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Slavery

Slavery in Egypt and among the ancient Israelites

The Slave Bible: For Slavery or Salvation?

What really motivated the editors of Select Parts of the Holy Bible: For the Use of the Negro Slaves in the British West-India Islands (1807), better known as “The Slave Bible”?

Dr.

Brandon Hurlbert

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Noah’s Curse: On the Eve of the Civil War, a Rabbi Declares Black Slavery Biblical

In 1861, Rabbi Morris Raphall of New York attempted to save the Union by declaring from his pulpit that slavery was the will of God, as per the Torah’s story of the curse of Ham. Some rabbis and Jewish scholars approved of the message, but others, such as Michael Heilprin and David Einhorn, pushed back with biting criticism.

Prof.

Howard B. Rock

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Marrying a Beautiful Captive Woman

If an Israelite wishes to marry a woman taken captive in war, she becomes part of the Israelite polity and is protected from future re-enslavement. Uncomfortable with the Torah’s permitting this marriage, the rabbis declare it to be a compromise to man’s “evil impulse,” an idea reminiscent of Jesus’ claim that the Torah allows divorce as a compromise to humanity’s “hard heart.”

Prof. Rabbi

Shaye J. D. Cohen

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Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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Black People in Jewish Tradition: Eliminating Racism Requires Honesty

Like many traditions with a long historical pedigree, Judaism has inherited its share of texts with racial bias. Failure to acknowledge this is one reason for prevalent conscious and subconscious racist views that can be found in the American Orthodox Jewish community—the community of which I am a part—which sometimes reveal themselves in overt statements and actions.

Prof.

Meylekh (PV) Viswanath

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Balancing Social Responsibility with Market Economics

Leviticus 25 legislates a multi-tiered system of rights and requirements that act as a corrective to a market in which even human beings can be sold. This system preserves the dignified status of Israelite brothers as free persons with their own ancestral agricultural land, ensuring that no Israelites become a permanent lower class.

Noam Zion

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Did Israel Celebrate Their Freedom While Owning Slaves?

Dr. Hacham

Isaac S. D. Sassoon

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Not What Happened But What Should Happen Now

Rabbi

Yuval Cherlow

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Who Is the Eved Ivri?

The designation ivri in the legal corpora of the Pentateuch is found only in the laws of slavery. So who is this ivri slave and why was he sold?

Dr.

Albert D. Friedberg

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The Blackening of Egypt’s Reputation

Prof.

Jan Assmann

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The Hebrew Slave: Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy

A classic example of source criticism applied to Torah legislation.

Dr. Rabbi

Zev Farber

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Despoiling the Egyptians: A Concerning Jewish Legacy?

19th century Anglo-Jewish translators defended the Israelites’ behavior against the King James translation’s perceived accusation that the Jews “borrowed” the Egyptians belongings and never returned them.

Prof.

Leonard Greenspoon

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What We Know About Slavery in Egypt

Dr.

Mark Janzen

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The Hebrew Slave: Reading the Law Collections as Complementary

Prof.

Aaron Koller

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The Treatment of Non-Israelite Slaves: From Moses to Moses

The Bible already expresses ambivalence about Hebrew slavery, the rabbis expand upon it and Maimonides takes the next step, applying the negative evaluation of slavery even to non-Israelites.

Prof.

James A. Diamond

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Finding Redemption in the Passover Story

Doing history one better

Prof. Rabbi

Burton L. Visotzky

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The Bible’s Evolving Effort to Humanize Debt Slavery

. . . and the Challenges of Putting it into Practice.

Prof.

Marvin A. Sweeney

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What Kind of Construction Did the Israelites Do in Egypt?

Egyptian sources shed light on the nature of the work described in the Torah.

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