Slavery in Jewish Law

Does Talmud Mitzva 347 Ordain Slavery?

Most Jews would tell you that the “messiah” they are expecting will bring world peace as well as “universal justice” for both, Jews and Gentiles. But what they will fail to tell you is what (in the rabbinic mind) is considered “justice,” and by what means the alleged “world peace” would be achieved. Therefore I will present to you (and everyone else) the other side of the coin, so that you may have a thorough perspective of the rabbinic stand on this matter.

The first source I will give you is found in a medieval midrash known as “Pesikta Rabbati,” which in its chapter 36, paragraph 8 states (notice that I will quote directly from the original source, which is in Hebrew, and I will transliterate it, so that none may accuse me of forgery, or that I got this from “anti-semitic” websites):

“Be’ota sha’a mavchik Hakadosh Baruch Hu oro shel Melech Hamashiach veshel Yisrael”

[translation:] “In that hour the Holy One, Blessed be He will brighten the light of the King Messiah and of Israel”

“Ve-holchim kulam le’oro shel Melech Hamashiach veshel Yisrael”

[translation:] “And all of them will walk in the light of the King Messiah and of Israel”

“Shene-emar: ‘ve-halchu goyim le’orech, um’lachim le-noga zarchech'”

[translation:] “As it is said: ‘And the nations will walk in Your light, and kings at the brightness of your rising.”

“U-va’im um’lachachim afar tachat raglav shel Melech Hamashiach.”

[translation:] And they shall come and lick the dust that is under the feet of the King Messiah.”

“Shene-emar: ‘va-afar raglaich yelachechu.'”

[translation:] “As it is said: ‘[the inhabitants of the islands shall come] and will lick the dust of his feet.'”

“U-va’im kulam ve-noflim al p’neihem lifnei Mashiach ve-lifnei Yisrael”

[translation:] “And they all shall come and fall before the Messiah and before Israel”

“Ve-omrim: ‘Nihyeh lecha u-leYisrael la-avadim.”

[translation:] “Saying: ‘We will be slaves to you and to Israel.'”

“Ve-chol echad miYisrael alpayim u-shmone me’ot avadim yih’yu lo,”

[translation:] “And each and every one from Israel will have two thousand and eight-hundred slaves,”

“Shene-emar: ‘Bayamim ha-hema, asher yachaziku asarah anashim mikol leshonot ha-goyim,”

[translation:] “As it is said: ‘In those days it shall come to pass that ten men from all the languages of the nations shall come,”

“Ve-hecheziku bich’naf ish Yehudi,”

[translation:] “and will take hold of the corner (of the garment) of a Jew,”

“lemor: ‘nelcha imachem, ki shamanu Elokim imachem.'”

[translation:] “Saying: ‘We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.'”

So as you can see, in this first source we discover that the rabbinic “messiah” will come to humiliate the nations of the world, and not only that, but will cause the Jews to make slaves of the Gentiles (2,800 in total) for each and every Jew. Thus, the first point we see is that the coming of their “messiah” will bring up the re-establishment of slavery. This statement from the Pesikta Rabbati is not an isolated declaration, as some would tell you; but in fact it had been repeated through generations of rabbinic scholars in their writings. For example, in the the Gemara, tractate Shabbat 32b we read:

“Resh Lakish said: Any Jew who is careful with [the observance of the commandment] of tzitzit will be meritorius and shall be served by two thousand and eight hundred [Gentile] slaves, for it is said, “Thus said the Lord of hosts: ‘In those days it shall come to pass that ten men of all the languages of the nations shall take hold of the corners of the garment of a Jewish man, saying, we will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you’ (quoting Zecharia 8:23).”

Now, Rashi, who is regarded as the most outstanding Jewish commentarist of the Bible and the Talmud, states with regard to this verse:

“Of the corners of the garment of a Jewish man.” — As a reward to one who faithfully observes the commandment associated with the corner of a garment [i.e. tzitzit], ten [gentile] men from the seventy nations [lit. seventy languages] will take hold of each corner. This makes seven hundred men; and since there are four corners [in the garment], then [this makes a total of] two thousand and eight hundred [slaves].”

**(There are four fringes in the corners of the “tallit katan,” which is a rope worn by religious Jews in consideration of the commandment of Numbers 15:37. In the same way, in the rabbinic tradition the world is divided into seventy languages or nations. Thus we have 10 [men] x 70 [nations] x 4 [tzitzit] = 2,800 Gentile slaves to each Jew.

Rav Saadia Gaon, in his “Sefer Emunot ve-De’ot” (Book of Beliefs and Opinions), treatise 8, chapter 6 states:

“As for those that will mend their ways, they, too, will fall into four classes:

1) Some will serve as domestics in the homes of the children of Israel. These will be the most distinguished among them, as Scripture says: And kings shall be your fosterfathers, and their queens your nursing mothers (Is. 49:23).

2) Some will be made to serve in the cities and villages. Of them the Scripture says: And the house of Israel shall possess them in the land of the Lord as slaves and handmaids; and they shall take them captive, whose captives they were; and they shall rule over their oppressors (Is. 14:2).

3) Some, again, will serve in the fields and steppes, as Scripture says: And the strangers shall stand and feed your flocks, and aliens shall be your plowmen and your vinedressers (Is. 61:5).

4) The rest, finally will return to their countries and submit themselves to Israel…”

Moreover, to conclusively demonstrate that the rabbinic hope of a messianic rule is centered in a supremacist attitude, I will quote the Sefer Hachinuch, which is a compilation of all the laws contained in the Torah and explained from a legal (halachic) perspective. The Chinuch in “Sidra Behar,” mitzva 347, known as “The Precept of Keeping a Canaanite Slave Permanently” reads:

“That we should put in servitude a Canaanite slave forever; that is, we should never liberate him, nor should he go to freedom unless [his Jewish master strikes] his tooth or his eye [and it is destroyed], as it was established in Scripture, or for the loss of one of the principal limbs which are equal to them — for example, those limbs that never regrow, as we understand it from the received traditional explanation (Kidushin 24a). For it was said “You shall enslave them forever” (Lev. 25:46). And [the rabbis] of blessed memory said in “Perek Sholeach” of [the Talmud], tractate Gittin [38b]: “Rabbi Yehudah said: Whoever emancipates his slave transgresses a positive precept; for it is said: “You shall enslave them forever.” It is called a “Canaanite slave” the one who is from any of the nations whom the Israelites bought as slave. However, the term “Canaan” was ascribed to all sorts of slaves because Canaan was cursed to be in a state of servitude, he and his descendants forever (Gen. 9:25). And even though this scriptural section in which we are commanded to keep them in slavery speak about Canaanites, as it is written: “From the nations around you, you shall buy male and female slaves” (Lev. 25:44); and before this, it was also written: “To give you the land of Canaan” (Lev. 25:38), it was known to the sages of blessed memory that not only those from the families of Canaan and those in their land would specifically be called “Canaanite slaves”, for this law applies to all other nations: for the law of the Canaanite slave is to be applied to them in every respect. And those of blessed memory said with regards of a Canaanite slave that his master has to be in charge of him up to a year-period. If he wishes to atone for his idolatrous practices and to abandon them, undergo circumcision and ritual immersion for the sake of servitude, and to be meritory of the commandments which Israelite women are obligated to observe, this would be preferable. But if not, it is forbidden to us to have them in our houses more than twelve months, but they must rather be sold at once. As for those slaves who undergo circumcision and ritual immersion for the sake of servitude, it is about them that we were commanded to make bondservants of them forever. Now, the basis for this commandment is, because the people of Israel are the chosen part of the human race and were created to acknowledge their Creator and to minister before Him; they are worthy to have slaves to attend upon them! But if they have no slaves from the nations, they would in any event need to make servants from among their brethren, being then they unable to dedicate themselves to the service of God [lit. ‘to His service’], blessed be He. Therefore we were commanded to enforce (this commandment) on these, to make them to be at our disposition after they shall have been acceptable, and having rooted out idolatry out of their mouths, so that they should not be a snare in our houses.”

Also, according to the Talmud, if one of those Gentile slaves would die, a Jew should consider his/her death as if he had lost his ox or his ass, as we read in tractate Berachot 16b:

“Our rabbis taught: For slaves and bondwomen one does not stand in a row and does not say the mourners’ benediction and the mourners’ condolences for them. It happened, when the bondwoman of Rabbi Eliezer died, that his disciples entered to condole with him. When he saw them, he went up to the upper chamber, but they went after him. He entered the ante-chamber; they entered after him. He entered the hall; they entered after him. He said to them: I thought that you would be scalded with tepid waters; but you are not scalded even with the hottest of hot! Have I not taught you thus: “For slaves and bondwomen one does not stand in a row, and one says for them neither the mourners’ benediction, nor the mourner’s condolences? But what does one say for them? The same as one says to a man on the death of his ox and his ass: ‘May the Omnipresent fill your loss’; thus one says to him for his slave and bondwoman: ‘May the Omnipresent fill your loss.’ “

This is confirmed in one of the main codes of Jewish law, the Shulchan Aruch, Yore De’a siman 377, sif 1 we also read:

“For slaves and bondwomen one does not stand in a row and does not say the mourners’ condolences for them, but we say (to his Jewish master): “May the Omnipresent fill your loss.” The same as one says to a man on the death of his ox or his ass.”

In conclusion, the answer to your question of: “When the Jewish messiah arrives will Jews be rulers of the earth?” is that according to the rabbinic hopes, YES… they expect the Jewish people to rule over the nations of the world. But obviously this is nonsense, because when the REAL Messiah comes, there will be no more slavery, opression, injustice or supremacist attitudes from one group of people over the others. Also the so-called Noahide Laws will never be followed by anyone, simply because the REAL Messiah will expose the rabbinic lies that have been perpetuated in their religious writings.

Let’s hope for a world free of injustice and hatred through the arrival of our Righteouss Messiah Yeshua minatzeret, bimhera beyameinu, AMEN!

C. Aharon