The Word for "Slave" in OT

The word for Slave in Levit 25:44 is "eved"

here is what a Jewish websteis says about the word:

Jewish Virtual Library:

The Hebrew term for slave, eved, is a direct derivation from the "Hebrew verb la'avöd ("to work"), thus, the slave in Jewish law is really only a worker or servant. The eved differs from the hired worker (sakhir) in three respects: he receives no wages for his work; he is a member of his master's household; and, his master exercises patria potestas over him - for example, the master may choose a wife for the slave and retains ownership of her and he has proprietary rights in him."

Bond servant might be a good translation.


"Slaves are members of the master's household, and as such enjoy the benefit and are liable to the duty of keeping the Sabbath (Ex. 20:10, 23:12; Deut. 5:14–15) and holidays (Deut. 16:11–14, 12:18). They must be circumcised (Gen. 17:12–13); partake of Passover sacrifices when circumcised (Ex. 12:44), as distinguished from resident hirelings (Ex. 12:45); and may inherit the master's estate where there is no direct issue (Gen. 15:3) or perhaps even where there is (Prov. 17:2). Although slaves are the master's property (Lev. 22:11, etc.), they may acquire and hold property of their own; a slave who "prospers," i.e., can afford it, may redeem himself (Lev. 25:29; instances of property held by slaves are to be found in II Sam. 9:10; 16:4; 19:18, 30; cf. I Sam. 9:8). The killing of a slave is punishable in the same way as that of any freeman, even if the act is committed by the master (Ex. 21:20)."


"In the case of a pauper who sells himself into slavery or a man who is redeemed from bondage to a stranger, no distinction may be made between a slave and a hired laborer (Lev. 25:40, 53). A master may not rule ruthlessly over these slaves (Lev. 25:43, 46, 53) nor ill-treat them (Deut. 23:17); Ben Sira adds: "If thou treat him ill and he proceeds to run away, in what way shalt thou find him?" (Ecclus. 33:31). A master may chastise his slave to a reasonable extent (Ecclus. 33:26) but not wound him (Ex. 21:26–27). The workload of a slave should never exceed his physical strength (Ecclus. 33:28–29). A fugitive slave must not be turned over to his master but given refuge (Deut. 23:16). There was no similar rule prevailing in neighboring countries (cf. I Kings 2:39–40). The *abduction of a person for sale into bondage is a capital offense (Ex. 21:16; Deut. 24:7). In general, "thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt" (Deut. 15:15), and that you are now the slaves of God Who redeemed you from Egypt (Lev. 25:55).

Ancinet Israel did not have chattel slavery.

Peter Garnsey, ‘Ideas of Slavery from Aristotle to Augustine’, 1996, page 1, as quoted by Glenn Miller, ‘Does God condone slavery in the Bible?’, 2005

"There were other types of unfreedom, Chattel slavery has been historically a rare mode of unfreedom. but no other labor system offered a proprietor such flexiblity and control over his labor force as did chattel slavery.

"There have been slaves in many societies, but few slave societies. In a genuine slave society (as distinct from a society with slaves, or a slave-owning society), slaves are numerous, but that crucial issue is not slave numbers, but whether the slaves play a vital role in production. In a pre-industrial society with, inevitably, an agrarian base, this means tht they should form the core of the agricultural labor force., more particularly on he estates of the wealthy. Societies of the ANE do not meat this criterion; nor does most of the territory that made up the Roman Empire in its prime." - Ideas of Slavery from Aristotle to Augustine

Dr. Garnsey defines chattle

"a slave owners rights over his slave-property were total.covering the labor as well as the slave. the slave was kinless, stripped of his or her old social identity in the process of capture denied the capacity to forge new bonds of kinship through marriage alliance." (bottom page 1)