Greco Roman History

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Arizona Christian University

Slavery In the Greco-Roman world: Research into the practice and tradition of slavery.

Submitted to Brian Reed

In Partial Fulfillment of BIB 102


Joseph C. Economides

February 25, 2011

Slavery In The Greco-Roman World

Slavery within the Jewish culture back in the days of the Bible is not how we define slavery today. When we think of slavery, we think of the kidnapping of the black man from Africa and transporting them to the U.S. for labor. This is condemned by God in the Bible and carries a death penalty. He who kidnaps a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall surely be put to death (Exodus 21:16 ESV Bible)

Back in this time period, a slave was looked upon, in many cases, as a member of the family. If you had no heir to inherit your fortune, it would go to your slave instead. (Genesis 15:2). The slaves were often given daughters as wives to have children, and these children were considered actual family members. (Exodus 21). Such slaves were often invested in to become doctors, craftsmen and even accountants of the family fortune. There were different types of slaves. Those who are serving a sentence to pay back a debt, or those who were actual captured slaves.


Biblical law before the Greco-Roman period had much to say concerning slavery. Here were some of the laws regarding slaves; You are to be kind to them and let them have a day of rest, because you too were once a slave in Egypt (Deuteronomy 5:14-16). You can only own them 6 years, and on the seventh, they are to be set free (Exodus 21:2). On the year of Jubilee, you are to set all your slaves free (Leviticus 25).


And if you are so kind to your slave that he does not wish to leave your house, you will allow him to become a bond-slave and dwell with you forever (Exodus 21).

As a side note, the Bible is the ONLY book that dictates in its laws that you were to limit the years of servitude.

The Greco-Roman time period was different in...