“God Lays Down the Law!” or “Selling Your Daughter as a Sex Slave for Fun and Profit!”
We have come to the rules section of Exodus, and holy sheep shit, Batman, there are a lot of them! God (Moses) thrusts his demands upon his people for how they live their life. I’m not sure how many of you have read these lately so let me assure you that they’re not exactly up to today’s ethical standards. In fact on first reading, God’s law truly appears barbaric. Imagine! It lays out how to sell daughters into slavery for a lack-of-Christ’s sake! How many ways can one actually take that. One can so easily fall into a basic loathing of every word here, but that would be a mistake. It’s true that as decrees of divine revelation, these are nothing more than individual turds in one vast steaming pile of shit. Any powerful god who sets these as the basic rules for humanity is an unadulterated asshole… with hemorrhoids!
But! But, if you take the God element out of this event and assume these rules were put forth by a group of people struggling out of the darkness of savagery as the Hebrews were, then it’s more enlightened than we give it credit for. Sure, it deals with slavery, but it does put some limits on what can be done. Not many, but a few. Sure, it treats women as property to be bought and sold but gives them some basic protections, very very basic protections. It also deals brutishly with murders and injury but it does deal with them. These are rules that people progressing towards civilization make, and as that, they are a good starting point. As normal human made laws these were a step, albeit small, in the right direction.
As laws that perfection handed down from on high? Think about it. What kind of omnipotent jackass would think the cursing your father or mother deserves death. What kind of divine butt plug condones beating slaves to death. But I get ahead of myself here, and we need to go in some semblance of order. Organization, never my strong suit. Sorry.
First, I encourage you all to read this entire section on your own. Exodus 21 and part of 22. It’s… interesting. Um… Yeah, that’s it. Interesting. Kind of like the Chinese curse kind of interesting, “May you live in interesting times.”
It starts with slavery. If one ever wonders why slavery persisted as long as it did in our culture, one need look no further than this section. There can be little argument about the Bible turning a blind eye to slavery. By all accounts if you take this book as divine and inerrant revelation then God loves slavery. No questions. But with minor limits.
These are all limitations on the owners of Hebrew slaves regarding their treatment. Note that this only regards Hebrew slaves. Slaves of other ethnicities aren’t protected by these rules. I’d imagine life was at least a little tougher for them and likely much tougher. Hebrew men can only serve for six years. On the seventh year they must be set free. That’s not bad, and is much like the terms of indentured servitude in Colonial America. But this was just for men. Women… Uh no. If men come with a wife, they can leave with her, but if he gets a wife while living as a slave, he must leave alone. His only stated option here is to leave her or opt to be a slave forever. Some choice huh? Either abandon wife and children or accept the yoke until death. Period. Not a great legal paradigm by our standards, but for the times, it was a likely masterpiece of liberal thought.
“If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do If 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. If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters. If he takes to himself another woman, he may not reduce her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights. If he will not do these three things for her, then she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.”
Female sex slaves who the master isn’t attracted to can “be redeemed” and cannot be sold to foreigners. This would seem to mean that she could be purchased by someone else, but how likely that is I couldn’t say. But the prohibition against selling her to foreigners is a manner of protection, for it’s more than likely there would have been better treatment for Hebrew slaves owned by Hebrews. Of course this protection really says that she can only be repeatably raped by a Hebrews and not those filthy Canaanites. She has no protection whatsoever against unwilling sexual advances by her Hebrew master nor any on being sold to another Hebrew against her wishes to be raped by him. Keep in mind that these are small protections not great ones.
The only truly merciful appearing item here is that if she is purchased for his son she is to be treated like a daughter. This is better, but judging by how many ancient cultures treated their daughters, I am unsure how good this will actually be.
It’s the last that I find most interesting. If her master grows tired of her and finds himself another slave to pillage, he cannot just throw her out. She must be fed and clothed and has a right to demand her yearly allotment of the bump and grind… If she so chooses. If he reduces any of these things she can leave without any payment, although after many years faithful service both in bed and out, I’m unsure what prospects she would really have here, but it is an option. Not exactly the Equal Rights Amendment or Social Security, I am sure, but it does give the master some level of responsibility for her care.
Onto the limitations on injury and murder.
“He who strikes a man so that he dies shall surely be put to death. But if he did not lie in wait for him, but God let him fall into his hand, then I will appoint you a place to which he may flee. If, however, a man acts presumptuously toward his neighbor, so as to kill him craftily, you are to take him even from My altar, that he may die.”
Simple enough, right? Uh, no! If you lie in wait to kill someone you’ll be slain, but if God lets him fall into your hands then it’s only banishment. Why in the hell would God let someone fall into your hands for you to kill him? Goddamn, but the Bible isn’t just full of these little absurd and cruel treasures. This book becomes more entertaining and confusing each day! My study Bible makes a big distinction, as it should, between premeditated murder and manslaughter. Every civilized country on earth does the same thing. But the wondrous part here is God is not only letting it happen but by all accounts actively willing it. My Bible, considered to be one of the most accurate translations available says “God let him fall into his hand” means that the event is beyond human control. That sounds reasonable. Right? But it then goes on to enlighten us further, “in modern legal terminology, an ‘act of God’” Isn’t this great? By any literal interpretation an Act of God means just that. God made it happen just like he makes the sun come up every day and brings earthquakes downs on Haitian children because their great x 8 grandfathers consorted with the devil. The great and all-powerful Oz, I mean God, throws the victim into the situation where he’ll be murdered and then banishes the tool he used to do the deed. Genius if you think about it. You have to admit that it takes one hell of mind to arrange all that and then avoid any responsibility what-so-ever. God’s a hell of a con artist.
Yahweh may not be decent or just, but at least there is a level of consistency here, and isn’t that what we really look for in our relationships. In the words of Garfield the Cat ” People don’t want nice. They want consistency” And if you read consistency to mean consistently arbitrary, consistently cruel and consistently frakking insane then God’s got it all. Let’s all sing along! “If you’re a bastard and you know it, clap your hands.” Clap Clap.
Immediately after this enlightened piece of legislation is this “He who strikes his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.” Seems a little harsh but wait, it gets worse for a verse later is this litigious gem. “He who curses his father or his mother shall surely be put to death.” So not only is it a capital crime to strike them but it’s fatal to even curse at them. Wow! See, this is why the Bible is such a great ethical guide. Not only does wisdom seep from it’s pages, but mercy and justice are such virtues. Fathers can sell their daughter into lives of drudgery and rape and make nothing but profit, but if the aggrieved daughter curses them for their horrid decision, she can be slain. Nay, must be slain on the spot. Now if that isn’t fair and balanced, I just don’t know what is. This is “fair and balanced” just like Fox News. I’ve wondered for some time which guide Fox has used for journalistic integrity. Now we know.
I hate to quote all of these verses but damned if they aren’t all wonderful examples of what a jackass the Judeo-Christian God is. Look at this one. “If a man strikes his male or female slave with a rod and he dies at his hand, he shall be punished. “If, however, he survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for he is his property.” Just remember kids, if you’re into beating your slaves to death just don’t do it too efficiently. WTF? What kind of shrunken nut sack would it take to ever consider this to be justice? You can’t reduce a female slave’s food ration but you can beat her to death as long as you just take awhile doing it. And some people say there are no moral or logical inconsistencies in the Bible… Yeah.
But to counter that shit-assed crazy notion is the comparatively appropriate, “If 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. And if he knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, he shall let him go free on account of his tooth.” Um… What? Let me see here. Destroying eyes… bad. Knocking out teeth… bad! Beating them into a coma resulting in death? Meh. Not so bad.
And some people have the nerve to wonder why I’m an atheist. After such “divine revelations”, atheism is so clear… and logical… and ethical.
Shit! I’ve seen better ‘recipes’ for life on the back of tuna cans.