21 Now these are the judgments which thou shalt set before them.
2 If thou buy an Hebrew servant, six years he shall serve: and in the seventh he shall go out free for nothing.
3 If he came in by himself, he shall go out by himself: if he were married, then his wife shall go out with him.
4 If his master have given him a wife, and she have born him sons or daughters; the wife and her children shall be her master’s, and he shall go out by himself.
5 And if the servant shall plainly say, I love my master, my wife, and my children; I will not go out free:
6 Then his master shall bring him unto the judges; he shall also bring him to the door, or unto the door post; and his master shall bore his ear through with an aul; and he shall serve him for ever.
K.J.V. Bible Text
God also began to lay out rules for the ordinary arrangements of the Hebrew life. At a time when people were as likely to be enslaved as to be hired, what we would call an indentured servant was a common thing. The Lord made rules to govern the eventual release of the Hebrew people who served as servants under these arrangements.
By the rules the Lord gave to Moses, the servants were to be required to serve six years and in the seventh year set free for no cost.
A servant that came in a single man would go out by himself alone. If he was a married man at the time of servitude, his wife was to be released with him.
A servant who was given a wife by the master and became the father of sons and daughters would also go out alone in the seventh year. The wife and children would remain the property of the master. However, the servant who wished to remain with his wife and children could choose not to go. In that case, the master would bore a hole in the servant’s ear which would signify that he would continue to serve forever.
In our modern day, this seems to be a strange way to arrange the social order; but I think at this time, in this place, when many people were required to become servants in order to be housed and fed, it was a very just way to assure that servants would not be bound forever but likewise would not be torn asunder from their loved ones against their will.
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