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cified Lev. 19: 13, the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until morning, and, the reward of the hired servant. Job 7: 1, his days like the days of an hireling. Lev. 25: 53, as a yearly hired servant. Ex. 21: 2, where the rule seems referred to as most common, of a six years' service and contract. There was no indefiniteness in any of the legal provisions, no difficulty in ascertaining each servant's rights, and they were not only secured by law, but such tremendous denunciations were added in the prophets, as that in Jer. 22: 13: Wo unto him that useth his neighbor's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work; and Mal. 3: 5, I will be a swift witness against those who defraud the hireling in his wages, and keep the stranger from his right. The stranger comprehended servants, as well as sojourners, of heathen extraction.
Now when the recompense of thirty shekels was ordained for the master, whose servant had been gored by another man's ox, they were to be paid, not because the servant was his, as property, or as being worth that price, as if he were a slave, a chattel, belonging to an owner, but because the master had paid to him the price of a certain number of years of labor, which years the servant owed; and therefore the recompense was for the loss of that part of the service which had been paid for, but, by reason of death, could not be fulfilled. The master did not and could not own him, in any case, but only had a claim to his time and labor, so far as it had been contracted and paid for. It must have been paid for beforehand, because otherwise, if the servant's pay had not been promised till after the time of the contract, the master would have been owing the servant at his death, and could have no claim, but the nearest of the family of the servant would have had the claim. But the case being that of the 77, the six years' hired servant, or perhaps the servant obtained from among the heathen, the master has the claim for services which was paid for, but not fulfilled.
The legal term of service for six years could not be lengthened, except at the pleasure of the servant. The manservant and the maid-servant were equally free in making
their contracts; neither of them could be held at the pleasure of the master, nor could be disposed of, but at their own pleasure. They were perfectly free, except so far as by their own act and free will they had bound themselves for an equivalent to a term of service. Under certain contingencies they could, by law, compel their master to keep them, but he could never use them as property, never make merchandise of them, never transfer them over to another. If a maid-servant chose to contract herself to her master's family, in such manner that he on his part could keep her till the Jubilee, and she on her part could forbid his sending her away, then both herself and her children were to remain till that time. The covenant was legal and explicit. They were bound to him, in his service, and could not quit, but with his consent, till that time. On the other hand, he was bound to them, and could not transfer them to another family, country, or household, nor any one of them, nor convey their service to any other person.
This is to be regarded in examining the next clause, which states the one only condition on which the servant could be retained by the master until the Jubilee. If, during his period of six years' service, his master had given him a wife, and she had borne him children, then, at the end of the six years, he could not, in quitting his master's service, compel the master to relinquish the contract, whatever it was, which had given him a right to the service of the maidservant, his wife, for a still longer period, or to the Jubilee. It was optional with him to leave his wife and children with his master, and go out from his service by himself alone, or he could stay, and with his wife and children engage with his master anew, until the Jubilee; and his master could never separate the family, nor send any one of them away, nor violate any of the terms of the contract; and both for time and for wages the covenant was at the pleasure of the servant, as well as the master, and by law
a , as a yearly hired servant, and not as an 77, or servant of all times and all work; as a servant on stipulated monthly or
, כִּשְׂכִיר שָׁנָה בְּשָׁנָה the master was compelled to treat him as a
yearly wages, and not as one whose whole time of service until the Jubilee had been bargained for and paid for in the lump. The whole covenant was determined and ratified in court, before the Judges, with the greatest care and solemnity, on the affirmation of the servant that he loved not only his wife and children, but his master also, and his house, and was well with him, (comp. Deut. 15: 16,) and would not go away from him. The sign of the covenant, and its proof positive and incontrovertible, so that neither master nor servant could by fraud have broken it, was the boring of the ear, both of man-servant and maid-servant.
This transaction was entered into by the servant, notwithstanding the claim of a liberal outfit from his master, from the flock, and the floor, and the wine-press, to which he was en. titled by law, if he chose to leave his service. The receiving a wife from his master, during any time of his six years' service, was also at the servant's own pleasure ; all the conditions of such marriage being perfectly well known to him, the dowry which he would have to pay for his wife, if he remained with her, being in part the assuming of a new con. tract of service with the master, as long as hers had been assumed, or to the Jubilee. And then, they and their chil. dren would go from his service, with all the property they had been able to acquire by their wages and privileges in his household. This, if they had been provident and sagacious in the use of lawful means and opportunities, might at length amount to an important sum. The servant might become possessor of a competency, during a twenty-five or thirty years' sojourn in his master's family. And the servant born in the house, his son (727);), the home-born (), or of the sons of the house, might become his master's heir, as in the household of Abraham; or he himself might be his master's steward, with all the wealth of the establishment under his hand.
The position of such an my, or Hebrew servant, or even heathen servant (as in the case of Eliezer of Damascus), might be more desirable than that of the hired servant not belonging to the family. It was only households of com.
paratively considerable wealth, that could afford to enter into such contracts with their servants, or to keep a retinue of retainers born in the house. Hence the fact of having such a class of servants is referred to in such a manner as proves it to have been esteemed a mark of greatness and prosperity (Eccl. 2:7). And these domestic servants, born in the family and holding by law such a claim upon it, were attached to it, and its members to them, with an affection and kindness like that of its sons and daughters, one toward another. Perhaps the passage in Jer. 2: 14 may be rendered with reference to this fact: “Is Israel a servant ()? If a home-born (1-37-08), why is he a spoil ? How should he be carried away and made a prey, if he belongs to the household, if he is the home-born of his God? These home-born servants, and those whose contract of service lasted beyond the six years' term of ordinary legal indenture, were at the same time to be treated on the same footing with the hired servants and sojourners, with the same careful regard to all their rights and privileges.
In connection with the case of the master giving his servant a wife, the instance of Sheshan is illustrative (1 Chron, 3: 34, 35). Sheshan had no sons, and he gave one of his daughters as a wife to one of his household servants named Jarha, an Egyptian. This Egyptian servant, beyond all doubt, was received into Sheshan's service on the legal conditions laid down in Lev. xxv., on a contract voluntary and for a stipulated equivalent. There is not the slightest indication of his ever having been a slave. Egyptian strangers and sojourners among the Hebrews, as well as those from other nations, often sold themselves to service in this manner in the Holy Land. Yet with such reckless confidence and mistake, characterizing the assertions of too many commentators on this whole subject, it is asserted in Kitto's Cyclopaedia (article Sheshan), that Jarha was not only a slave, but that his marriage took place while the children of Israel were themselves in bondage in Egypt! This is said, notwithstanding the fact that the recorded genealogy of Sheshan demonstrates that he was contemporary with Boaz, Obed,
and Jesse, being in the seventh generation in direct descent from Hezron the grandson of Judah.
There is no other instance, save this in Ex. 21:4, (which is plainly mentioned as an exception to a general rule,) in which any claim of the master to the children of his servants is ever intimated. The home-born - and the sons of the house — though in subjection to him, as the father of the family, and lord of the household, were not his property, in any sense; and because he had a servantmaid, her children were not on that account his servants, except by a separate specific contract. No child, whether Hebrew or heathen, in the land of Judea, was born to invol. untary servitude, because the father, or mother, or both, were servants; but every child of the house was born a member of the family, dependent on the master for education and subsistence. If married persons engaged themselves as servants, or sold themselves, according to Hebrew phraseology, then, when the six years' time of their service expired, they went forth free, and their children with them; there was never any
the children to retain them merely because they were 1977, sons of the house; but their parents had authority over them, and possession of them. The phraseology in the case before us, the wife and her children
, , meaning of possession, but simply of remaining with the master, as long as the contract specified, as long as he had a right by law to her services. Inasmuch as she herself was not, and could not be, her master's, except only by voluntary contract, for a price paid to herself, and for a time specified, neither could the children be her master's. The only way in which he could give her to her husband to be his wife was, (1) either by paying to her father the dowry required, and so purchasing her for a wife for his servant, in which case he would have a claim upon his or her services or both, additional to the amount of that dowry; or (2) she was his maid-servant already according to the ordinary or extraordinary legal contract, for the six years (Deut. 16: 12), or for the time from the making of a new contract, till the
conveys no ,הָאִשָּׁה וִילָדֶיהָ תִּהְיֶה לַאדֹנֶיהָ ,shall be her master's