Posts Tagged ‘Abraham Lincoln’


May 30, 2016


By Anthony E. Gallo

Abraham Lincoln is our most admired and iconic President. More books have been written about this 16th president than all other presidents combined.


The reason is clear.   He was a moral leader who saved the Union, abolished slavery and laid the groundwork for the American Industrial Revolution.     He kept a nation together, and he did so with keen political skills   He kept a cabinet of rivals together. Biographers and historians call these men a Team of Rivals, popularized in a book of that same name by Doris Kearns Goodwin.


But then there is the story of his team of personal allies. Without them,  I argue,  Abraham Lincoln would not have played the role he has in human history.


Abraham Lincoln did not have many friends.  He had many colleagues, both political and personal, but very few personal friends.  In fact only two men, who both aided his journey to the Presidency.     And both men had an important bearing on his legacy. Without them, he would not have been elected president of the United States.  His third pillar of support  was his wife Mary.  Without Mary, or Mrs. Lincoln, as she liked to be called, Mr. Lincoln would not have survived his depressions.


Mr. Lincoln shared a bed with one friend for four years, an office with his law partner for 16 years and a home and a life with Mary Lincoln for 23 years.  All three loved Abraham Lincoln and he loved them, but in the end, he dominated all three.  One was a slaveholder who believed strongly slavery, the second a drunk and the third a shrewish wife.  But he dominated them all.




Joshua Speed was Abraham Lincoln’s only personal friend.   They had no business dealings, other than their beds.   They shared the same bed for four years.  And Lincoln paid him $17 a month—the amount that they agreed upon in 1837. The sharing of the bed was not homoerotic.   The friendship was instead one of mutual support.   Nor had there been a charge of homoeroticism until the late twentieth century, when activists (led by DC native playwright Larry Kramer) insisted that the relationship was homosexual.  Playwright Kramer announced there was correspondence to show this relationship.  Subsequently none was found, backing the consensus among scholars and historians that the relationship was not homosexual.


Why did Lincoln and Speed continue sharing a bed when the future sixteenth president could afford his own?  The obvious answer would appear to be that sleeping patterns were different in those days.  To a degree, this explanation is true    When Mr. Lincoln arrived in Springfield, he was relatively poor but not for long.  Surely he could have paid more than $17 a month being one of the Springfield’s most successful attorneys.   Further, Mr. Speed, the son of slave owning family (57 slaves), could also afford his own bed. The reason may lie in Lincoln’s basic character.  Mr. Lincoln was an emotional man who suffered from melancholy.   He had bouts of severe depression.    And had a nervous collapse  when he realized he had to leave Mary Todd because of what he perceived as their irreconcilable differences.   They eventually reconciled mostly due to Joshua Speed’s advice.   In turn, Mr. Lincoln strongly supported Joshua Speed in this relationship and subsequent marriage to Fanny.  Both men wanted to marr ”up,”and both did.  Speed had a very successful marriage.   But so did Lincoln. But Lincoln’s marriage was more volatile due to his unhappy nature and her volatility which he recognized before he married her.   He broke off the engagement in 1842, and had a nervous collapse.  The Speed family brought him to Farmington.   He was convinced by Joshua Speed to résumé the engagement.  And he and Mary Todd were married the following year.


Lincoln strongly opposed slavery   Joshua Speed strongly supported it.   Over and over again he persisted in his view and expressed to Lincoln that abolition was good neither for blacks nor whites.  He argued in their correspondence that without slavery the economy would be destroyed, it would bring economic and political mayhem that would ensure the country’s collapse.    Lincoln listened closely, and often seemed to agree with him, but always maintained his abolitionist position.


What was the attraction?    Both men had Kentucky roots.   Both men were highly intelligent and educated.     And Mr. Lincoln, both high strung and restless, needed the guidance and friendship of the calmer Mr. Speed.  That friendship lasted from 1837 to his death 28 years later.  Mr. and Mrs. Speed were invited to the Whitehouse twelve times when Lincoln became President.   And Baraka Obama took his oath of office on the very same Bible that Lucy Speed, Joshua Speed’s mother, gave to Lincoln whom she loved.   I doubt that President Obama was (and is) aware that he was taking his oath of office on a Bible given to Lincoln by ardent slaveholders.


Neither man attended the others wedding, but certainly supported one another.  Their friendship was for a lifetime


That Speed believed in slavery is beyond dispute.  He tried vociferously to get Lincoln to change his mind.    Lincoln, in his correspondence, often seemed not to disagree with him.  But once elected to office Lincoln proceeded with the course and got rid of slavery.     And James Speed was his attorney general.  In fact, when Lincoln appointed Speed his attorney general,  the press asked him what he knew about James Speed personally?   His reply was that he knew the family well, since he shared a bed with his brother for six years.


Speed was a natural businessman. Today he would be a billionaire.   .   Politics was never his prime interest and he said so.  Lincoln, by the same token, did not have any of Speeds business acumen.   In fact, Lincoln was a very poor businessman.  Herndon was even worse.   He spent profligately,  made bad business decisions  and was poor during the last part of his life.  He died a pauper, after the sales of his Lincoln biographies were highly unsuccessful.  Speed was a very wealthy when he died. Among other bequests, he left the Methodist Church of Kentucky nearly million dollars.   By contrast, President Lincoln left an estate of $110,000, and Herndon was essentially bankrupt.


Speed’s impact on the Lincoln legacy came with  what he did for Lincoln during the President’s lifetime. Although Speed opposed abolition, he helped to keep Kentucky in the union.  Supposedly President Lincoln said “I love god, but I must have Kentucky.”   Lincoln got only 1375 votes in Kentucky—and many of those votes were from Speed relatives.   Without Speed’s influence, Kentucky would not have remained in the union.   And many historians agree that had Kentucky not remained in the union, Maryland and Missouri would have joined the Confederacy.





Billy Herndon’s relationship with the President Lincoln was more complex.    They met in 1837 by way of Joshua Speed.  Billy worked in the Bell General Store owned by Speed when Lincoln rented.  Herndon’s wealthy father had sent him to Illinois College to become a good Christian, a responsible slave owner, and sober.  Billy came back an agnostic, drunk, and abolitionist and flunked out


Billy’s admiration of Lincoln began with teri first meeting, and Lincoln loved it    Billy passed the bar and became M. Lincoln’s junior partner, whereas Lincoln had previously been the junior partner himself.  And that was the relationship between the two men.   Billy idolized Lincoln.   He was a brilliant partner and fastidious.    The junior-senior relationship was to persist throughout the sixteen years of their active partnership. During that period, Billy provided great moral, political and emotional support for  Lincoln, as he continued to climb the political latter. Their father- son relationship clashes sharply with the fraternal relationship with Mr. Speed.  Surprisingly, Mr. Lincoln’s relationship with his own father was estranged indeed.  Thomas Lincoln was not invited to his son’s marriage, nordid he  ever met  Mary or any of the Lincoln Children.  Lincoln did not attend Thomas Lincoln’s funeral, and at first would not even buy him a headstone. He eventually did.

When Lincoln was elected President, Billy did not get a Government position.   He did borrow $20  from the newly elected President who also got a wife for him.   After the death of his first wife; Herndon courted a woman name Anna, who did not want to marry him. He beseeched Lincoln to get her brother a job in the Deferral government, which Lincoln did.   Billy got Anna.


Lincoln but made one request of Billy.  That he was to keep the fires burning in the home office and that when Lincoln was done being president he would return to the law office of Lincoln and Herndon.  Billy was satisfied.






Herndon’s influence on Lincoln’s legacy was horrendous, and nearly all  negative. .  F,ollowing the assassination William Herndon dedicated the rest of his life to Abraham Lincoln,. as self-anointed keeper of the flame. Herndon felt he had a   special hold on Lincoln’s legacy.

Here are some of his eye popping assertions:

  • Lincoln was a bastard; Herndon argued that Nancy Hanks was a very promiscuous woman and that Lincoln was the illegitimate offspring of one of her trysts.
  • Herndon says the same about Nancy Hank’s mother, with affidavits showing that she too was a very loose woman.
  • Ann Rutledge. This fabrication was written solely to hurt Mrs. Lincoln. Ann Rutledge was a young   woman whom Lincoln did know.   She was betrothed to a man who left town and would not release her from the engagement.  She died.   Herndon argues that she was the only woman Lincoln ever loved and since he lost both his mother and his sister, he was incapable of loving any other woman.     Despite affidavits to support this contention, the  man to whom she was betrothed said that he never head of Lincoln until he became President.   Carl Sandburg made up a sad saga out of this fabrication. (Mr. Sandburg won two Pulitzer prizes for his two Lincoln biographies which are  historically inaccurate.  One reviewer found 200-errors in the first twenty pages and thereby stopped reading)
  • Syphilis: Herndon said that Lincoln had syphilis, which he acquired as a child. And Herndon also says Nancy Hanks had syphilis.
  • The dead Lincoln sons were brats. Herndon says that the Lincolns let their two sons, now dead, run wild, and that all four were brats.
  • Bad Lawyer: Herndon says Lincoln was a sloppy lawyer who did not like looking at details.  He was also sloppy and had to depend on Herndon to keephis things in order.
  • Bowel movements: He describes Lincoln bowel movements in detail.
  • Religion: Today much of the world believes that Lincoln was a free thinker Herndon bases this assertion on afternoon chats at the office.   The evidence is overwhelming against this.   Lincoln mentioned God more times than any other President in American history.   His relationship with the Reverend Phineas Gurley, pastor of New York Avenue Presbyterian Church, was a very close, and Gurley presided over the funeral s of both Wiie and the President.   Lincoln attended Church with great regularity and participated in several discussion groups. He also paid the yearly dues of $50.  Lincoln did not join the Church, which remains a mystery, but was definitely an active member.  And last but not least, the day he died, he and Mary discussed plans  to visit Holy Land. And, oh yes, Lincoln’s knowledge of the Bribe exceed that of any other President in America history.  And of course we should not lose sight of one of President Lincoln’s quotes:  When I have a need for real guidance, I get on my knees.



Her indispensible role in the Lincoln Presidency cannot be denied.  Abraham Lincoln was very much in love with her. After the deaths of two of her sons, Mrs. Lincoln became difficult and in fact earned the Hellcat Mary Name.  But one must always remember what Robert Lincoln said:  that Abraham Lincoln, his father, loved his mother and was very lonely without her


Abraham Lincoln found it difficult to live with her.  He found it even more difficult to live without her.   He broke off the engagement, and essentially had a nervous breakdown.     They met in 1837 when she was 18 and he was 27 in the flourishing city of Springfield   But what is most important about Mary Lincoln (Mary TODD Lincoln was unacceptable to her) is that she was indispensible to Abraham despite her mercurial behavior after the deaths of Willy and Eddy


The relationship between Mrs. Lincoln with these Speed and Herndon was at both extremes. She loved Joshua Speed.  She loathed Billy Herndon, whom she described as an uncouth drink.   He described her as a serpent. Both men felt the same about her as she felt about them, as did their wives. She was vilified by both of the eyewitness account biographies of the 16th President by Herndon and Hay and Nicolay, who came up with the name Hellcat Mary, later shortened to The Hellcat.




Clinton Catherine, Mrs. Lincoln:  A Life , Harpeer Collins  Publisher,


Donald, David Lincoln, , Jonathan Cape, London, 1995


________________, Lincoln at home : Two Glimpses of Abraham

Lincoln’s Family Life, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2003

___________________ We are Lincoln Men, Abraham Lincoln and His Friends, Simon and Schuster, NY 2003,     Pulitzer PrizeSchuster, Lincoln’s Billy. ,Alfred Knopf,  1948  NY,   ________________, Lincoln’s Billy: Alfred A. Knopf Life, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2003

________________, Lincoln at home : Two Glimpses of Abraham Lincoln’s Family Life, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2003


___________, We Are Lincoln Men: Abraham Lincoln and His Friends, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY, 2003


Goodwin, Doris Kearns, Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln, Simon & Schuster, New York, NY 2005


Hawke, David Freeman, Billy’s Lincoln, The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc. New York, New York, 1970

Herttz The Hidden Lincoln From the Letters and Papers of Wiliam Herndon, blue Ribbon Books, 1940


Neale, Donald Walsch, Conversations with  God, An Uncommon Dialogue, book 1, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, NY, 1995


Oates, Stephen B., With Malice Toward None: the Life of Abraham Lincoln, Harper Perennial, New York, NY, 1994



White, Ronald C.. Jr., Lincoln’s Greatest Speech : The Second Inaugural, Simon &Schuster, New york, NY, 2005


_________________,The Eloquent President : A Portrait of Lincoln Through His Words, Random House, New York, NY, 2005

Temple, Wayne, Abraham Lincoln, From Skeptic to Prophet, Mayhaven Publishing, Mahomet, IL, 1995













May 24, 2016

Slavery and Religion


Anthony E Gallo

In God We Trust or God Will Determine the Victor?  Did the Union or the Confederacy have God and the Bible on its Side? Does Religion Condemn Slavery?

Glory, glory! Hallelujah!  It ain’t so.

Julia Ward Howe’s majestic and inspiring Battle Hymn of the Republic leads us to believe that God is against slavery.


The Battle Hymn of the Republic

By Julia Ward Howe

Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord;

He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of

Wrath are stored;

He hath loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible

Swift sword;

His truth is marching on.


Glory, glory! Hallelujah!

Glory, glory! Hallelujah!

Glory, glory! Hallelujah!

His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watchfires of a hundred circling


They have builded Him an altar in the evening dews and


I can read His righteous sentence by the dim and flaring


His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel, writ in burnished rows of steel;

“As ye deal with my contemners, so with you my grace shall


Let the hero, born of woman, crush the serpent with his heel,

Since God is marching on.”

He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call


He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgement


Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him! be jubilant,

My feet!

Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies, Christ was born across the


With a glory in His bosom that transfigures you and me;

As He died to make men holy, let us die to make men free,

While God is marching on.

Julia Ward Howe explicitly infers that the Bible and Jesus of Nazareth were on the side of abolition.   Nothing could be further from the truth.    Neither Christianity nor Judaism nor the Moslem religion opposed slavery.  The entirety of the Judeo-Christian tradition is biblically based.      There was one difference to the slavery we had in the United States?     Slavery was not tinged with racism in either the Bible or the Koran as it was in the institution of American slavery.

The Civil War was a religious war.  Each side claimed God.  The motto of the North was In God We Trust.    The motto of the South was God is the Vindicator.   Each side claimed God.   Both assertions were based on the Bible.   The major issue was slavery.

Abraham Lincoln was the most religious president in American History.   he was also the most biblically knowledgeable.  And he hated and eventually abolished slavery.   But the Bible was no friend.  He had to fight the battle alone.    There are 300 references to slavery in the bible, and few, if any are outright negative.   Christianity, Judaism, and Islam, as well as most other major world religions not only approved but encouraged slavery.   This is in sharp contrast to today’s world where except for murder, slavery has got to be one of the most immoral things a person can do.

Slavery is rampant throughout the Bible in both the Old and New Testaments.  The Bible clearly approves of slavery in many passages, and it goes so far as to tell how to obtain slaves, how hard you can beat them, and when you can have sex with the female slaves. During the most abominable period of the slave trade (1600-1900), slavery was fueled by the idea that Africans, even children, were better off Christianized under a system of European slavery than left in Africa amid tribal wars, famines and paganism

From Genesis to Hebrews to the Epistles the message is clear that Slavery is condoned as an institution and an undesirable situation for the slaves.  In Geneses Hagar is the Slave Woman who serves as a surrogate mother for Abrahams heir.    We will then visit Exodus, Genesis, Deuteronomy, a Numbers   We then examine the new testament. In this paper we only examine the Judeo Christian tradition.  The Muslim religion is actually not much better.  The harsh treatment of slaves is condemned, but the institution is not condemned.  In fact, Mohamed owned slaves, but treated them kindly which the Koran also encourages.

Some Jewish and Christian apologists will try to ignore the moral problems of slavery by saying that these slaves were actually servants or indentured servants.   Many translations of the Bible use the word “servant”, “bondservant”, or “manservant” instead of “slave” to make the Bible seem less immoral than it really is.  While many slaves may have worked as household servants, that doesn’t mean that they were not slaves who were bought, sold, and in some instances treated like livestock.

Augustine opposed slavery as did some other church fathers.  But by and large popes for a thousand years supported it.  The illegitimate children of priests were made slaves.  Thomas Aquinas said it was natural. Other popes deemed that Christians could not be slaves, but non- Christians were fair game.   Several popes were involved in the purchase of slaves The prevailing attitude was that men could take care of their own.   Mirroring what Jesus of Nazareth   said “Render unto Caesar that which is Caesars’ and unto God that which is God!  Translate   that means fend for yourself –  The separation of church and state.   Slavery was presented as part of the human condition.      Slavery was the same as peasant or only of a lower statio

New Testament 

Here are some of the major new testament references to slavery/


Jesus of Nazareth took on the entirety of the religious establishment, drove the money changers out of the Temple, and boldly paid with his life for his claim that he was the Son of God. But he did not condemn slavery.    Here are some examples.

He knowingly accepted the beating of slaves: “That servant who knew his master’s will but did not make preparations nor act in accord with his will shall be beaten severely;t48and the servant who was ignorant of his master’s will but acted in a way deserving of a severe beating shall be beaten only lightly. Much will be required of the person entrusted with much, and still more will be demanded of the person entrusted with more.” Luke 12:47.

Jesus recognized the class system of master and slave. He believed in the class system “A disciple is not above the teacher, nor a slave above the master.” (Matthew 10:24) Jesus clearly approves of beating slaves even if they didn’t know they were doing anything wrong   Luke 12:47-48 In the following parable, the servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it.  “But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly.  Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given.”

Jesus even cites situations where families can be sold into slavery    Matthew: 18 23-  4 “When he began the accounting, a debtor was brought before him who owed him a huge amount.  Since he had no way of paying it back, his master ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, his children, and all his property, in payment of the debt.

He readily accepts the class system.   Mat13-16 Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him.  “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them


Christianity’s leading architect after Jesus, did not oppose slavery.  Essentially, he agreed with Jesus.  St Paul’s epistles called for slaves to “obey their masters,”

The Epistle to Philemon has become an important text in regards to slavery; it was used by pro-slavery advocates as well as by abolitionists.  In the Epistle, Paul writes that he is returning Onesimus, a fugitive slave, back to his master Philemon.  However, Paul also entreats Philemon to regard Onesimus, who he says he views as a son, not as a slave but as a beloved brother in Christ. Philemon is requested to treat Onesimus as he would treat Paul.  Jesus of Nazareth took on the entirety of Israel’s establishment, but did not condemn slavery.

(Ephesians 6:5) Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear.  Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.

Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed.  If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful.  You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts.  Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them.  (1 Timothy 6:1-2)


In several Pauline epistles, and the First Epistle of Peter, slaves are admonished to obey their masters, “as to the Lord, and not to men However, masters were told to serve their slaves “in the same way” and “even better” as “brothers”, [ to not threaten them as God is their Master as well



St Peter’s letters appear to suggest it was wholly commendable for Christian slaves to suffer at the hands of cruel masters.

The First Epistle of Peter, slaves are admonished to obey their masters, as to the Lord, and not to men;  however masters were told to serve their slaves “in the same way”  and “even better” as “brothers  to not threaten them as God is their Master as well




The Old Testament has nearly 240 references to slavery.  Nearly all are positive toward that institution    Slaves were definitely looked down upon.   We begin with Genesis.    Abraham was a wealthy man and a major slave owner.    Because Sarah was childless, one of his slaves, Hagar was forced to have a child by him.  But that offspring was Ishmael\ the son of the slave woman.  So from the very beginning slavery was considered a lower state and the institution was approved.   Hagar had no alternative but to bear Abraham a child an heir to the Abrahamic fortune.

Here are a few of the other positive references to Abraham and slavery:

  • Abraham, the chosen servant of God, had his bond servants, whose condition was similar to, or worse than, that of our slaves.
  • He considered them as his property, to be bought and sold as any other property which he owned.
  • In Genesis, we are told that God commanded Abraham to circumcise all his bond-servants, “bought with his money,” and that Abraham obeyed God’s commandment on this same day.
  • In Genesis 20, we are told that Abimelech took sheep and oxen, and men servants and women servants, and gave them to Abraham.
  •  In chapter 7, we are told that Abraham possessed sheep and oxen, and he asses, and men servants and maid servants, and she asses, and camels.
  •  Also, in Genesis 26, 14, Isaac is said to have had possessions of flocks and herds, and a great store of servants.
  • In other places in Genesis, they are spoken   as property.
  • Not only was the bond-servant of Abraham considered his property, but the condition of the bond-servant was hereditary.
  • God not only commanded Abraham to circumcise his servants, bought with his money, but also, those born in his house, and those which, at any future time, should be born in his house, or in that of any of his descendants; and in the twenty-third and twenty-seventh verses of the same chapter, we are told that Abraham did circumcise all his male servants, born in his house, on the same day.
  • In chapter of Genesis we are told, that Abraham took three hundred and eighteen trained servants,
  • When Sara, Abraham’s wife, complained to him of the conduct of Hagar, her maid servant, he answered, “thy maid is in thy hand, do to her as it pleases thee showing that she wanted only her husband’s consent to punish Hagar as she pleased. We are then told, that, when Sarai dealt hardly with her, she fled from her face into the wilderness—there the angel of the Lord found her; but, instead of relieving her distress, and sending her to some free country, he told her to return and submit herself to her mistress.
  •  When Abraham pursued Chederlaomer, the king of Elam, he took his three hundred and eighteen servants, and his three friends, Aner, Eschol and Mamre, and recaptured a large amount of property which had been carried away from Sodom.
  • But when the king of Sodom offered him all the property which he had taken, he refused everything, except what his servants had eaten and the portion of his three friends—answering immediately for himself and his servants, and refusing everything, but reserving the right to his friends to answer for themselves.


  • Abraham was a worshiper of God; he had direct and immediate communication with him. He showed his willingness to obey God’s commands, even in offering his only son a sacrifice to God. He is spoken of by all the sacred writers, as one who was selected, from the whole human race, as the father of the faithful.


  •  God would not have so highly honored him, had he been living in constant and habitual violation of his laws: nor would he have required from him the performance of immaterial ceremonies, or of painful things not required by the moral law, and left him ignorantly to continue to violate his duties to his fellow men. Had our abolition friends been in God’s stead, they would have certainly acted in a very different manner. Is there one of them who will dare to say, he would have done better than God did?


  • But God, instead of teaching Abraham, his chosen servant, that it was immoral to use and buy his slaves, demanded from him the performance of certain things, which required that the relation of master and slave should be kept up, not only during Abraham’s time, but in all future ages.


  • And when the angel of the Lord interfered between Sarai and Hagar, it was to cause the slave to submit to punishment inflicted by her mistress


  • Jacob’s sons sold Joseph, their brother, to the Ishmaelites for twenty pieces of silver. They agreed with each other that they would sell him, when the Ishmaelites were afar off, and before they could have known that the Ishmaelites would buy him; only they knew, that such sales were common in the country at the time


  • The narrative of Joseph’s life in Egypt, shows that the sale of slaves was common there.


Deuteronomy and Numbers also have many references to slavery.

  • Jewish slaves were to be freed after six years according to both Deuteronomy and Exodus.


  • There are also laws regarding punishment for the one who kills the slave as well as injunctions to avoid injuring their eyes and teeth.


  • The betrothal clause seems to have provided an exception to the law of release in Deuteronomy 15:12 (cf. Jeremiah 34:14), in which both male and female Israelite servants were to be given release in the seventh year


  • The penalty if an Israelite engaged in sexual activity with an unredeemed female slave who was betrothed was that of scourging, with Jewish tradition seeing this as only referring to the slave (versus Deuteronomy 22:22, where both parties were stoned, being free persons), as well as the man confessing his guilt and the priest making atonement for his sin.


  • Women captured by Israelite armies could be adopted forcibly as wives, but first they had to have their heads shaved and undergo a period of mourning. However, “If you are not pleased with her, then you must let her go where she pleases. You cannot in any case sell her; you must not take advantage of her, since you have already humiliated her.”


 Leviticus and Exodus

In Leviticus   we are told, that the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: “Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them”—after various provisions of the law, the 39th verse reads as follows, in regard to servitude: “If thy brother that dwells by thee be waxen poor, and be sold unto thee, then shalt not compel him to serve as a bond-servant, but as a hired servant,” &c.—clearly showing that there was a distinction between bond-servant and hired-servant. After providing for the case of a Hebrew servant, verses 44, 45, and 46, of the same law, read as follows: “Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy bondmen and bondmaids. Moreover, of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land; and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your bondmen for ever.”


Exodus states:    And if a man smite his servant, or his maid, with a rod, and he die under his hand, he shall be surely punished. Notwithstanding, if he continues a day or two, he shall not be punished: for he is his money.”    The same chapter provide, that if the servant has lost an eye or a tooth, by a blow from the master, the servant should go free.  Also, that if an ox was known to be vicious and killed a freeman, the ox and his owner were both put to death; but if he gored a bond-servant, the ox should be killed and the master should pay thirty shekels of silver: showing the distinction between bond and freemen.


And about beating slaves.  It says you can beat both male and Exodus female slaves with a rod so hard that as long as they don’t die right away you are cleared of any wrong doing.    When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished.  If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property.


Notice how they can get a male Hebrew slave to become a permanent slave by keeping his wife and children hostage until he says he wants to become a permanent slave.  What kind of family values are these?

Debt slavery.    Sometimes humans were enslaved because they could not pay debts.


  • Like that of the Ancient Near East, the legal systems of the Israelites divided “slaves” into different categories:
  • “In determining who should benefit from their intervention, the legal systems drew two important distinctions: between debt and chattel slaves, and between native and foreign slaves.
  • The authorities intervened first and foremost to protect the former category of each–citizens who had fallen on hard times and had been forced into slavery by debt or famine.


  • Poverty, and more general lack of economic security, compelled some people to enter debt bondage.


  • Furthermore, in the ancient Near East, wives and (non-adult) children were often viewed as property, and were sometimes sold into slavery by the husband/father for financial reasons.Sexual and conjugal slavery

Sexual slavery, or being sold to be a wife, was common in the ancient world. It’s commonly debated whether or not the Old Testament ever condones this

  •  However, throughout the Old Testament, the taking of multiple wives was recorded many times
  •   An Israelite father could sell his unmarried daughters into servitude, with the expectation or understanding that the master or his son would eventually marry her. [
  • It is understood by Jewish and Christian commentators that this referred to the sale of a daughter, who “is not arrived to the age of twelve years and a day, and this through poverty.”