A Handbook of Bible Law - Servants,
employees, etc. |
Copyright 1991 by Charles A. Weisman. 2nd Edition: Aug., 1992;
3rd Edition: Dec., 1994
Comments: The terms 'servant' and 'service' in the Bible make
reference to either the hireling (hired servant), to one bound to serve another
for a limited period (indentured servant), or a bondman (slave).
Among the Israelites, involuntary servitude and slave trading
was prohibited, and to guard against such practices, God promulgated this
"'He that steals a man and sells him, or if he be found in his hands, he
shall surely be put to death " (Exod. 21:16; Deut. 24:7).
The service or servitude that existed with the Israelites was
either voluntary (Lev. 25:39, 47), or judicially imposed by the law of God as a
form of retribution (Exod. 22:3). These conditions of service were never to
exceed six years and during the period of indenture the servant was to be
treated as a hired servant. This situation was much like the practice of an
apprentice who would indenture himself to another man to learn his trade. Under
this system a type of master-servant relationship existed for a period of six
The law gave the hireling and even the indentured servant many
rights and privileges which his employer or master was bound to respect.
|21A - Duties of Masters and
- You are not to oppress the hired servant that is poor and needy, whether
he be of thy brethren or a stranger, but shall give him his due wages. Deut
24:14-15; Jer. 22:13.
- The laborer is worthy of his hire. Luke 10:7; 1 Tim. 5:18.
- Dutiful servants are to be honored. Prov. 27:18.
- The wages of a hired man are not to be detained but paid to him the same
day. Lev. 19:13; Deut. 24:15.
- Masters are to give to their servants that which is just and fair. Col.
- Masters are to treat servants well and not to threaten them. Eph. 6:9.
- God will avenge those who keep back the wages of their hirelings through
fraud and exploitation. Mal. 3:5; James 5:4.
- You shall not rule over a servant with rigor or severity, but you shall
fear your God. Lev. 25:43.
- When a servant departs from your service, you shall not let him go away
empty-handed, you shall supply him liberally from your estate. Deut
15:13-14. (Severance pay)
|21 B - Rules Regarding
- Servants and employees are not to work on the Sabbath. Exod. 20:10;
- A faithful servant should be given authority and a part of the
inheritance. Gen. 41:40-43; Prov. 17:2.
- No man can serve two masters. Matt. 6:24; Luke 16:13.
- Your own brethren are not to be compelled to serve as a slave but shall be
treated as a hired servant. Lev. 25:39-40, 42.
- Do not accuse a servant to his master, lest he curse you and you be found
guilty. Prov. 30:10.
- A maidservant betrothed to her master can be redeemed but cannot be sold
to a foreign nation. Exod. 21:8.
- Those of your race can be in service to you for only six years and are to
be freed in the seventh year. Exod. 21:2; Deut. 15:12.
- If a maid-servant is betrothed to the master's son she shall be treated
according to the custom of daughters. Exod. 21:9.
- A servant, when free from his service, shall be allowed to depart with
that which he had when he went into service. Exod. 21:3-4.
- Do not become slaves of men. 1 Cor. 7:23.
- If a servant does not want his freedom at the end of six years but desires
to remain with his master, he then shall be in servitude to him for life.
Exod. 21:5-6; Deut 15:16-17.
- A servant is not above or greater than his master. Matt. 10:24; Luke
6:40; John 13:16; John 15:20.
- Those who are slaves of foreigners can be treated and bought as slaves
(but not free men). Lev. 25:44-46.
- A brethren who is poor and sells himself into service to a foreigner can
be redeemed at any time by one of his brethren, or if he is able, may redeem
himself. Lev. 25:47-49.
- A fugitive slave should not be turned over to his master but is allowed to
live among you. Deut. 23:15-16.
- If a man strikes his servant and he dies at his hand, he shall be
punished. Exod. 21:20-21.
- If a servant is injured by his master he is then to be set free. Exod.
|21C - Duties of Servants and
- Servants are to honor their masters, and to respect them all the more when
they are believers. Mal. 1:6; 1 Tim. 6:1-2.
- Servants are to be obedient to their masters, not with eye service or as
man pleasers, but as servants of Christ. Eph. 6:5-6; Col. 3:22.
- Servants are to be submissive to their masters. 1 Pet 2:18.
- Stewards are to be faithful. 1 Cor. 4:2; Titus 2:10.
- Duties of a servant of a priest. Lev. 22:10-11.
- Exhortation to servants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well
pleasing in all things, not argumentative, not pilfering, but showing all good
faith that they may adorn the doctrine of God in all things. Titus 2:9.