#210 When an indentured Hebrew slave is released is he liberated with his children OR not? (Lev 25:39-41 vs Ex 21:1-4)


The law of the Jubilee year in Leviticus 25 is all encompassing.

And you shall consecrate the year that makes 50 years and proclaim liberty throughout the land, to all its inhabitants. It shall be a jubilee for you! And you shall go back, each to his possession; and you shall go back, each to his family.” (Lev 25:10)

In other words, everything is redeemed and restored: possessions; persons, that is indentured servants; houses sold during the jubilee period; and land & property—all returned to their original owners. Another one of Yahweh’s brilliant laws to protect the indigent and less fortunate, and to ward against private possessions, greed, and the financial interests of the more affluent in society, left to rot and neglect by the very people in today’s society claiming to be Yahweh’s people! But alas, that’s another story.

The point I wish to make presently is that this jubilee law with regards to the indentured Hebrew servant is also all encompassing.

“He [your indentured brother] shall work for you until the jubilee year. And he shall go out from you, he and his children with him, and go back to his family, and he shall go back to his father’s possessions.” (Lev 25:40-41)

The fact that the Priestly writer’s Yahweh’s Jubilee is all encompassing contradicts the older Elohist’s Yahweh (Ex 21:4) wherein it is stipulated that if the master of the indentured Hebrew gave him a wife during his servitude and they had children, then the wife and children remain the possession of the master when the male servant is released after 6 years, not 50 (#140)! But again, the jubilee law of Leviticus seems to trump this. Of course, the Exodus law code then proceeds to state that out of love for his wife and children the indentured Hebrew can remain a slave forever, i.e., to remain with his wife and children. But this too contradicts the Jubilee which requires all persons, property, and possessions to be restored on the jubilee year.

For more slavery contradictions be sure to check out #139-140 too.

2 thoughts on “#210 When an indentured Hebrew slave is released is he liberated with his children OR not? (Lev 25:39-41 vs Ex 21:1-4)

  1. I think that the contradiction goes deeper than this, because Exodus 21 says that Hebrews could be “slaves” (Hebrew ‘ebed), something that Leviticus 25 expressly says that a fellow Hebrew could never be:

    Exodus 21:2-5a
    2 When you buy a male Hebrew slave (Hebrew ‘ebed), he shall serve for six years, but in the seventh he shall go out a free person, without debt. 3If he comes in single, he shall go out single; if he comes in married, then his wife shall go out with him. 4If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall be her master’s and he shall go out alone. 5But if the slave (‘ebed) declares…

    Leviticus 25:39-44
    39 If any who are dependent on you become so impoverished that they sell themselves to you, you shall not make them serve as slaves (Hebrew ‘ebed). 40They shall remain with you as hired or bound laborers. They shall serve with you until the year of the jubilee. 41Then they and their children with them shall be free from your authority; they shall go back to their own family and return to their ancestral property. 42For they are my servants (‘ebed), whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as slaves (‘ebed) are sold. 43You shall not rule over them with harshness, but shall fear your God. 44As for the male and female slaves (‘ebed) whom you may have, it is from the nations around you that you may acquire male and female slaves (‘ebed).

    1. Indeed. This contradiction was treated in #139, so I did not want to repeat it here. I should have done all the slavery contradictions together then.

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