Slavery and the Jewish tradition ~ Class #1 - Torah and Tanach

As a general introduction to a very complicated and in certain moments emotional topic:

~ We will basically scratch the surface of this topic today, and hopefully clarify what has become a thorny topic.

~ The Torah has two different sets of slavery laws, one for Eved haK'naani, or Caanite slave, and a another set of laws for Eved Ivri, or Hebrew slave.

~ Despite the determination of Eved Knaani, the laws designated for Canaanites were applied to all non-Hebrew slaves.

~ Enter the Talmud, and Rabbinic Judaism in general. Those two sets of laws are transformed into just one set, with a few exceptions in which Hebrew slaves are treated differently from non-Hebrew slaves, but in which slavery is curtailed, in general, but not completely disposed of. Maimonides is an important source here, since he lives in a society that accepted slavery.

Let's begin with a few points of agreement:

1. Slavery is immoral; the idea that one human being can own another is an abomination. The set of social and economic relationships evoked by the idea of slavery is reprehensible. No responsible Jewish or Christian thinker today would attempt a defense of slavery as a contemporary institution.

2. The absolute condemnation of slavery is a modern idea, rooted in social, economic and political developments in Western society at the end of the 18th and beginning of the 19th centuries.

3. A slave is someone who is considered property, who possess few, if any rights, who does not own to any significant extent the fruits of his or her labor, who lacks personal liberty, and whose fate and destiny is in the hands of another individual who exerts control over the slave’s life.

4. Slavery in one form or the other has characterized most human societies and cultures over time. Judaism has developed in societies that accepted some form of slavery as part of the communal structure. The economic dependency of a society on slavery needs to be taken into account: any discussion of slavery needs to be contextualized.

5. The fundamental texts of Judaism, the Tanach and a lot of rabbinic literature – evolved in societies in which slavery was an accepted institution and reflect attempts to regulate slavery to provide some protections to the enslaved person.

6. The foundational story of the Jewish people is the story of liberation from slavery in Egypt. Jewish history also has been punctuated by times when vast numbers of Jews were thrown into slavery – the Babylonian Exile, the failure of the Jewish Revolts against Rome, the Expulsion from Spain and, most recently, the Holocaust.

7. Jews as marginal people in both Christian and Muslim societies were individually vulnerable to abduction into slavery and so a mitzvah to free a captive and/or enslaved fellow Jew is both an individual and a communal responsibility.

8. We cannot change the past, and we are not responsible for it. Feelings such as anger, shame, guilt in what happened and pride in what our ancestors did are only helpful in terms of focusing our energies for a better tomorrow. No one can apologize for what was done to our ancestors, and no one can apologize for what they did.

(א) וְאֵ֙לֶּה֙ הַמִּשְׁפָּטִ֔ים אֲשֶׁ֥ר תָּשִׂ֖ים לִפְנֵיהֶֽם׃ (ב) כִּ֤י תִקְנֶה֙ עֶ֣בֶד עִבְרִ֔י שֵׁ֥שׁ שָׁנִ֖ים יַעֲבֹ֑ד וּבַ֨שְּׁבִעִ֔ת יֵצֵ֥א לַֽחָפְשִׁ֖י חִנָּֽם׃ (ג) אִם־בְּגַפּ֥וֹ יָבֹ֖א בְּגַפּ֣וֹ יֵצֵ֑א אִם־בַּ֤עַל אִשָּׁה֙ ה֔וּא וְיָצְאָ֥ה אִשְׁתּ֖וֹ עִמּֽוֹ׃ (ד) אִם־אֲדֹנָיו֙ יִתֶּן־ל֣וֹ אִשָּׁ֔ה וְיָלְדָה־ל֥וֹ בָנִ֖ים א֣וֹ בָנ֑וֹת הָאִשָּׁ֣ה וִילָדֶ֗יהָ תִּהְיֶה֙ לַֽאדֹנֶ֔יהָ וְה֖וּא יֵצֵ֥א בְגַפּֽוֹ׃ (ה) וְאִם־אָמֹ֤ר יֹאמַר֙ הָעֶ֔בֶד אָהַ֙בְתִּי֙ אֶת־אֲדֹנִ֔י אֶת־אִשְׁתִּ֖י וְאֶת־בָּנָ֑י לֹ֥א אֵצֵ֖א חָפְשִֽׁי׃ (ו) וְהִגִּישׁ֤וֹ אֲדֹנָיו֙ אֶל־הָ֣אֱלֹקִ֔ים וְהִגִּישׁוֹ֙ אֶל־הַדֶּ֔לֶת א֖וֹ אֶל־הַמְּזוּזָ֑ה וְרָצַ֨ע אֲדֹנָ֤יו אֶת־אָזְנוֹ֙ בַּמַּרְצֵ֔עַ וַעֲבָד֖וֹ לְעֹלָֽם׃ (ס)
(1) These are the rules that you shall set before them: (2) When you acquire a Hebrew slave, he shall serve six years; in the seventh year he shall go free, without payment. (3) If he came single, he shall leave single; if he had a wife, his wife shall leave with him. (4) If his master gave him a wife, and she has borne him children, the wife and her children shall belong to the master, and he shall leave alone. (5) But if the slave declares, “I love my master, and my wife and children: I do not wish to go free,” (6) his master shall take him before God. He shall be brought to the door or the doorpost, and his master shall pierce his ear with an awl; and he shall then remain his slave for life.

~ Who are these rules about? Who are they for?

~ Why, just after the giving of the Aseret HaDibrot (popularly known as 10 commandments) do we read this?

~ Note that the case is about Eved Ivri, ie, a Jew that has become a slave to another Jew.

(ז) וְכִֽי־יִמְכֹּ֥ר אִ֛ישׁ אֶת־בִּתּ֖וֹ לְאָמָ֑ה לֹ֥א תֵצֵ֖א כְּצֵ֥את הָעֲבָדִֽים׃ (ח) אִם־רָעָ֞ה בְּעֵינֵ֧י אֲדֹנֶ֛יהָ אֲשֶׁר־לא [ל֥וֹ] יְעָדָ֖הּ וְהֶפְדָּ֑הּ לְעַ֥ם נָכְרִ֛י לֹא־יִמְשֹׁ֥ל לְמָכְרָ֖הּ בְּבִגְדוֹ־בָֽהּ׃ (ט) וְאִם־לִבְנ֖וֹ יִֽיעָדֶ֑נָּה כְּמִשְׁפַּ֥ט הַבָּנ֖וֹת יַעֲשֶׂה־לָּֽהּ׃ (י) אִם־אַחֶ֖רֶת יִֽקַּֽח־ל֑וֹ שְׁאֵרָ֛הּ כְּסוּתָ֥הּ וְעֹנָתָ֖הּ לֹ֥א יִגְרָֽע׃ (יא) וְאִם־שְׁלָ֨שׁ־אֵ֔לֶּה לֹ֥א יַעֲשֶׂ֖ה לָ֑הּ וְיָצְאָ֥ה חִנָּ֖ם אֵ֥ין כָּֽסֶף׃ (ס)
(7) When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not be freed as male slaves are. (8) If she proves to be displeasing to her master, who designated her for himself, he must let her be redeemed; he shall not have the right to sell her to outsiders, since he broke faith with her. (9) And if he designated her for his son, he shall deal with her as is the practice with free maidens. (10) If he marries another, he must not withhold from this one her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights. (11) If he fails her in these three ways, she shall go free, without payment.

~ These verses follow the ones above.

~ What is the case? Who are these rules about? Who are they for? How old is the daughter?

~ Why, just after the giving of the Aseret HaDibrot (popularly known as 10 commandments) do we read this?

Limits to abuse
(כ) וְכִֽי־יַכֶּה֩ אִ֨ישׁ אֶת־עַבְדּ֜וֹ א֤וֹ אֶת־אֲמָתוֹ֙ בַּשֵּׁ֔בֶט וּמֵ֖ת תַּ֣חַת יָד֑וֹ נָקֹ֖ם יִנָּקֵֽם׃ (כא) אַ֥ךְ אִם־י֛וֹם א֥וֹ יוֹמַ֖יִם יַעֲמֹ֑ד לֹ֣א יֻקַּ֔ם כִּ֥י כַסְפּ֖וֹ הֽוּא׃ (ס)
(20) When a man strikes his slave, male or female, with a rod, and he dies there and then, he must be avenged. (21) But if he survives a day or two, he is not to be avenged, since he is the other’s property.
(כו) וְכִֽי־יַכֶּ֨ה אִ֜ישׁ אֶת־עֵ֥ין עַבְדּ֛וֹ אֽוֹ־אֶת־עֵ֥ין אֲמָת֖וֹ וְשִֽׁחֲתָ֑הּ לַֽחָפְשִׁ֥י יְשַׁלְּחֶ֖נּוּ תַּ֥חַת עֵינֽוֹ׃ (ס) (כז) וְאִם־שֵׁ֥ן עַבְדּ֛וֹ אֽוֹ־שֵׁ֥ן אֲמָת֖וֹ יַפִּ֑יל לַֽחָפְשִׁ֥י יְשַׁלְּחֶ֖נּוּ תַּ֥חַת שִׁנּֽוֹ׃ (פ)
(26) When a man strikes the eye of his slave, male or female, and destroys it, he shall let him go free on account of his eye. (27) If he knocks out the tooth of his slave, male or female, he shall let him go free on account of his tooth.

~ What are the limits for the slave-owner?

~ Does it make any difference if this is about a Jewish or a non-Jewish slave?

~ What do you imagine the rabbis of the Talmud will do with these rules?

(טז) לֹא־תַסְגִּ֥יר עֶ֖בֶד אֶל־אֲדֹנָ֑יו אֲשֶׁר־יִנָּצֵ֥ל אֵלֶ֖יךָ מֵעִ֥ם אֲדֹנָֽיו׃ (יז) עִמְּךָ֞ יֵשֵׁ֣ב בְּקִרְבְּךָ֗ בַּמָּק֧וֹם אֲשֶׁר־יִבְחַ֛ר בְּאַחַ֥ד שְׁעָרֶ֖יךָ בַּטּ֣וֹב ל֑וֹ לֹ֖א תּוֹנֶֽנּוּ׃ (ס)
(16) You shall not turn over to his master a slave who seeks refuge with you from his master. (17) He shall live with you in any place he may choose among the settlements in your midst, wherever he pleases; you must not ill-treat him.

~ What are these verses concerned with?

~ Does it make any difference if this is about a Jewish or a non-Jewish slave?

~ Does context matter [laws just before are about war camp]?

Treatment of slaves
(ח) זָכ֛וֹר֩ אֶת־י֥֨וֹם הַשַּׁבָּ֖֜ת לְקַדְּשֽׁ֗וֹ (ט) שֵׁ֤֣שֶׁת יָמִ֣ים֙ תַּֽעֲבֹ֔ד֮ וְעָשִׂ֖֣יתָ כָּל־מְלַאכְתֶּֽךָ֒ (י) וְי֙וֹם֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔֜י שַׁבָּ֖֣ת ׀ לַה' אֱלֹקֶ֑֗יךָ לֹֽ֣א־תַעֲשֶׂ֣֨ה כָל־מְלָאכָ֡֜ה אַתָּ֣ה ׀ וּבִנְךָֽ֣־וּ֠בִתֶּ֗ךָ עַבְדְּךָ֤֨ וַאֲמָֽתְךָ֜֙ וּבְהֶמְתֶּ֔֗ךָ וְגֵרְךָ֖֙ אֲשֶׁ֥֣ר בִּשְׁעָרֶֽ֔יךָ (יא) כִּ֣י שֵֽׁשֶׁת־יָמִים֩ עָשָׂ֨ה ה' אֶת־הַשָּׁמַ֣יִם וְאֶת־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֶת־הַיָּם֙ וְאֶת־כָּל־אֲשֶׁר־בָּ֔ם וַיָּ֖נַח בַּיּ֣וֹם הַשְּׁבִיעִ֑י עַל־כֵּ֗ן בֵּרַ֧ךְ ה' אֶת־י֥וֹם הַשַּׁבָּ֖ת וַֽיְקַדְּשֵֽׁהוּ׃ (ס)
(8) Remember the sabbath day and keep it holy. (9) Six days you shall labor and do all your work, (10) but the seventh day is a sabbath of the LORD your God: you shall not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, or your cattle, or the stranger who is within your settlements. (11) For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth and sea, and all that is in them, and He rested on the seventh day; therefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day and hallowed it.
(יא) וּנְמַלְתֶּ֕ם אֵ֖ת בְּשַׂ֣ר עָרְלַתְכֶ֑ם וְהָיָה֙ לְא֣וֹת בְּרִ֔ית בֵּינִ֖י וּבֵינֵיכֶֽם׃ (יב) וּבֶן־שְׁמֹנַ֣ת יָמִ֗ים יִמּ֥וֹל לָכֶ֛ם כָּל־זָכָ֖ר לְדֹרֹתֵיכֶ֑ם יְלִ֣יד בָּ֔יִת וּמִקְנַת־כֶּ֙סֶף֙ מִכֹּ֣ל בֶּן־נֵכָ֔ר אֲשֶׁ֛ר לֹ֥א מִֽזַּרְעֲךָ֖ הֽוּא׃ (יג) הִמּ֧וֹל ׀ יִמּ֛וֹל יְלִ֥יד בֵּֽיתְךָ֖ וּמִקְנַ֣ת כַּסְפֶּ֑ךָ וְהָיְתָ֧ה בְרִיתִ֛י בִּבְשַׂרְכֶ֖ם לִבְרִ֥ית עוֹלָֽם׃
(11) You shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin, and that shall be the sign of the covenant between Me and you. (12) And throughout the generations, every male among you shall be circumcised at the age of eight days. As for the homeborn slave and the one bought from an outsider who is not of your offspring, (13) they must be circumcised, homeborn, and purchased alike. Thus shall My covenant be marked in your flesh as an everlasting pact.
(מג) וַיֹּ֤אמֶר ה' אֶל־מֹשֶׁ֣ה וְאַהֲרֹ֔ן זֹ֖את חֻקַּ֣ת הַפָּ֑סַח כָּל־בֶּן־נֵכָ֖ר לֹא־יֹ֥אכַל בּֽוֹ׃ (מד) וְכָל־עֶ֥בֶד אִ֖ישׁ מִקְנַת־כָּ֑סֶף וּמַלְתָּ֣ה אֹת֔וֹ אָ֖ז יֹ֥אכַל בּֽוֹ׃ (מה) תּוֹשָׁ֥ב וְשָׂכִ֖יר לֹא־יֹ֥אכַל־בּֽוֹ׃

(43) The LORD said to Moses and Aaron: This is the law of the passover offering: No foreigner shall eat of it. (44) But any slave a man has bought eats of it once he has been circumcised. (45) No bound or hired laborer shall eat of it.

Eved Ivri vs. Eved Cnaani
(לט) וְכִֽי־יָמ֥וּךְ אָחִ֛יךָ עִמָּ֖ךְ וְנִמְכַּר־לָ֑ךְ לֹא־תַעֲבֹ֥ד בּ֖וֹ עֲבֹ֥דַת עָֽבֶד׃ (מ) כְּשָׂכִ֥יר כְּתוֹשָׁ֖ב יִהְיֶ֣ה עִמָּ֑ךְ עַד־שְׁנַ֥ת הַיֹּבֵ֖ל יַעֲבֹ֥ד עִמָּֽךְ׃ (מא) וְיָצָא֙ מֵֽעִמָּ֔ךְ ה֖וּא וּבָנָ֣יו עִמּ֑וֹ וְשָׁב֙ אֶל־מִשְׁפַּחְתּ֔וֹ וְאֶל־אֲחֻזַּ֥ת אֲבֹתָ֖יו יָשֽׁוּב׃ (מב) כִּֽי־עֲבָדַ֣י הֵ֔ם אֲשֶׁר־הוֹצֵ֥אתִי אֹתָ֖ם מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרָ֑יִם לֹ֥א יִמָּכְר֖וּ מִמְכֶּ֥רֶת עָֽבֶד׃ (מג) לֹא־תִרְדֶּ֥ה ב֖וֹ בְּפָ֑רֶךְ וְיָרֵ֖אתָ מֵאֱלֹקֶֽיךָ׃ (מד) וְעַבְדְּךָ֥ וַאֲמָתְךָ֖ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִהְיוּ־לָ֑ךְ מֵאֵ֣ת הַגּוֹיִ֗ם אֲשֶׁר֙ סְבִיבֹ֣תֵיכֶ֔ם מֵהֶ֥ם תִּקְנ֖וּ עֶ֥בֶד וְאָמָֽה׃ (מה) וְ֠גַם מִבְּנֵ֨י הַתּוֹשָׁבִ֜ים הַגָּרִ֤ים עִמָּכֶם֙ מֵהֶ֣ם תִּקְנ֔וּ וּמִמִּשְׁפַּחְתָּם֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר עִמָּכֶ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר הוֹלִ֖ידוּ בְּאַרְצְכֶ֑ם וְהָי֥וּ לָכֶ֖ם לַֽאֲחֻזָּֽה׃ (מו) וְהִתְנַחֲלְתֶּ֨ם אֹתָ֜ם לִבְנֵיכֶ֤ם אַחֲרֵיכֶם֙ לָרֶ֣שֶׁת אֲחֻזָּ֔ה לְעֹלָ֖ם בָּהֶ֣ם תַּעֲבֹ֑דוּ וּבְאַ֨חֵיכֶ֤ם בְּנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֙ אִ֣ישׁ בְּאָחִ֔יו לֹא־תִרְדֶּ֥ה ב֖וֹ בְּפָֽרֶךְ׃ (ס)
(39) If your kinsman under you continues in straits and must give himself over to you, do not subject him to the treatment of a slave. (40) He shall remain with you as a hired or bound laborer; he shall serve with you only until the jubilee year. (41) Then he and his children with him shall be free of your authority; he shall go back to his family and return to his ancestral holding.— (42) For they are My servants, whom I freed from the land of Egypt; they may not give themselves over into servitude.— (43) You shall not rule over him ruthlessly; you shall fear your God. (44) Such male and female slaves as you may have—it is from the nations round about you that you may acquire male and female slaves. (45) You may also buy them from among the children of aliens resident among you, or from their families that are among you, whom they begot in your land. These shall become your property: (46) you may keep them as a possession for your children after you, for them to inherit as property for all time. Such you may treat as slaves. But as for your Israelite kinsmen, no one shall rule ruthlessly over the other.
(מז) וְכִ֣י תַשִּׂ֗יג יַ֣ד גֵּ֤ר וְתוֹשָׁב֙ עִמָּ֔ךְ וּמָ֥ךְ אָחִ֖יךָ עִמּ֑וֹ וְנִמְכַּ֗ר לְגֵ֤ר תּוֹשָׁב֙ עִמָּ֔ךְ א֥וֹ לְעֵ֖קֶר מִשְׁפַּ֥חַת גֵּֽר׃ (מח) אַחֲרֵ֣י נִמְכַּ֔ר גְּאֻלָּ֖ה תִּהְיֶה־לּ֑וֹ אֶחָ֥ד מֵאֶחָ֖יו יִגְאָלֶֽנּוּ׃ (מט) אוֹ־דֹד֞וֹ א֤וֹ בֶן־דֹּדוֹ֙ יִגְאָלֶ֔נּוּ אֽוֹ־מִשְּׁאֵ֧ר בְּשָׂר֛וֹ מִמִּשְׁפַּחְתּ֖וֹ יִגְאָלֶ֑נּוּ אֽוֹ־הִשִּׂ֥יגָה יָד֖וֹ וְנִגְאָֽל׃ (נ) וְחִשַּׁב֙ עִם־קֹנֵ֔הוּ מִשְּׁנַת֙ הִמָּ֣כְרוֹ ל֔וֹ עַ֖ד שְׁנַ֣ת הַיֹּבֵ֑ל וְהָיָ֞ה כֶּ֤סֶף מִמְכָּרוֹ֙ בְּמִסְפַּ֣ר שָׁנִ֔ים כִּימֵ֥י שָׂכִ֖יר יִהְיֶ֥ה עִמּֽוֹ׃ (נא) אִם־ע֥וֹד רַבּ֖וֹת בַּשָּׁנִ֑ים לְפִיהֶן֙ יָשִׁ֣יב גְּאֻלָּת֔וֹ מִכֶּ֖סֶף מִקְנָתֽוֹ׃ (נב) וְאִם־מְעַ֞ט נִשְׁאַ֧ר בַּשָּׁנִ֛ים עַד־שְׁנַ֥ת הַיֹּבֵ֖ל וְחִשַּׁב־ל֑וֹ כְּפִ֣י שָׁנָ֔יו יָשִׁ֖יב אֶת־גְּאֻלָּתֽוֹ׃ (נג) כִּשְׂכִ֥יר שָׁנָ֛ה בְּשָׁנָ֖ה יִהְיֶ֣ה עִמּ֑וֹ לֹֽא־יִרְדֶּ֥נּֽוּ בְּפֶ֖רֶךְ לְעֵינֶֽיךָ׃ (נד) וְאִם־לֹ֥א יִגָּאֵ֖ל בְּאֵ֑לֶּה וְיָצָא֙ בִּשְׁנַ֣ת הַיֹּבֵ֔ל ה֖וּא וּבָנָ֥יו עִמּֽוֹ׃
(47) If a resident alien among you has prospered, and your kinsman being in straits, comes under his authority and gives himself over to the resident alien among you, or to an offshoot of an alien’s family, (48) he shall have the right of redemption even after he has given himself over. One of his kinsmen shall redeem him, (49) or his uncle or his uncle’s son shall redeem him, or anyone of his family who is of his own flesh shall redeem him; or, if he prospers, he may redeem himself. (50) He shall compute with his purchaser the total from the year he gave himself over to him until the jubilee year; the price of his sale shall be applied to the number of years, as though it were for a term as a hired laborer under the other’s authority. (51) If many years remain, he shall pay back for his redemption in proportion to his purchase price; (52) and if few years remain until the jubilee year, he shall so compute: he shall make payment for his redemption according to the years involved. (53) He shall be under his authority as a laborer hired by the year; he shall not rule ruthlessly over him in your sight. (54) If he has not been redeemed in any of those ways, he and his children with him shall go free in the jubilee year.

~ What happens to a Jewish slave under a non-Jewish master?

(יב) כִּֽי־יִמָּכֵ֨ר לְךָ֜ אָחִ֣יךָ הָֽעִבְרִ֗י א֚וֹ הָֽעִבְרִיָּ֔ה וַעֲבָֽדְךָ֖ שֵׁ֣שׁ שָׁנִ֑ים וּבַשָּׁנָה֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔ת תְּשַׁלְּחֶ֥נּוּ חָפְשִׁ֖י מֵעִמָּֽךְ׃ (יג) וְכִֽי־תְשַׁלְּחֶ֥נּוּ חָפְשִׁ֖י מֵֽעִמָּ֑ךְ לֹ֥א תְשַׁלְּחֶ֖נּוּ רֵיקָֽם׃ (יד) הַעֲנֵ֤יק תַּעֲנִיק֙ ל֔וֹ מִצֹּ֣אנְךָ֔ וּמִֽגָּרְנְךָ֖ וּמִיִּקְבֶ֑ךָ אֲשֶׁ֧ר בֵּרַכְךָ֛ ה' אֱלֹקֶ֖יךָ תִּתֶּן־לֽוֹ׃ (טו) וְזָכַרְתָּ֗ כִּ֣י עֶ֤בֶד הָיִ֙יתָ֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם וַֽיִּפְדְּךָ֖ ה' אֱלֹקֶ֑יךָ עַל־כֵּ֞ן אָנֹכִ֧י מְצַוְּךָ֛ אֶת־הַדָּבָ֥ר הַזֶּ֖ה הַיּֽוֹם׃ (טז) וְהָיָה֙ כִּֽי־יֹאמַ֣ר אֵלֶ֔יךָ לֹ֥א אֵצֵ֖א מֵעִמָּ֑ךְ כִּ֤י אֲהֵֽבְךָ֙ וְאֶת־בֵּיתֶ֔ךָ כִּי־ט֥וֹב ל֖וֹ עִמָּֽךְ׃ (יז) וְלָקַחְתָּ֣ אֶת־הַמַּרְצֵ֗עַ וְנָתַתָּ֤ה בְאָזְנוֹ֙ וּבַדֶּ֔לֶת וְהָיָ֥ה לְךָ֖ עֶ֣בֶד עוֹלָ֑ם וְאַ֥ף לַאֲמָתְךָ֖ תַּעֲשֶׂה־כֵּֽן׃ (יח) לֹא־יִקְשֶׁ֣ה בְעֵינֶ֗ךָ בְּשַׁלֵּֽחֲךָ֙ אֹת֤וֹ חָפְשִׁי֙ מֵֽעִמָּ֔ךְ כִּ֗י מִשְׁנֶה֙ שְׂכַ֣ר שָׂכִ֔יר עֲבָֽדְךָ֖ שֵׁ֣שׁ שָׁנִ֑ים וּבֵֽרַכְךָ֙ ה' אֱלֹקֶ֔יךָ בְּכֹ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר תַּעֲשֶֽׂה׃ (פ)
(12) If a fellow Hebrew, man or woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall set him free. (13) When you set him free, do not let him go empty-handed: (14) Furnish him out of the flock, threshing floor, and vat, with which the LORD your God has blessed you. (15) Bear in mind that you were slaves in the land of Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you; therefore I enjoin this commandment upon you today. (16) But should he say to you, “I do not want to leave you”—for he loves you and your household and is happy with you— (17) you shall take an awl and put it through his ear into the door, and he shall become your slave in perpetuity. Do the same with your female slave. (18) When you do set him free, do not feel aggrieved; for in the six years he has given you double the service of a hired man. Moreover, the LORD your God will bless you in all you do.

~ What are the limits?

~ When does the Jewish slave gets freedom? When does s/he remain in bondage? Why do you think this particular law bears repeating?

~ What do you think happens if the owner is not Jewish?

Did people really let their slaves go after 7 years?
(ח) הַדָּבָ֛ר אֲשֶׁר־הָיָ֥ה אֶֽל־יִרְמְיָ֖הוּ מֵאֵ֣ת ה' אַחֲרֵ֡י כְּרֹת֩ הַמֶּ֨לֶךְ צִדְקִיָּ֜הוּ בְּרִ֗ית אֶת־כָּל־הָעָם֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר בִּירֽוּשָׁלִַ֔ם לִקְרֹ֥א לָהֶ֖ם דְּרֽוֹר׃ (ט) לְ֠שַׁלַּח אִ֣ישׁ אֶת־עַבְדּ֞וֹ וְאִ֧ישׁ אֶת־שִׁפְחָת֛וֹ הָעִבְרִ֥י וְהָעִבְרִיָּ֖ה חָפְשִׁ֑ים לְבִלְתִּ֧י עֲבָד־בָּ֛ם בִּיהוּדִ֥י אָחִ֖יהוּ אִֽישׁ׃ (י) וַיִּשְׁמְעוּ֩ כָל־הַשָּׂרִ֨ים וְכָל־הָעָ֜ם אֲשֶׁר־בָּ֣אוּ בַבְּרִ֗ית לְ֠שַׁלַּח אִ֣ישׁ אֶת־עַבְדּ֞וֹ וְאִ֤ישׁ אֶת־שִׁפְחָתוֹ֙ חָפְשִׁ֔ים לְבִלְתִּ֥י עֲבָד־בָּ֖ם ע֑וֹד וַֽיִּשְׁמְע֖וּ וַיְשַׁלֵּֽחוּ׃ (יא) וַיָּשׁ֙וּבוּ֙ אַחֲרֵי־כֵ֔ן וַיָּשִׁ֗בוּ אֶת־הָֽעֲבָדִים֙ וְאֶת־הַשְּׁפָח֔וֹת אֲשֶׁ֥ר שִׁלְּח֖וּ חָפְשִׁ֑ים ויכבישום [וַֽיִּכְבְּשׁ֔וּם] לַעֲבָדִ֖ים וְלִשְׁפָחֽוֹת׃ (ס) (יב) וַיְהִ֤י דְבַר־ה' אֶֽל־יִרְמְיָ֔הוּ מֵאֵ֥ת ה' לֵאמֹֽר׃ (יג) כֹּֽה־אָמַ֥ר ה' אֱלֹקֵ֣י יִשְׂרָאֵ֑ל אָנֹכִ֗י כָּרַ֤תִּֽי בְרִית֙ אֶת־אֲב֣וֹתֵיכֶ֔ם בְּי֨וֹם הוֹצִאִ֤י אוֹתָם֙ מֵאֶ֣רֶץ מִצְרַ֔יִם מִבֵּ֥ית עֲבָדִ֖ים לֵאמֹֽר׃ (יד) מִקֵּ֣ץ שֶׁ֣בַע שָׁנִ֡ים תְּֽשַׁלְּח֡וּ אִישׁ֩ אֶת־אָחִ֨יו הָעִבְרִ֜י אֲשֶֽׁר־יִמָּכֵ֣ר לְךָ֗ וַעֲבָֽדְךָ֙ שֵׁ֣שׁ שָׁנִ֔ים וְשִׁלַּחְתּ֥וֹ חָפְשִׁ֖י מֵֽעִמָּ֑ךְ וְלֹֽא־שָׁמְע֤וּ אֲבֽוֹתֵיכֶם֙ אֵלַ֔י וְלֹ֥א הִטּ֖וּ אֶת־אָזְנָֽם׃ (טו) וַתָּשֻׁ֨בוּ אַתֶּ֜ם הַיּ֗וֹם וַתַּעֲשׂ֤וּ אֶת־הַיָּשָׁר֙ בְּעֵינַ֔י לִקְרֹ֥א דְר֖וֹר אִ֣ישׁ לְרֵעֵ֑הוּ וַתִּכְרְת֤וּ בְרִית֙ לְפָנַ֔י בַּבַּ֕יִת אֲשֶׁר־נִקְרָ֥א שְׁמִ֖י עָלָֽיו׃ (טז) וַתָּשֻׁ֙בוּ֙ וַתְּחַלְּל֣וּ אֶת־שְׁמִ֔י וַתָּשִׁ֗בוּ אִ֤ישׁ אֶת־עַבְדּוֹ֙ וְאִ֣ישׁ אֶת־שִׁפְחָת֔וֹ אֲשֶׁר־שִׁלַּחְתֶּ֥ם חָפְשִׁ֖ים לְנַפְשָׁ֑ם וַתִּכְבְּשׁ֣וּ אֹתָ֔ם לִֽהְי֣וֹת לָכֶ֔ם לַעֲבָדִ֖ים וְלִשְׁפָחֽוֹת׃ (ס) (יז) לָכֵן֮ כֹּה־אָמַ֣ר ה' אַתֶּם֙ לֹֽא־שְׁמַעְתֶּ֣ם אֵלַ֔י לִקְרֹ֣א דְר֔וֹר אִ֥ישׁ לְאָחִ֖יו וְאִ֣ישׁ לְרֵעֵ֑הוּ הִנְנִ֣י קֹרֵא֩ לָכֶ֨ם דְּר֜וֹר נְאֻם־ה' אֶל־הַחֶ֙רֶב֙ אֶל־הַדֶּ֣בֶר וְאֶל־הָרָעָ֔ב וְנָתַתִּ֤י אֶתְכֶם֙ לזועה [לְזַעֲוָ֔ה] לְכֹ֖ל מַמְלְכ֥וֹת הָאָֽרֶץ׃
(8) The word which came to Jeremiah from the LORD after King Zedekiah had made a covenant with all the people in Jerusalem to proclaim a release among them— (9) that everyone should set free his Hebrew slaves, both male and female, and that no one should keep his fellow Judean enslaved. (10) Everyone, officials and people, who had entered into the covenant agreed to set their male and female slaves free and not keep them enslaved any longer; they complied and let them go. (11) But afterward they turned about and brought back the men and women they had set free, and forced them into slavery again. (12) Then it was that the word of the LORD came to Jeremiah from the LORD: (13) Thus said the LORD, the God of Israel: I made a covenant with your fathers when I brought them out of the land of Egypt, the house of bondage, saying: (14) “In the seventh year each of you must let go any fellow Hebrew who may be sold to you; when he has served you six years, you must set him free.” But your fathers would not obey Me or give ear. (15) Lately you turned about and did what is proper in My sight, and each of you proclaimed a release to his countrymen; and you made a covenant accordingly before Me in the House which bears My name. (16) But now you have turned back and have profaned My name; each of you has brought back the men and women whom you had given their freedom, and forced them to be your slaves again. (17) Assuredly, thus said the LORD: You would not obey Me and proclaim a release, each to his kinsman and countryman. Lo! I proclaim your release—declares the LORD—to the sword, to pestilence, and to famine; and I will make you a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth.

~ What are the threats that Jeremiah brings, in the name of God, to those who make a proforma liberation?

~ Why does Zedekiah, the king, have to make a pact to liberate all slaves?

Liberation in the Mishnah

(ב) עֶבֶד עִבְרִי נִקְנֶה בְכֶסֶף וּבִשְׁטָר, וְקוֹנֶה אֶת עַצְמוֹ בַּשָּׁנִים וּבַיּוֹבֵל וּבְגִרְעוֹן כֶּסֶף. יְתֵרָה עָלָיו אָמָה הָעִבְרִיָּה, שֶׁקּוֹנָה אֶת עַצְמָהּ בְּסִימָנִין. הַנִּרְצָע נִקְנֶה בִרְצִיעָה, וְקוֹנֶה אֶת עַצְמוֹ בַיּוֹבֵל וּבְמִיתַת הָאָדוֹן:

(ג) עֶבֶד כְּנַעֲנִי נִקְנֶה בְכֶסֶף וּבִשְׁטָר וּבַחֲזָקָה, וְקוֹנֶה אֶת עַצְמוֹ בְכֶסֶף עַל יְדֵי אֲחֵרִים, וּבִשְׁטָר עַל יְדֵי עַצְמוֹ, דִּבְרֵי רַבִּי מֵאִיר. וַחֲכָמִים אוֹמְרִים, בְּכֶסֶף עַל יְדֵי עַצְמוֹ וּבִשְׁטָר עַל יְדֵי אֲחֵרִים, וּבִלְבַד שֶׁיְּהֵא הַכֶּסֶף מִשֶּׁל אֲחֵרִים:

(2) A Hebrew slave can be acquired by his master through money or through a document, and he can acquire himself, i.e., he is emancipated, through years, i.e., when he completes his six years of labor, or through the advent of the Jubilee Year, or through the deduction of money. The slave can redeem himself during the six years by paying for his remaining years of slavery. A Hebrew maidservant has one mode of emancipation more than him, as she acquires herself through signs indicating puberty. A slave who is pierced after serving six years is acquired as a slave for a longer period through piercing his ear with an awl, and he acquires himself through the advent of the Jubilee Year or through the death of the master.

(3) A Canaanite slave is acquired by means of money, by means of a document, or by means of the master taking possession of him. And he can acquire himself, i.e., his freedom, by means of money given by others, i.e., other people can give money to his master, and by means of a bill of manumission if he accepts it by himself. This is the statement of Rabbi Meir. And the Rabbis say: The slave can be freed by means of money given by himself, and by means of a bill of manumission if it is accepted by others, provided that the money he gives belongs to others, not to him.

(ז) אָב וּבְנוֹ שֶׁרָאוּ אֶת הַחֹדֶשׁ, יֵלְכוּ. לֹא שֶׁמִּצְטָרְפִין זֶה עִם זֶה, אֶלָּא שֶׁאִם יִפָּסֵל אֶחָד מֵהֶן, יִצְטָרֵף הַשֵּׁנִי עִם אַחֵר. רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן אוֹמֵר, אָב וּבְנוֹ וְכָל הַקְּרוֹבִין, כְּשֵׁרִין לְעֵדוּת הַחֹדֶשׁ. אָמַר רַבִּי יוֹסֵי, מַעֲשֶׂה בְטוֹבִיָּה הָרוֹפֵא, שֶׁרָאָה אֶת הַחֹדֶשׁ בִּירוּשָׁלַיִם, הוּא וּבְנוֹ וְעַבְדּוֹ מְשֻׁחְרָר, וְקִבְּלוּ הַכֹּהֲנִים אוֹתוֹ וְאֶת בְּנוֹ, וּפָסְלוּ אֶת עַבְדּוֹ. וּכְשֶׁבָּאוּ לִפְנֵי בֵית דִּין, קִבְּלוּ אוֹתוֹ וְאֶת עַבְדּוֹ, וּפָסְלוּ אֶת בְּנוֹ:

(7) If a father and his son saw the new moon, they should both go to the court in Jerusalem. It is not that they can join together to give testimony, for close relatives are disqualified from testifying together, but they both go so that if one of them is disqualified, the second may join together with another witness to testify about the new moon. Rabbi Shimon says: A father and his son and all their relatives are fit to combine together as witnesses for testimony to determine the start of the month. Rabbi Yosei said: There was an incident with Toviyya the doctor. When he saw the new moon in Jerusalem, he and his son and his freed slave all went to testify. The priests accepted him and his son as witnesses and disqualified his slave, for they ruled stringently that the month may be sanctified only on the basis of the testimony of those of Jewish lineage. And when they came before the court, they accepted him and his slave as witnesses and disqualified his son, due to the familial relationship.

~ What is obvious about the slave of Toviah, the doctor?

A bit of the Talmud's view
האי שפחה ה"ד אי דאתיא ב' שערות מאי בעיא גביה אלא לאו דלא אתיא ב' שערות הכא במאי עסקינן במעשר בזמן הזה דרבנן ואמה העבריה בזמן הזה מי איכא והתניא אין עבד עברי נוהג אלא בזמן שהיובל נוהג אלא בעציץ שאינו נקוב דרבנן
The Gemara asks: What are the circumstances of this maidservant? If she developed two pubic hairs, indicating that she reached majority, what is she doing with the owner of the produce? A Hebrew maidservant is emancipated when she reaches puberty. Rather, is the reference here not to a case where she did not yet develop two pubic hairs? Apparently, a minor can also acquire property on behalf of others. The Gemara rejects this proof: With what are we dealing here? It is with tithes today, which is in effect by rabbinic law, and the Sages ruled leniently in matters of rabbinic law. The Gemara asks: And is there a Hebrew maidservant today? But isn’t it taught in a baraita: The provision of a Hebrew slave is in practice only during a period when the Jubilee Year is in practice. Therefore, there have been no Hebrew slaves or maidservants since observance of the Jubilee Year ceased, before the destruction of the First Temple. Rather, it must be that the mishna is referring to a case where the produce grew in an unperforated pot, which one is obligated to tithe by rabbinic law.

~ When was the last Jubilee Year? What does that mean for all the rules regarding Eved Ivri?

אמר אביי הריני כבן עזאי בשוקי טבריא א"ל ההוא מרבנן לאביי מכדי הני קראי איכא למידרשינהו לקולא ואיכא למידרשינהו לחומרא מאי חזית דדרשינהו לקולא נידרשינהו לחומרא לא סלקא דעתך מדאקיל רחמנא לגביה דתניא (דברים טו, טז) כי טוב לו עמך עמך במאכל ועמך במשתה שלא תהא אתה אוכל פת נקיה והוא אוכל פת קיבר אתה שותה יין ישן והוא שותה יין חדש אתה ישן על גבי מוכים והוא ישן על גבי התבן מכאן אמרו כל הקונה עבד עברי כקונה אדון לעצמו
When he was in a good mood, Abaye once said: Behold I am like the intellectually sharp ben Azzai, who would regularly expound on the Torah in the markets of Tiberias. I too am ready to answer any question put to me. One of the Sages said to Abaye: After all, with regard to those verses: “Out of the money that he was bought for” and “according to his years,” one could expound them leniently, and assess the cost of redemption at the lower amount. And one could, in equal measure, expound them stringently, i.e., one could say that if a slave was worth more when he was purchased, he pays according to “the money that he was bought for,” and if he increased in value he must pay “according to his years,” i.e., by his present worth. What did you see to cause you to decide to expound them leniently? Let us expound them stringently. Abaye answered: It cannot enter your mind to expound the verses stringently, as indicated from the fact that the Merciful One is lenient with regard to a slave and is concerned about his well-being. As it is taught in a baraita: The verse states concerning a Hebrew slave: “Because he fares well with you” (Deuteronomy 15:16), which teaches that the slave should be with you, i.e., treated as your equal, in food, meaning that his food must be of the same quality as yours, and with you in drink. The baraita continues: This means that there shall not be a situation in which you eat fine bread and he eats inferior bread [kibbar], bread from coarse flour mixed with bran, which is low quality. There shall not be a situation in which you drink aged wine and he drinks inferior new wine. There shall not be a situation in which you sleep comfortably on bedding made from soft sheets and he sleeps on straw. From here the Sages stated: Anyone who acquires a Hebrew slave is considered like one who acquires a master for himself, because he must be careful that the slave’s living conditions are equal to his own.
Selections from Maimonides

(ו) כָּל עֶבֶד עִבְרִי אָסוּר לַעֲבֹד בּוֹ בְּפָרֶךְ. וְאֵיזוֹ הִיא עֲבוֹדַת פָּרֶךְ זוֹ עֲבוֹדָה שֶׁאֵין לָהּ קִצְבָה וַעֲבוֹדָה שֶׁאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לָהּ אֶלָּא תִּהְיֶה מַחְשַׁבְתּוֹ לְהַעֲבִידוֹ בִּלְבַד שֶׁלֹּא יִבָּטֵל. מִכָּאן אָמְרוּ חֲכָמִים שֶׁלֹּא יֹאמַר לוֹ עֲדֹר תַּחַת הַגְּפָנִים עַד שֶׁאָבוֹא שֶׁהֲרֵי לֹא נָתַן לוֹ קִצְבָה. אֶלָּא יֹאמַר לוֹ עֲדֹר עַד שָׁעָה פְּלוֹנִית אוֹ עַד מָקוֹם פְּלוֹנִי. וְכֵן לֹא יֹאמַר לוֹ חֲפֹר מָקוֹם זֶה וְהוּא אֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לוֹ. וַאֲפִלּוּ לְהָחֵם לוֹ כּוֹס שֶׁל חַמִּין אוֹ לְהָצֵן וְאֵינוֹ צָרִיךְ לוֹ אָסוּר וְעוֹבֵר עָלָיו בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מג) "לֹא תִרְדֶּה בוֹ בְּפָרֶךְ". הָא אֵינוֹ עוֹשֶׂה לוֹ אֶלָּא דָּבָר קָצוּב שֶׁהוּא צָרִיךְ לוֹ. וְכֵן הָעַכּוּ''ם שֶׁנִּמְכַּר לוֹ אִם רָדָה בּוֹ בְּפָרֶךְ הֲרֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל מְצֻוִּין לְמָנְעוֹ. וְאִם הִנִּיחוּהוּ עוֹבְרִים בְּלֹא תַּעֲשֶׂה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה נג) "לֹא יִרְדֶּנּוּ בְּפֶרֶךְ לְעֵינֶיךָ". וְאֵין אָנוּ נִזְקָקִין לִכְנֹס לִרְשׁוּתוֹ שֶׁל עַכּוּ''ם וְלִבְדֹּק אַחֲרָיו שֶׁלֹּא יַעֲבִידֶנּוּ בְּפָרֶךְ שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר לְעֵינֶיךָ בִּזְמַן שֶׁאַתָּה רוֹאֶה:

(ז) כָּל עֶבֶד עִבְרִי אָסוּר לְיִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁקָּנָהוּ לְהַעֲבִידוֹ בִּדְבָרִים בּוֹזִים שֶׁהֵם מְיֻחָדִים לַעֲשׂוֹת הָעֲבָדִים כְּגוֹן שֶׁיּוֹלִיךְ אַחֲרָיו כֵּלָיו לְבֵית הַמֶּרְחָץ אוֹ יַחְלֹץ לוֹ מִנְעָלָיו שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה לט) "לֹא תַעֲבֹד בּוֹ עֲבֹדַת עָבֶד". אֵינוֹ נוֹהֵג בּוֹ אֶלָּא כְּשָׂכִיר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מ) "כְּשָׂכִיר כְּתוֹשָׁב יִהְיֶה עִמָּךְ". וּמֻתָּר לְסַפֵּר לוֹ שְׂעָרוֹ וּלְכַבֵּס לוֹ כְּסוּתוֹ וְלֶאֱפוֹת לוֹ עִסָּתוֹ. אֲבָל לֹא יַעֲשֶׂה אוֹתוֹ בַּלָּן לָרַבִּים אוֹ סַפָּר לָרַבִּים אוֹ נַחְתּוֹם לָרַבִּים. וְאִם הָיְתָה אֻמָּנוּתוֹ זֹאת קֹדֶם שֶׁיִּמָּכֵר הֲרֵי זֶה יַעֲשֶׂה. אֲבָל לֹא יְלַמְּדֵנוּ בַּתְּחִלָּה מְלָאכָה כְּלָל אֶלָּא אֻמָּנוּת שֶׁהָיָה בָּהּ הוּא שֶׁעוֹשֶׂה כְּשֶׁהָיָה עוֹשֶׂה מִקֹּדֶם. בַּמֶּה דְּבָרִים אֲמוּרִים בְּעֶבֶד עִבְרִי מִפְּנֵי שֶׁנַּפְשׁוֹ שְׁפָלָה בִּמְכִירָה. אֲבָל יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁלֹּא נִמְכַּר מֻתָּר לְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בּוֹ כְּעֶבֶד שֶׁהֲרֵי אֵינוֹ עוֹשֶׂה מְלָאכָה זוֹ אֶלָּא בִּרְצוֹנוֹ וּמִדַּעַת עַצְמוֹ:

(ח) אֲנָשִׁים שֶׁאֵינָן נוֹהֲגִין כַּשּׁוּרָה מֻתָּר לִרְדּוֹתָן בְּחָזְקָה וּלְהִשְׁתַּעְבֵּד בָּהֶן. מֶלֶךְ שֶׁגָּזַר שֶׁכָּל מִי שֶׁלֹּא יִתֵּן הַמַּס הַקָּצוּב עַל כָּל אִישׁ וְאִישׁ יִשְׁתַּעְבֵּד לְזֶה שֶׁנָּתַן הַמַּס עַל יָדוֹ הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר לְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בּוֹ יוֹתֵר מִדַּאי אֲבָל לֹא כְּעֶבֶד. וְאִם אֵינוֹ נוֹהֵג כַּשּׁוּרָה מֻתָּר לְהִשְׁתַּמֵּשׁ בּוֹ כְּעֶבֶד:

(ט) כָּל עֶבֶד עִבְרִי אוֹ אָמָה הָעִבְרִיָּה חַיָּב הָאָדוֹן לְהַשְׁווֹתָן לוֹ בְּמַאֲכָל וּבְמַשְׁקֶה בִּכְסוּת וּבְמָדוֹר שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים טו טז) "כִּי טוֹב לוֹ עִמָּךְ" שֶׁלֹּא תְּהֵא אַתָּה אוֹכֵל פַּת נָקִי וְהוּא אוֹכֵל פַּת קִבָּר אַתָּה שׁוֹתֶה יַיִן יָשָׁן וְהוּא שׁוֹתֶה יַיִן חָדָשׁ אַתָּה יָשֵׁן עַל גַּבֵּי מוֹכִין וְהוּא יָשֵׁן עַל גַּבֵּי הַתֶּבֶן אַתָּה דָּר בִּכְרַךְ וְהוּא דָּר בִּכְפָר אוֹ אַתָּה דָּר בִּכְפָר וְהוּא יוֹשֵׁב בִּכְרַךְ. שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מא) "וְיָצָא מֵעִמָּךְ". מִכָּאן אָמְרוּ כָּל הַקּוֹנֶה עֶבֶד עִבְרִי כְּקוֹנֶה אָדוֹן לְעַצְמוֹ. וְחַיָּב לִנְהֹג בּוֹ מִנְהַג אַחְוָה שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (ויקרא כה מו) "וּבְאַחֵיכֶם בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל". וְאַף עַל פִּי כֵן צָרִיךְ הָעֶבֶד לִנְהֹג בְּעַצְמוֹ מִנְהַג עַבְדוּת בְּאוֹתָן הָעֲבוֹדוֹת שֶׁהוּא עוֹשֶׂה לוֹ:

(י) אֵין אָמָה הָעִבְרִיָּה נוֹהֶגֶת וְלֹא עֶבֶד עִבְרִי נוֹהֵג אֶלָּא בִּזְמַן שֶׁהַיּוֹבֵל נוֹהֵג. בֵּין עֶבֶד עִבְרִי שֶׁמּוֹכֵר עַצְמוֹ בֵּין זֶה שֶׁמְּכָרוּהוּ בֵּית דִּין. וּכְבָר בֵּאַרְנוּ מָתַי בָּטְלוּ הַיּוֹבְלוֹת:

(6) It is forbidden to work a Hebrew slave ruthlessly. What is meant by ruthless work? It is work that has no definite time or limit, or needless work designed only to keep the slave working and occupied. Hence, the sages have said: The master should not tell the Hebrew slave: "Pluck weeds under the vines until I arrive," because he has not given him a time limit. He should rather tell him : Pluck weeds until a certain hour or up to a certain place. Nor should he say to him: "Dig up this place," when he does not need it. It is even forbidden to tell him to prepare a glass of hot or cold water for him if he does not need it. By doing this he breaks a prohibitive law, as it is written: "You shall not rule over him ruthlessly" (43). This implies that the Hebrew slave is to do for the master only what is time-marked and needed.

(7) An Israelite who bought any Hebrew slave is forbidden to impose upon him humiliating tasks, performed by slaves only, such as making him carry his clothing to the bathhouse, or take off his shoes, as it is written: "Do not subject him to the treatment of a slave" (39). He must treat him as a hired worker, as it is written: "You must let him stay with you as a hired servant and a resident alien" (40).— — This applies only to a Hebrew slave, who feels humiliated by having been sold. It is, however, permissible to impose the work of a slave upon an Israelite who has not been sold, since the latter is doing this work voluntarily and with his own consent.

(8) [Regarding] people that do not behave well, it is permissible to subjugate them with force and enslave them. [If there is] a king that rules that anyone that does not give the fixed tax, [and that therefore] he is enslaved to whoever pays the tax [for him], it is permissible to use him more than necessary. But not like a [Caananite] slave. [But] if he does not behave well, it is permissible to use him as a [Caananite] slave.

(9) The master must treat his Hebrew male and female slaves as his equals as to food, drink, clothing, and shelter, as it is written: "Because he fares well with you" (Deuteronomy 15:16), meaning that you should not eat white bread, and the slave black bread; you should not drink old wine, and he new wine; you should not sleep on a feather bed, and he on straw; you should not live in the city, and he in the village; or you in the village, and he in the city, as it is written: "He shall come out from staying with you" (Leviticus 25:41). Hence, the sages have declared: "He who has bought a Hebrew slave is like one who has acquired a master for himself" (Kiddushin 20a). He should treat him brotherly, as it is written : "You must not lord it over your brothers the children of Israel" (Leviticus 25:46). Nevertheless, the slave should behave as a slave in the servile work he does for his master.

(10) The laws pertaining to Hebrew female and male slaves are applicable only when the law of the jubilee year applies, regardless of whether it is a Hebrew slave who has sold himself or one whom the court has sold. We have already explained as to when jubilees were discontinued.

(ד) כֵּיצַד בְּרָאשֵׁי אֵיבָרִים. הַמַּכֶּה אֶת עַבְדּוֹ בְּכַוָּנָה וְחָסְרוּ אֶחָד מֵעֶשְׂרִים וְאַרְבָּעָה רָאשֵׁי אֵיבָרִים שֶׁאֵינָן חוֹזְרִין יָצָא לְחֵרוּת וְצָרִיךְ גֵּט שִׁחְרוּר. אִם כֵּן לָמָּה נֶאֱמַר בַּתּוֹרָה (שמות כא כז) "שֵׁן" וְ (שמות כא כו) "עַיִן" לִדּוֹן מֵהֶן מָה שֵׁן וְעַיִן מוּמִין שֶׁבְּגָלוּי וְאֵינָן חוֹזְרִין אַף כָּל מוּמִין שֶׁבְּגָלוּי וְאֵינָן חוֹזְרִין יֵצֵא הָעֶבֶד בּוֹ לְחֵרוּת. אֲבָל הַמְסָרֵס עַבְדּוֹ בַּבֵּיצִים אוֹ הַחוֹתֵךְ לְשׁוֹנוֹ אֵינוֹ יוֹצֵא לְחֵרוּת שֶׁאֵינָן מוּמִין שֶׁבְּגָלוּי. וְכֵן הַמַּפִּיל שֵׁן הַקָּטָן אֵינוֹ יוֹצֵא לְחֵרוּת שֶׁהֲרֵי סוֹפוֹ לַחְזֹר:

(ה) אֵין יוֹצֵא בְּרָאשֵׁי אֵיבָרִים אֶלָּא עֲבָדִים שֶׁמָּלוּ וְטָבְלוּ שֶׁהֲרֵי יֶשְׁנָן בְּמִקְצָת מִצְוֹת אֲבָל הָעֶבֶד שֶׁהוּא בְּגֵיוּתוֹ אֵינוֹ יוֹצֵא בְּרָאשֵׁי אֵיבָרִים. אֵלּוּ הֵן רָאשֵׁי אֵיבָרִים שֶׁאֵינָן חוֹזְרִין. אֶצְבְּעוֹת יָדַיִם וְרַגְלַיִם עֶשְׂרִים רָאשֵׁי הָאָזְנַיִם וְרֹאשׁ הַחֹטֶם וְרֹאשׁ הַגְּוִיָּה וְרָאשֵׁי הַדָּדִין שֶׁבָּאִשָּׁה אֲבָל הָעֵינַיִם וְהַשִּׁנַּיִם הֲרֵי הֵן מְפֹרָשִׁין בַּתּוֹרָה:

(ו) הָיְתָה לוֹ אֶצְבַּע יְתֵרָה וַחֲתָכָהּ אִם נִסְפֶּרֶת עַל גַּב הַיָּד עֶבֶד יוֹצֵא בָּהּ לְחֵרוּת. הָיְתָה עֵינוֹ סְמוּיָה וְחִטְטָהּ עֶבֶד יוֹצֵא בָּהּ לְחֵרוּת שֶׁהֲרֵי חִסְּרוֹ אֵיבָר. וְהוּא הַדִּין לְאֶחָד מֵרָאשֵׁי אֵיבָרִים שֶׁהוּא בָּטֵל וְאֵינוֹ עוֹשֶׂה בּוֹ מְלָאכָה שֶׁאִם חֲתָכוֹ הֲרֵי חִסְּרוֹ אֵיבָר וְיָצָא לְחֵרוּת:

(4) 4. How is a slave released because of the loss of the tips of his limbs or organs? A person intentionally struck his slave and caused him to lose one of the 24 tips of his limbs or organs that will not regenerate; he is granted his freedom. A bill of release is required. If this applies to the 24 limbs, why does the Torah mention explicitly a tooth and an eye? To extrapolate from them. What characterizes the loss of an eye and a tooth an eye or a tooth? That they are obvious blemishes that will not be regenerated; so too, all obvious blemishes that will not be regenerated cause a slave to be granted his freedom. If, by contrast, a master castrates his slave or cuts out his tongue, the slave is not granted his freedom, for these are not revealed blemishes. Similarly, if a person knocks out one of a young slave's baby teeth, the slave is not released, for the tooth will grow back.

(5) 5. The only slaves released because of the loss of the tips of their limbs or organs are slaves that have been circumcised and immersed in the mikveh, for they are obligated in the observance of some of the mitzvot. A slave who is an outright gentile is not released because of the loss of the tips of his limbs or organs. These are the tips of the limbs and organs that will not regenerate: the 10 fingers and the ten toes, the tips of the ears, the tip of the nose, the tip of the male organ, the nipples of a woman's breasts. The eyes and the teeth are not included in this reckoning, because they are explicitly mentioned in the Torah.

(6) 6. Should a slave possess an extra finger, and the master cut it off, the slave is released because of its loss if the finger is counted on his hand together with his other fingers. If the slave's eye was blinded, and the master cut it out, the slave is released because of its loss. For the master caused him the loss of an organ. The same law applies with regard to any other of the tips of the organs that are not functional and cannot be used for a task: if the master cuts it off, the master caused him the loss of an organ, and the slave is released because of its loss.

(יז) יְצִיאַת הָעֶבֶד בְּרָאשֵׁי אֵיבָרִים נוֹהֵג בְּכָל מָקוֹם וּבְכָל זְמַן וְאֵין דָּנִין בּוֹ אֶלָּא בְּבֵית דִּין סְמוּכִין מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא קְנָס. לְפִיכָךְ הָעֶבֶד שֶׁאָמַר לְרַבּוֹ הִפַּלְתָּ אֶת שִׁנִּי וְסִמֵּיתָ אֶת עֵינִי וְהָאָדוֹן אוֹמֵר לוֹ עָשִׂיתִי זֶה פָּטוּר שֶׁאִם יוֹדֶה מֵעַצְמוֹ אֵינוֹ חַיָּב לְהוֹצִיאוֹ לְחֵרוּת בְּלֹא עֵדִים שֶׁהַמּוֹדֶה בִּקְנָס פָּטוּר כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּהִלְכוֹת גְּנֵבָה שֶׁכָּל מוֹדֶה בִּקְנָס פָּטוּר מִלְּשַׁלְּמוֹ:

(17) 17. The release of slaves because of the loss of the tips of their limbs or organs is practiced in every place, and in every time. This ruling may be delivered only by judges who possess semichah, for this is a fine. For this reason, if a servant told his master: "You knocked out my tooth and blinded my eye," and the master admits doing this, the master is not liable. The rationale is that had he taken the initiative and admitted having caused this injury, he would not be liable to grant the slave his freedom unless witnesses testify. For a person who admits his guilt in a case requiring a fine is not liable. As Hilchot Geneivah states, anyone who admits his guilt in a case requiring a fine is not liable.

(א) הַמּוֹכֵר אֶת עַבְדּוֹ לְעַכּוּ''ם יֵצֵא בֶּן חוֹרִין וְכוֹפִין אֶת רַבּוֹ לַחְזֹר וְלִקְנוֹתוֹ מִן הָעַכּוּ''ם עַד עֲשָׂרָה בְּדָמָיו וְכוֹתֵב לוֹ גֵּט שִׁחְרוּר וְיוֹצֵא. וְאִם לֹא רָצָה הָעַכּוּ''ם לְמָכְרוֹ אֲפִלּוּ בַּעֲשָׂרָה בְּדָמָיו אֵין מְחַיְּבִין אוֹתוֹ יֶתֶר. וּקְנָס זֶה אֵין גּוֹבִין אוֹתוֹ וְדָנִין אוֹתוֹ אֶלָּא בְּבֵית דִּין מֻמְחִין. וְאִם מֵת הַמּוֹכֵר אֵין קוֹנְסִין אֶת הַיּוֹרֵשׁ לְהַחְזִיר אֶת הָעֶבֶד לְשִׁחְרוּר:

(1) 1. When a person sells his slave to a gentile, the slave is released as a free man. We compel the previous owner to buy him back from the gentiles at even ten times his value. He then composes a bill of release for him, and the slave is released. If the gentile purchaser does not desire to sell the slave back at even ten times his value, we do not require the owner to make another offer. This fine is only collected and brought to judgment in a court of expert judges. If the seller dies, we do not require his heir to return the slave so that he can free him.

(ה) אֶחָד מוֹכֵר עַבְדּוֹ לְעַכּוּ''ם עוֹבֵד עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה אוֹ שֶׁמְּכָרוֹ לְגֵר תּוֹשָׁב אֲפִלּוּ לְכוּתִי הֲרֵי זֶה יֵצֵא לְחֵרוּת. מְכָרוֹ לְיִשְׂרָאֵל מוּמָר הֲרֵי זֶה סָפֵק לְפִיכָךְ אִם תָּפַס כְּדֵי דָּמָיו מֵרַבּוֹ רִאשׁוֹן כְּדֵי לָצֵאת בָּהֶן מִיַּד הַמּוּמָר אֵין מוֹצִיאִין מִיָּדוֹ:

(5) 5. Whether a Jew sells his slave to a gentile who serves idols, a ger toshav, or even to a kuti, the slave is granted his freedom. If he sells his slave to an apostate Jew, there is an unresolved question regarding the matter. Therefore, if the slave seizes property belonging to his former master that equals his worth, so that he can purchase his freedom from the apostate, it is not expropriated from him.

(ו) הַמּוֹכֵר עַבְדּוֹ לְחוּצָה לָאָרֶץ יָצָא בֶּן חוֹרִין וְכוֹפִין אֶת רַבּוֹ הַשֵּׁנִי לִכְתֹּב לוֹ גֵּט שִׁחְרוּר וְאָבְדוּ הַדָּמִים. וּמִפְּנֵי מָה קָנְסוּ כָּאן הַלּוֹקֵחַ לְבַדּוֹ שֶׁאִלּוּ לֹא לָקַח זֶה לֹא יָצָא הָעֶבֶד לְחוּצָה לָאָרֶץ. הַמּוֹכֵר עַבְדּוֹ לְסוּרְיָא וַאֲפִלּוּ לְעַכּוֹ כְּמוֹכֵר לְחוּצָה לָאָרֶץ:

(6) 6. When a person living in Eretz Yisrael sells his slave to a master from the diaspora, the slave is granted his freedom. We compel his new master to compose a bill of release for him, and his money is forfeited. Why did our Sages penalize the purchaser alone in this instance? Because if he had not purchased the slave, this slave would not have left Eretz Yisrael for the diaspora. Selling a slave to Syria or to Acre is considered as selling him to the diaspora.

(ט) עֶבֶד שֶׁאָמַר לַעֲלוֹת לְאֶרֶץ יִשְׂרָאֵל כּוֹפִין אֶת רַבּוֹ לַעֲלוֹת עִמּוֹ אוֹ יִמְכֹּר אוֹתוֹ לְמִי שֶׁיַּעֲלוּהוּ לְשָׁם. רָצָה הָאָדוֹן לָצֵאת לְחוּצָה לָאָרֶץ אֵינוֹ יָכוֹל לְהוֹצִיא אֶת עַבְדּוֹ עַד שֶׁיִּרְצֶה. וְדִין זֶה בְּכָל זְמַן אֲפִלּוּ בַּזְּמַן הַזֶּה שֶׁהָאָרֶץ בְּיַד עַכּוּ''ם:

(י) עֶבֶד שֶׁבָּרַח מִחוּצָה לָאָרֶץ לָאָרֶץ אֵין מַחֲזִירִין לוֹ לְעַבְדוּת וְעָלָיו נֶאֱמַר (דברים כג טז) "לֹא תַסְגִּיר עֶבֶד אֶל אֲדֹנָיו". וְאוֹמֵר לְרַבּוֹ שֶׁיִּכְתֹּב לוֹ גֵּט שִׁחְרוּר וְיִכְתֹּב לוֹ שְׁטַר חוֹב בְּדָמָיו עַד שֶׁתַּשִּׂיג יָדוֹ וְיִתֵּן לוֹ. וְאִם לֹא רָצָה הָאָדוֹן לְשַׁחְרְרוֹ מַפְקִיעִין בֵּית דִּין שִׁעְבּוּדוֹ מֵעָלָיו וְיֵלֵךְ לוֹ:

(יא) עֶבֶד זֶה שֶׁבָּרַח לָאָרֶץ הֲרֵי הוּא גֵּר צֶדֶק וְהוֹסִיף לוֹ הַכָּתוּב אַזְהָרָה אַחֶרֶת לְמִי שֶׁמְּאַנֶּה אוֹתוֹ מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא שְׁפַל רוּחַ יוֹתֵר מִן הַגֵּר וְצִוָּה עָלָיו הַכָּתוּב שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים כג יז) "עִמְּךָ יֵשֵׁב בְּקִרְבְּךָ" (דברים כג יז) "בְּאַחַד שְׁעָרֶיךָ" (דברים כג יז) "בַּטּוֹב לוֹ לֹא תּוֹנֶנּוּ". זוֹ אַף הוֹנָיַת דְּבָרִים. נִמְצֵאתָ לָמֵד שֶׁהַמְאַנֶּה אֶת הַגֵּר הַזֶּה עוֹבֵר בִּשְׁלֹשָׁה לָאוִין מִשּׁוּם (ויקרא כה יז) "וְלֹא תוֹנוּ אִישׁ אֶת עֲמִיתוֹ" וּמִשּׁוּם (שמות כב כ) "וְגֵר לֹא תוֹנֶה" וּמִשּׁוּם לֹא תּוֹנֶנּוּ. וְכֵן עוֹבֵר מִשּׁוּם (שמות כב כ) "וְלֹא תִלְחָצֶנּוּ" כְּמוֹ שֶׁבֵּאַרְנוּ בְּעִנְיַן הוֹנָיָה:

(יב) הַקּוֹנֶה עֶבֶד מִן הָעַכּוּ''ם סְתָם וְלֹא רָצָה לָמוּל וּלְקַבֵּל מִצְוֹת הָעֲבָדִים מְגַלְגְּלִין עִמּוֹ כָּל שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר חֹדֶשׁ וְאִם לֹא רָצָה חוֹזֵר וּמוֹכְרוֹ לְעַכּוּ''ם אוֹ לְחוּצָה לָאָרֶץ. וְאִם הִתְנָה הָעֶבֶד עָלָיו תְּחִלָּה שֶׁלֹּא יָמוּל הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר לְקַיְּמוֹ כָּל זְמַן שֶׁיִּרְצֶה בְּגֵיוּתוֹ וּמוֹכְרוֹ לְעַכּוּ''ם אוֹ לְחוּצָה לָאָרֶץ. וְכֵן עֶבֶד שֶׁמָּל וְטָבַל לְשֵׁם עַבְדוּת וְאַחַר כָּךְ הִפִּיל עַצְמוֹ לִגְיָסוֹת וְאֵין רַבּוֹ יָכוֹל לְהוֹצִיאוֹ לֹא בְּדִינֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל וְלֹא בְּדִינֵי אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם הֲרֵי זֶה מֻתָּר לוֹ לִטּל דָּמָיו מִן הָעַכּוּ''ם וְכוֹתֵב וּמַעֲלֶה בְּעַרְכָּאוֹת שֶׁל עַכּוּ''ם מִפְּנֵי שֶׁהוּא כְּמַצִּיל מִיָּדָם:

(9) 9. When a slave asks his master to move to Eretz Yisrael, we compel his master to move there with him or to sell him to someone who is moving there. When a master living in Eretz Yisrael desires to move to the diaspora, he cannot compel the slave to move with him against his will. This law applies in all times, even in the present era, when the land is ruled by gentiles.

(10) 10. When a slave flees from the diaspora to Eretz Yisrael, he should not be returned to slavery. Concerning such a person, the Torah Deuteronomy 23:16 states: "Do not return a slave to his master." His master is told to compose a bill of release for him, and he writes a promissory note for his master for his worth, which the master holds until the freed slave earns that money and gives it to him. If the master does not desire to free him, the court invalidates his ownership of him, and the slave is free to go on his way.

(11) 11. This slave who fled to Eretz Yisrael is a righteous gentile. Scripture adds a specific warning for anyone who would desire to deride him, for he is even more humble-spirited than a convert. Therefore, Scripture Deuteronomy 23:17 issues a command with regard to him: "He shall dwell with you, in your midst, in one of your cities that he desires. You shall not abuse him." Abusing him refers even to verbal derision. Thus, a person who derides this convert transgresses three negative commandments: "A person should not abuse his colleague" (Leviticus 25:14), "Do not abuse a convert" (Exodus 22:20), and "You shall not abuse him." He also transgresses the commandment: "Do not oppress him" (Exodus, Ibid.), as explained with regard to the laws of ona'ah.

(12) 12. When a person purchases a slave from a gentile without making a stipulation beforehand, and the slave does not desire to be circumcised or to accept the mitzvot incumbent upon slaves, he is given leeway for twelve months. If at the end of this period, he still does not desire, the master must sell him to a gentile or to the diaspora. If the slave made a stipulation with the master at the outset that he did not have to circumcise himself, the owner may maintain him as a gentile for as long as he desires and may sell him to a gentile or the diaspora. Similarly, even when a slave who has been circumcised and immersed himself to become a slave, but afterwards caused himself to be captured by a group of brigands, if his master cannot expropriate him - neither through the laws of the Jews, nor through the laws of the gentiles - he may accept payment for him from the gentile and formalize the sale through the gentile authorities, for he is preserving his money from the gentiles.

(ח) מֻתָּר לַעֲבֹד בְּעֶבֶד כְּנַעֲנִי בְּפָרֶךְ. וְאַף עַל פִּי שֶׁהַדִּין כָּךְ מִדַּת חֲסִידוּת וְדַרְכֵי חָכְמָה שֶׁיִּהְיֶה אָדָם רַחְמָן וְרוֹדֵף צֶדֶק וְלֹא יַכְבִּיד עֵלּוֹ עַל עַבְדּוֹ וְלֹא יָצֵר לוֹ וְיַאֲכִילֵהוּ וְיַשְׁקֵהוּ מִכָּל מַאֲכָל וּמִכָּל מִשְׁתֶּה. חֲכָמִים הָרִאשׁוֹנִים הָיוּ נוֹתְנִין לָעֶבֶד מִכָּל תַּבְשִׁיל וְתַבְשִׁיל שֶׁהָיוּ אוֹכְלִין. וּמַקְדִּימִין מְזוֹן הַבְּהֵמוֹת וְהָעֲבָדִים לִסְעוּדַת עַצְמָן. הֲרֵי הוּא אוֹמֵר (תהילים קכג ב) "כְעֵינֵי עֲבָדִים אֶל יַד אֲדוֹנֵיהֶם כְּעֵינֵי שִׁפְחָה אֶל יַד גְּבִרְתָּהּ". וְכֵן לֹא יְבַזֵּהוּ בַּיָּד וְלֹא בִּדְבָרִים. לְעַבְדוּת מְסָרָן הַכָּתוּב לֹא לְבוּשָׁה. וְלֹא יַרְבֶּה עָלָיו צְעָקָה וְכַעַס אֶלָּא יְדַבֵּר עִמּוֹ בְּנַחַת וְיִשְׁמַע טַעֲנוֹתָיו. וְכֵן מְפֹרָשׁ בְּדַרְכֵי אִיּוֹב הַטּוֹבִים שֶׁהִשְׁתַּבֵּחַ בָּהֶן (איוב לא יג) "אִם אֶמְאַס מִשְׁפַּט עַבְדִּי וַאֲמָתִי בְּרִבָם עִמָּדִי" (איוב לא טו) "הֲלֹא בַבֶּטֶן עשֵֹׁנִי עָשָׂהוּ וַיְכֻנֶנּוּ בָּרֶחֶם אֶחָד". וְאֵין הָאַכְזָרִיּוּת וְהָעַזּוּת מְצוּיָה אֶלָּא בְּעַכּוּ''ם עוֹבְדֵי עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה אֲבָל זַרְעוֹ שֶׁל אַבְרָהָם אָבִינוּ וְהֵם יִשְׂרָאֵל שֶׁהִשְׁפִּיעַ לָהֶם הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא טוֹבַת הַתּוֹרָה וְצִוָּה אוֹתָם בְּחֻקִּים וּמִשְׁפָּטִים צַדִּיקִים רַחְמָנִים הֵם עַל הַכּל. וְכֵן בְּמִדּוֹתָיו שֶׁל הַקָּדוֹשׁ בָּרוּךְ הוּא שֶּׁצִּוָּנוּ לְהִדָּמוֹת בָּהֶם הוּא אוֹמֵר (תהילים קמה ט) "וְרַחֲמָיו עַל כָּל מַעֲשָׂיו". וְכָל הַמְרַחֵם מְרַחֲמִין עָלָיו שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר (דברים יג יח) "וְנָתַן לְךָ רַחֲמִים וְרִחַמְךָ וְהִרְבֶּךָ":

(8) It is permissible to work a heathen slave relentlessly. Even though it is lawful, the quality of benevolence and the paths of wisdom demand of a human being to be merciful and striving for justice. One should not press his heavy yoke on his slave and torment him, but should give him to eat and drink of everything. The sages of old were in the habit of sharing with the slave every dish they ate, and they fed the cattle as well as the slaves before they themselves sat down to eat.— — Nor should a master disgrace his servant by hand or by words; the biblical law surrendered them to servitude, but not to disgrace (Niddah 47a). He should not madly scream at his servant, but speak to him gently and listen to his complaints.— — Cruelty is frequently to be found only among heathen who worship idols. The progeny of our father Abraham, however, the people of Israel upon whom God bestowed the goodness of the Torah, commanding them to keep the laws of goodness, are merciful toward all creatures. So too, in speaking of the divine attributes, which he has commanded us to imitate, the psalmist says: "His mercy is over all his works" (Psalm 145:9). Whoever is merciful will receive mercy, as it is written: "He will be merciful and compassionate to you and multiply you" (Deuteronomy 13:18).

The outlier case of Rabban Gamliel and Tavi
אמר רבי שמעון מעשה בטבי עבדו של רבן גמליאל שהיה ישן תחת המטה ואמר להן רבן גמליאל לזקנים ראיתם טבי עבדי שהוא תלמיד חכם ויודע שעבדים פטורין מן הסוכה לפיכך ישן הוא תחת המטה ולפי דרכינו למדנו שהישן תחת המטה לא יצא ידי חובתו:
§ Rabbi Shimon said, contrary to the opinion of Rabbi Yehuda: There was an incident involving Tavi, the Canaanite slave of Rabban Gamliel, who was sleeping beneath the bed, and Rabbi Gamliel lightheartedly said to the Elders: Did you see my slave Tavi, who is a Torah scholar and knows that slaves are exempt from the mitzva of sukka? Since it is a positive, time-bound mitzva, Canaanite slaves, whose status with regard to this halakhic category is like that of women, are exempt from the obligation to fulfill the mitzva of sukka. Therefore, he sleeps under the bed. Rabbi Shimon continued: And by the way, as Rabban Gamliel was not issuing a halakhic ruling, we learned that one who sleeps beneath the bed did not fulfill his obligation.
וּכְשֶׁמֵּת טָבִי עַבְדּוֹ קִבֵּל עָלָיו תַּנְחוּמִין. אָמְרוּ לוֹ תַּלְמִידָיו: לִמַּדְתָּנוּ רַבֵּינוּ שֶׁאֵין מְקַבְּלִין תַּנְחוּמִין עַל הָעֲבָדִים? אָמַר לָהֶם: אֵין טָבִי עַבְדִּי כִּשְׁאָר כָּל הָעֲבָדִים, כָּשֵׁר הָיָה.
Another exceptional incident is related: And when his slave, Tavi, died, Rabban Gamliel accepted condolences for his death as one would for a close family member. His students said to him: Have you not taught us, our teacher, that one does not accept condolences for the death of slaves? Rabban Gamliel said to his students: My slave, Tavi, is not like all the rest of the slaves, he was virtuous and it is appropriate to accord him the same respect accorded to a family member.

מכילתא דרבי ישמעאל בא - מסכתא דפסחא פרשה יז

"למען תהיה תורת ה' בפיך"—לא אמרתי אלא במי שהוא חייב בתלמוד תורה. מכאן אמרו הכל חייבין בתפילין חוץ מנשים ועבדים.

מיכל בת כושי היתה מנחת תפילין, אשתו של יונה היתה עולה לרגלים, טבי עבדו של רבן גמליאל היה מניח תפילין:

Mekhilta of R. Yishmael, Bo, Massekhta de-Pisha Parashah 17

Therefore, the verse says: “So that God’s teaching will be in your mouth”—[to teach that Tefillin only applies] to one who is obligated in Torah study. This is the basis for saying that all are obligated in Tefillin except for women and slaves.

Michal bat Kushi used to put on Tefillin, Yonah’s wife used to make the festival pilgrimage, Tavi, Rabban Gamliel’s slave used to put on Tefillin.

אֵין צוֹלִין אֶת הַפֶּסַח וְכוּ׳. מַעֲשֶׂה לִסְתּוֹר?! חַסּוֹרֵי מִיחַסְּרָא, וְהָכִי קָתָנֵי: וְאִם אַסְכָּלָא מְנוּקֶּבֶת — מוּתָּר. וְאָמַר רַבִּי צָדוֹק, מַעֲשֶׂה בְּרַבָּן גַּמְלִיאֵל שֶׁאָמַר לְטָבִי עַבְדּוֹ: צֵא וּצְלֵה לָנוּ אֶת הַפֶּסַח עַל הָאַסְכָּלָא מְנוּקֶּבֶת.
It was taught in the mishna that one may not roast the Paschal lamb on a grill. Subsequently, the mishna quotes an incident in which Rabban Gamliel instructed his servant to roast the Paschal lamb for him on a grill. The Gemara expresses surprise: Was an incident cited to contradict what was previously stated? The Gemara responds: The mishna is incomplete and is teaching the following: And if it is a perforated grill, so that the fire reaches each part of the meat and the animal will not be roasted from the heat of the grill itself, it is permitted. And with regard to this Rabbi Tzadok said that there was an incident with Rabban Gamliel, who said to his slave Tavi: Go and roast the Paschal lamb for us on the perforated grill.
אוי להם לרשעים לא דיין שמחייבין עצמן אלא שמחייבין לבניהם ולבני בניהם עד סוף כל הדורות הרבה בנים היו לו לכנען שראויין ליסמך כטבי עבדו של רבן גמליאל אלא שחובת אביהם גרמה להן
On the other hand: Woe to the wicked, as not only do they render themselves liable, but they also render their children and children’s children liable until the end of all generations. For example, Canaan had many children who deserved to be ordained as rabbis and instructors of the public due to their great stature in Torah study, like Tavi, the servant of Rabban Gamliel, who was famous for his wisdom; but their father’s liability caused them to remain as slaves.
וְאָמַר רַבִּי יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בֶּן לֵוִי: תִּשְׁעָה וְעֶבֶד — מִצְטָרְפִין. מֵיתִיבִי: מַעֲשֶׂה בְּרַבִּי אֱלִיעֶזֶר שֶׁנִּכְנַס לְבֵית הַכְּנֶסֶת וְלֹא מָצָא עֲשָׂרָה, וְשִׁחְרֵר עַבְדּוֹ וְהִשְׁלִימוֹ לַעֲשָׂרָה. שִׁחְרֵר — אִין, לֹא שִׁחְרֵר — לָא. תְּרֵי אִיצְטְרִיכוּ, שַׁחְרֵר חַד וְנָפֵיק בְּחַד. וְהֵיכִי עָבֵיד הָכִי? וְהָאָמַר רַב יְהוּדָה כׇּל הַמְשַׁחְרֵר עַבְדּוֹ עוֹבֵר בַּעֲשֵׂה, שֶׁנֶּאֱמַר: ״לְעֹלָם בָּהֶם תַּעֲבֹדוּ״? לִדְבַר מִצְוָה שָׁאנֵי: מִצְוָה הַבָּאָה בַּעֲבֵרָה הִיא! — מִצְוָה דְרַבִּים שָׁאנֵי.
On the subject of completing a zimmun, Rabbi Yehoshua ben Levi said: Nine Jews and a slave join together to form a zimmun of ten. The Gemara raises an objection: There was an incident involving Rabbi Eliezer, who entered a synagogue and did not find a quorum of ten, and he liberated his slave and he completed the quorum of ten. From this we may infer that if he freed his slave, yes, he may join the quorum of ten, but if he did not free him, no, he may not join the quorum of ten. The Gemara responds: In that case, two were required to complete the quorum; Rabbi Eliezer freed one and fulfilled his obligation with another one, who completed the quorum of ten without being freed. With regard to this incident, the Gemara asks: How did he do that? Didn’t Rav Yehuda say: Anyone who frees his Canaanite slave violates a positive mitzva, as it is stated with regard to Canaanite slaves: “You will keep them as an inheritance for your children after you, to hold as a possession; they will serve as bondsmen for you forever” (Leviticus 25:46)? How, then, could Rabbi Eliezer have freed his slave? The Gemara answers: The case of a mitzva is different. The Gemara asks: It is a mitzva that comes through a transgression, and a mitzva fulfilled in that manner is inherently flawed. The Gemara responds: A mitzva that benefits the many is different, and one may free his slave for that purpose.
גופא אמר רב הונא אמר רב מודה בקנס ואח"כ באו עדים פטור: איתיביה רב חסדא לרב הונא מעשה בר"ג שסימא את עין טבי עבדו והיה שמח שמחה גדולה מצאו לר' יהושע אמר לו אי אתה יודע שטבי עבדי יצא לחירות אמר לו למה א"ל שסמיתי את עינו אמר לו אין בדבריך כלום שכבר אין לו עדים
Since Rav Huna’s halakha was mentioned, the Gemara discusses in detail the matter itself. Rav Huna says that Rav says: One who admits he is liable to pay a fine is exempt from payment, even if afterward witnesses come and testify to his liability. Rav Ḥisda raised an objection to Rav Huna from a baraita: There was an incident involving Rabban Gamliel, who blinded the eye of his Canaanite slave Tavi, and he experienced great joy as a result. Rabban Gamliel had long wanted to emancipate Tavi, but it is generally prohibited to emancipate a Canaanite slave. The injury provided a fortuitous opportunity for Rabban Gamliel to emancipate his slave, as blinding the eye of one’s slave results in his emancipation (see Exodus 21:27). Rabban Gamliel encountered Rabbi Yehoshua and said to him: Do you know that my slave Tavi was emancipated? Rabbi Yehoshua said to him: Why? What circumstances enabled you to emancipate him? Rabban Gamliel said to him: I was able to do so, as I blinded his eye. Rabbi Yehoshua said to Rabban Gamliel: Your statement is nothing, and is not grounds for his emancipation, as he has no witnesses who can testify that you did this to him. The principle is that one does not pay a fine based on his own admission. One pays a fine only based on the testimony of witnesses. The requirement to emancipate one’s slave after injuring his eye is a type of fine.
וַיְדַבֵּר ה' אֶל משֶׁה, וְכִי תִמְכְּרוּ מִמְכָּר לַעֲמִיתֶךָ (ויקרא כה, א יד), הֲדָא הוּא דִכְתִיב (משלי יח, כא): מָוֶת וְחַיִּים בְּיַד לָשׁוֹן, תַּרְגוּם עֲקִילַס, מִיצְטְרָא מָכִירִין, מָוֶת מִכָּאן וְחַיִּים מִכָּאן. בַּר סִירָא אָמַר הָיְתָה לְפָנָיו גַּחֶלֶת וְנָפַח בָּהּ וּבָעֲרָהּ, רָקַק בָּהּ וְכָבַת. אָמַר רַבִּי יַנַּאי הָיָה כִּכָּר טָבוּל, אֲכָלוֹ עַד שֶׁלֹּא עִשְּׂרוֹ, מָוֶת בְּיַד לָשׁוֹן. עִשְּׂרוֹ וַאֲכָלוֹ, חַיִּים בְּיַד לָשׁוֹן. אָמַר רַבִּי חִיָּא בַּר אַבָּא הָיְתָה לְפָנָיו כַּלְכָּלָה שֶׁל תְּאֵנִים, אֲכָלָהּ עַד שֶׁלֹּא עִשְּׂרָהּ, מָוֶת בְּיַד לָשׁוֹן. עִשְּׂרָהּ וַאֲכָלָהּ, חַיִּים בְּיַד לָשׁוֹן. אָמַר רַבִּי שִׁמְעוֹן בֶּן גַּמְלִיאֵל לְטָבִי עַבְדֵיהּ פּוּק זְבֵין לִי צֵדוּ טָבָא מִן שׁוּקָא, נָפַק זָבַן לֵיהּ לִשָּׁן, אָמַר לֵיהּ פּוּק זְבֵין לִי צֵדוּ בִּישָׁא מִן שׁוּקָא, נָפַק זָבַן לֵיהּ לִשָּׁן. אֲמַר לֵיהּ מַהוּ דֵּין דְּכַד אֲנָא אָמַר לָךְ צֵדוּ טָבָא אַתְּ זָבַן לִי לִשָּׁן, וְכַד אֲנָא אֲמַר לָךְ צֵדוּ בִּישָׁא אַתְּ זָבַן לִי לִשָּׁן. אֲמַר לֵיהּ מִינָּהּ טָבְתָּא וּמִינָהּ בִּישְׁתָּא, כַּד הֲוָה טַב לֵית טָבָה מִנֵּיהּ, וְכַד בִּישׁ לֵית בִּישׁ מִנֵּיהּ. רַבִּי עָשָׂה סְעוּדָה לְתַלְמִידָיו, הֵבִיא לִפְנֵיהֶם לְשׁוֹנוֹת רַכִּים וּלְשׁוֹנוֹת קָשִׁים, הִתְחִילוּ בּוֹרְרִין בָּרַכִּים וּמַנִּיחִין הַקָּשִׁים, אָמַר לָהֶם דְּעוּ מָה אַתֶּם עוֹשִׂין כְּשֵׁם שֶׁאַתֶּם בּוֹרְרִין אֶת הָרַכִּין וּמַנִּיחִין אֶת הַקָּשִׁים כָּךְ יִהְיֶה לְשׁוֹנְכֶם רַךְ אֵלּוּ לָאֵלּוּ, לְפִיכָךְ משֶׁה מַזְהִיר אֶת יִשְׂרָאֵל וְכִי תִמְכְּרוּ מִמְכָּר.
"And Ad-nai said to Moshe... 'When you sell goods to your people [you shall not wrong one another]' (Leviticus 25:1-14)." Another verse: "Life and death and in the hand of the tongue", the translation of Onkelos 'mystromakerion' [an eating utensil, a side is a spoon the other a knife] death from this side and life from this side. Bar Sira said: 'there is a fiery coal in front of him, if he blows on it it catches fire, if he spits he puts it out.' Rabbi Yannai said: if he had a piece of bread in front of him and ate it without tithing, this is 'death by the hand of the tongue'; if he tithed it before eating, this is 'life by the hand of the tongue.' Said Rabbi Chiya bar Abba: If he had a basket of figs. If he ate them before he separated off tithes, then it is death by the hand of the tongue. If he separated off tithes and then ate, it is life by the hand of the tongue. Rabbi Shimon ben Gamliel said to Tavi his servant, "go purchase for me the best food from the market." He went and bought for him a tongue. He said to him "go purchase for me the worse food from the market." He went out and bought him a tongue. He said to him, "What is this? When I say to you to the best food, you buy me a tongue, and when I say to you the worst food, you [also] buy me tongue!" [Tavi] said to him, this is the best and this is the worst! When it is good, there is none better than it, and when it is bad, there is no worse than it." Rabbi made a feast for his students, and brought before them tender tongues and tough tongues. They began to choose for themselves the tender tongues and left alone the tough tongues. He said to them, "Know what you are doing! Just as you are choosing the tender [tongues] and leaving alone the tough ones, so shall your own tongues be with one another. Thefore Moshe warned Israel, 'and when you sell goods... [you shall not wrong one another]'
(ויקרא כה, מו) לעולם בהם תעבודו רשות דברי רבי ישמעאל ר' עקיבא אומר חובה
The verse states: “Of them may you take your bondmen forever” (Leviticus 25:46), i.e., keeping one’s Canaanite slave forever, is optional, this is the statement of Rabbi Yishmael. One is not enjoined against emancipating a Canaanite slave, but one is permitted to keep his Canaanite slaves forever. Rabbi Akiva says: It is mandatory, and it is prohibited for one to free his Canaanite slave.
Texts that will be used later by Modern rabbis
(כד) וַיִּ֥יקֶץ נֹ֖חַ מִיֵּינ֑וֹ וַיֵּ֕דַע אֵ֛ת אֲשֶׁר־עָ֥שָׂה־ל֖וֹ בְּנ֥וֹ הַקָּטָֽן׃ (כה) וַיֹּ֖אמֶר אָר֣וּר כְּנָ֑עַן עֶ֥בֶד עֲבָדִ֖ים יִֽהְיֶ֥ה לְאֶחָֽיו׃ (כו) וַיֹּ֕אמֶר בָּר֥וּךְ ה' אֱלֹ֣קֵי שֵׁ֑ם וִיהִ֥י כְנַ֖עַן עֶ֥בֶד לָֽמוֹ׃ (כז) יַ֤פְתְּ אֱלֹקִים֙ לְיֶ֔פֶת וְיִשְׁכֹּ֖ן בְּאָֽהֳלֵי־שֵׁ֑ם וִיהִ֥י כְנַ֖עַן עֶ֥בֶד לָֽמוֹ׃ (כח) וַֽיְחִי־נֹ֖חַ אַחַ֣ר הַמַּבּ֑וּל שְׁלֹ֤שׁ מֵאוֹת֙ שָׁנָ֔ה וַֽחֲמִשִּׁ֖ים שָׁנָֽה׃
(24) When Noah woke up from his wine and learned what his youngest son had done to him, (25) he said, “Cursed be Canaan; The lowest of slaves Shall he be to his brothers.” (26) And he said, “Blessed be the LORD, The God of Shem; Let Canaan be a slave to them. (27) May God enlarge Japheth, And let him dwell in the tents of Shem; And let Canaan be a slave to them.” (28) Noah lived after the Flood 350 years.
(ו) וּבְנֵ֖י חָ֑ם כּ֥וּשׁ וּמִצְרַ֖יִם וּפ֥וּט וּכְנָֽעַן׃ (ז) וּבְנֵ֣י כ֔וּשׁ סְבָא֙ וַֽחֲוִילָ֔ה וְסַבְתָּ֥ה וְרַעְמָ֖ה וְסַבְתְּכָ֑א וּבְנֵ֥י רַעְמָ֖ה שְׁבָ֥א וּדְדָֽן׃ (ח) וְכ֖וּשׁ יָלַ֣ד אֶת־נִמְרֹ֑ד ה֣וּא הֵחֵ֔ל לִֽהְי֥וֹת גִּבֹּ֖ר בָּאָֽרֶץ׃ (ט) הֽוּא־הָיָ֥ה גִבֹּֽר־צַ֖יִד לִפְנֵ֣י ה' עַל־כֵּן֙ יֵֽאָמַ֔ר כְּנִמְרֹ֛ד גִּבּ֥וֹר צַ֖יִד לִפְנֵ֥י ה'׃ (י) וַתְּהִ֨י רֵאשִׁ֤ית מַמְלַכְתּוֹ֙ בָּבֶ֔ל וְאֶ֖רֶךְ וְאַכַּ֣ד וְכַלְנֵ֑ה בְּאֶ֖רֶץ שִׁנְעָֽר׃ (יא) מִן־הָאָ֥רֶץ הַהִ֖וא יָצָ֣א אַשּׁ֑וּר וַיִּ֙בֶן֙ אֶת־נִ֣ינְוֵ֔ה וְאֶת־רְחֹבֹ֥ת עִ֖יר וְאֶת־כָּֽלַח׃ (יב) וְֽאֶת־רֶ֔סֶן בֵּ֥ין נִֽינְוֵ֖ה וּבֵ֣ין כָּ֑לַח הִ֖וא הָעִ֥יר הַגְּדֹלָֽה׃ (יג) וּמִצְרַ֡יִם יָלַ֞ד אֶת־לוּדִ֧ים וְאֶת־עֲנָמִ֛ים וְאֶת־לְהָבִ֖ים וְאֶת־נַפְתֻּחִֽים׃ (יד) וְֽאֶת־פַּתְרֻסִ֞ים וְאֶת־כַּסְלֻחִ֗ים אֲשֶׁ֨ר יָצְא֥וּ מִשָּׁ֛ם פְּלִשְׁתִּ֖ים וְאֶת־כַּפְתֹּרִֽים׃ (ס) (טו) וּכְנַ֗עַן יָלַ֛ד אֶת־צִידֹ֥ן בְּכֹר֖וֹ וְאֶת־חֵֽת׃ (טז) וְאֶת־הַיְבוּסִי֙ וְאֶת־הָ֣אֱמֹרִ֔י וְאֵ֖ת הַגִּרְגָּשִֽׁי׃ (יז) וְאֶת־הַֽחִוִּ֥י וְאֶת־הַֽעַרְקִ֖י וְאֶת־הַסִּינִֽי׃ (יח) וְאֶת־הָֽאַרְוָדִ֥י וְאֶת־הַצְּמָרִ֖י וְאֶת־הַֽחֲמָתִ֑י וְאַחַ֣ר נָפֹ֔צוּ מִשְׁפְּח֖וֹת הַֽכְּנַעֲנִֽי׃ (יט) וַֽיְהִ֞י גְּב֤וּל הַֽכְּנַעֲנִי֙ מִצִּידֹ֔ן בֹּאֲכָ֥ה גְרָ֖רָה עַד־עַזָּ֑ה בֹּאֲכָ֞ה סְדֹ֧מָה וַעֲמֹרָ֛ה וְאַדְמָ֥ה וּצְבֹיִ֖ם עַד־לָֽשַׁע׃ (כ) אֵ֣לֶּה בְנֵי־חָ֔ם לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָ֖ם לִלְשֹֽׁנֹתָ֑ם בְּאַרְצֹתָ֖ם בְּגוֹיֵהֶֽם׃ (ס)
(6) The descendants of Ham: Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. (7) The descendants of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The descendants of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan. (8) Cush also begot Nimrod, who was the first man of might on earth. (9) He was a mighty hunter by the grace of the LORD; hence the saying, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter by the grace of the LORD.” (10) The mainstays of his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Accad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar. (11) From that land Asshur went forth and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-ir, Calah, (12) and Resen between Nineveh and Calah, that is the great city. (13) And Mizraim begot the Ludim, the Anamim, the Lehabim, the Naphtuhim, (14) the Pathrusim, the Casluhim, and the Caphtorim, whence the Philistines came forth. (15) Canaan begot Sidon, his first-born, and Heth; (16) and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, (17) the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, (18) the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. Afterward the clans of the Canaanites spread out. (19) (The [original] Canaanite territory extended from Sidon as far as Gerar, near Gaza, and as far as Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, near Lasha.) (20) These are the descendants of Ham, according to their clans and languages, by their lands and nations.