WHENEVER WE GO, OUR HEARTS STAY ONLY IN JERUSALEM
MENTAL ILLNESS IN HOLY CITY
“One doesn’t go to Jerusalem, one returns to it. That’s one of its mysteries. “
Jerusalem. Golden city, lost in the mist of the three great monotheistic religions, stuck in the centuries for being discovered every new day, as the reason of the whole world to keep going. There is something so magical about Jerusalem that doesn’t exist anywhere else but in the impressions of those who fed their spirits in this city, who found soul peace in the same Jerusalem which has been always the ground for war among people and among religions. One and only. Alpha and omega of the book of civilization. The beginning and the end of all of us. No matter who we are or what we do, we burn with the same passion for our Jerusalem. We live for the sanctified nature of Jerusalem and we die for cherishing it. After eternity, Jerusalem gives us colors of our existence.
All Abraham religions consider Jerusalem as the holy city because of its historical significance and the fact that the majority of sacred places are exactly located in this legendary place. God is hidden in Jerusalem or at least, if you talk to Him there, He might answer to you. However, the timeless beauty of Jerusalem is a collage of different believes and praying sounds. The tragedy of Jerusalem is to be everyone’s in the same time but no one’s really. When Jews claim that Jerusalem is Jewish, Muslims will deny it while Christians will state that Jerusalem is the alphabet of Christianity. So many grudges and lack of pure love turned this amazing city into the fire ground, into the war without end. Everyone against everyone for nothing but the greed and religious fanaticism. If God is somehow there, I am sure He is embarrassed by all His children.
“Ten measures of beauty were created in this world; nine were taken by Jerusalem and one by the rest of the world. Jerusalem is a beauty unparalleled.”
Jewish name for Jerusalem is Yerushalayim and it is the holiest city in Judaism and the homeland of the Jewish fate since 10th century BCE.This is why it is obligated for Jews outside the city to pray facing its direction. The famous Kotel known as the Western Wall is the center of Jewish Quarter of the city :“A remnant of the retaining wall of the mount on which the Holy Temple once stood.Inside the temple was the Holy of Holies, the most sacred site in Judaism.Jews believe that this was the location of the foundation stone from which the world was created, and where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son Isaac. Many Jews believe the Dome of the Rock is the site of the Holy of Holies.Today, the Western Wall is the closest place Jews can pray to the Holy of Holies.” Even the Talmud is divided into two parts: Talmud Yerushalmi (Jerusalem Talmud) and the Talmud Bavli (Babylonian Talmud). The references about the Talmud usually consider the Babylonian Talmud while the Jerusalem Talmud is known as the Palestinian Talmud or Talmud of the Land of Israel and it is not so analyzed as the second one set of instructions. Beside that, the holy city is mentioned more than hundreds of time in Tanach (The Five books of Moses, so called Written Torah) and as Jews believe, God’s face is over Jerusalem while so many people gave lives to build the holy temple and to ensure the God’s presence. As it is stated, every single Jew knows what is Yerushalayim for the whole line of Jewish blood and that goes from one to another generation.
“That he heard Allah’s Apostle saying, ‘When the people of Quraish did not believe me (i.e. the story of my Night Journey), I stood up in Al-Hijr and Allah displayed Jerusalem in front of me, and I began describing it to them while I was looking at it.”
In Islamic Religion, this city is famous as Al-Quds, the third holy site for Muslims who share Sunni tradition, along with Mecca and Medina:“The Muslim Quarter is the largest of the four and contains the shrine of the Dome of Rock and the al-Aqsa Mosque on a plateau known to Muslims as Haram al-Sharif, or the Noble Sanctuary.The mosque is the third holiest site in Islam and is under the administration of an Islamic trust called the Waqf. Muslims believe the Prophet Muhammad traveled here from Mecca during his night journey and prayed with the souls of all the prophets. A few steps away, the shrine of the Dome of the Rock holds the foundation stone, where Muslims believe Muhammad then ascended to heaven.” Muslim believe that Jerusalem was the first direction of prayer, before The Kaaba in Mecca and the importance of Al-Aqsa Mosque is the big one for the whole Islamic world. The uncleared inter religious boundaries between Jews and Muslims in Jerusalem make things being more complicated for the final political solution of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
“Arise, Jerusalem! Let your light shine for all to see. For the Glory of the Lord rises to shine on you”
The Christianity is based on the idea that Jesus was crucified in Jerusalem, on Golgotha, on the hill of Calvary so his tomb is also considered as the sacred site of his resurrection. There are a lot of different denominations:”The Greek Orthodox Patriarchate, Franciscan friars from the Roman Catholic Church and the Armenian Patriarchate, but also by the Ethiopians, Coptics and Syrian Orthodox Church.” All of them are united in glorying this golden city and that is the main ground why so many pilgrims are coming every day over there, visiting the empty tomb of Jesus and hoping for the God’s blessings through the prayers. Christians strongly believe that Jewish ties with Jerusalem are based on the God’s preference for chosen people and it is enough to said that for many years, the holy Jerusalem was the center of the world for Christians. If we go back to history and crusading wars, there is no other conclusion than to emphasis that all Christian lands have looked at Jerusalem as the holder of the faith,as the base of Christian civilization and the whole heritage. It doesn’t surprise a lot the madness of the radical Christians who connect Jerusalem with the Judgment Day and the importance goes up rapidly.
Now when we know the mythological shield of the city, we must elaborate the another phenomena which has been noticed lately and it is very much related to our eternal city. The Jerusalem Syndrome. This syndrome is old almost like the holy city but it has never been given so much attention or at least it hasn’t been identified as such. The story about it is very inviting and thrilling. The Jerusalem Syndrome is a term for some kind of psychotic and delusional behavior of tourists who visit the holy city. The majority of those affected with this mental illness are religious tourists who get into the depth of faith when they step into Jerusalem and breathe in the centuries of the rich religious heritage. The businessman from Canada believed that he must take one stone from the Wailing Wall, the teacher from Ireland was convinced she will give a birth to baby Jesus, the Austrian teenager was sure he saw King David and spoke to him. Those people are not just unstable in psychological way, they are hyper sensible in spiritual way. They are so fragile and easy to be intoxicated by Jerusalem that the diagnosis of soul madness comes very fast :“The Jerusalem Syndrome was first clinically identified by Dr. Yair Bar El, formerly director of the Kfar Shaul Psychiatric Hospital. Bar El studied 470 tourists who were referred for treatment between 1979 and 1993. On the basis of his work with these visitors, who had been declared temporarily insane, Bar El reached some fascinating conclusions.Of the 470 visitors from all over the world who were hospitalized, 66 percent were Jews, 33 percent were Christians and one percent had no known religious affiliation. Bar El is quick to point out that it is not only tourists who demonstrate behavior that indicates the Jerusalem Syndrome; in fact local residents can be temporarily or permanently affected as well.”
The Israeli Ministry of health informs that every year there are about 50 new cases of religious tourists who suffer from the Jerusalem Syndrome. The statistic grows in Easter weekend and the health officers are all over the streets of the Old City to offer the necessary health. It is interesting that Jews and Christians are among those who experience this delusion but there is no record about the Muslims with this Syndrome, in spite the fact of the great significance of Jerusalem for Muslim people too. Usually, the targeted people are those who were already suffering from psychotic moments and they only find a fertile field in the holy city to deliberate their hidden fears and tensions and to set themselves free in own theater. The mentioned people are harmless and they get better after recovery in local mental hospital Kfar Shaul Mental Health Centre , built for that purpose. What was the most fascinating for the researchers are the third category of the Jerusalem Syndrome patients. These are people with no history of mental illness and who lose their minds for a while in this religious city. According to some studies, there were 42 cases of people who suffered psychotic episodes while they were in Jerusalem and after they left the city, the madness has been gone. All of them were ultra religious and radical protestants which explains a lot the mentioned psychopathology in the holy city:” Among them was a Swiss lawyer who arrived in Jerusalem as part of a tour of the Mediterranean. He spent a perfectly happy week with friends in Greece before reaching Jerusalem, where he became obsessed with ritual purity and started wearing sheets as a gown and calling out verses from the Bible. Within days he recovered and went on with his group to Egypt, apparently never suffering any mental health problems again.”
There is nothing supernatural about the holy city of Jerusalem but there is everything about the ancient beauty and mesmerizing glory of the city which has been the pearl of all main religions. We don’t need to be fanatical believers to accept the timeless meaning of this city and to catch the pictures from the past imprinted in every corner of the Old Town. It is enough that we are humans, so small in the front of our Gods who count our sins and encourage our good deeds. In that moment, we live the story old like the oldest city. We breathe in the whole mankind’s drama and breathe out our own, primitive fear. Fear from being punished because we are not good or because we are really bad. That fear is older than the most ancient street in our beautiful Jerusalem.
God is love and we should find him wherever we go. Jerusalem could be closer to God but that doesn’t mean we are closer to God only if we are over there. It means that we are bringing God’s love wherever we go and that we are safe, from external and internal demons.
Jerusalem shines for eternity, for all of us.The darkness is only within us and it must be defeated by light.
4 thoughts on “THE JERUSALEM SYNDROME-LIFE THROUGH THE MADNESS OF ETERNITY”
So beautifully and eloquently wtitten! I read the whole article from beginning to end without moving! This is how riveting the writing and the story are!
Thank you so much Sandra for this wonderful and informative article!
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A VILE GOD, A VILE BOOK
AND A VILE PEOPLE
THE GENOCIDAL GOD OF THE JEWS
“I form the LIGHT, and create DARKNESS. I make PEACE, and create EVIL.
I the LORD do all these things.” – Isaiah 45.7.
All cultures have anthropomorphized their gods into humanoid (if sometimes grotesque) form. Were the Jews the exception? Hardly. We know precisely what the Hebrew god looked like. We are, after all, fashioned in his own likeness! “Yahweh”, in fact, is an abbreviation of the longer name, “Yahweh Sabaoth.” It means, “He who musters armies.” Thus Yahweh’s name identifies the god primarily as the military leader of the tribe. No wonder the God bequeathed to the world by the Jews turned out to be a monster.
A GOD IN THE IMAGE OF THE JEW
“The Lord is a man of war; Yahweh is his name.” – Exodus 15.3.
“Whenever we read the obscene stories, the voluptuous debaucheries, the cruel and tortuous executions, the unrelenting vindictiveness, with which more than half the Bible is filled, it would be more consistent that we called it the word of a demon than the word of God. It is a history of wickedness, that has served to corrupt and brutalize mankind; and, for my part, I sincerely detest it, as I detest everything that is cruel.”
Thomas Paine, The Age of Reason
Without a doubt, the human race has been bludgeoned with books about this one tome, the Jewish Bible. The Jewish Bible is full of violence and ugly stories, with a few “feel-good” platitudes and parables interspersed. It’s hardly worth reading. Other than a handful of spiritual gems that can be found in virtually any religion, the Jewish Bible is irrelevant. A person with an innate sense of right and wrong needs none of its teachings, sparse as they are. Reading the Jewish Bible, in fact, can make one highly depraved. Many a serial rapist and killer has also been a Jewish Bible fanatic. They have taken seriously the punishments exacted throughout the Old Testament, such as stoning for “adulterous” women, “the Lord” punishing “his chosen” by making them eat each other, etc., ad nauseam.
In Numbers 31:14-18, Moses becomes enraged that his minions hadn’t finished off the people of Midian after the Hebrews had destroyed and pillaged the Midianites’ cities and enslaved the survivors. Moses immediately orders his thugs to kill all the male children and married women but to reserve the virgin girls for themselves – to rape, of course.
Hardly something we should be teaching our children. The Jewish Bible is the ultimate controlling device.
NATURAL BORN KILLERS
God tells Abraham to sacrifice Isaac.
Boy terrified in ritual abuse in the mountains -Yahweh cult’s ‘Test of Fear’
“God put Abraham to the test … Abraham built an altar … bound Isaac hand & foot … took the slaughtering knife to kill his son … But the angel of the Lord began calling … ‘Do not put out your hand against the boy …. for now I know that you fear the Lord …’ (Genesis 22.1,12)
The story of Isaac is NOT a condemnation of child sacrifice. Isaac was spared not because human sacrifice was seen to be wrong but because Isaac was the “child of promise” and needed to survive. The yarn requires the normality of human sacrifice. Abraham was praised for his willingness to appease Yahweh by killing his own son. The sham murder of Isaac (the ‘Aquedah’) was the prototype for a ‘redemptive sacrificial death’ subsequently re-worked as the crucified Jesus.
It should be noted that in the biblical text, Isaac (like Jesus) is repeatedly called “the only son” of Abraham (Genesis 22.2., 12., 16.) even though Abraham actually has another, older son, Ishmael.
Moses orders Levite fanatics to murder 3000 golden-calf enthusiasts.
“‘Today,’ Moses said, ‘you have consecrated yourself to Yahweh, at the cost of your sons and brothers. And so he bestows a blessing on you today.'”
When the Lord says kill everyone He means EVERYONE!
Saul loses out:
“You didn’t kill enough,” says the Lord. “You can’t be king!”
“And Saul defeated the Amalekites … and devoted to destruction all the people … But Saul spared Agag and … all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them. All that was despised and worthless they devoted to destruction.
And Samuel said, “What then is this bleating of the sheep in my ears and the lowing of the oxen that I hear?” … Then Samuel said, “Bring here to me Agag the king of the Amalekites.” And Agag came to him cheerfully … And Samuel hacked Agag to pieces before the LORD in Gilgal. And the LORD regretted that he had made Saul king over Israel.”
– 1 Samuel 15
The LORD delivers 10,000 Canaanites and Perizzites for slaughter in Bezek. As part of the fun 71 kings have their thumbs and big toes cut off.
“And the LORD said, Judah shall go up: behold, I have delivered the land into his hand … Then Judah went up, and the Lord delivered the Canaanites and the Perizzites into their hand; and they killed ten thousand men at Bezek.”
– Judges 1.2-4.
Elisha orders the assassination of Jezebel.
(2 Kings 9,5,37)
Joshua Slaughters 31 kings
Elijah Murders 450 Priests of Baal.
(1 Kings 18.40)
Samson Slays 1000 Philistines (with an ass’s jawbone! )
King Amaziah of Judah (c. 801–783 BC) throws 10,000 captive Edomites from the top of a rock.
(2 Chronicles 25.12)
Usurper Jehu tricks all the priests of Baal into temple slaughter.
(2 Kings 10.19.30)
“Jehu said to the guard and to the captains, Go in, slay them; let none come forth. And they smote them with the edge of the sword; and the guard and the captains cast them out, and went to the city of the house of Baal. And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them.”
THE JEWISH GOD WAS DELIGHTED WITH THE MASSACRE
“And the LORD said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing right in mine eyes, hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the 4th generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.”
In Joshua’s (supposed) wars of conquest, God gets right in there. He throws down ‘great stones from heaven’ (Joshua 10.11) and scores a better body-count than his Israelites with mere swords. When the Lord gets up a real head of steam the slaughter reaches a truly epic scale. For merely looking into his Ark, Yahweh wipes out fifty thousand and seventy unfortunate men of Bethshemesh (1 Samuel 6.19). When King David slips up and orders a national census, an enraged God zaps seventy thousand.
Quite apart from the celestial superman’s own killing, he animates his favourites into wiping out whole cities and nations. Jericho, Sodom, Gomorrah, Ai, Makkedah, Libnah etc., etc., are ‘smote and consumed’ – men, women, young, old, ox, sheep and ass!
‘You shall annihilate them – Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, Jebusites – as Yahweh your God commanded you.’
– Deuteronomy 20.11,18.
In the largest single god-inspired massacre in the Bible, one million (1,000,000) Ethiopians are slaughtered! (2 Chronicles 14).
MOSES AND SLAVERY
Except for murder, slavery has got to be one of the most immoral things a person can do. Yet slavery is rampant throughout the JEWISH Bible in both the Old and New Testaments. The JEWISH Bible clearly approves of slavery in many passages, and it goes so far as to tell how to obtain slaves, how hard you can beat them, and when you can have sex with the female slaves.
Many Jews and Christians will try to ignore the moral problems of slavery by saying that these slaves were actually servants or indentured servants. Many translations of the JEWISH Bible use the word “servant”, “bondservant”, or “manservant” instead of “slave” to make the JEWISH Bible seem less immoral than it really is. While many slaves may have worked as household servants, that doesn’t mean that they were not slaves who were bought, sold, and treated worse than livestock.
The following passage shows that slaves are clearly property to be bought and sold like livestock.
“However, you may purchase male or female slaves from among the foreigners who live among you. You may also purchase the children of such resident foreigners, including those who have been born in your land. You may treat them as your property, passing them on to your children as a permanent inheritance. You may treat your slaves like this, but the people of Israel, your relatives, must never be treated this way”. (Leviticus 25:44-46)
The following passage describes how the Hebrew slaves are to be treated.
“If you buy a Hebrew slave, he is to serve for only six years. Set him free in the seventh year, and he will owe you nothing for his freedom. If he was single when he became your slave and then married afterward, only he will go free in the seventh year. But if he was married before he became a slave, then his wife will be freed with him. If his master gave him a wife while he was a slave, and they had sons or daughters, then the man will be free in the seventh year, but his wife and children will still belong to his master. But the slave may plainly declare, ‘I love my master, my wife, and my children. I would rather not go free.’ If he does this, his master must present him before God. Then his master must take him to the door and publicly pierce his ear with an awl. After that, the slave will belong to his master forever”. (Exodus 21:2-6)
Notice how they can get a male Hebrew slave to become a permanent slave by keeping his wife and children hostage until he says he wants to become a permanent slave. What kind of family values are these?
The following passage describes the sickening practice of sex slavery. How can anyone think it is moral to sell your own daughter as a sex slave?
“When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she will not be freed at the end of six years as the men are. If she does not please the man who bought her, he may allow her to be bought back again. But he is not allowed to sell her to foreigners, since he is the one who broke the contract with her. And if the slave girl’s owner arranges for her to marry his son, he may no longer treat her as a slave girl, but he must treat her as his daughter. If he himself marries her and then takes another wife, he may not reduce her food or clothing or fail to sleep with her as his wife. If he fails in any of these three ways, she may leave as a free woman without making any payment”. (Exodus 21:7-11)
So these are the JEWISH Bible family values! A man can buy as many sex slaves as he wants as long as he feeds them, clothes them, and has sex with them!
What does the JEWISH Bible say about beating slaves? It says you can beat both male and female slaves with a rod so hard that as long as they don’t die right away you are cleared of any wrong doing
“When a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod so hard that the slave dies under his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives for a day or two, he is not to be punished, since the slave is his own property”. (Exodus 21:20-21)
You would think that Jesus and the New Testament would have a different view of slavery, but slavery is still approved of in the New Testament, as the following passages show.
“Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ”. (Ephesians 6:5 )
“Christians who are slaves should give their masters full respect so that the name of God and his teaching will not be shamed. If your master is a Christian, that is no excuse for being disrespectful. You should work all the harder because you are helping another believer by your efforts. Teach these truths, Timothy, and encourage everyone to obey them”. (1 Timothy 6:1-2)
In the following parable, Jesus clearly approves of beating slaves even if they didn’t know they were doing anything wrong.
The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it. “But people who are not aware that they are doing wrong will be punished only lightly. Much is required from those to whom much is given, and much more is required from those to whom much more is given.” (Luke 12:47-48)
The Jewish Bible may, indeed does, contain a warrant for trafficking in humans, for ethnic cleansing, for slavery, for bride-price, and for indiscriminate massacre
In contemporary times, slavery is almost universally reviled; while human trafficking and similar practices are still far too common, people generally no longer argue that human beings should be owned like property. However, through most of human history, well into the nineteenth century, slavery was (notwithstanding the opinions of the enslaved) broadly accepted as an economic and social necessity.
Slavery was an important facet of life in biblical times. Both the Old and the New Testaments have instructions regarding slaves which contemporary Jews and Christians generally disregard, and which Christian apologists frequently attempt to play down or deny.
Some fringe Christian Biblical literalists, notably those who believe in Dominionism, argue that biblical instructions regarding slavery and its institutions are still relevant.
SLAVERY IN THE JEWISH BIBLE
The Bible identifies different categories of slaves including female Hebrew slaves, male Hebrew slaves, non-Hebrew and hereditary slaves. These were subject to different regulations.
Female Hebrews could be sold by their fathers and enslaved for life (Exodus 21:7-11), but under some conditions.
Male Hebrews could sell themselves into slavery for a six year period to eliminate their debts, after this period they might go free. However, if the male slave had been given a wife and had children with her, they would remain his master’s property. They could only stay with their family by becoming permanent slaves. (Exodus 21:2-5). Evangelical Christians, especially those who subscribe to Biblical inerrancy, will commonly emphasize this debt bondage and try to minimise the other forms of race-based chattel slavery when attempting to excuse the Bible for endorsing slavery.
Non-Hebrews, on the other hand, could (according to Leviticus 25:44) be subjected to slavery in exactly the way that it is usually understood. The slaves could be bought, sold and inherited when their owner died. This, by any standard, is race- or ethnicity-based, and Leviticus 25:44-46 explicitly allows slaves to be bought from foreign nations or foreigners living in Israel. It does say that simply kidnapping Hebrews to enslave them is a crime punishable by death (Deuteronomy 24:7), but no such prohibition exists regarding foreigners. War captives could be made slaves, assuming they had refused to make peace (this applied to women and children-men were simply killed), along with the seizure of all their property.(Deuteronomy 20:10-15)
Hereditary slaves were born into slavery and there is no apparent way by which they could obtain their freedom.
So the Bible endorses various types of slavery, see below – though Biblical literalists only want to talk about one version and claim that it wasn’t really so bad.
TYPES OF SLAVERY
As previously stated the JEWISH Bible endorsed different types or grades of slavery.
FEMALE HEBREW SLAVES
Female Hebrew slaves were to be treated differently from males. Parents could sell their daughters into slavery. (Exodus 21:7-11)
7If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do. 8If she is displeasing in the eyes of her master who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He does not have authority to sell her to a foreign people because of his unfairness to her. 9If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters. 10If he takes to himself another woman, he may not reduce her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights. 11If he will not do these three things for her, then she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.
MALE HEBREW SLAVES
2If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment. 3If he comes alone, he shall go out alone; if he is the husband of a wife, then his wife shall go out with him. 4If his master gives him a wife, and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall belong to her master, and he shall go out alone. 5But if the slave plainly says, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children; I will not go out as a free man,’ 6then his master shall bring him to God, then he shall bring him to the door or the doorpost. And his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall serve him permanently.
It is interesting to note that if a slave wishes to remain with his wife and family he must submit to his master for life.
On the other hand Hebrew slaves – and only those Hebrew slaves who entered slavery “voluntarily” – got some severance package as described in Deuteronomy 15:12-15:
12If your kinsman, a Hebrew man or woman, is sold to you, then he shall serve you six years, but in the seventh year you shall set him free. 13When you set him free, you shall not send him away empty-handed. 14You shall furnish him liberally from your flock and from your threshing floor and from your wine vat; you shall give to him as the LORD your God has blessed you. 15You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the LORD your God redeemed you; therefore I command you this today.
If the Israelites wanted full slaves they were instructed in Leviticus 25:44-46:
44As for your male and female slaves whom you may have—you may acquire male and female slaves from the pagan nations that are around you. 45Then, too, it is out of the sons of the sojourners who live as aliens among you that you may gain acquisition, and out of their families who are with you, whom they will have produced in your land; they also may become your possession. 46You may even bequeath them to your sons after you, to receive as a possession; you can use them as permanent slaves. But in respect to your countrymen, the sons of Israel, you shall not rule with severity over one another.
The children of slaves were born into slavery. Exodus 21:4:
If his master gives him a wife, and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall belong to her master, and he shall go out alone.
Beating slaves was perfectly allowable under the following rules:
20If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished. 21If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property.
26If a man strikes the eye of his male or female slave, and destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye. 27And if he knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, he shall let him go free on account of his tooth.
ABDUCTION AND SLAVE TRADE
Hebrews were not allowed to abduct fellow Hebrews and sell them.
Exodus 21:16: 16
He who kidnaps a man, whether he sells him or he is found in his possession, shall surely be put to death.
Given that the Hebrews were instructed in Leviticus 25 v 44 to obtain their slaves from the people around them, it is evident that this injunction to not abduct people referred to Hebrews and not non-Hebrews. Obtaining and selling non-Hebrews was evidently not a problem. Deuteronomy 24:7 specifies that only the abduction of Hebrews to enslave them is a crime.
An escaped slave could not be handed over to his master, and would gain full citizenship among Israelites:
15You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. 16He shall live with you in your midst, in the place which he shall choose in one of your towns where it pleases him; you shall not mistreat him.
However, as BibleTrack complementaries put it regarding Deut 23:15
“Most students of the Old Testament agree that this regulation concerns a slave who has escaped from his master in some foreign land and sought refuge in Israel. We do know that, in addition to slaves captured in battle, debt slavery and voluntary slavery existed in Israel and was protected by law, so it seems unlikely that this law applies to those two categories of slaves. We simply aren’t given any detail beyond these two verses.
SLAVERY IN THE NEW TESTAMENT
The New Testament makes no condemnation of slavery and does no more than admonish slaves to be obedient and their masters not to be unfair. Paul, or whoever wrote the epistles, at no time suggested there was anything wrong with slavery. One could speculate that this might have been because he wanted to avoid upsetting the many slave owners in the early Christian congregations or to keep on good political terms with the Roman government. Or, more probably, he simply thought slavery was an acceptable fact of life as did practically everyone else at the time.
5Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; 6not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. 7With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, 8knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free.
Christian slaves were told to obey their masters “for the sake of the cause” and be especially obedient to Christian masters:
1 Timothy 6:1-2:
1All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against. 2Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.
There are instructions for Christian slave owners to treat their slaves well.
9And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.
1Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven.
One passage often cited by apologists as supposed evidence for New Testament condemnation of slavery is 1 Timothy 1:10. However, as the King James version accurately translates, this condemnation is of “men stealers” (Greek: andrapodistais), i.e. slave raiders who kidnapped and sold people as slaves, not slave traders or slave holders in general. So Paul only singled out slave raiders to be considered “lawless and rebellious,” and to be categorized with murderers, homosexuals, liars and oath breakers.
The rather bland admonishment to slave masters by Paul is more than balanced by the demands for absolute obedience made of slaves. It is also rather telling that the masters are likened to God and Jesus, while the masters are simply told that they have a higher lord. So much for Jesus as the embodiment of the underdog – Paul could have pointed to Jesus’ imprisonment and death as a cautionary tale to slave masters that even humble(d) characters can be important.
Before the apologist plays the “but Jesus didn’t condone slavery”-card, following all these Pauline examples, try reading Matthew 18:25, where Jesus uses slaves in a parable and has no qualms about recommending that not only a slave but also his wife and family be sold, while in other parables Jesus recommends that disobedient slaves should be beaten (Luke 12:47) or even killed (Matthew 24:51).
This is probably one of the clearest example of religious moral relativism.
Most modern Christians prefer to avoid, or are unaware of, these sections of the JEWISH Bible. If forced to explain JEWISH Biblical justification for slavery, they may come up with something, but fortunately Christians as a group think it would be wrong to reintroduce slavery. Christian attempts to justify what is in the JEWISH Bible can lead to them sanctioning things that most moral humanists, and even most Christians, would say are wrong, as can be seen from the quote below.
CHRISTIANS ATTEMPT TO JUSTIFY SLAVERY:
“They ‘shall be of the heathen’ is the key phrase here. God approved of slavery in this instance only because it was His hope that those who became slaves of the Israelites from foreign nations might “be saved.” Even though they would lose their earthly freedom, God hoped that they would gain eternal freedom by coming to know Him, which is far more important.”
ATTEMPTS TO JUSTIFY THE JEWISH BIBLE’S SLAVERY PASSAGES
Argument 1: “Slavery in the Bible was more enlightened than that of 17th-19th Century America and other Ancient Near East cultures.”
Even granting this point for the sake of argument, this fails to answer the simple question: is owning another human ever moral, or not? The relative kindness of a slave owner does not enter into the basic moral question of owning other humans as property.
Argument 2: “They could be let go after 6 years” or “It was a mechanism for protecting the those who could not pay their debts.” (A.k.a. “Debt bondage”)
Only some Hebrew male slaves were to be freed in the 7th year (Exodus 21:2). Slaves from surrounding countries could be kept as property forever (Leviticus 25:44-46). A further exception pertains to women whose fathers sold them into slavery, and for whom there was no release after six years (Exodus 21:7).
Argument 3: The Bible restricted slave owners’ actions (Exodus 21:20).
Exodus 21:20 does mandate punishment for a master who kills a slave with a rod, but the very next verse says “But if the slave survives a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owner’s property” (NRSV). The NIV, by contrast, translates this verse as “if the slave recovers after a day or two”, which changes its meaning. Either way, the emphasis is that the slave is first and foremost property, and therefore the greatest loss is to the owner, whose slave was “as good as money”.
Argument 4: “Slavery was allowed by God because of the time period, but was not the ideal will of God.”
There are many ways a creative, all-knowing, and all-powerful deity could make it clear that slavery is immoral while, for instance, giving the Israelite economy a grace period to let slavery “wind down”, should that be necessary. The passages concerning slavery from the Pentateuch (e.g. Exodus 21:2-7, Leviticus 25:44-46), by contrast, provide guidelines that allow for slavery to continue indefinitely. New Testament writers, too, who had an opportunity to overturn or clarify the Pentateuch’s instructions, did not do so.
Also it seems improbable that a God who was capable of assassinating israelites by the thousand if they did not follow his instructions to the letter would baulk at telling them to give up slaves.
Argument 5: “The term ‘slave’ is a poor translation. It should be ‘servant’.”
This may be plausible in some contexts, but not for Leviticus 25:46, which specifically allows that slaves are property who may be inherited by the owner’s children and kept for life. This passage makes no sense unless they are discussing slavery—permanent ownership of one human by another—as we know it today.
Jesus’ parable of the unforgiving servant (Matthew 18:23) makes no sense if said “servant” is not a slave, since the master has the power to sell both the “servant”, his wife and his children (Matthew 18:25).
It also makes little sense in the case of Matthew 24:51 in which these “servants” may be not only beaten by their master (as in Luke 12:47), but that the master “shall cut him asunder” in the words of the King James translation.
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