The Bible on Slavery

What the Christian Scholars say

By Sami Zaatari



I have already documented slavery in the Bible in a couple articles of mine, which can be found here:


In this latest article of mine, I shall repost the biblical verses on slavery, this time providing what the Christian scholars have to say about these verses, basically Christian commentary on the Bible (tafsir).

By doing this it will strengthen the Muslims arguments, and will not allow Christians to claim that we are mis-interpreting these verses or twisting them around.


With that being said, we now post the biblical verses on slavery, I shall post them one by one, followed with the commentary from Christian scholars.


However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you.  You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land.  You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritanceYou may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way.  


Leviticus 25:44-46


These verses are not just cruel, since they let the Israelites make a slave for life, they are also racist since Israelites are not allowed to become slaves, only if someone is not an Israelite can they be your slave and property.


The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible:

Both thy bondmen, and thy bondmaids, which thou shalt have,
&c.] Such it seems were allowed them, if they had need of them; but if they had them, they were to be not of the nation of
Israel, but of other nations; this is an anticipation of an objection, as Jarchi observes; if so, who shall I have to minister to me? The answer follows, they [shall be] of the heathen that are round about thee, of them shall ye
buy bondmen and bondmaids;
that is, of the Ammonites, Moabites, Edomites, and Syrians, as Aben Ezra, that were their neighbours, that lived round about them, of any but the seven nations, which they were ordered utterly to destroy; wherefore Jarchi observes it is said, "that are round about thee"; not in the midst of the border of your land, for them they were not to save alive, (
Deuteronomy 20:16) .

Moreover, of the children of the strangers, that do sojourn
among you.
The uncircumcised sojourners as they are called in the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, proselytes of the gate, such of the nations round about who came and sojourned among them, being subject to the precepts given to the sons of Noah respecting idolatry. but were not circumcised, and did not embrace the Jewish religion: of them shall ye buy;
for bondmen and bondmaids: and of their families that [are] with you, which they begat in your
but, as the Targum of Jonathan adds, are not of the Canaanites; though the Jewish writers F24 say, that one of the nations that lies with a Canaanitish woman, and begets a son of her, he may be bought for a servant; and so if a Canaanitish man lies with one of the nations, and begets a son of her, he may also be bought for a servant: and they shall be your possession;
as servants, as bondmen and bondmaids, and be so for ever to them and their heirs, as follows.

And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children
after you.
Which they might leave them at their death to inherit, as they did their estates and lands; for such servants are, with the Jews F25, said to be like immovable goods, as fields, vineyards, to inherit [them for] a possession;
as their property, as anything else that was bequeathed to hem, as negroes now are in our plantations abroad
: thy shall be your bondmen for ever;
and not be released at the year jubilee, nor before nor after; unless they obtained their liberty, either by purchase, which they might make themselves, or by the means of others, or else by a writing under their master's hand dismissing them from his service F26; or in case they were maimed by him, then he was obliged to let them go free, (
Exodus 21:26,27) ; but over your brethren, the children of Israel, ye shall not rule one
over another with rigour;
which repeated for the confirmation of it, and for the fuller explanation and description of the person not to be ruled over with rigour; and that it might be the more taken notice of, and to make them the more careful in the observance of it and though this peculiarly respects masters' treatment of their servants, yet Jarchi thinks it comprehends a prince over his people, and a king over his ministers, whom he may not rule with rigour.

So note what this Christian commentator is saying! He is saying the way Israelites treat their slaves and pass them on is the same as how the whites treated black slaves! WOW! So if you ever wonder why racism was so high by white American Christians on black Africans, now you know! It is because their Bible allowed them to do such acts.

Also a reminder to the readers, this commentator is CHRISTIAN, and I am quoting from A CHRISTIAN SOURCE. Furthermore, even Sam Shamoun of Answering-Islam used John Gill's Biblical commentary in one of his articles:

The New John Gill's Exposition of the Bible


That all men should honour the Son.

This is the end of all judgment, and the exercise of all authority, and power being committed to him; namely, that he might have the honour given him by men that is due unto him:

even as they honour the Father;

that the same honour and glory may be given to the one, as to the other, which must never have been done was he not equal with him, since he gives not his glory to another, (Isaiah 42:8) (48:11). Indeed, all men do not honour the Father as they should; the Gentiles, who had some knowledge of God, glorified him not as God; and the Jews, who had an external revelation of the one, true, and living God, which other nations had not, yet were greatly deficient in honouring him


So this commentary is used by Answering-Islam. And John Gill's Bible commentary is one widely used commentary for the Bible, it isn't a weak commentary.

Moving on:


Exodus 21:7-11


When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl's owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment.


John Gill's commentary:

Exodus 21:7

And if a man sell his daughter to be a maidservant.
That is, if an Israelite, as the Targum of Jonathan, sells his little daughter, as the same Targum, and so Jarchi and Aben Ezra, one that is under age, that is not arrived to the age of twelve years and a day, and this through poverty; he not being able to support himself and his family, puts his daughter out to service, or rather sells her to be a servant:

she shall not go out as the menservants do;
that are sold, before described; or rather, according to the Targum,

``as the Canaanitish servants go out, who are made free, because of a tooth, or an eye, (the loss of them, (Exodus 21:26,27) ) but in the years of release, and with the signs (of puberty), and in the jubilee, and at the death of their masters, with redemption of silver,''

so Jarchi.


If she please not her master.
"Be evil in the eyes of her master" F16; and he has no liking of her, and love to her, not being agreeable in her person, temper, or conduct, so that he does not choose to make her his wife:

who hath betrothed her to him;
but not completed the marriage, as he promised, when he bought her, or at least gave reason to expect that he would; for, according to the Jewish canons, a Hebrew handmaid might not be sold but to one who laid himself under obligation to espouse her to himself, or his son, when she was fit to be betrothed F17; and so Jarchi says, he ought to espouse her, and take her to be his wife, for the money of her purchase is the money of her espousals. There is a double reading of this passage, the Keri, or marginal reading we follow; the Cetib, or written text, is, "who hath not betrothed her", both may be taken in, "who hath not betrothed her to him", as he said he would, or as it was expected he should; for, had she been really betrothed, what follows could not have been done:

then shall he let her be redeemed;
she being at age, and fit for marriage, and her master not caring to marry her, her father shall redeem her, as the Targum of Jonathan; it was incumbent on him to do that, as it was on her master to let her be redeemed, to admit of the redemption of her; or whether, as Aben Ezra says, she redeemed herself, or her father, or one of her relations, if she was near the six years (the end of them), they reckoned how many years she had served, and how many were yet to the seventh, or to the time that she is in her own power, and according to the computation was the redemption: thus, for instance, as it is by others F18 put, if she was bought for six pounds, then one pound is the service of every year; and if she redeemed herself, her master took off of the money for the years she had served; or thus F19, if she was bought for sixty pence, and had served two years, he must pay her forty pence, and so free her:

to sell her unto a strange nation, he shall
have no power; that is, to another man, as both the Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan, even to an Israelite that was of another family, to whom the right of redemption did not belong; for to sell an Israelite, man or woman, to a Gentile, or one of another nation, was not allowed of in any case, as Josephus


Exodus 21:20-21

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


John Gill's commentary:

And if a man smite his servant or his maid with a rod.
A Canaanitish servant or maid, as the Targum of Jonathan, and so Jarchi; and that only with a rod for the correction of them, and not with a sword or any such destroying weapon, which would seem as though he intended to kill, yet nevertheless:

and he die under his hand;
immediately, while he is smiting or beating him or her, on the same day, as the above Targum interprets it:

he shall be surely punished;
or condemned to the punishment of being slain with the sword, as the said Targum and Jarchi explain it: this law was made to deter masters from using severity and cruelty towards their servants.

Notwithstanding, if he continue a day or two.
And does not die immediately, or the same day, but lives twenty four hours, as the Jewish writers interpret it; so Abendana F24 explains the phrase, "a day or two";

``a day which is as two days, and they are twenty four hours from time to time,''

that is, from the time he was smitten to the time of his continuance; and so it is elsewhere explained F25 by a day we understand a day, which is like two days, that is, from time to time, the meaning of which is, from a certain time in one day to the same in another:

he shall not be punished;
that is, with death;

for he [is] his money;
is bought with his money, and is good as money, and therefore it is a loss sufficient to him to lose him; and it may be reasonably thought he did not smite his servant with an intention to kill him, since he himself is the loser by it.

So as you can see, if the slave doesn't die, then there is no punishment, it is just a loss for the owner since the slave is too hurt to work! WOW! So this means, you can hurt your slave as much as you want, just make sure IT doesn't die, and the reason I say IT is because it is clear the Bible regards slaves as mere processions, an object, like land, and not a human being.

Adam Clarke's commentary writes:

Verse 21. If the slave who had been beaten by his master died under his hand, the master was punished with death; see Genesis 9:5,6. But if he survived the beating a day or two the master was not punished, because it might be presumed that the man died through some other cause. And all penal laws should be construed as favourably as possible to the accused.

So again, as you see, if the slave does not die, there is no punishment, meaning it is legit to beat your slave as much as you want to.

So as you can see, the Bible's slavery in the OT is no different than the slavery inflicted upon black people by white Americans and white Europeans, they got these racist slavery attitudes straight from the bible, even the Biblical commentator said they are the same!

And Allah Knows Best!