This is another response to rautakky. His original comment is on this page: https://ferlans.wordpress.com/2012/04/29/comparing-foreign-and-native-slaves-in-the-books-of-the-law/
Let’s think about the liberty issue. I fear you are forgetting that slavery in the OT was very different from the other types of slavery (in the other ANE nations, the roman empire, the new world, etc.) A slave did not become less human because they sold themselves as slaves in the ANE. It wasn’t about race. (You speak as if you have forgotten that). Let’s go over several points.
These are not data for Israel specifically, but for the Ancient Near East. Some things would have been different in Israel, but this ought to give you an idea of what we are speaking of.
1.The issue of ‘slave’ vs ‘free’
“Freedom in the ancient Near East was a relative, not an absolute state, as the ambiguity of the term for “slave” in all the region’s languages illustrates. “Slave” could be used to refer to a subordinate in the social ladder. Thus the subjects of a king were called his “slaves,” even though they were free citizens. The king himself, if a vassal, was the “slave” of his emperor; kings, emperors, and commoners alike were “slaves” of the gods. Even a social inferior, when addressing a social superior, referred to himself out of politeness as “your slave.” There were, moreover, a plethora of servile conditions that were not regarded as slavery, such as son, daughter, wife, serf, or human pledge.”- A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law 1.40
2. Slavery in the ANE was implemented for the benefit of the poor, not the rich. It was their escape from poverty. It was initiated by the potential slave, not the potential buyer.
3. Entry was overwhelmingly voluntary.
“A person would either enter into slavery or be sold by a parent or relative. Persons sold their wives, grandchildren, brother (with his wife and child), sister, sister-in-law, daughter-in-law, nephews and niece…Many of the documents emphasize that the transaction is voluntary. This applies not only to self-sale but also to those who are the object of sale, although their consent must sometimes have been fictional, as in the case of a nursing infant.” [A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law 1.665]
“War is only mentioned as a source of slavery for public institutions. The most frequently mentioned method of enslavement was sale of children by their parents. Most are women, evidently widows, selling a daughter; in one instance a mother and grandmother sell a boy…There are also examples of self sale.” A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law 1.199
4.Slaves were protected from excessive punishment and abuse and the records of the day generally indicate humane treatment
“[Slaves were generally afforded protection from] Excessive Physical punishment. Even chattel slaves appear to have benefited to some extent from this protection” – A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law 1.43
“First, let us set apart the slaves–the booty of war or in servitude for various reasons–who by definition were totally dependent on their masters, although the latter appear to have treated them fairly humanely, and more like domestic servants.” – Everyday in Ancient Mesopotamia, 114
“Moreover, in general there were probably only a few in each household [in Israel]–there is no indication, for example, that large gangs of them were toiling in deplorable conditions to cultivate big estates, as in the later Roman world” [The Israelites:101]
“Both types (Hebrew, foreign slaves) were domestic slaves living in their owners’ homes, not members of slave gangs working on plantations.” [Notes, Jewish Study Bible, Ex 21]
6. Slaves were regarded as persons and had legal rights. For instance, they could partake in business, borrow money and buy their own freedom
“The definition of slaves as property runs into conceptual as well as empirical problems. ‘Property’ is a shorthand and abstract term for a bundle of very specific and relatively exclusive rights held by a person (or group) relative to a thing (or person). To say that in any given society, something (say, a person) is ‘property’ has meaning only to the extent that the rights involved are specified and understood in the context of other rights prevalent in the society. For example, in many precolonial African societies, the kin group had the right to sell equally its slave and nonslave members, it had equal control over the wealth acquired by either of them, it extracted (or failed to extract) as much labor from one as from the other, and the majority of slaves were quasi-relatives or actual relatives, and, if prosperous enough, could acquire slaves of their own. Here, obviously, one must look at other features to find the difference between the slave and the ‘free’.” Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology 4:1191, s.v. “Slavery”
“Guterbock refers to ‘slaves in the strict sense,’ apparently referring to chattel slaves such as those of classical antiquity. This characterization may have been valid for house slaves whose master could treat them as he wished when they were at fault, but it is less suitable when they were capable of owning property and could pay betrothal money or fines. The meaning ‘servant’ seems more appropriate, or perhaps the designation ‘semi-free’. It comprises every person who is subject to orders or dependent on another but nonetheless has a certain independence within his own sphere of active.” [A History of Ancient Near Eastern Law:1632]
“However, the idea of a slave as exclusively the object of rights and as a person outside regular society was apparently alien to the laws of the ANE.” [Anchor Bible Dictionary s.v. “Slavery, Ancient Near East”]
7. In the ANE, manumission was rare because it wasn’t sought after. Slaves liked the job security, among other things.
“More usually, individual autonomy has meant exposure to danger and predation; safety lay precisely in the protection afforded by the bondage of dependence on groups and patrons. What was desirable was not freedom but belongingness.” Encyclopedia of Cultural Anthropology 4. 1191
In fact, the OT law suggests that the slave might want to remain with his master too because being with him is good
“And if it happens that he says to you, ‘I will not go away from you,’ because he loves you and your house, since he prospers with you…” Deut 15: 16
I’m trying to make a point with this. You make certain statement like,
“The loss of liberty has a terrible toll on people. When people become enslaved they become apathetic. But they also might become vengefull, they might even engage in terrorist action. As a result the society of the enslaving people becomes militarist. The treshold for violence goes down. Slavery reduces human dignity and the general value of human individuals becomes less in the eyes of all involved. Segragation grows between the two groups. And if there is a legal escape clause from slavery, people who are not slaves start to think it is their own fault that these people are slaves. Such clauses are added to slavery laws to smoothen up the guilty conscious of the owners about the oppression slavery is.”
These statements betray a certain mindset about what you believe slavery to be, how you think slaves were treated and what you think slaves were regarded as. Slaves in the OT were not thought of as sub-human. They had the right to their own lives, they had ‘human dignity’, they had value. These are things one can easily deduce from the fact that they could buy their own freedom, their murder was punishable by death, the were not allowed to be punished beyond the punishment for other free Hebrews. In addition to all of that, they had their own property (whatever they had owned before selling themselves, the money paid to them for the sale, they could ‘prosper’ and buy themselves back). In the case of Hebrew slaves, their master gave them a portion of all he had made during the time they served him when they went free after 6 years. They were regarded as part of the family and participated in feasts. They could even eat the sacred offerings if they belonged to a priest (something that no one but members of the priest’s family could do). In other words, anyone who has read the Pentateuch well enough should be able to see this.
There were no ‘two groups’, no segregation, no loss of dignity (any more than the people lost dignity by being referred to as slaves of the king), no inhuman treatment, no apathy. In short, you have mistaken slavery in the OT for something else. This is my fault of course. I ought to have laid this groundwork earlier in our conversation.
Now, if you wish to argue that the slavery in the OT, a perfectly humane system implemented to help the poor of the society, affected them adversely when the rules were followed, do so using facts. Also respond to the facts that I cited here, preferably as comprehensively as I have.