Well, I slogged my way through the next three chapters of Bible Defence Of Slavery. (See the link above, for the first three, plus preamble.)
I could write another long intro, but, frankly, my brain's gone numb. Much of this section involves all those tedious (not to mention overbearingly repetitive—this bloke really did want to drive his point home) Biblical minutiae I mentioned in my Venting post, yesterday and… let's just say it's been a slog.
Mind you, the one I'm about to start on (following a large coffee), is where the author proposes to show how inferior black people are, by design of Gawd Awmighty 'imself. This, I suspect, is where it'll cross the line from being mostly composed of material you generally only come across when fundamentalists try to deny the immorality of much of the Bible, to the nastier, more directly derogatory material which is still, to this day, reflected in the views of far too many racist bigots. I've a feeling I'll be getting nostalgic for boring minutiae before long.
Anyways, here's chapters four, five and six.
Proofs from the Scriptures, that the curse of Noah upon the race of Ham, as a judicial act, is indorsed by the law of Moses—Comparative view of all the orders of servants among the Jews, as the hired Hebrew servant, the bought Hebrew servant, the voluntary Hebrew servant, and the Negro or Canaanite slave—Remarks on the subject of the strangers, of whom the Jews might take usury, and of whom they might not take usury—Respecting who the strangers were, who they should not enslave, or use as bondmen—A seeming contradiction in the law on this subject reconciled—Perpetual slaves to be bought of the Negro heathen of old Canaan, as directed by the law—Strictures on Abolitionist opinions, respecting the meaning of the law relative to servants—Character of Noah and Lot rescued from abolitionist aspersions—Strictures on the opinions of abolitionists, respecting the word BUY, as applied to the purchase of bondmen, in the law of Moses, with other matters of their setting forth—Difference between the condition of Hebrew servants and their Canaanite slaves, with respect to the jubilees, and other matters—Proofs that the Hebrews bought and sold Negro slaves under the sanction of the law; even going to Africa for that purpose—Enslaving of the persons of the Amalekites under the eye of Moses—Slaves of the patriarchs bought with money—A curious query of abolitionists answered, with many other matters.
AS remarked at the close of the foregoing section, it will be our endeavor in the following to ascertain whether, in the law of Moses, the judicial act of God against the race of Ham, as announced by Noah, was indorsed, and acted upon accordingly, by the Hebrews.
To do this, it will not be necessary to prove, in this section, that the inhabitants of Canaan, whom the Jews were to destroy, were of the genealogy of Ham, including the whole seven nations of that country, and were the direct descendants of this man through CANAAN, a son of his, as all this has been done in the fourth section of the work, and elsewhere.
On this account, our labor is therefore straight before us, namely, to ascertain whether, in the law of Moses, the curse of Noah against Ham and his people, is actually recognized, indorsed, and acted upon as judicial, in relation to their enslavement, in the strict and literal sense of the word.
In a certain chapter of the book of Leviticus, namely, the 25th, are found sundry directions embodied in the law of Sinai, respecting servants of various kinds. Here it is found written, that any Hebrew having bought, not hired, a Hebrew servant, should not be oppressed, or ruled over with rigor, as they would rule over or oppress a BONDMAN, not derived from the Hebrew stock.
From the 35th to the 46th verse inclusive, of the above named chapter, it is written as follows, except the words included in brackets, which are inserted to carry out, and to distinguish the true meaning, and to prevent confusion:
“And if thy BROTHER [a Hebrew, one of the twelve tribes] be waxen poor, and fall into decay with thee [or in thy midst] then thou shalt relieve him, yea, though he be a stranger [far from his own tribe] or a sojourner [one who had come from, another tribe,] that he may live with thee. Take thou no usury of him, or increase, but fear thy God [in this thing] that thy brother [a Hebrew, or of the Hebrew blood, not a negro] may live with thee. Thou shalt not give him [that is, a Hebrew brother, one of the tribes] thy money upon usury, nor lend him thy victuals for increase. And if thy brother [not a Hamite,] that dwelleth by thee, be waxen poor, and he be sold unto thee [on any account,] thou shalt not compel him to serve as a bond servant: but as a hired servant, and as a [Hebrew brother, one of the tribes] sojourner, he shall be with thee, and serve thee unto the year of jubilee; and then shall he depart from thee [that is, if he desire to do so,] both he and his children [if he has any] with him, and shall return unto his own family [or tribe,] and unto the possession of his fathers shall he return; for they are my servants, which I brought out of the land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as BONDMEN. Thou shalt not rule over him [or such an one] with rigor [as you may over a bond slave,] but shalt fear thy God [in this particular].”
From the above, it is clear that by the term BROTHER, no other character is specified as being entitled to the above named privileges, as paupers, of whom no usury was to be taken for money or victuals, but a regular Hebrew, or one of the twelve tribes. This is made clear by the qualifying words of the account, which says, “for they are my servants, which I brought out of the land of Egypt:” Now God brought no Canaanites or negroes out of Egypt, they were wholly of the twelve tribes of the Hebrews.
Thus we see that Moses marked out in the law the difference there was between bond servants, hired servants, and servants of the Hebrew tribes, who might be sold, on account of their poverty.
But in the law there are other strangers alluded to, who were neither of any of the twelve tribes, nor of the Canaanite race, of whom the Hebrews might take usury of money or victuals (Deut. xxiii, 20), but could not legally make bond men of them.
These were the race of Shem, and not of the twelve tribe community, who were dwelling in the surrounding countries. Of such there were many in the time of Moses, as well as during the whole existence of the Jewish people, as a kingdom or government, who, in the law, are never called heathen, as were all the negro race.
There were the descendants of Lot, Abraham’s half brother. There were the children of Katura, born to Abraham long before the birth of Isaac, who, when they were grown up and married, were sent eastward with their inheritances. See Gen. xxv, from the 1st to the 6th verse inclusive. By this first marriage, Abraham had no less than six sons, who, according to the history of them given in the above tract in the Book of Genesis, were the fathers of multitudes, all of whom settled eastward of Chaldea, and took place before God commanded Abraham to leave his father’s house in Haran in old Chaldea, east of the river Euphrates, in order to go to the country of Canaan, far to the south-west. We come to this conclusion, respecting Abraham, from the necessity of the case, for Abraham was, at the death of Sarah, one hundred and thirty-seven years old, as he was ten years older than his wife, who died at the age of one hundred and twenty-seven. Gen. xxiii, 1. Of necessity, therefore Abraham’s wife Katura was his first wife, who he had married in his youth, and was dead when he took Sarah, and came to Canaan, on which account his great age, that of one hundred and thirty-seven years, he could not have been the father of the above named six sons after the death of Sarah, as the order of the history in Genesis xxv seems to intimate, which is a mistake of the Hebrew copyists, and compilers of the ancient Scriptures.
Then there was Ishmael, the son of Hagar, the Egyptian bond servant of Sarah, born to Abraham, of whom came many nations now known, as in ancient times, as Arabs or Ishmaelites. These were also the descendants of Esau, the brother of Jacob, who were known as the Idumeans. There were the descendants of Laban, the Syrian, a near relation of Abraham, all of whom, together with those above named, amounted to millions in the time of the giving of the law, and during the nationality of the Jews, who were the strangers alluded to, of whom the Hebrews might take usury, or interest, for lent victuals or lent money, as it is specifically stated in Deut. xxiii, 20, but not of their brethren, which appellation brother always meant a member of the great confederacy of the twelve tribes, and nobody else. That this was the case respecting the term strangers, we have the favoring opinion of Adam Clarke, in his remarks on the 2 Chron. xv, 9. The text reads as follows: “And he (Asa) gathered all Judah and Benjamin, and the strangers with them out of Ephraim, Manassah and Simeon.”
From this it is clear that members of the twelve tribes were called strangers, if dwelling at a distance from Judea, or the capital, who were not to be charged with usury on any account, while other strangers should be. Of their brethren, therefore, they could not take usury, but of all strangers they might, whether black, white or red.
But of no stranger did the law of Moses allow bond men or bond maids to be made, except of the negro or Hamite race, for to that people alone did the curse of servitude refer, which fact was as well known to Moses as to God, and all the Hebrew tribes, as well as to the people of Ham themselves, with all other nations.
That the law of Moses did not allow of any stranger being oppressed in the matter of slavery, who were not of the race of Ham, is shown. Exodus xxii, 21, where it is written, “thou shalt neither vex a stranger nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.” And yet for the very purpose of oppressing and vexing the negro Canaanites, the Jews were sent into the land of Canaan, by which it is most evident, that the term stranger in the law did not apply to that people, the Canaanites, in the palliative or merciful sense.
But how is this? says one; the text just now quoted out of Exodus xxii, 21, straightly says, that no stranger should be oppressed nor vexed, and yet, from Levit. xxv, 45, it appears that strangers might be sold and bought for slaves or bondmen; is not this a plain contradiction, one text forbidding the oppression of a stranger, and another allowing it, and both passages written in the same law, and apparently about the same thing?
The following is the solution, or, as it appears to the mind of the writer, there is no solution at all to these seemingly contradictory scriptures.
When Moses in the law, and at the 25th division or chapter of the part called Leviticus, had made an end of his remarks and directions about various kinds of servants, with other matters, introduced a new subject (see verse 44), namely, that of unqualified slavery, or of bond servants, which he commences 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.”
In this passage it is clear, that the law of Moses peremptorily directed, that all their perpetual slaves, or bond servants, should be procured from among the heathen negro race, the very people to whom the curse of Noah referred, and are always referred to as heathens, whether Canaanites, Egyptians, Lybians or Ethiopians, all of whom are referred to as HEATHEN, in the most emphatic sense of the word, in the law.
The terms gentile and heathen, as used in the Scriptures, seems always to be of synonymous import; but in the law of Moses it would appear that the word heathen designated solely the people of Canaan, and the other branches of the negro race. The term gentile is not found in any of the books of the law of Moses, properly so called; for the book of Genesis is not to be numbered as any part of the law or code of that legislator. The law does not properly commence until the book of Exodus, and runs through the remaining four, commonly called the books of Moses.
On account of the absence of the word or term gentile, in the books of the law, properly so called (for the book of Genesis is but a narrative or history of the first ages of the earth, and no part of the law), we conclude that the word heathen, as used in the law by Moses, referred solely to the Canaanites, and to their race, the blacks or negroes in general. We are the more confirmed in this opinion, because Moses himself calls the people of JAPHETH, who were white men, GENTILES. See Genesis x, 5.
In that chapter, namely, the 10th, Moses has given an account of three races of men, the sons of Noah, and what they were called as nations. In this account, which is the eldest of all history, at the 5th verse of the chapter above named, the descendants of Japheth are called gentiles, in distinction from the other two races, those of Shem and Ham.
In after ages, however, the terms gentile and heathen seem to have become synonymous, as referring to all the people of the globe, except the Jews. But in the law the word gentile does not occur. The word heathen, therefore, as used by Moses, referred exclusively at that time to the negro race, and to no other people: this opinion cannot be refuted.
The term heathen therefore as used in the law, referred entirely to the race of Ham, who had been judicially condemned to a condition of servitude, more than eight hundred years before the giving of the law, by the mouth of Noah, the medium of the Holy Ghost.
The law was given from Mount Sinai, which was southward from Canaan. Now Moses said in the law, that when they (the Jews), should come into that country, that of the heathen round about them, they should make bondmen, or slaves of the people in those regions; and as there were no other people inhabiting old Canaan but the negroes of the race of Ham, it is certain that by the term heathen, no other people were alluded to.
In the time of St. Paul, the term gentile (as in the days of Noah, see Gen. x, 5) referred to the nations of the white race; as it is written by that apostle, in several of his letters to the churches, that he was the apostle of the gentiles. Can it be shown that Paul ever preached to a negro people at all? If not, then it follows that the word gentile, still referred to white men, in his time, as to Greeks, Romans, Gauls, Italians, Spaniards, and other nations of the north, but never to the negro race.
The strangers, therefore, to whom Moses alluded in Levit. xxv, 45, were the people of Ham, in all countries, whether Canaan, Egypt, Ethiopia, Lybia, or any other country or place inhabited by negroes.
This distinction is made still more clear by St. Luke xxi, 24, where the power which was finally to destroy Jerusalem, is called “the gentiles,” who, it is well known, were the Romans, an empire of white men. This is further proven from the statement of that apostle, in Acts xxviii, 28, who, while at Rome, was a prisoner. In that passage it is said that as the Jews rejected the gospel, that he should turn to the gentiles, and that they would receive it. Paul was then in the very heart of the Roman or gentile states, and, therefore, of necessity, proves that the term signified no other race, but that of the whites.
This verse, therefore, the 45th, of the 25th of Leviticus, must be considered as the context or guide, in relation to the word stranger on this subject; consequently, in verse the 46th, the one which follows the text above quoted, is qualified by the first. If so, then the word stranger, there used, refers not to any of the Shemite or Japhethic races, but only to the heathen race of Ham.
With this view, all is made right, the stranger of Exodus xxii, 21, signifying all people not of the negro race; while the stranger of Leviticus xxv, 45, refers to all negroes, or people of Ham, though not strictly Canaanites, as, doubtless, there were among the Canaanites always, more or less, people, families, and even whole tribes, of the other families of Ham’s lineage, such as Egyptians, Lybians and Ethiopians, who might properly be denominated strangers in Canaan, or heathens of those descents from other countries than those of Canaan. Thus we have reconciled the two contradicting passages, as we believe, in the estimation of all candid men.
Having thus cleared up a difficulty in the law of Moses, which has misled many a fierce abolition writer, and probably others, we pass to the main subject, that of ascertaining whether the law of Moses did indorse and inculcate the doctrine of the curse of Noah upon the children of Ham, which we affirm was the fact. The proof of this is direct and unequivocal, furnished from the law of that great legislator of the Jews, Moses, who was the immediate agent of Jehovah himself to that people. See Levit. xxv, from the 44th to the 46th verse inclusive, which reads as follows:
“Both thy bond men and thy bond maids which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about; of them shall ye buy [not hire] bond men and bond maids. Moreover, of the children of the strangers [that is, the children of negroes, foreign to Canaan, who might be dwelling among the Canaanites], that do [or may] sojourn with you, of them shall ye buy [children], and of their families that are with you, which they beget [or might beget] in your land [Canaan, after the Jews should possess it], and they shall be your possession. And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them as a possession: they shall be your bond men forever!”
Was this buying the children of the heathen Canaanites, and using them as bond men and bond maids, or, in other words, as slaves, nothing, after all, but a privilege granted by Moses to the Hebrews of hiring them—as is pretended by abolitionists, in order to get rid of the force of those passages of the law in support of the enslaving the negro race?
But men as wise as any of these, even CLARKE and BENSON, in their renowned commentaries of the Scriptures, have not gainsaid their meaning in this particular: these champions of knowledge, though English abolitionist, pass entirely over those extraordinary passages without one solitary remark. This strange omission is, in our opinion, as much as if they had said that the fact of the indorsement of the law of Moses upon the curse of Noah, in relation to the people of Ham, is here incontrovertibly made out, on which account, they were not bold enough, though abolitionists, to contradict that decision of heaven.
How is it that Adam Clarke, who was the most learned man in Christendom, and a man who has criticised, wisely and profoundly, on almost every verse of the Holy Scriptures, and particularly on those involving the most difficult subjects, should have thus passed silently over this remarkable trait in the book of the law? Had he considered that portion of the holy text above his comprehension, or beyond the reach of human understanding, and as containing matter too obscure for the lights of science and criticism to penetrate, he would have said as much; but this he has not done.
Other commentators, however, have not thus with-held their opinions on these passages, although the doctrine contained in them is exceedingly repulsive to the minds of many. Among such as have ventured an opinion is Dr. John Gill, a Baptist commentator on the Holy Scriptures, of great learning, who wrote before the times of abolitionism. This divine has boldly asserted, as every unprejudiced reader would do, that the Hebrews, in those three famous verses of the law, were allowed to have real bond men, or slaves. The following are his words on the 46th verse of the 25th chapter of Leviticus, which reads: “And ye shall take them as an inheritance for your children after you.” Such servants “they might leave at their death to be inherited, as they did their estates and lands; for such servants are (says Gill) esteemed by the Jews to be like immoveable property, as fields, vineyards, &c., to inherit them for a possession as their property, like any thing else that was bequeathed to them, as negroes now are in our plantations abroad: they were to be their bond men for ever, and not to be released at the year of Jubilee.”
The above is a true comment; for in every age the Jews, as well as the more ancient Hebrews, their ancestors, have reckoned their bond slaves as property; and thus every commentator, in every age and language, upon the Holy Scriptures, have determined, except of late, as in the persons of all abolitionists.
Respecting the opinions and speculations of some of these men, who are the leaders of the party, and agitators of the subject of negro emancipation in America, we give the following as their views of the meaning of the law of Moses, as it regards bond slaves.
See a series of pamphlets, entitled “The Bible against Slavery,” 1838. This writer dashes boldly into the matter, and at once settles the subject for ever. Of this work, see a note, page 9, 4th edition, which reads as follows: “The Bible record of actions is no comment on their moral character. It vouches for them as mere facts, not as virtues. It records without rebuke, Noah’s drunkenness, Lot’s incest, and the lies of Jacob and his mother, not only single acts, but usages, such as polygamy and concubinage; all these are entered on the divine record without censure. Is that silent entry God’s indorsement? Because the Bible, in its catalogue of human actions, does not stamp on every crime its name and number, and write—this is a crime, does that wash out its guilt and bleach it into a virtue?”
The writer of the note above alluded to is combating the belief which has always been entertained from the reading of the passages in the 25th of Leviticus, as above quoted, that the Hebrews might, if they would, enslave the people of old Canaan, and endeavors to give them another meaning. He informs the reader, in that note, that the statements of Moses, on the subject of slavery, as they related to the race of Ham, were nothing but a record of crimes, written against his countrymen for thus enslaving the Canaanites—and this is the opinion of all abolitionists.
He allows, it is true, that Moses did not blame the Hebrews for enslaving the Canaanites and the strangers of the Hamite race dwelling among them, but that he made an entry in the book of the law of that dreadful sin; but that entry was not an approval—it was a record only of the crime.
The above is a most singular opinion, and has as much of the dust of sophistry in its composition as any written remarks we have ever met with. To perceive this, we have only to recollect that when that permissive trait of the law of Moses was given, was more than forty years before the Jews got possession of the country of Canaan; how, therefore, could the remarks of Moses, which are found in Lev. xxv, 44–46, be a record of the crime of slavery, when the thing alluded to, prospectively, had not as yet been done by forty years or more. After the giving of the law from Mount Sinai, it was more than forty years before the Hebrews, under the conduct of Joshua, went through the river Jordan into the promised land.
Those famous passages, therefore, are not a record of what had been done already, but of what might be done when they should come to possess the country of old Canaan; avoid this conclusion he that can.
But further, we shall show the marks of a reckless hand, as detailed in the pamphlet above alluded to, where the Scriptures are shown up, as affording no reproof for certain wicked actions of certain wicked men, as held by abolitionists, such as Noah in his drunkenness, Lot in his incest, and the lies of Jacob and his mother, as well as the polygamy of the patriarchs; all of which are entered as a mere record without censure, says this writer.
But such is not the fact; for the Scriptures say that no drunkard can inherit the kingdom of heaven, 1 Cor. vi, 9, 10, nor incestuous person or fornicator. In Deut. xxi, 20–21, it is said, that if a son was a […] drunkard, he should be stoned to death. This is a reproof of those crimes with a vengeance.
We could multiply, even from the Old Testament, reproofs for sins of the kinds above named.
As to polygamy, the Scriptures do no where say that a man might have more than one wife, neither in the Old nor the New Testament. By the Savior, it is strictly or impliedly forbidden. Matt, xix, 5–8; and was it not the Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave the law from Sinai to Moses and the Jews? Is it likely, therefore, that Christ in the law would allow polygamy by a direct precept, when he has said, in the verses above quoted, that from the beginning it was not so?
It is true, however, that Moses, in the law, did suppose (Deut. xxi, 15) the case of a man having two wives, and has there prescribed certain regulations respecting the children of such wives, but does not, in so many words, any where say that his people might have more wives than one at a time, nor had Moses himself ever but one wife. It is true, also, that he gave a power to the Jews to put away a wife by divorce, who did not please them; but even this allowance was done out of mercy to the woman; for on this very subject Jesus Christ said that Moses allowed it to be done on account of the hardness of their hearts, or cruelty to their wives: but from the beginning it was not true that a man might have a plurality of wives. On this subject, the Savior founds his argument against polygamy, namely, that God, or himself, who was God, in the beginning made them male and female, and married them to each other, adding, that as God had put them together by marriage, that no man could, legally or morally, put them asunder, except for but one cause only. Are we, therefore, to imagine that the author of both codes of law, the Gospel and the Pentateuch, would thus contradict his own eternal views of morality? Accordingly, there is found no such admission in the law of Moses, but exactly the contrary.
It is true, however, that polygamy was practiced to a great extent during all the ages of the Jewish history; but the writer of these pages is not prepared to say that the law of God allowed it, or that the Scriptures, even of the Old Testament, have not reproved it, but otherwise; for it is written by Nehemiah, xiii, 26, that Solomon, who had many wives, sinned against God and his own soul by doing so. This passage we consider a direct censure of the practice, as well as the remarks of the Savior, in Matt, xix, 5, who said that it was not so from the beginning, and, consequently, could not have been allowed in the old law. See Deut. xvii, 17, where it is written, that when the people of the Hebrews should come to possess the country of Canaan, and they should desire a king, one from among their brethren of the twelve tribes, he was not to multiply wives. Two is a multiplication of one. More wives than one, therefore, was forbidden by the law of Moses, and although that good trait of the law was never so much violated in that respect by all the Jews under heaven in those ages, yet this does not make it out that the Scriptures allowed polygamy, or did not reprove the practice as a sin.
But the author of the note above alluded to appears willing to have it pass that the Scriptures do not reprove sin, especially in the Old Testament, even though the sins were drunkenness, polygamy, incest and lying, but merely speaks of them as a simple entry or record of such deeds and acts. This mighty stretch of opinion is introduced in order that the reader may be led to believe that when Moses, in the law, has said that the Hebrews should buy their bond men of the heathen, has only made a record of that great crime in this particular. To carry out and to impress this belief, the author of that series of pamphlets and of the note in question, does not hesitate to call Noah a drunkard, and Lot an incestuous person—two men, among five, of the most holy named on the pages of the divine oracles.
But as it relates to these two men, Noah and Lot, we maintain that they were not sinners in the alleged transactions. Noah, as we have said before, was an aged man, being over six hundred years old when he drank the wine spoken of by Moses, Gen. ix, 21; its effects, therefore, were undoubtedly wholly unforeseen by him, as by that time the iron nerves of his youth and maturer years were beginning to be reduced by weakness and the disabilities of age. A very little wine, therefore, might have disposed him to sleep, a condition far enough from a debauch, or an intended wreckless inebriation: if so, then he was no sinner in that affair, nor does the Scriptures intimate any such thing.
Had Noah been wickedly intoxicated, is it likely that the Holy Ghost would have communed with and inspired him, respecting the fortunes of mankind, who were to descend from his three sons, whose every word, on that occasion, Heaven had seen fit to fulfill? Never.
Neither was LOT a sinner, in the affair of his daughters; for the Scriptures plainly state (Gen. xix, 33–35), that when his daughters approached him in an improper way, he perceived it not, when they lay down with him, nor when they arose. There was no sin, therefore, in that transaction, on the part of Lot, as his mind did not consent to the deed, nor his perceptions take cognizance of the act. As to his drinking too much on that occasion, there can be no doubt but his daughters contrived some way to deceive him, by mixing wine with his food, or drink of water, till he became senseless.
As to the case of Jacob, in the matter of his lying to his father, when he said that he was the man Esau, this was far enough from being a good act, but was actually a wicked one.
But was not this sin reproved during the night, in which he slept on the mountain, at which time he was converted to God by the operation of the Holy Ghost, when he had the dream of the celestial ladder, and when he awoke and said: “God is in this place, and I knew it not.” Gen. xxviii, 16.
SURELY, this account is something more than a mere silent entry of the sin of lying, as it is a tacit record at least of the reproof, for how could it be pardoned except reproved and repented of? And besides, do not the Divine oracles every where reprove all liars, and in the New Testament threaten them with hell fire?
Thus briefly have we endeavored to rescue the character of the Bible, and the characters of two good and holy men, Noah and Lot, from the aspersions of a lawless pen—which pen, for no other purpose in the world, than by any means to get it to be believed that Moses did not, in the law, allow of direct slavery, has been willing thus to write, and to mystify the minds of readers, attempting to show that Moses, in all that he has said on the subject of slavery, has merely made a record of the crime, without reproof; though, as it happened, the crime was not perpetrated till some forty years or more after the record was made, as above remarked.
But we pass from this to another particular opinion of the author of “The Bible against Slavery.” See No. 6 of this series of pamphlets, year 1838, p. 17, and onward to the end of the chapter, where the word BUY, as used by Moses, in relation to the Hebrews making slaves of the Canaanites by purchase, is shown by that writer, according to his mode of reasoning, to mean, after all, nothing but to hire, instead of buy. Vast pains are taken by the writer of that work to show that because the word buy is sometimes used in the Scripture phraseology in application to some things which could not be sold, as wisdom, &c., that therefore, the word buy, as used by Moses, when he said the Hebrews might buy the children of the heathen negroes for slaves, did not mean purchase, but rather signified a reciprocal contract, entered into between the parents of such children and adult persons thus bought, and was, therefore, but a conditional bargain after all, which, if not fulfilled on the part of the buyer, rendered the bargain null and void.
Could this position be fairly sustained, the fact of real slavery, as supposed to have been practiced among the Hebrews, by the authority of their law, would cease to exist; but thus Moses does not state the case. In relation to bondmen, there was no condition, except that if a master should in anger smite out a tooth or an eye of his servant, then he might go free for his tooth or his eye’s sake, but there was no other condition by which he could go free, in the eye of that law, or be absolved from the condition of a slave or legal property.
If they were but once bought, they became perpetual slaves, to be inherited by the heirs of those who bought them, and of necessity liable to be sold again, whenever the owner should please to do so. This is the full, complete and unambiguous meaning of the 46th verse of the 25th of Leviticus, and all the parallel places in the book of the law. Thus reads the passage: “And ye shall take them, as an inheritance for your children after you, to inherit for a possession; they shall be your bondmen forever!”
The words inherit and possession are here used in the same property-sense in no wise differing from their use, when spoken in the promise of God to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and the Hebrews, respecting the possession of the land of Canaan, which was to be their real inheritance and possession forever, as soon as the time should come when they should enter upon it by conquest. This was all in futurity when promised, as it respected the land of the Canaanites; so also was the promise of the bodies of the inhabitants for slaves—one was equally as much a promise as was the other—of such as should not be slain in the subjugation of the country: there was no difference.
Now, to carry out this notion of the above mentioned pamphlets on the idea of the word buy, or possession, being no more than the word hire or contract, then the promised possession of the country of Canaan would, after all, amount to nothing more than to rent it, while the fee simple would have still remained in the hands of the Canaanites, who, instead of being slaves, and the possession of the Hebrews, would in reality have been the lords of the Hebrews.
The promise of the country of Canaan to the progeny of Abraham by Isaac, is multiplied in the old Scriptures almost without end, in the words inheritance, possession, &c.. Were those words making out those promises used in a delusive or uncertain sense, as if the possession of that country by the Hebrews, depended on the acquiescence of the Canaanites; but if not, then are the same words as used by Moses in the law, giving the persons of the Canaanites to be an inheritance and a possession of the same force and meaning that they are when used in relation to the land, notwithstanding the dodging of abolition writers about the words BUY and sell.
If the sense of this word, buy, in its most ordinary meaning, is turned aside in its application to the case in hand, then in a moment a multitude of the Scripture history of transactions between buyers and sellers, are rendered uncertain and doubtful. To give a few cases in prosecution of the idea, as follows:
The sons of Jacob went to Egypt to buy corn for their families—Gen. xlii, 2. Jacob bought a field of the Shechemites, in the land of Canaan, long before the time of Moses, for a hundred pieces of money Gen, xxxiii, 18, 19. There also was the case of Joseph, who was sold to the Ishmaelites, for twenty pieces of silver—Gen. xxxvii, 28; who was again sold to Potiphar, in Egypt—Gen. xxxix, 1.
In process of time, this Joseph bought all the land of Egypt, from the Egyptians, for the king, on account of the famine—Gen. xlvii, 20. In all these cases the usual terms of buy and sell as commonly applied in traffic, are resorted to, although one of these cases was the sale of the body and person of a man, namely, Joseph, or the thing bought, the same as any other goods or chattels.
During this famine, Joseph not only bought all the land of Egypt, but he also bought the Egyptians themselves, men, women and children, for corn.
Respecting the case of the Egyptians, we will give the whole account, that the reader may judge whether Joseph did actually buy the Egyptians as a man would buy any thing else. See Gen. xlvii, from the 15th to the 26th verse inclusive.
And when money failed in all the land of Egypt, all the Egyptians came to Joseph, and said: give us corn, for why should we die in thy presence, for the money faileth. And Joseph said, give your cattle, and I will give you food for your cattle if money fail [was not this a goods and chattels bargain?]. And they brought their cattle unto Joseph, and Joseph gave them bread in exchange for horses, and for flocks, and for the cattle of the herds, and for the asses—and he bought with bread all the cattle that year.
But to this account, Josephus adds, that with the cattle Joseph bought all their slaves. From this fact, it appears that the Egyptians had slaves, and that they sold them to Joseph, who did not refuse to buy them, which, had it been a sin to do so, as abolitionists contend, he would not have done it, famine or no famine.
But the story is not yet finished; for when the year was at an end, and their bread was gone, for which they had given their cattle and slaves, they came unto Joseph and said, “We will not hide it, how that our money is spent, also thou hast our herds of cattle; there is not aught left in the sight of our lord but our bodies and our lands. Wherefore shall we die before thine eyes, both we and our lands; buy us and our land for bread, and we and our land will be servants [slaves] unto Pharaoh.” And Joseph bought all the land of Egypt, for the Egyptians sold every man his field, because the famine prevailed over them, so that the land became Pharaoh’s; and as for the people, he removed them to cities, from one end of the borders of Egypt even to the other end thereof, having a right to do this in virtue of his purchase of their bodies.
Surely this was a bona fide contract, equally so with any other bargain, where the money is paid for the thing bought. And why should not this have been so, as there is no doubt but the king’s money, during the seven years of plenty, had bought, by the management of Joseph, all the grain the Egyptians had to spare, which he laid up in the granaries of the country.
This grain, therefore, was the property of the king, and it could not be parted with without an equivalent, and that equivalent was had in money, cattle, slaves, land, and finally the bodies of the Egyptians themselves, by which means they became even the slaves of Pharaoh.
But out of that condition, the generosity of their king, at the suggestion of his chief minister, Joseph the Hebrew, delivered them by making them an offer. This offer was, that they should receive seed at his hand, and should sow the land with that seed, and should forever thereafter give to Pharaoh one fifth of the increase as the price of their redemption. That this was a generous offer, and one which they might think themselves happy to have made to them, is shown from the remarks of Joseph on the occasion, which were as follows—Gen. xlvii, 23, “Then Joseph said unto the people, behold I have bought you this day, and your land for Pharaoh: lo! here is seed, and ye shall sow the land. And it shall come to pass, in the increase, that you shall give the fifth unto Pharaoh, and four parts shall be your own for the seed of the field, and for your food, and for your household, and for food for your little ones.”
Was this a reciprocal agreement between Pharaoh and the people?—never. It was a case of the most perfect dictation on the part of the owner of the people, in which, for a return of the money that had been laid out for grain during the seven years’ famine, Pharaoh said I will have one-fifth of the increase of the land for ever (which in all time before was not the case) as an equivalent for my money and its interest.
But what said the Egyptians to this mandate? Did they higgle at it, as men will do in making bargains, when the parties are independent of each other? No, they did not, as there was no alternative; but replied, as the most abject suppliants, “Thou hast saved our lives; let us find grace in the sight of our lord, and we will be Pharaoh’s servants.” Here the people were set free from absolute slavery, and exalted to the character of vassals, or renters of the land, which was not their condition prior to the famine—the revenues of the government having been collected in some other way.
If it were a true solution of the matter that the word buy signified, in ancient times, and in the Hebrew language, the law of Moses, &c., no more than to hire, excluding a third person in such a transaction, then it would follow that the corn which the sons of Jacob bought in Egypt was only hired; the parcel of land bought by Jacob of the Shechemites, for a certain price in silver, was only hired; the cave bought by Abraham of the children of Heth for a place of burial, for so much money by weight, was only hired; when Joseph was sold by his brethren to the Midianites, who bought him for twenty pieces of silver, it was nothing, after all, but hiring him out to those merchants.
Were this the true sense of the Scriptural word buy, then, indeed, as the abolitionists contend in their writings, all the bondmen of the negro race of old Canaan were but so many hired men and hired maids to the Hebrews. As to the word buy, in all languages, no matter how it is spoken, or how it sounds, the true and highest meaning of the word signifies to purchase any thing human beings traffic in. No matter what the article is, as the power of custom is able to make any thing an article of trade which is tangible—a human being, an ox, or a piece of land. After this, its first, highest and radical meaning, there are a number of other matters to which the word buy can be applied, and are called its accommodated, or secondary uses or meanings. For instance, a person’s education may cost much money, and yet, as education is not a tangible thing, it cannot he sold; and still it may be said that education was bought, even with money. But this is not strictly and literally true after all, as all the money in the world cannot buy a man an education; it is to be obtained only by intellectual exertions and individual study. In a case like this, therefore, the words buy and bought are used only in their secondary, figurative, or accommodated uses.
In this way it is said in Scripture, that men should buy wisdom and sell it not; that is, do not make an unwise or a foolish use of wisdom, or cast it not away. In relation to the means of man’s salvation, it is said that we are bought with a price, but not with money; and yet we are actually bought from immediate death, and eternal non-existence, in the loins of Adam when he fell, by the blood of the promised Messiah, prospectively shed for the race of man before the world was made; or we should never have had any existence at all, Adam and Eve alone excepted.
The practice of the Jews, in paying to the priesthood of their worship redemption money for their souls (see Numbers xviii, 15, and iii, 45, 51), was in some sense, no doubt, a typical thing—alluding to the need every man has of a Redeemer’s blood, to save his soul, and was also given in support of the worship of the altar, where Jehovah was adored. Now, what though money was paid in this and the other cases, as mentioned above, yet there was no transaction of the trafficking character, as is the fact when men buy and sell articles of tangible natures, the words buy, bought and sell being used here only in their secondary, accommodated or emblematical senses, and applied to moral or abstract subjects, and not to things tangible.
According to the law of Moses, just referred to, the first born of all the Hebrews was to be redeemed with money, which went to support the priesthood. Out of this fact, or from this fact, abolitionists, in their writings, will have it, that if the word buy, as used in Leviticus, 25th chapter, related to the purchase of bondmen from among the heathen Canaanites, by which they became property, that it ought to have the same meaning in the case of the redemption of the first born among the Hebrews, because they were redeemed with money, and were, therefore, as much bought as were the bondmen alluded to in Leviticus, and, of necessity, were equally an article of property.
But all this reasoning of theirs is but nonsense, of the poorest description—a mere shuffling of mixed up and confused ideas. This is apparent when we come to know who it was that were required thus to redeem the first born children at the hand of the priest. It was the parents who were required to do this, who could not, and did not thereby increase their right to their own children; neither could the priest seize and sell such children as were not thus redeemed; it was a sin of omission, to be punished by the Divine hand, and not by man, if the money was not paid at the altar, for their souls’ typical redemption.
Because the parents were required thus to redeem their children, in reference to God and the blood of the to be crucified Messiah, who was to come, therein acknowledging that they were bought prospectively, by the anticipated death of Christ, could in no possible way make bought slaves of such children, nor increase the natural or moral right the parents had to their offspring as Hebrews. Therefore, a parity of reasoning, as argued by abolitionists, cannot apply to the argument, as it respects the actual purchase of slaves, or to the word buy, as if this word could be tortured into the word redeem, as used in relation to the first born among the Hebrews. For arguments of this description, see “The Bible against Slavery,” No. 6, year 1838. page 18, and onward.
It is asserted by abolitionists, that between the buyer and the person bought, as spoken of, Leviticus xxv, whether it related to Hebrew servants, or to bond servants, bought of the heathen Canaanites, that there was a mutual stipulating between the parties—the buyer and the person bought. But this is not true; as no Hebrew person who was sold for debt, for theft, or for any other legal reason, had a word to say on the subject, as dictating the sale. For it was the law which sold the man or the woman, and not themselves; it was the law that did this, as it would sell, by the means of an auctioneer, any article of property now-a-days at auction; there was no other way to sell a delinquent debtor or a criminal. How, therefore, could the delinquent stipulate at all in the matter?
There is a case, however, stated in this same chapter, the 25th of Leviticus, occupying from the 47th to the 55th verse inclusive, where it is shown that a poor Hebrew might sell himself to his rich neighbor, in which, no doubt, there was, of necessity, and also of propriety, a stipulating of terms on the part of the man selling himself and the man who might buy him: this case we cannot see differed any way from a man hiring himself out till such time as his wages should pay the debt, or to the end of his life, if he would, as have many, in all ages. But if by any means he could redeem himself, or if his relations could redeem him, then they or he might do so, even though the time agreed on was not yet expired. But what has this case to do, or indeed any case of the Hebrew servitude, with the case of Canaanitish bondmen? We answer—nothing at all, in any possible way, so far as the law has any thing to say about it.
In relation to servants of the Hebrew character, in the law of Moses, there were many mitigating circumstances; but as to the negro or Canaanite bondman there was none, as it related to compensation in the light of wages, or of promised freedom [except the eye and tooth case]: not even the jubilees could reach their condition, as their state of servitude was to be for ever, from generation to generation—they were to be the everlasting possession or property of the Hebrews, their masters, to be disposed of by will, by sales, by gifts, or in any such way.
There is, in the law of Moses, a very great distinction made between the stranger servant, the bought Hebrew servant, the hired Hebrew servant, and the bond servant of the Canaanites, as was proper; for all the other kinds of servants were, in some way, of the Hebrew or Abrahamic lineage, descended through various channels from the blood of SHEM, as before shown; who were not to be oppressed as slaves and ruled over with rigor, in that particular, as were the bond servants of the Canaanitish or negro race.
But, says one who may be opposed to the views of the writer of this book, did not the great jubilee of the Jews, which took place every fiftieth year, set all slaves free? And does not the law positively refer to the case of bondmen of the Canaanitish description, who were slaves among the Hebrews? To this we answer, that the great jubilee had nothing to do with slaves or their liberties, in any way whatever. Our reasons for this belief we shall give as soon as we have read the law on the subject of the great jubilee and its immunities. . See Leviticus xxv, 8–10, 13, as follows:
“And thou shalt number seven sabbaths of years unto thee, seven times seven years, and the space of seven sabbaths of years shall be unto thee forty and nine years. Then shalt thou cause the trumpet of the jubilee to sound on the tenth day of the seventh month; in the day of atonement shall ye make the trumpet sound throughout all your land. And ye shall hallow the fiftieth year and proclaim liberty, throughout all the land, unto all the inhabitants thereof: it shall be a jubilee unto you; and ye shall return every man unto his family. In the year of this jubilee, ye shall return every man to his possession.”
That this great jubilee did not refer to the case of slaves or bond servants, we learn from the fact that slaves had no possessions in the country at all; and as the Hebrews, at the time the law was given, were instructed, in the very decalogue itself, to destroy and dispossess all the Canaanites of their country, when they should begin to enter upon it, by war and conquest, how, therefore, could the jubilee, in its phraseology, have had the least allusion to that people, in their favor? The supposition is wholly untenable.
But to the Hebrews, one and all, who should sell or lose their family possession of land, the jubilee should be their great emancipator and restorer of their rights. THIS, and nothing but this, was the liberty proclaimed to all the inhabitants, as reads the 10th verse above quoted, which is qualified or explained in the 13th, and relates only to land, and the impoverished Hebrews who were to return “every man to his possession.” But the Canaanites, in the view of the law, had no possession in the land of Canaan at all, nor families in the eyes of the law. How, therefore, can it be supposed that the immunities of the greater jubilee could reach the case of any other race than the Hebrews themselves? Overturn this conclusion he that can.
Thus, as we believe, the passage on which abolitionists rely so securely for the freedom of Canaanitish bondmen in the law, every great jubilee, is fairly taken out of their hands, and that by absolute logical demonstration. In relation to this matter, abolitionists have cast much dust of sophistry into the great arcanum of public opinion and belief, arguing and contending that the institutions of Moses made no difference between the condition of Hebrew servants and the negro bond men of the Canaanitish description; and have striven to cover the latter with the immunities and privileges of the former, as if there really was no difference intended in that law.
The rigor, so often alluded to in the law of Moses, which might be exercised upon bond servants of the Canaanitish or heathen race, but not on servants of the Hebrews, we do not understand to have consisted of personal abuse or torture, either by hunger, stripes, mutilations, or improper exposures of life or limb; for the law forbade this, where it is written, that if a master knocked out a tooth, or an eye of his servant, he should go free on those accounts, as is stated in Exodus xxi, 26, 27; and yet it is written in the same chapter, namely, the xxi, at the 20th and 22d verses, that “if a man smite his (man) servant, or his (maid) servant, with a rod, and he (or she) die under his hand, he shall surely be punished. Notwithstanding, if he (or she) continue a day or two, he shall not be punished, for he was his money.
From this text, it is almost impossible to deny that the law did but little in defense of the personal and physical happiness of bond servants among the Hebrews; there is no way to avoid this conclusion, as the texts to this point, either direct or indirect, are numerous.
But no such treatment is allowed of in the law toward Hebrew servants, as it is strictly forbidden to oppress them, or to rule over them with rigor in any way, because they were brethren to their masters, and not to be treated as hired men.
The bondman was unknown in law; he had no civil rights, no voice in community—could not be a witness in courts of law or religion—could not implead the master in cases of abuse or disagreement, but was wholly at the will of his owner. But such was not the case with the Hebrew servants—as their condition of servitude did not disenfranchize them as citizens, in any degree whatever, as they were not to be oppressed as bond servants might be. This, as above, was the rigor which was not, and could not, be brought to bear upon any other class of servants among the Hebrews, but the Hamite race alone, according to the law of Moses and the curse of Noah.
As to any national privilege, of which a bond servant might partake among the Hebrews, there was but one, and this was in the matter of religion. A bond servant being circumcised, might eat of the passover, the sign of the common salvation of man; but in other respects this circumstance did not benefit the slaves any more than their embracing Christianity in the days of the apostles benefited them, as to their temporal condition; upon which we shall treat in due time before we close these pages. In relation to this point, see Exodus xii, 44, 45, “But every man’s servant that is bought with money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof;” that is, he might eat of the passover, and that was all that was in his favor, except rest on the sabbath day, the same as the cattle.
As to the Hebrews trafficking in the sale and purchase of slaves, it is contended by abolitionists that they did not, and that no sale of the kind can be found in the Scriptures. On this account, therefore, they assume that such transactions were abhorrent to the genius of the law and religion of Moses. But to refute this notion, we have only to refer to Exodus xxi, 7–11, where, in a certain case, which the reader can examine for himself, it is said that a man who might buy a maid servant of a Hebrew father, and if she did not please him (the purchaser), then he might let her be redeemed, to get his money again which she had cost him; but “to sell her unto a strange nation he shall have no power.”
Now, from the very prohibition itself, we infer that the practice of the Hebrews selling the poor of their own people to other nations, was in vogue at the time of the giving of the law, and even while they were yet in Egypt; but in the new law given from Sinai, this was forbidden. If this was not the case, would God, by the hand of Moses, have instituted laws against practices and abuses, which did not and could never exist. Therefore, as God foreknew that as soon as the Hebrews should get possession of the country of Canaan, they would deal in the purchase and sale of the Canaanites, according to the law he was then giving them by the hand of Moses, he straightly forbade them to indulge in this thing toward their brethren, the Hebrews, saying that they should not sell each other to a strange nation as they might the Canaanites, while he left no such mandate on record respecting the people of Ham, who were then the aborigines of old Canaan, whither for war and conquest the twelve tribes were bound.
Moses and the tribes were yet in the desert when the law was given, which said, on the subject of servants, by way of anticipation, that when they should come into the promised land, and should have servants of their own blood, and should deal in selling them among themselves (as it appears they did from Exodus xxi, 7), that they should make a distinction between Hebrew servants and servants of the Canaanitish description; the former, they might deal in among themselves only in the way the law directed, but the latter they might sell to whom they would, to strange nations and all: there should, in this respect, be no prohibition, as there was, and should be, in the other—the Hebrew servants.
The selling of bondmen, by and among the Hebrews, appears from another clause in the law of Moses, and is of similar import with the one just now cited; it prohibited their dealing in slaves or servants of their own blood in the same way they might deal in slaves of the negro character. See Leviticus xxv, 42, as follows: “For they (the Hebrews) are my servants which I brought forth out of the land of Egypt: they shall not be sold as bond men,” or as absolute slaves.
By this mode of phraseology, what else can be understood than that while the Hebrews were forbidden to sell their own blood as bondmen out of the country, they might, however, buy and sell heathen negro men for bond men, and thus traffic in them as an article of trade or commerce. Surely the practice is tacitly, if not emphatically, admitted in the clause just above quoted out of the law of God.
But to make the fact still more clear, namely, that the Jews did actually deal in slaves of the negro race, see the Book of Joel, third chapter, where it is shown that because the Tyrians, Zidonians, and people of Palestine, who were of the same race with those just named, being all Hamites of old Canaan, had abused the Hebrews while captives among them at a certain time, by ridicule, and by selling their little ones at drinking houses for wine, and at houses of ill-fame for the purpose of riot and lewdness, and they should themselves be sold by the Jews in their turn, as a recompense, or as a judgment on their own heads, for having done so great a deed of wickedness.
But, says one, if it was wicked for the people of Tyre and Zidonia to sell the little children of the Jews, why was it not just as wicked for the Jews to sell the Zidonians, and the people of Canaan? To solve this question, you must ask the determining councils and judgments of God, which, on this subject, are all set down in the great record of his doings toward that race of men, namely, the Scriptures, and are his judicial acts concerning them.
The passages in the Book of Joel, above alluded to, read as follows: “For, behold in those days, and in that time, when I shall bring again the captivity of Judah and Jerusalem, I will also gather all nations, and will bring them down into the valley of Jehosaphat (or the field of battle), and will plead with them there, for my people and my heritage Israel, whom they [the Tyrians and Zidonians] have scattered among the nations, and parted my land. And they have cast lots for my people, and have given a boy for an harlot, and sold a girl for wine, that they might drink. Yea, and what have ye to do with me, O Tyre and Zidon, and all the coast of Palestine? Will ye render me a recompense? And if ye recompense (yet) swiftly and speedily will I return your recompense upon your own head: because ye have taken my silver and my gold, and have carried them into your temples, my goodly pleasant things: the children also of Judah, and the children of Jerusalem, have ye sold unto the Grecians [a great way to the west], that ye might remove them far from their border. Behold, I will raise them out of the place, whither ye have sold them, and will return your recompense [or doings] upon your own heads. And I will sell your sons and your daughters into the hands of the children of Judah, and they shall sell them to the Sabeans, a people far off; for the Lord hath spoken it.”
Here it is certainly stated that the Jews might, and actually should, sell the people of Palestine, who were of the race of Ham, the heathen negroes of old Canaan, which was fulfilled as follows: The Jews had been made in great numbers prisoners of war, and carried away into captivity by the Tyrians prior to the time of JOEL the Prophet, and were sold to the Grecians, who dwelt about the western end of the Mediterranean, now known as Spain and Italy, far west of Judea, but were released by Alexander the Great, who was a Greek, and by his successors, when they returned again to Judea. But when this great warrior had made a conquest of Tyre, which the reader will not forget was a Canaanitish city and kingdom, he reduced all the lower orders of the people to a state of slavery, men, women, and children, amounting to 30,000 at one time, who were sold on the spot to whosoever would buy them. And besides this, when Artaxerxes-Ochus destroyed Zidon, another city of old Canaan, and had reduced the captives to be sold as slaves, the Jews, as JOEL had foretold, were present, and bought as many as they could, and sold them again to the Sabeans, a people dwelling far to the east of old Phœnicia or Palestine, in Arabiadeserta, bordering on the sea of Arabia, which is an arm or bay of the Indian ocean, a distance of full 600 miles from Zidonia, their native country, among which people they are slaves to this day, as also in both Indies, Hindostan, and in all Asia.
Here we see the Jews, by the direct providence of God, in the fulfillment of the prophesy of Joel, as well as in accordance with the law of Moses, and the curse of Noah, speculating in the purchase and sale of vast droves of the negroes of Tyre and Zidon, as is often done, now-a-days, with the same race of people in the United States, and parts of Europe, notwithstanding the recent agreement among the powers of Christendom, making it piracy to do so; so careful is the Divine veracity of its own honor.
Is this account, as above given, from the Holy Scriptures, respecting the buying and selling of the progeny of Ham by the Jews, to be looked upon as “a mere silent entry,” made by the prophet Joel, of the wicked deeds and acts of those Jews, as abolitionists would say it was, when both prophesy and Providence, as well as the direct mandate of God on the subject, are all seen engaged together to accomplish it, and it was accomplished?
But, says one, what was the mandate of God on the subject above alluded to? It was this: God said by the mouth of Joel, one of his prophets, that the Jews, should absolutely sell the blacks of old Tyre to the Sabeans (red men), and they did it accordingly as God had determined they should.
Who, after reading and considering these cases, as presented on the pages above, will still object, and say, that in the Scriptures there is no account found, where a Hebrew, Jew, or Israelite, sold again the slave that he had bought.
But in pursuit of the same subject, namely, that the Jews did traffic in slaves, we are able to prove that Solomon, the wisest king who ever sat on a throne, the great and good monarch of the twelve tribes, actually carried on a regular trade in slaves from countries very far from Judea, where he resided, as well also as in Canaan, or the Holy Land.
In proof of this, see Antiquities of the Jews, by Josephus, book 8, chapter 7, page 293, as follows; “King Solomon had many ships that lay upon the sea of Tarsus (the Red Sea); these he commanded to carry out all sorts of merchandise unto the remotest nations, by the sale of which, silver and gold were brought to the king, and a great quantity of ivory, apes, and Ethiopians; and they finished their voyage, going and returning, in three years’ time.”
Josephus is not alone in this, for the Rabbi say the same thing, that is, that the ships of Solomon went to Africa (Clarke), and as he possessed many thousands of black slaves of the Canaanite character, what, in his mind, could therefore arise, as an objection to his adding to the number of the same race of men, though procured from a distant country, or the places of their nativity. 2 Chron. ix, 21. In the wars the Jews had with the Ethiopians and Lybians, from Africa, as in the case of Asa, one of the kings of Judah, about 900 years B. C. See 2 Chronicles, chap. xiv. In that war, ZERAH, the black king of Ethiopia, had a million of men, with whom he invaded Judea, and was wholly defeated by Asa, for God fought the battle. All the prisoners of this incomprehensible host were taken and held as slaves, which was the usage of war in those times.
But if the word Ethiopian, as used by Josephus, to the mind of any reader, should not exactly prove that negroes or black men were alluded to by him, we will state that the American folio edition of Josephus says negroes, instead of Ethiopians, which, in reality, are but two words meaning the same thing; making it clear, beyond all controversy, that Solomon did trade in negroes bought in foreign countries, from those who had them to sell, or Josephus is no authority.
But the authenticity of Josephus cannot be doubted, in relation to the voyages spoken of by that historian, for the account is corroborated by the Scriptures: see 1 Kings x, 22, where those voyages are specifically described. And besides this traffic of his from foreign countries, the land of Ophir, &c., Solomon made slaves of tens of thousands of the blacks of old Canaan, while building the temple, his own house, and Tadmor in the desert, the store cities, and Hamath, the upper and lower Bethoran, fenced cities, with walls, gates, and bars, as well as Belath, all great and magnificent works, of immense cost and labor, the ruins of which are seen at the present day, especially those of Tadmor of the desert.
Solomon was not ignorant of the judicial act of God, as made known by the mouth of Noah, respecting the descendants of Ham, nor of the law of Moses, which indorsed that judicial enactment by the ministry of angels, respecting the people of the blacks, in their exposedness to, and fitness for, slavery. He was not ignorant of Joshua’s opinion on the same subject, as expressed when that renowned warrior told the Gibeonites, who were one of the tribes of the race of Ham, in Canaan, that they were cursed, and never to be freed from being bondmen or slaves.
That king Solomon had slaves in abundance, is written by his own hand, which writing is still extant, and that he bought them is also stated by him, and that from the slaves thus bought, or otherwise procured in the negro countries, he raised others, as do the owners of slaves at the present time.
For the proof of the above, see Ecclesiastes ii, 7, as follows: “I got me servants and maidens, and had servants born in my house.”
Now, Solomon was a preacher, or a minister of religion, as well as a king, as he calls himself thus in chap, i, verse 1, of Eccl., and if such a man had slaves of the negro race (as to enslave any other people was not tolerated by their law), why is it that ministers of religion at the present time may not also have them if they desire it? The possession of property was never abrogated to the Jews by the edicts of the Gospel, and as slaves, were esteemed property by them in every age of their existence; the abrogating power of the new dispensation, therefore, had no more to do with the slave question then, nor now, than it had with any property, or any other subject not embraced in the ritual of the Jewish religion; this is the very reason why St. Paul, nor any of the writers of the New Testament, no, not even Christ himself, did not meddle with that subject, otherwise than to admonish, or command, that masters of slaves should treat them with kindness.
In the above scripture it is seen that Solomon speaks of his possessions of cattle and slaves, all in one verse, in no way varying either the sense or the phraseology, making no distinction, but amalgamates them together as an item in the amount of his prodigious wealth.
But not only Solomon procured slaves from Africa, but all the kings of the East, the Chaldeans, the Medes, Persians, Assyrians, Arabians, &c., which is intimated in the 19th and 20th chapters of Isaiah, as follows: “In that day shall there be a highway out of Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrian shall come into Egypt, and the Egyptian into Assyria; and the Egyptians shall serve with the Assyrians.” In this verse their state of slavery is more than intimated, which they were to endure among the Assyrians as slaves.
But in the 20th chapter, verses 3 and 4, the fact of their being enslaved by those eastern powers is plainly stated, as follows: “And the Lord said, Like as my servant Isaiah hath walked naked and barefoot three years for a sign and a wonder upon Egypt and upon Ethiopia; so shall the king of Assyria lead away the Egyptians prisoners, and the Ethiopians captives, young and old, naked and barefoot, even with their buttocks uncovered to the shame of Egypt.”
Thus we see that in all ages, Africa has been the great breeding house of slaves for all mankind, for at this day all Asia is full of negro slaves, the descendants of the slaves of those first ages, procured from old Canaan and Africa.
For an account of the almost countless number of Canaanitish bondmen employed in the works of Solomon, see book of Joshua ix, 23, and 2 Chron. ii, 17, l8, See also 1 Kings ix, 20–22, for an account of the bond service, levied by Solomon upon the Amorites, Hivites, Perizzites, Hittites and Jebusites, who were all of the black race of the Canaanites, the Sons of Ham.
According to Josephus, book viii, p. 21, Solomon took the tribute due to him from a certain district of old Canaan situate between Lybanus and the city Ametha, in slaves, so many a year; these were the blacks of that country.
It appears, therefore, that Solomon considered it right to enslave and oppress in this respect, the race of Ham wherever he could find them, whether in old Canaan, Africa, or any where else, except he was in league or compact, by treaty, as appears to have been the case between him and Hiram, the king of Tyre, at that particular time, and in that district over which he then reigned.
Now, for all this, we do not find that Solomon was reproved, as he was for some other acts of his life; there arises, therefore, from this fact, namely, that of his not being reproved for enslaving the negro race, a strong evidence that the Jews, their kings, priests, prophets, elders, patriarchs, rulers and people, held it to be right, and in perfect harmony with the law of Moses, to enslave that race wherever they existed, except in cases of compacts or treaties, as in the case of Tyre, and the king of Egypt, with whom Solomon had leagues of amity, for the time being.
No nation of the globe has equalled the Jews, in the enslaving of the negro nations (except the negroes themselves), for even Moses assisted in reducing one of the fiercest of the nations who opposed him and the Hebrews in their progress toward the land of Canaan, to personal and literal slavery; these were the Amalekites, dwelling on the wilderness side of Canaan, toward Egypt on the south.
This was done after the famous battle fought between the Hebrews and the Amalekites, over which Moses presided, when Hur and Aaron supported his arms, as he held out toward the contending armies from the top of the mountain, the fatal spear—see Exod. xvii, 12. The prisoners then taken in that conflict were reduced to personal slavery, and that under the eye and approval of Moses; which, had it been wrong, or a sin, would then and there have been rebuked, as God allowed of no heinous or public crime in the camp of the Hebrews, to go unpunished and reproved on the spot.
But how is it proved that Moses did this, seeing the Bible does not mention the circumstance? It is proven by Josephus. See his Jewish Antiquities, book iii, chap, ii, p. 85, who there says, that the victory then won, “was the occasion of their (the Hebrews) prosperity, not only for the present, but for future ages also; for they not only made slaves of the bodies of their enemies, but effectually damped their minds, and after the battle, the Hebrews became terrible to all that dwelt round about them.”
Even the temple of God had its slaves of the negro and Canaanitish race, who were called the Nethinims or slaves of the temple, says Dr. Clarke, who were the descendants of the Gibeonites, condemned to that condition by Joshua. See 1 Chron. ix, 2. That the Jews made bond slaves of such of the Canaanites as they took in war, is shown 1st Chron. v, from the 18th to the 22d verse inclusive, where the history of a great battle is related, that took place between the Israelites and a people of old Canaan, called Hongarites, of whom they made 100,000 prisoners. These prisoners, says Clarke in his comment on the place, were made slaves of, and not slain in the war.
From 1 Kings ii, 39, 40, it appears that private citizens, of the city of David, had slaves of the black or negro race, who were Canaanites. The place reads as follows: “And it came to pass at the end of three years [in the time of king David], that two servants of [one] Shimei ran away [out of Judea] unto Achish, son of Macha, king of Gath. And they told Shimei, saying, behold thy servants be in Gath. And Shimei arose and saddled his ass, and went to Gath, to Achish, to seek his servants from Gath.”
That these two servants were of the negro race, is shown by their running away to Gath, as Gath was inhabited by Philistines, a branch of the house or race of Mezarim, a son of Ham, and founder of the first settlement of lower Egypt. These Philistines, it appears, had not as yet, though in the days of David, been cut off by the wars of the Jews. It was, therefore, natural for the two slaves of the wealthy Shimei to fly for protection to a people of their own color and nation. Had those servants been of the Hebrew blood and entitled to their freedom at the jubilee, which happened at the end of every six years, they never would have fled from their own people and country to a negro heathen people. If these servants of Shimei had not been slaves, in the property sense of the word, but merely hired men, as abolitionists contend all servants were, then were they free men, and had no need of running away out of the country from their owner; neither could Shimei have demanded and took them away from Gath, as he did, had they not been slaves, for at this time there was no war between the Jews and the people of Gath. They were, therefore, slaves and of the race of Ham, in the proper sense of the word.
There is no subject upon which the Scriptures have spoken that is more circumstantial and plain than that of individual slavery, in relation to the descendants of the blood of Ham. First of all, and more than four hundred years before the giving of the law by Moses, at the very time when God made a covenant with Abraham respecting the promised Messiah, the sign of which was circumcision, we find the buying of slaves, even by Abraham, incidentally alluded to. See Gen. xvii, 13, 23, as follows: “He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with money, must needs be circumcised; and Abraham took Ishmael his son. and all that were born in his house, and all that were bought with his money, every male among the men of Abraham’s house [slaves and all], and circumcised the flesh of their foreskin, in the self same day, as God had said to him.”
In Exodus xii, 44, the buying of slaves is also incidentally mentioned as follows: “But every man servant that is bought for money, when thou hast circumcised him, then shall he eat thereof,” that is, of the passover. But that such servants as were bought with money, as above spoken of, were not so many hired men, as abolitionists seem to believe, appears from the next verse, the 45th, following the above quotation, which reads thus: “A foreigner, and a hired servant, shall not eat thereof.”
From this statement it is clear, therefore, that a bond slave was not considered as a hired man. Is not this decisive respecting the difference between the two characters?
At the time when God made this covenant with Abraham, he was dwelling at a place called Bethel (Gen. xiii, 3), which was in the very midst of the Canaanite country: of whom, therefore, could he have bought his bondmen, except of the black people of Canaan, who at that time possessed the country, as the original inhabitants. It is likely, also, that many of his slaves were brought with him from Egypt, on his return from that country, to which he and Lot had fled some years before, on account of a great famine in the country of Canaan (Gen. x, 12), as at the time he was rich in silver, gold, cattle and slaves.
In these countries, Egypt and Canaan, there were at this time no other people but the aboriginal negroes; the people, afterward known as Ishmaelites, or Arabs, did not then exist, nor had the white nations of men penetrated those countries from the north, where they first settled after the flood. The servants or slaves of Abraham, therefore, were of the negro race, and them only.
Abraham was not ignorant of the fiat of Noah, in relation to that people, nor of their naturally low cast of mind: on which account he felt for them, and bought as many as he could out of pity, as under his protection they were much more happy than in a state of freedom.
From Gen. xxvi, 13, 14, we learn that Isaac, the son of Abraham, had a vast host of slaves at the time he dwelt in Gerah, among the Philistines, who were, as before said, a branch of the family of Egypt. The account is as follows: “And the man [Isaac] waxed great, and went forward and grew until he became very great; for he had possessions of flocks, and possessions of herds, and great store of servants, and the Philistines envied him.” In this trait of the patriarchal history, respecting their wealth, it seems that their slave property is mentioned, and mixed up with the inventory, the same as is the account of flocks and herds, making no difference between them.
From the reasoning of Adam Clarke on the meaning of the word servant, it appears that the term slave is the highest possible idea the word conveys, while the word servant is but a secondary, an accommodated, or lower application and meaning of the term. See his comment on the 1st chapter of the Romans, page 36, where he insists that to be the servant of Jesus Christ was, as St. Paul has said, to be his slave or property, and that he had no right to himself, or any of the powers of soul or body—all belonging to his master, Jesus Christ.
This, therefore, establishes that the term, bond servant, as used every where in the Bible, signifies a bond slave, and not a hired servant, or a servant of any other kind, but slave in the true property sense of the word. And who is the man who can gainsay the criticisms of Dr. Adam Clarke on the ancient languages, especially the Hebrew and Greek? Slavery, and the possession of slaves, in all Patriarchal, Jewish and Christian history, as given in the Bible, was as popular as was the possession of property of any other kind.
That the great store of servants possessed by Isaac, the son of Abraham, when he lived in Gerar, among the Philistines (south toward Egypt and not a great way from the place where, in after ages, the temple was built), were slaves of the negro race, is shown from the fact, that the people of Canaan, Egypt. Philistia &c., were blacks at that time. The servants or slaves, therefore, which Isaac had, must have been of that race. At that time there were no Ishmaelites, no Edomites, no Moabites, no Ammonites—no descendants of Abraham, Lot, Jacob or Esau, of any account; all these families, at the time of Jacob’s flourishing, were but young, like himself, and, of necessity, were at that time but few in number; even in his own family there were but two sons, Jacob and Esau. From this it follows, therefore, that the slaves he had were somehow procured from among the people where he sojourned and got his great wealth. This, to the writer, appears as absolute demonstration.
Of the same race were the servants who were given to Abraham by king Abimelech, of Gerar, long before the birth of Isaac. See Gen. xx, 14, where there is an account of the great fear that king fell into on account of his love to Sarai, Abraham’s wife. But God showed him, in a dream, that he must not touch her, or himself, with all his house, should die. Now, when Abimelech had seen God in this dream, and had been directed what to do, it is written, in the chapter above quoted, that he made great presents to Abraham of sheep, oxen, men and women servants, besides a thousand pieces of silver.
Now, if the servants who were given by Abimelech to Abraham, together with the sheep and oxen, were not property slaves, how could he have done it; or how could the righteous man, Abraham, have received them, and thus take away their liberty, if they had any, except he considered it right to enslave them? But Abimelech did thus give them, together with the herds, and Abraham did thus receive them.
Had these servants, thus transferred, no relation to leave, no affinities of kindred, from whom they were parted by the inexorable Abimelech and Abraham, in whose ears the loud and heart-rending cries of sons, grandmothers and babes, sounded as sweet music? No doubt but they had; just as much as is often the case among the negro families of the south, in America and elsewhere, when they are sold or transferred; and yet Abraham took them—that righteous man of God and a holy prophet. What would the abolitionists have said, if they had been there? Oh, ye powers, how they would have spouted forth words of mighty eloquence, stamped with their feet and banged about with their fists, looked red in the face, stretched up their length in altitude, frowned, grinned and shook their heads, as they do now-a-days, when holding forth abolitionism—and particularly when paid for it by the year, some six or eight hundred dollars.
Respecting the servants of Abraham, especially those that were bought with his money, they were of the same race; for the same reason as above, there being no other people at the time in old Canaan but the blacks of the country, for Abraham was a foreigner, a Chaldean from beyond the Euphrates, east. But after the lapse of some four or five hundred years, going down to the time of Moses, and the wars of Canaan, then these descendants of the blood of Abraham, besides the Jews, had become innumerable.
Abolitionists, in order to make sport of the opinion, that the Jews, when they had got possession of Canaan, made slaves of the people instead of hiring them, ask, with a leer, how they did it. They wish to know if they took an armed band, with ropes and shackles, so as to tie them when they were caught, and thus compel them to slavery.
But of this query there is no need; for Moses, long before they had possession of Canaan, pointed out how this was to be done, especially in times of peace, for the Jews were not always at war with the Canaanites. See Levit. xxv, 45, where the mode of getting slaves is alluded to, as follows: “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 [or may beget} in your land, and they shall be your possession.”
Here the difficulty vanishes, and with it the imagined armed band, ropes and shackles of abolitionism, as there could be no need of tying children, whom they might buy of such Canaanitish families as would be willing to sell them. It is well known that the negroes of all ages have been in the practice of selling their own children, when pressed by want, as they now do nearly all over Africa—who also enslave myriads of their own people by force, as we shall show in the course of the work.
As to the race inland in Canaan, they were never entirely exterminated by the Jews, as there were always remnants of tribes left in the land, who continued during the whole Jewish history, from Moses until they were destroyed by the Romans—a lapse of more than fifteen hundred years. There was always, therefore, abundant opportunity for the Jews to purchase children of the people of that cast for slaves, as Moses had told them in the law should be their privilege.
Having, as proposed in the commencement of this section, shown that the law of Moses did indorse and sanction the enslaving of the race of Ham, as denounced by Noah, and that the Hebrews, through the whole Jewish history, acted toward them on that principle, we pass to other matters respecting the race. ONE of those matters will consist of an inquiry, whether God created the race of Ham, equal with the descendants of the other sons of Noah, in point of native intellectuality, and especially, with those of JAPHETH, the white race.
From Noah’s lips went forth the dire account.
Which echoed on the top of Sinai’s mount
That God judicially decreed by name
The race of Ham for slaves—th’ lambent flame,
Gave out a voice, all holy—not a flaw.
And there indorsed the same in Hebrew law.
Now let no erring man deride the stroke,
For judgement is God’s strange and fearful work.
Isaiah xxviii, 26.
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