Imatges de pàgina

stow the whole or a portion of their estates on faithful and deserving servants. (Prov. xvii. 2.) 5. As it respected widows.-The widow of the deceased, like his daughters, had no legal right to a share in the estate. The sons, . however, or other relations, were bound to afford her an adequate maintenance, unless it had been otherwise arranged in the will. She sometimes returned back again to her father's house, particularly if the support, which the heirs gave her, was not such as had been promised, or was not sufficient. (Gen. xxxviii. 11. compare also the story of Ruth.) The prophets very frequently, and undoubtedly not without cause, exclaim against the neglect and injustice shown to widows. (Isa. i. 17. x. 2. Jer. vii. 6. xxii. 3. Ezek. xxii. 7. comp. Exod. xxii. 22–24. Deut. x. 18. xxiv. 17.) V. Where there were no sons to inherit property, it appears from various passages of the New Testament, that oldoption,-or the taking of a stranger into a family, in order to make him a part of it, acknowledging him as a son and heir to the estate—was very generally practised in the East, in the time of our Saviour. Adoption, however, does not appear to have been used by the elder Hebrews: Moses is silent concerning it in his laws; and Jacob's adoption of his two grandsons, Ephraim and Manasseh (Gen. xlviii. 1.), is rather a kind of substitution, by which he intended, that the two sons of Joseph should have each his lot in Israel, as if they had been his own sons. Thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, are mine; as Reuben and Simeon they shall be mine. But as he gave no inheritance to their father Joseph, the effect of this adoption extended only to their increase of fortune and inheritance; that is, instead of one part, giving them (or Joseph, by means of them) two parts. Another kind of adoption among the Israelites, consisted in the obligation of a surviving brother to marry the widow of his brother, who had died without children (Deut. xxv. 5. Ruth iv. 5. Matt. xxii. 24.); so that the children of this marriage were considered as belonging to the deceased brother, and went by his name; a practice more antient than the law, as appears in the history of Tamar; but this manner of adopting was not practised among the Greeks and Romans: neither was that kind of adoption intended by Sarah, Leah, and Rachel, when they gave their hand-maidens to their husbands. (Gen. xvi. 2. xxx. 3.) Pharaoh's daughter adopted the child Moses (Exod. ii. 10.), and Mordecai adopted Esther. (Esther ii. 7. , 15.) We are not acquainted with the ceremonies which were observed on these occasions, nor how far the privileges of adoption extended; but it is presumed, that they were nearly similar to those of the Roman laws, viz. that adopted children shared in the parent's estate with the natural children; that they assumed the name of the person who adopted them, and became subject to his paternal power. By the propitiation of our Saviour, and the communication of the merits of his death, penitent sinners become the adopted children of God. Thus St. Paul writes (Rom. viii. 15.), Ye have received the WOL. iii. - 54 .


spirit of adoption, whereby we cry 1bba, father, We wait for the adoption of the children of God. And (Gal. iv. 4, 5,) God sent forth his son to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.

Among the o the ceremony of adoption is performed, by causing the adopted to pass through the shirt of the person who adopts him. For this reason to adopt among the Turks is expressed by saying—to draw any one through one's shirt; and an adopted son is called by them, .ilkietogli, the son of another life—because he was not begotten in this." Something like this is observable among the Hebrews: Elijah adopted the prophet Elisha, by throwing his mantle over him (1 Kings xix. 19.); and when Elijah was carried off in a fiery chariot, his mantle, which he let fall, was taken up by Elisha his disciple, his spiritual son, and adopted successor in the office of prophet. (2 Kings ii. 15.)

This circumstance seems to be illustrated by the conduct of Moses, who dressed Eleazar in Aaron's sacred vestments, when that high priest was about to be gathered to his fathers; indicating thereby, that Eleazar succeeded in the functions of the priesthood, and was,in some sort, adopted to exercise that dignity. The Lord told Shebna, the captain of the temple, that he would deprive him of his honourable station, and substitute Eliakim the son of Hilkiah, in his room. (Isaiah xxii. 21.) I will clothe HIM with Thy Robe, and strengthen him with thy girdle, and I will commit thy government into his hand. St. Paul, in several places, says, that real Christians put on the Lord Jesus; and that they put on the new man, in order to denote their adoption as sons of God. (Rom. xiii. 14. Gal. iii. 26, 27.)”

1 D'Herbelot Bibl. Orient. p. 47.

2 Michaelis's Commentaries, vol. i. pp. 455–478, vol. ii. pp. 29–122. Lewis's Origines Hebræte, vol. ii. pp. 240–310. Calmet's Dictionary, articles Marriage, Diporce, Adoption. Harwood's Introduction, vol. ii. pp. 119–124. Jahn, År chaeologia, Biblica, pp. 221–232.

| - *--— __mi=



I. Slaves, how acquired.—II. Their condition among the Hebrews. —III. And among other Nations.—IV. Of Hired Servants.Customs relating to them and to Slaves alluded to in the New Testament.

I. SLAVERY is of very remote antiquity. It existed before the flood (Gen. ix. 25.); and when Moses gave his laws to the Jews, finding it already established, though he could not abolish it, yet he enacted various salutary laws and regulations. The Israelites indeed might have Hebrew servants or slaves, as well as alien-born persons, but these were to be circumcised, and were required to worship the only true God (Gen. xvii. 13–17.), with the exception of the Canaanites. s

Slaves were acquired by various ways, viz. 1. By Captivity, which is supposed to have been the first origin of slavery (Gen. xiv. 14. Deut. xx. 14. xxi. 10, 11.); 2. By Debt, when persons being poor, were sold for payment of their debts (2 Kings iv. 1. Matt. xviii. 25.); 3. By committing a Theft, without the power of inaking restitution (Exod. xxii. 2, 3. Neh. v. 4, 5.); and 4. By Birth, when persons were born of married slaves. These are termed born in the house (Gen. xiv. 14. xv. 3. xvii. 23. xxi. 10.), home-born (Jer. ii. 14.), and the sons or children of hand-maids. (Psal. lxxxvi. 16. cxvi. 16.

II. $o. received both food and clothing, for the most part of the meanest quality, but whatever property they acquired belonged to their lords: hence they are said to be worth double the value of a hired servant. (Deut. xv. 18.) They formed marriages at the will of their master, but their children were slaves, who, though they could not call him a father (Gal. iv. 6. Rom. viii. 15.), yet they were attached and faithful to him as to a father, on which account the patriarchs trusted them with arms. (Gen. xiv. 14. xxxii. 6. xxxiii. 1.) If a married Hebrew sold himself, he was to serve for six years, and in the seventh he was to go out free, together with his wife and children: but, if his master had given one of his slaves to him as a wife, she was to remain, with her children, as the property of his master. (Exod. xxi. 2–4.) The duty of slaves was to execute their lord's commands, and they were for the most part employed in tending cattle or in rural affairs; and though the lot of some of them was sufficiently hard, yet under a mild and humane master, it was tolerable. o: xiii. 13.) When the eastern people have no male issue, they frequently marry their daughters to their slaves; and the same oractice appears to have obtained among the


Hebrews, as we read in 1 Chron. ii. 34, 35. Now Sheshan had no sons but daughters; and Sheshan had a serrant (slave), an Egyptian, whose name was Jarha ; and Sheshan gave his daughter to Jarha his servant to wife. In Barbary, the rich people when childless have been known to purchase young slaves, to educate them in their own faith, and sometimes to adopt them for their own children. The greatest men of the Ottoman empire are well known to have been originally slaves brought up in the seraglio : and the Mameluke sovereigns of Egypt were originally slaves. Thus the advancement of the Hebrew captive Joseph to be viceroy of Egypt, and of Daniel, another Hebrew slave, to be chief minister of state in Babylon, corresponds with the modern usages of the East. In order to mitigate the condition of slaves, various statutes were enacted by Moses. Thus, 1. They were to be treated with humanity: the law, in Levit. xxv. 39–53., it is true, speaks expressly of slaves who were of Hebrew descent; but, as alien-born slaves were ingrafted into the Hebrew church by circumcision, there is no doubt but that it applied to all slaves.—2. If a man struck his servant or maid with a rod or staff, and he or she died under his hand, he was to be punished by the magistrate: if, however, the slave survived for a day or two, the master was to go unpunished, as no intention of murder could be presumed, and the loss of the slave was deemed a sufficient punishment. (Exod. xxi. 20, 21.)—3. A slave, who lost an eye or a tooth by a blow from his or her master, ac-. quired his or her liberty in consequence. (Exod. xx. 26, 27.)— 4. All slaves were to rest from their labours on the Sabbath, and on the great festivals. (Exod. xx. 10. Deut. v. 14.)—5. They were to be invited to certain feasts. (Deut. xii. 17, 18. xvi. 11.)–6. A master who had betrothed a female slave to himself, if she did not please him, was to permit her to be redeemed, and was prohibited from selling her to a strange nation, seeing he had dealt deceitfully with her. If he had betrothed her to his son, he was to deal with her after the manner of daughters. If he took another wife, her food, raiment, and duty of marriage, he was not to diminish. ...And if he did not these three unto her, then she was to go out free without money. (Exod. xxi. 7–11.)—7. Hebrew slaves were to continue in slavery only till the year of jubilee, when they might return to liberty, and their masters could not detain them against their wills. If they were desirous of continuing with their masters, they were to be brought to the judges, before whom they were to make a declaration that for this time they disclaimed the privilege of this law; and had their ears bored through with an awl against the door-posts of their master's house,' after which they had no longer any power of

J l o of the car was an antient custom in the East: it is thus referred to, by uvenal : 2: . Libertinus prior est: “Prior, inquit, “Ego adsum, Cur timean, dubitemve locum defendere? quamvis ‘Yotus ad Euphratem, molles quod in Auke FENEstes Arguerint, licet ipse negem.” • Sat. i. 102–105.

recovering their liberty until the next year of jubilee, aster forty-nine years. (Exod. xxi. 5, 6.) This very significant ceremony implied that they were closely attached to that house and family; and that they were bound to hear, and punctually to obey, all their master's orders.-S. If a Hebrew by birth was sold to a stranger or alien dwelling in the vicinity of the land of Israel, his relations were to redeem him, and such slave was to make good the purchase money if lie were able, paying in proportion to the number of years that remained, until the year of jubilee. (Levit. xxv. 47–55.) Lastly, if a slave of another mation fled to the Hebrews, he was to be received hospitably, and on no account to be given up to his master. (Deut. xxiii. 15, 16.) III. Although Moses inculcated the duty of humane treatment towards slaves, and enforced his statutes by various strong sanctions, yet it appears from Jer. xxxiv. 8–22. that their condition was sometimes very wretched. It cannot, however, be denied that their situation was much more tolerable among the Hebrews than among other nations, especially the Greeks and Romans." Nor is this a matter of astonishment: for the Israelites were bound to exercise the duties of humanity towards these unhappy persons by weighty sanctions and motives, which no other nation had, whose slaves had no rest, no legal protection, and who were subject to the cruel caprice of their masters, whose absolute property they were, and at whose mercy their lives every moment lay. For the slightest and most trivial offences they were cruelly scourged and condemned to hard labour: and the petty tyrant of his family, when exasperated by any real or apprehended injury, could nail them to a cross, and make them die in a lingering and most miserable manner. These slaves, generally, were wretched captives, who had been taken prisoners in unfortunate battles, or had fallen into their enemies' hands in the siege of cities. These miserable captives, antient history informs us, were either butchered in cold blood, or sold by auction

The freedman, bustling through, replies, “First come is still

First served ; and I may claim my right and will,

Though born a slare—(twere bootless to deny

What these Boked EARs betray to every eye.)” Gifford. Calmet, to whom we are indebted for this fact, quotes a saying from Petronius Arbiter, as attesting the same thing; and another, of Cicero, in which he rallies a Lybian who pretended he did not hear him.—‘It is not,’ said the philosopher, ‘bccause your ears are not sufficiently bored.’—Commentaire Littéral, sur l'Exode xxi. 6 p. tom. i. p. 501.

1 Among the Romans more particularly, slaves were held—pro nullis—pro

mortuis—pro quadrupedibus—for no men—for dead men—for beasts; nay, were in a much worse state than any cattle whatever. They had no head in the state, no name, no tribe, or register. They were not capable of being injured, nor could they take by purchase or descent ; they had no heirs, and could make no will. Exclusive of what was called their pcculium, whatever they acquired was their master's; they could neither plead nor be pleaded, but were entirely excluded from all civil concerns; were not entitled to the rights of matrimony, and therefore had no relief in case of adultery; nor were they proper objects of cognation nor affiniity. They might be sold, transferred, or pawned, like other goods or personal estate ; for goods they were, and as such they were esteemed. Taylor's Elements of ". o Civil Law, p. 429, 4to. Adams' Summary of Roman Antiquities, Pp. 38, 39.

« AnteriorContinua »