Monday, November 30, 2009

Chattel Slavery (3) - Equal under the Law

The references to servants in Exodus 21 are really important, because they give servants the same protection as other citizens. This is quite unique, as in most other jurisdictions, servants were not protected by the law. The point of Exodus 21:20- 21 is that a master who kills his servant must receive the same punishment as he would if he had killed any other person, as specified in Exodus 21:12-13. Servants were not excluded from the law.

If the servant gets up after a couple of days, the master does not receive the penalty for murder, because the servant will receive financial restitution to compensate him for his injuries. The master must pay silver to the servant as restitution, so he should not receive any physical punishment.

A clearer expression of Exodus 21:20-21 would be the following.

If a man beats his male or female servant with a rod and the servant dies as a direct result, he should receive the penalty for murder, but he if the slave gets up after a day or two, he must not be punished for murder, but the slave should receive financial compensation from him.

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