Debt Slavery in Israel and the Ancient Near East

by Gregory C. Chirichigno

To help you understand how Messiah’s death on the tree satisfied your sin debt with Yahuah, Gregory Chirichigno’s book sheds light on debt slavery practiced in ancient Yisrael.  

Amazon Synopsis

This original study concerns itself with the manumission laws of Exodus 20, Deuteronomy 15 and Leviticus 25. It begins with the social background to debt slavery and the socio-economic factors encouraging the rise of debt slavery in Mesopotamia. After a comparative analysis of the Mesopotamian and biblical material Chirichigno examines the social background to debt slavery in Israel, the various slave laws in the Pentateuch (in order to delimit the chattel-slave laws from the debt-slave laws), and the biblical manumission laws themselves.

Amazon Customer Review 

Grass Tiger

Reviewed in the United States on August 22, 2005

Format: Hardcover

First I’m amazed that this book is so expensive. I really don’t know why. But as I’m working on a novel set in ancient Israel and I needed to know about regular slavery and debt-slavery I looked and looked for information on the subject. As you may know there are very, very few books on the topic, for this alone I will not give this book a low rating. It is good to see some treatment of this topic. There is a lot of information here.

This book reads like a PhD thesis and may have been. It has all the extensive notes and references you would expect to find in such a document. If you are not prepared for reading a heavily detailed text this isn’t the text for you. But if you are researching it might prove very valuable.

What I do not like about this book is that, writing from a Christian perspective and mostly referencing Christian works, the author’s understanding of some of the Jewish laws are inaccurate. This makes the book rather annoying at times. There are also few, if any, references to ancient documents which are far better to rely on than the current Christian texts which he quotes so often. I think if he had stuck with more ancient texts and documents to base his findings on he would have done a far better job.

Here is the table of contents since it might help you decide if this book covers what you are looking for.

Chapter 1-Introduction
Chapter 2-The Social Background of Debt-Slavery in Mesopotamia
Chapter 3-The Legal Background of Debt-Slavery in Mesopotamia
Chapter 4-The Social Background of Debt-Slavery in Israel
Chapter 5-Old Testament Laws Dealing with Chattel- and Debt-Slaves
Chapter 6-The Manumission [releasing of slaves] Laws of Exodus 21.2-6,7-11
Chapter 7-The Manumission Law of Deuteronomy 15.12-18
Chapter 8-The Manumission Laws of Leviticus 25.39-43,47-55
Chapter 9-Conclusions

In the end I would recommend Mendelsohn’s “Slavery in the Ancient Near East” over this one. It is also much shorter, but it is extremely worthwhile (as well as facinating) if you can get your hands on it. It quotes ancient documents as its primary source of data.


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