Jeremiah 34:8-22; 33:25-26
The rules of owning Jewish slaves are iterated in this week’s haftorah. The prophet Jeremiah rebukes the people for disobeying the special rules governing holding Hebrew slaves (various rules for slave ownership, slave families, and other people-as-property rules appear in this week’s parsha; along with rules about handling interpersonal grievances like harming or killing each other).
According to the Torah, Jewish slaves must freed and debts cancelled every seven years, preventing the indefinite indentured servitude of a Jew to his fellow Hebrew.
Following Nebuchadnezzar’s conquering of Jerusalem, the Jewish elite freed all their Jewish slaves in an attempt to gain holy forgiveness (as well as secure additional fighting power against the onslaught of Babylonians). But as soon as the siege abates, the slave owners reneged on the promise—and re-enslave those who just helped turn the tide of the battle.
Jeremiah forewarns that those who retrieved their slaves back by force would be [Read more…]