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Slavery In The Bible Essay

1077 words - 4 pages

Slavery in the Bible

The first mention of slavery in the Bible is found in Noah's declaration, "Cursed be Canaan! The lowest of slaves will he be to his brothers" (Gen. 9:25). He said this after waking up from a naked, drunken stupor and learning that his son Ham had mocked him. Although Ham was the guilty party, Noah's statement was directed at Ham's youngest son Canaan. If he was involved with his father in this act of disrespect, the statement can be taken as the pronouncement of a curse, "Cursed be Canaan." It is possible, however, that Canaan did not join his father in making fun of Noah. If so, the statement would be in the form of a prophecy: "Cursed will be Canaan." Exodus 20:5 and Ezekiel 18:4 clearly declare that God punishes the children for the sins of their parents only when they choose to continue the wicked ways of their parents. So this is the preferred translation if Canaan was not personally involved. In either case, God gave Noah a prophetic knowledge of the future. The Canaanites developed an advanced society but became involved in despicable moral and spiritual practices, including ritual prostitution, sexual orgies, and child sacrifice. That is why God warned the Israelites against any association with Canaan's citizens (Lev. 18:24-30). Because He knew that the danger of spiritual contamination for His people was so great, He commanded the execution of all the Canaanites who resisted their advance and the complete destruction of every trace of their religion (Dt. 7:1-6). It was the failure of the Israelites to follow God's directions that brought about the fulfillment of Noah's prophecy. Their negligence to consult God led to their being tricked into making slaves of the Gibeonites instead of driving them out of the land or killing them (Josh. 9). Later, they did the same with another group of Canaanites (16:10).
About 500 years after the death of Abraham, his descendants through Isaac were living in Egypt as slaves. Genesis 37 to 50 tells the story of how this came about. The 10 oldest sons of Abraham's grandson Jacob disliked their younger brother Joseph so much that they found a way to sell him to traders who in turn sold him to an Egyptian officer as a slave. In his new land, Joseph went through a series of ups and downs and eventually became the prime minister of Egypt, the highest official under the king. God enabled Joseph to foresee an approaching time of famine, and used him to store up food and then distribute it during the famine. His political position made it possible for him to settle his father's family in Egypt's most fertile territory. Here they prospered for many years. However, the time came when the leaders of Egypt began to view the rapidly growing Israelite community as a threat. As a result, they made slaves of the Israelites, treating them with ever-increasing harshness. Finally, desperate because the descendants of Jacob continued to multiply, they issued an order that all their male babies be...

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