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Slavery in Christianity!


Deuteronomy Ch.23, verses 15 & 16

Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee:

He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.

This is the commandment given by God the father through Moses. Moses had been overruled by Jesus on many such laws and in proof thereof please read Matt: 25 and 26, wherein Jesus says, “…. but I say unto you…” and amended the Mosaic law with DIVINE authority. However, Jesus does not make any statement about SLAVES overruling the Mosaic law relating to escapee slaves . 

Paul has an opinion on anything and everything. Having an opinion is not as bad as having scripted his opinion and such scripted having been found worthy by the compilers of the New Testament to be included in the New Testament. Further, Paul’s opinions were addressed to members, of the fledgling faith of Christianity, who were not rooted in the Judaic tradition. So when he wrote to the new members in Ephesus, he wrote for the edification of those members who were surrounded by a different spiritual ethos. Even when King Solomon, after having surrounded himself with Sidonian, Egyptian, Hittite women, succumbed to their gods and goddesses like Ashtoreth, Milcom, Baal etc. So Ephesians were in a different milieu and when Paul says at Ehesians 6:5-  Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and fear, and with sincerity of heart, just as you would obey Christ, he is not recommending SLAVERY, he is merely telling the slaves not to worry about their present plight but “press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” of Christian salvation and hope! Is such attitude tenable in Christianity? I am certain that Christianity never did nor would have ever recommended SLAVERY.

Let me first re-quote the Mosaic law: 

Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee:

He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.

1600 years (at least) before Paul had ordained himself an Apostle, Moses had written the above law as having been ordained by God the Father. So, Judaism is very clear on THREE things:

IT IS NOT THE DUTY OF THE PERSON TO WHOM THE SLAVE HAS TAKEN REFUGE, TO DELIVER THE FORMER SLAVE TO HIS ERSTWHILE MASTER.

IN FACT, THE LAW RESTRAINS AND PROHIBITS THE PERSON WITH WHOM THE ESCAPEE SLAVE HAS TAKEN REFUGE  FROM CAPTURING AND SURRENDERING HIM TO HIS ERSTWHILE MASTER.

FURTHER, THE MOSAIC LAW SAYS THAT THE PERSON WITH WHOM THE ESCAPEE HAD TAKEN REFUGE SHALL PROVIDE HIM A PLACE OF THE ESCAPEE’S CHOICE AND THE PEOPLE OF THAT AREA SHALL NOT OPPRESS HIM.

THAT WAS THE LAW! AND THIS LAW HAD NOT BEEN AMENDED BY JESUS, THE AUTHOR AND FINISHER OF CHRISTIAN FAITH.

But Paul was given to much PRESCRIPTIVE CHRISTIANITY, a malaise from which he suffered when he was a Pharisee and later when he altered into a Pharisaical Christian. In any case, none of Paul’s letters show him to be a meek man (Moses was the meekest man Number 12:3), given to boasting but claiming that he wasn’t and in fact that he shouldn’t be! Another instance where SLAVERY finds a reference in Paul’s letter is at Colossians  at 3:22, however, the KJV states as “servants” and hence I am disinclined to accept the other versions, where instead of the word servant ‘slave’ has been used. Paul  was more than kind to Onesimus in recommending him to Philemon, however,  true to his sophistry and chicanery tells Philemon that Paul would pay Onesimus’ debts with a superb piece of verbal calisthenics thus :I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. (Philemon v. 19). Why will Paul pay, if Philemon owes his very self to Paul?  

So   why did Jesus use Paul? The answer is in Mark 9:39.

 John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.”39 But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. 40 “For he who is not against us is for us.…

Paul did what none did or could have done immediately after the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. His was to spread the Gospel, he was the greatest CHRISTIAN EVANGELIST, who used letters and speech to turn people into Christians, rather than turn others into Christians by being a model through his own life! 

 Therefore his office was over and in legal parlance, his evangelism is FUNCTUS OFFICIO and to follow his prescriptive Christianity only helps the Pentecostals to build a brand of Christianity which emphasizes on tithes (revenue model for Pentecostal churches), preparatory Eucharist (denying administration of Eucharist if the priest feels that the communicant is unworthy, and thereby exercise authority!) and Exclusivity! 

 I hope Christians would abandon Paulian Christianity and return to Jesus and read the Gospels of John and Matthew, without allowing themselves to be tainted by such PRESCRIPTIVE CHRISTIANITY!

To come back to the topic, Christianity is the REPEALED version of the Mosaic law, where no amendments were made, or Moses’ provisions were not abrogated, the old is to be blended with Jesus’ statements. In the light of such an assertion, Christianity always gave LIBERTY to flee from SLAVERY and cast a duty on others to accommodate a runaway and provide opportunity for pursuit of happiness through FREEDOM. 

So this leads to the next question as to whether, the slave owner has any RIGHT to own a slave and does that IMPOSE any DUTY on others, excluding the slave so owned? Yes, there was a RIGHT  in-personam between the owner and the slave, it was not the slave owner’s right in-rem, where the whole society was to respect the ownership of the master!

 Further, there are different categories of slaves mentioned in the Bible viz. those who have been abducted/kidnapped and sold as slaves;  those Jews who had fallen into debts and have sold themselves as slaves being unable to repay their debts; Jewish slaves who have renounced their freedom and bound themselves with their masters, and non-Jews taken captive and freely traded.

If one were to go by Paul’s recommendation of attitude of the slaves in EPHESIANS, we freeze history to the Roman institution of slavery. But the instructions in the BIBLE, being an eternal book, cannot be limited to a set milieu or political order or even time. Joseph was sold by his brothers before Moses gave the commandment in Deuteronomy, therefore, merely because there was no law can we say that slavery was RIGHT? No, it was permitted by default, because the evil nature of man wanted to subjugate fellow humans and extract labour or other compliance from those fellowmen and women!

When THE BIBLE gives the LIBERTY to a slave to run away and the slave owner denied  any protection through other persons, how can one assume that slavery was a matter of RIGHT? A RIGHT is NO RIGHT, if it does not cast a DUTY on others. In fact the Mosaic law casts a duty on the person, to whom the erstwhile slave takes refuge, to provide him space and liberty. 

It gained the status of a RIGHT only under the ROMAN law, and since Paul was a Roman (which he invoked whenever it suited him!), he had preposterously made the Roman law the benchmark for advising salves to obey their masters as if they were obeying Christ! This verse in THE BIBLE cannot be taken to support SLAVERY in THE BIBLE. Even Kevin Rudd, fell a victim to such Paulian prescription which has unfortunately been embedded in the BIBLE. 

Christianity is the religion of LIBERTY and FREEDOM, let us not choose passages to support our evil  inclination, but be humble and read the Gospels of John and Matthew (simply because, a first hand recounting of Jesus’ life and teachings ought to be more reliable than hear say narration!) and LIBERATE ourselves from such self-demeaning practices. 

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LIBERTY OF ACTION.


When Moses, the Jew, discovered that he was not born to the Pharaoh’s sister but to a Jewess called Joshebeth, he had to decide. Decide whether he was to stay at the palace of the Pharaoh on grounds of charity and continuity, or to assume the responsibility of his recently discovered pedigree, and exit to toil with the Jews- who had by then for all practical purposes have become slaves.

HISTORY DOES NOT REPEAT ITSELF, BUT THE PATTERNS THAT HISTORICAL FACTS OFFER, REAPPEAR WITH A DIFFERENT SET OF FACTS.

Let me exemplify this from the set of historical facts, from the life of MOSES, which have contributed to the growth of the LABOUR UNIONS.

Continuing with the IDEA of Moses, he decided to identify himself with the Jews who had by then slipped into slavery. From Pharaoh’s son he had plummeted to being a slave. Now like the case of Arion (http://www.classicreader.com/book/2823/27/), who mounted the dancing Dolphins in the mid-sea, Moses went back to his family of Joshebeth, Aaron, Miriam etc.. But what could Moses do without the position and the recognition and the Authority that he enjoyed earlier? NOTHING. Absolutely NOTHING. He even gets angry with an Egyptian for ill-treating a Jew, and kills him. So he escapes when Moses gets to know that the fact of his killing had got around. Lands up in Midian and becomes the Son-in-law of Jethro, by marrying Zipphora.

Now at the age of 80 he writes PSALM 90 where he says that a man’s life span is three score and ten or four score. Moses had reached the end of his time. In all likelihood Moses believed in it. But like Dylan Thomas he is not willing to go down gentle into that night without a fight (http://www.welshwales.co.uk/dylan.htm#gentle). Moses makes a last ditch attempt and God appears in a bush of fire.

Moses meets Pharaoh and asks him to relieve the Jews of the bondage and allow them to worship the God of their fathers in the wilderness.

MOSES FIRST WEANS THE SLAVES AWAY FROM THEIR TASKMASTERS. THAT IS THE FIRST STEP TOWARDS BRINGING THEM CLOSE TO GOD. HUMAN BEINGS ARE IN THIS WORLD NEITHER TO SERVE OTHER HUMAN BEINGS NOR TO SPEND THEIR LIVES SOLELY TO FEED THEMSELVES AND THEIR FAMILIES.

It is this REALIZATION that brings LIBERATION.

Therefore the Jews were made to realize that true LIBERTY is achieved only when they possess their own lands and build their own cities and own their own livestock and worship unhindered their own GOD. They cannot get growth through SURROGACY of building the Pyramids for Pharaohs and making the Pharaohs a rich and powerful dynasty.

Moses weans them away and leaves the Pharaoh with a kingdom without the WORKFORCE.

The maintenance of the cities, the cultivating and loading of the granaries with food grains and being mercenaries in the armies of the Pharaoh all took a beating. All the organizing that was done by JOSEPH, the son of JACOB, was DISMANTLED 480 years later by MOSES. The Pharaoh had been deprived of the workforce, that merely lived on fleshpots and shacks to stay.

From the facts of the life of MOSES, it is not inappropriate to draw the conclusion that Moses was the first TRADE UNION LEADER. But the difference in fact was that he obtained for Jews their Liberty and not better wages and compensation.

The interesting part was that as long as he had the WORKFORCE under him, when he was still Pharaoh’s sister’s son, Moses never thought of their Liberty. It was only after he had reached the time limit of 80 years ( as per Psalm 90), that he took his chance at integrating the Jews with the LIBERTY concept.

NECESSITY, AFTER ALL IS THE MOTHER OF ALL INVENTIONS!

MOSES & THE MOUNTAINS!


Moses, the DELIVERER of the Jews from their bondage in Egypt, had a special relationship with the mountains. Moses according to his own confession was the MEEKEST man on the face of the earth, while he was still alive. If one were to go by the Hollywood flick, TEN COMMANDMENTS, it would seem as if he was the underdog with a mission not only to resist the cruel treatment meted out to the Jews, but also to get them the liberty.

But underlying the portrayal,if  one could place oneself in his shoes and imagine, it was all about a man who was raised as a prince in Pharaoh’s palace, & lost his position either due to a discovery of a fact and a consequent choice or to the palace intrigue of Ramses. The discovery was that he did not have the royal blood coursing thru his veins, but was an offspring of a Jew! A dim prospect for a man with that lineage in those times, in Egypt.

Many discoveries of parentage had led to great Tragedies.

Like in the case of Oedipus (king of Thebes). He killed (although inadvertently) his father and married his mother Jocasta. The oracle had decreed that the plague in the land was a consequence of the taboo committed. Oedipus was not able to wash away the guilt  thru his penance or any other means, and the end is truly tragic as it unfolds  man’s helplessness in the light of a discovery, that could not have been imagined when the deeds were committed.

Oedipus is laden with PATRICIDE & INCEST. Both ABSOLUTE SINS, one for not knowing one’s father and yet killing him unknowingly, and the other for having sexual relationship with one’s own lineal ascendant- also unknowingly. The forms in which both the acts were committed were LEGAL. Oedipus’ father was killed in a fight with him and Oedipus got married to Jocasta, as she was the prize for having aided in destroying the Sphinx which was troubling the Thebans. The  TRUTH could have lain hidden and  the plague  regressed, but  his imagined non-involvement in the DEATH OF LAIUS (Oedipus’ real father and husband of Jocasta) emboldens him to search out, even against the opinion of TIRESIAS. But his arrogance led him to the discovery, without recourse.

But in the case of Moses, it was not any of those ABSOLUTE SINS, but a MISTAKEN PEDIGREE! The storyline is the reverse of KARNA in the Mahabharata. Karna (Karan, to the Sanskritized) was thought of to be from the hoi polloi, whereas Moses was imagined to be from the Royal stock. Moses’ discovery leads to his abandoning the comforts of the Pharaoh’s palace and consequently takes him to the ghettos of the Jews.

IT IS FROM THIS POINT THAT THE REVOLUTION WITHIN MOSES STARTS. The conflict was WHETHER TO RECONCILE WITH HIS PEDIGREE & TO ACQUIESCE IN THOSE REALITIES OF SQUALOR, SLAVERY, WHIPLASHES, TOIL & IGNOMINY or TO TAKE UP CUDGELS AGAINST THE SYSTEM THAT TREATED MAN IN SUCH BRUTISH WAYS?

Karna’s conflict was that he had the skill fit to be a king, but without the pedigree to rise there. He could at best be a WARRIOR but never a CONQUEROR. The skills that he had in him was pushing him higher, but his supposed humble origins – like gravity- was pulling him down.

To clarify in Christian terms, the distinction between a WARRIOR & a CONQUEROR is the difference between JOAB and DAVID. Joab, the commander of the Israeli army during King David’s reign, used to subjugate the enemies with the strength of his sword, but when the City was to be taken, David used to be called for, by the same Joab and the city gates were flung open for the CONQUEROR KING to make his TRIUMPHAL ENTRY. A warrior has to DO IT HIMSELF EVERYTIME, but for a CONQUEROR things were DONE FOR HIM IN HIS NAME. History RECOGNIZES the CONQUERORS but the warriors are mere footnotes. A KING is mostly a WARRIOR, but a WARRIOR need not become a KING.

Moses’ conflict had to be resolved. But how can it be?

In the movie TEN COMMANDMENTS, Moses’ wife tells the Queen U LOST MOSES WHEN HE WENT LOOKING FOR HIS GOD, AND I LOST HIM WHEN HE FOUND HIS GOD! (one sane inference that could be drawn is that, God and Woman are not simultaneously compatible!), but the pertinent point is that MOSES DISCOVERED GOD. His first tryst with God was in the Mountains of Sinai (Horeb).

IT WAS ALWAYS IN THE MOUNTAINS THAT MOSES MET JEHOVAH. Moses met his maker also in the Mount Nebo.

I am left wondering, as to why God had to meet Moses in the MOUNT and not in the plains.

The Psalmist says I WILL LIFT UP MINE EYES UNTO THE HILLS FROM WHENCE COMETH MY HELP. (Ps.121).

Is it because that the AIR is RARER and the PRESSURE is DOWN that the mortals start hallucinating better there?,

Or is it because of the geographical elevation that a person’s perception is raised above the occupants of the valleys and plains?

Or is it truly that God’s attention is drawn quicker on the hilltop that the mortals made it a habit to get to the mountain top?

The answer is not certain and whether the question was right at all, is a bigger question!

In any case, the resolution for Moses came from the discovery of his God. A God who believed in what Moses himself believed in, but couldn’t do anything about. He saw that the burden of slavery was so heavy, that thoughts of LIBERTY, FREEDOM & HAPPINESS did not dawn in those embittered hearts, worn down thru slavery and bondage.

It isI here that he invents ways of explaining the GOD, he had discovered. The God who names himself as “I AM WHO I AM“. This God I AM shakes the Pharoah and the Jews alike, from their logic and understanding of their EXTERNALIZED OMNIPOTENT GOD.

This wordings used bu Moses, to define God, brought God to Man. Since the time he was chased out of the garden of Eden, it is for the first time that the first person pronoun  “I” was used to SIGNIFY GOD. The space of “I”, was made DIVINE and men were given a foretaste of the possibility of God becoming Man and also residing in MEN. This definition of God, marks the beginning of the end, to the Externalization and outer experience with God. Even though this tradition continued in the Jewish history. NOW MAN HAD TO MAKE WAY FOR GOD IN HIS “I” CONSCIOUSNESS. The nameless desert God straight made an ENTRY into the JEWISH hearts, through that definition of Moses.

A QUANTUM SPIRITUALISM DAWNED!

MOUNTAINS WERE NO MORE NEEDED TO MEET GOD, ONE HAD TO LOOK WITHIN AND EXPERIENCE GOD.

HOW TRUE, I AM WHAT I AM.

moses


Moses realized in all his 40 years in the doghouse

that merely because the Maker was silent on the ill treatment of a fellow human, it did not give him a right to kill a man;

that mating with sisters was an abomination;

that making a brassen serpent was an exception to the commandment of making any graven image;

that marrying an Ethiopian was another exception to the rule of marrying within the jewry!

Rules are truly made by the superiors for the inferiors to follow!

The best is that the superiors are not bound by their own rules- just like the House of Lords!

Worse still is that he was able to get God’s help to bring about sanctions on the rebels like Miriam, Korah etc.

Joshua and Caleb, backed the winning horse, they both loved life and foresaw that they could take over at the departure of Moses. The Judahite (Caleb was from this tribe) gets his hill, and the Josephite (Joshua was from one of the two tribes of Joseph) gets to lead– which means he gets to set the rebellious boys against the external enemies and deflect their ire from getting focussed on to him.

Patience with perseverence truly pays.

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