating visions of "chattels personal" man-auctions, or coffies.
The transaction between Joseph and the Egyptians gives a clue to the meaning attached to "Buy" and "Bought with money."-See Genesis xlvii. 18-26. The Egyptians came to Joseph with the formal proposition to become servants, and that he should buy them. When the bargain was closed, Joseph said to them, "Behold I have bought you this day," and yet, from the whole transaction, it is plain that neither of the parties dreamed that the persons bought were in any sense articles of property; 'but merely that they became thereby obligated to labor on certain conditions for the government, as a compensation for the entire support of themselves and families during the famine. And
that the idea attached to "buy us," and "behold I have bought you," was merely that of the procuring of services voluntarily offered, and secured by formal contract, as a return for value received; and not at all that the persons were thereby dispossessed of their personal ownership, and became articles of property. And this buying of services, or rather a fifth part of them, (as they were to give one fifth part of their crops to Pharaoh,) is called in Scripture usage, buying the men. This case deserves special notice, as it is the only one in the Bible where the whole transaction of buying servants is given in detail--the views of both parties, the preliminaries, the process, the mutual acquiescence, and the permanent relation which was the result. In all other instances, where the buying of servants is spoken of, the mere fact is stated without entering into particulars. In this case, the whole process is laid open.
1. The persons "bought," sold themselves, and wholly of their own accord.
2. Obtaining the services of persons, or even a portion of them, permanently is called "buying" those persons. The objector takes it for granted at the outset, that the bought servants were purchased of third persons; and thence infers that they were articles of property. Now this bold assumption is utterly unsupported by the Bible. There is not a single instance recorded of a servant being sold by any one but himself; not a case either under the patriarchal, or the Mosaic systems, in which a master sold his servant. That the servants who were "bought" sold themselves, is a fair inference from a variety of passages of Scripture beside the case of Joseph and the Egyptians.
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." Is it not a little remarkable that the same word, and the same form of the word, which, in the 47th verse, is rendered sell himself, is in the 39th verse of the same chapter rendered be sold; so much for the influence of pro-slavery associations. In Deuteronomy xxviii. 68, the same word is rendered "be sold." Here it is the hithpael conjugation, which is reflexive in its force, and, like the middle voice in Greek, represents what an individual does for himself, or in his own concerns; and should manifestly have been rendered, ye shall offer yourselves for sale.