Slavery In The Bible

I’ve been doing a bit of research into this matter lately and found some wonderful videos by Thomas Sowell. If you have not heard this man talk about slavery, please look him up. Anyway, I was more interested in Biblical, or first-century slavery and this distinction the Christians always try to make. Was slavery different in the first century?

Well, there were many ways to become a slave, your parents could sell you into slavery as a child. You could be captured in a war. You could be abandoned as a baby. You could be sentenced as a criminal. You could be born into it. You could also sell yourself into slavery. You could be kidnapped and sold into slavery. One good thing about being a Roman slave is that most people spoke the language. Still, once you were a slave, there were ways to let the people around you know that you were property and no longer a human being.

All slaves were “property,” by Roman Law. Their owners did with them whatever they wanted. That included torture, sex, or anything in between. So where did this Christian idea of ‘Good Slavery’ come from?

Well, in fact, there were many forms of slavery. When a neighboring country was conquered and its population enslaved, Musicians, Craftsmen, Equestrians, Soldiers, Educators, Masons, and all manner of the populace became slaves. An educated slave could bring a higher price on the sales block if he was killed in an area some wealthy land owner thought could be useful. These slaves obviously got better appointments. It did not change the fact that they were property. They were generally identified by a metal collar around their neck that had a tag. On the tag it would say, “Hold Me, and return me to; and then the name of their owner.” We are all, also familiar with the reference to the piercing of the ears, also to be tagged as a slave. Any slave that tried to run away would be tattooed across their forehead with the same message. It was not until 316 CE that Constantine outlawed the tattooing of slaves across their foreheads. And these were the skilled slaves. The cream of the crop.

All the other slaves found themselves in the mines, quarries, or in fields. These conditions were certainly no better than conditions in the USA, or throughout the Middle East whose slave trade lasted much longer than that of the USA. Anyway, the point is, yes, some slaves were skilled and were able to secure positions of skilled labor. The majority were not. Most slaves in Rome, worked the mines, the fields, or the quarries and they did so without breaks until they died and were replaced with new slaves.

Regardless of ‘Good Slavery,’ slaves were the property of their owners and the owners did with their slaves as they wished, including selling them, sending them to the mines, chopping off hands or feet, tattooing, and yes killing. Slaves had no rights. NONE They were property, regardless of the job they were enslaved to do.

It’s a good read for the next time you hear that Christian pipe up and tell you how different slavery in the time of Jesus was.,from%20texts%20written%20by%20masters.

EDIT:: If you don’t want to do all the reading - What It Was Like to Be a Roman Slave - YouTube


Of COURSE it was different then. Duh! I’m guessing those “historians” didn’t bother to mention the Roman slave clubs and slave taverns, huh? You know, the places where slaves would gather after a long day of slavery? They could spend time unwinding, bragging about who had the best and most important owners. Compare wounds and scars from recent beatings. Discuss whose children had been sold to where. Share tips on how to avoid heat stroke out in the fields when the masters did not provide water. Yep, just a place where they could go where everybody knew their name and they were always glad they came.

Interesting bit of trivia here, though, regarding slave clubs vs. slave taverns. Naturally, slave clubs were reserved for those slaves with special skills and duties, typically owned by wealthy and high-ranking officials. Slave taverns, of course, were for the common labor slaves. Either way, the slaves during that time period were obviously treated much better than “modern day” slaves. And they were PROUD to be owned by powerful and influential masters who cared enough to provide them with places they could go to “escape” after a long day of forced labor.

(Edited under duress.)

I suppose the delusion that the bible wouldn’t condone anything as immoral as slavery as it has been practiced in more modern times is preferable to the delusion that their just and loving god does approve of it. Each seems equally delusional but I’d likely prefer the company of the first dumb ass.

Strongly agreed.

He tells you what any historian studied in the history of slavery will tell you (why the concept of reparations is nonsensical; there are more people in slavery today than the entire number of people siezed in the Atlantic slave trade with no attendant moral outcry; slavery wasn’t founded on racism…) but puts it in a way that outlines just how distorted the modern view of the history of the institution is, and why.

Digression over.

In a discussion about slavery, I believe that several points need to be made . . . and I argue that it has never been eradicated, but only changed it’s form and appearance. Further, I argue that everyone in the wealthier countries (especially the U.S., but also Britain, France, Canada, and so forth) benefits from it.

  1. In order to bring every human being up to an American standard of living would require 4 more planets identical to Earth.
  2. The United States has aproximately 5% of the world’s population, yet we produce about 35% of the world’s greenhouse gasses.
  3. The only way we can consume in the way that we do is if we take resources and labor from the rest of the human population.
  4. If we really cared about everyone else, than we would see that the poorer countries used their labor and resources to benefit themselves rather than us.
  5. We work very hard to keep other people from entering our country to partake of the wealth that we take from them.

I reach the conclusion that the difference between slavery and what exists now is no different than any imagined difference between a Black slave in the 1850’s Deep South and a Black sharecropper family of the early 1900’s . . . so, not much distinction. We take wealth without sharing, and upsetting the status quo results in military action. We also use subtle bribery and political favors to put greedy fucks in charge of countries that have resources that we want.


The reason why there is a starving little girl with her waiting vulture is because we don’t want to sacrifice and/or make concessions on things that we think we need.

So . . . in order to live, 2/3 of the world must exist in deplorable poverty to provide what we want, they can’t vacate their lot in life and enter our country to partake of our wealth, and they die if they refuse to provide what we want (like the girl in the photo).

So . . . how is this substantially different from slavery?

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LOL… You are aware of course that Slavery was NEVER made illegal in the USA. Well, not totally anyway. It was just “Modified.” Have you read the 13th amendment?

Until the adoption of the 13th Amendment in 1865, the Constitution did not prohibit slavery. (To Prohibit: formally forbid a person or group from doing something. There is some room for flexibility here.)

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

The argument can and has been made; “Our prison system is institutionalized slavery”.


True, but American slavery did indeed possess a racial object not necessarily present in other iterations, such as Roman.

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Herein he describes the conditions and opportunities which facilitated the manifestation of race as an apparent feature of American slavery. There are some surprising examples of slave owning people such as some of the Cherokee like chief John Ross or Major Ridge.


A prime example of what historians, and Dr. Sowell, consistently state about the current distortion of the history of slavery, which now almost always uses the period of the Atlantic slave trade, and specifically the activity of the U.S., as it’s standard illustration of reference.

Slavery wasn’t founded upon racism.


Agreed…it was just a handy feature of the Atlantic trade.Correlation, not causality. The appearance misinterpreted as the cause.



From the way it is described the basic premise doesn’t seem to change. Is it reasonable to imagine slaves were treated better or had any more rights than African Slaves were in the US, I must say i don’t think it is a reasonable assumption. I also don’t think it is as relevant as the fact that Exodus 21 is describing laws claimed to come from a deity, a deity who is also claimed to have finally decided a personal appearance was called for in Palestine 2 millennia ago, who when asked emphatically and unambiguously endorsed the entirety of those laws, even the ones that are contradicted by some stuff he is alleged to have said by the anonymous hearsay of the gospels.

We’re currently turning back the way the history of slavery is taught to children in the U.S. In Florida it’s to be taught that slaves learned skills that benefited them. That’s an insane take, and the teachers union is protesting.


Good for them.
The apologists are constantly trying to conflate the different types of slavery that have existed side by side since man had to work. To weaken the correct argument that the god of the pentateuch is a heartless slaving monster.

1: Slavery: The purchase or breeding for use by one human or organisation for the sole benefit of that entity. No rewards or freedoms as a right. The human can be bought, sold, bred and gelded, taken as a sex partner without consent. (described and accepted in several biblical texts, common but illegal today,)

2: Bond Slavery: Where an economically challenged person gives up their rights, freedoms and promise of reward for a set period in exchange for a debt or promise. (described in one or more biblical texts now mostly in 3rd world countries. Was a common way of migration to the US and Canada)

3: Apprenticeship: Where a nominally free young person is bonded to a “Master” for a set period of years while they learn a “trade” or some other expertise. Some apprenticeships require the parents or guardian to pay a bond as an upfront fee. Some pay pittance wages or none at all until “journeyman” status is reached. Typically apprentices and journeymen cannot marry or set up their own home until the end of the apprentice period. (Common)

4: Prize of War: typically young women and girls, occasionally boys, taken in warfare. girls commonly used by the adult males as sex toys or drudges. The boys depending on culture used as sex toys, or laborers doing the worst of work before dying. In some cases boys were adopted into the captors “tribe” and led rewarding lives. Fewer girl prisoners were treated as well in any culture. Rampant today.

5: Industrial slavery: When children and women were “employed” ( it was a case of the mine. the mill, the loom or starve) for a pittance in industrial centres. Often undertaking the riskiest work and being exposed to worst of all abuses. (Rampant today.)

6: Sex Trafficking: where young women, refugees or from war torn areas are persuaded with promises to migrate to more prosperous nations. Once there they are told they have an enormous repayment and must work at the owners discretion. They frequently have no right of abode for the country they are in, have had their documents stolen and are treated appallingly. (A growing industry) This category can include domestic servants. (Rampant today. )

7: Convict Slavery: Never abolished in the United States or in other “christian” countries as well as others that should know better. A very profitable industry in the US. (Rampant today. )

And of course us: Wage slavery. Add your own description.

Slavery is all around us, that is why the apologists arguments are sometimes compelling. I have missed a few categories I suspect. Wrong, utterly wrong apologetics, but compelling as they seek to soften the boundaries of acceptable behavior and descriptions in their archaic texts and proclaim their monster god as one of love and compassion…


I remember that song… "Jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton.
Gonna jump down turn around pick a bale a day.
O Lordy , Pick a bale of cotton
O Lordy, Pick a bale a day,

                                       Me and my wife, we can pick a bale of cotton
                                       Me and my wive we can pick a bale a day. 
                                       O Lordy , Pick a bale of cotton
                                       O  Lordy,  Pick a bale a day,

                                         Me and my kids we can pick a bale of cotton.
                                         Me and my kids we can pick a bale a day.
                                          O Lordy , Pick a bale of cotton
                                          O  Lordy,  Pick a bale a day,

                                           Me and my family is learnin helpful skills
                                            We be learning them skills all day long.
                                            O Lordy, thankee for the learnin
                                            O Lordy thankee every day,

I thought that song went more along the lines of

“Load 16 tons and what do you get?
Another day older and deeper in debt.”

“ Saint Peter don’t you call me cause I can’t go.
I owe my soul to the company store.”

Yeah, simply a fun motivational song…after all, imagine fat Whitey’s profits if each of the slaves could actually pick a 500 pound bale of cotton a day…
Not to mention the superior physique one could attain by such activity, as well as greatly increased levels of pain tolerance…
I don’t know why some of you seem to be having difficulties accepting the benefits of being a slave. :roll_eyes:
Edit: while every effort possible (yes every) has been made to avoid devices such as hyperbole or sarcasm, no guarantee of the non-existence of such arguably offensive elements has been or is likely to be evidenced…

A very accurate song. Long before I ever came into being, my Grandaddy worked in the coal mines until they fired him for lung problems (Black Lung) caused by the mining he did. A small Southern coal mining “town”, barely a dot on the map tucked away in the backwoods of nowhere. (Spent a good portion of my own childhood in that area.) And about the only means of obtaining essential living items was using the “Company Store”. And due to the pathetic excuse for wages the mine workers got paid, the debt owed to the store was always larger than the paycheck received. Those are the conditions in which my Mom and her brothers/sister grew up. And while most of my own childhood and teen years were often on the edge of poverty, they were still nothing like my Mom, aunt, and uncles had to endure.