“If a man sells his daughter as a slave,
she is not to go free like the men-slaves.
If her master married her but decides she no longer pleases him,
then he is to allow her to be redeemed.
He is not allowed to sell her to a foreign people,
because he has treated her unfairly.
If he has her marry his son,
then he is to treat her like a daughter.
If he marries another wife,
he is not to reduce her food, clothing or marital rights.
If he fails to provide her with these three things,
she is to be given her freedom without having to pay anything.”
In this passage we are dealing with a situation where a father sells his daughter to another man.
Why would this happen?
Most likely because the father was in dire economic straits.
It’s also clear from the context that the impoverished father is selling her NOT to perform labor as would be the case of the male slave, but as some sort of concubine.
This is why the conditions of her servitude are different from those of the male slave.
A concubine is NOT a legal wife, but in some respects does hold a similar status.
The biggest difference is that in the case of a proper wife, a KETUBAH or a marriage contract was drawn up.
Another major difference is that a Hebrew would NOT sell a proper legal wife.
However, on occasion, he would sell a concubine.
The fact that God is so directly and specifically addressing this issue shows that this must have been a common occurrence.
Now I am well aware that for us in the modern West, the depiction of this situation seems very unseemly.
In response, I reiterate a point I made in my last post.
One good way to look at what is happening here is that for the first time in history the Creator of the universe is meeting a broken and fallen mankind at their level, not on their terms of course, but He is meeting them at their level and confronting the ugliness head on.
And then bit-by-bit, as only a loving and all-powerful God can, He is putting the pieces of our broken lives together again.
While it may not seem like it from our cultural perspective, what is REALLY happening here is that the Lord is making it clear to paternalistic Israel that women have rights and are of value to Him.
They are to be treated fairly and with consideration.
The Lord makes it clear that under no circumstances can the master sell one of his concubines to anyone outside of the tribes of Israel.
He also makes it clear that should He decide to make her a wife, he is prohibited from treating her poorly should he marry another woman who wasn’t originally a concubine.
In other words, he can’t use the fact that he acquired her through purchase as a reason to treat her in a demeaning fashion.
If he does treat her poorly, the penalty for the man was that the woman gains her freedom.
This was revolutionary!!!