The selected passage, Deuteronomy 15: 12-18, focuses on how Hebrew masters should handle Hebrew slaves. In this paper, I intend to show that God wants His people to care for slaves with care and love. In this verse, God instructs Hebrew slave owners to release them after six years. In so doing, the masters should remember to give them the material support necessary to lead a life away from slavery.
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The passage reminds Hebrews how they should handle their fellow tribesmen and women who work for them as slaves. The author has structured the message in a way that is meant to appeal to the audience. The opening statement reads, “If your kin, a Hebrew man, or woman,” which shows the emphasis of the relationship between the slave and the slave master (The Bible, Deut. 15.12-18). The author reminds the audience of the favor that was granted upon Hebrew when He released them from bondage in Egypt after years of slavery. In the same way, they are expected to release those who have worked for them for six years, unless they want to stay.
The passage also uses repetition to emphasize the point. The words release has been used more than once to emphasize the need for slave masters to free their Hebrew slaves after getting their service for six years. The passage also uses dialogue to pass the message. A section of the passage reads, “I do not wish to leave you,” to refer to a case when a slave does not wish to leave the servant after six years, as required by the Lord (The Bible, Deut. 15.12-18). The statement emphasizes the need to be sure about the feelings of the servant before letting them stay. The master should not assume that their workers would not want to leave after six years. The statement should be clear, as shown in the quote, for the master to conclude that the servant is not willing to leave.
This passage presents the idea that it is normal for a Hebrew to have a fellow Hebrew as a slave. It means that it is not a sin to have a fellow tribesman or women working for a Hebrew, as long as the master follows the right procedure. Another major idea in this passage is the need for Hebrew to be considerate when handling the less fortunate members of their community. The argument is that if a person has worked as a servant for six years, it should be enough to grant them freedom. As such, the master should not have a reason to keep them longer (The Bible, Deut. 15.12-18). The information in this verse also presents the ideology of being considerate when masters are instructed not to release their servants empty-handed. They need to remember that for the last several years they have been loyal to them and that they do not have any other source of income. The passage reminds Hebrew masters to offer their slaves some material support to enable them to start leading normal lives. Love is another idea that comes out in this passage. A master who loves his slaves will not only release them within the specified time but will also ensure that they have the material support they need when they leave. The passage also presents the concept of blessings from the Lord. The masters should remember that the wealth they have is a blessing from the Lord, and as such, should not find it difficult sharing it with the slaves.
The purpose of this passage is to remind Hebrews that when they have their fellow tribesmen and women working for them, they should not enslave them forever. The passage makes reference to at a time when Hebrews had been taken from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. The Lord did not let them suffer in slavery forever. The masters should have the same sympathy to their Hebrew workers. The masters should remember that they belong to the same community, and therefore, should enjoy benefits of freedom. It might also be meant to correct those who did not treat their slaves with love and concern. The passage talks about love. It is not possible for a master to maltreat workers that he or she loves. The love of God, which made Him free Hebrews from Egypt, should be emulated by all the slave masters. It strongly encourages the need for masters to be open and committed to listening to the views of the workers. Hebrew slave masters are expected to follow the law given by the Lord but with clear guidelines. A master who listens to the workers will know if one may need to stay after serving the six years. If there are love and open dialogues, the employee can articulate the desires, and the employer will know the appropriate action to take.
Deuteronomy 15: 12-18 focuses on how Hebrew masters are expected to handle their tribesmen and women who work for them as slaves. The analysis of the passage reveals that God wants to remind his people that it is not fair to mistreat slaves because Israelites were once enslaved in Egypt, but God released them because of His love. It encourages masters to free their slaves after six years of service.
The Bible. The Catholic Study Bible, 3rd ed., Oxford UP, 2010.
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