Ancient Egyptian and Near Eastern Slavery

Here is a study of some forms of slavery and their rationale in ancient times. This study does not examine ancient Greek or Roman slavery, for which we also have abundant literature, nor the slavery occurring among the Israelites. Israelite slavery was probably adopted, in part, from the surrounding cultural milieu in which they interacted. This topic of Israelite slavery could be studied more thoroughly, it seems. Nevertheless, the geographical aspect of Israel was a land bridge, a choke point, between the two great fertile areas in the Mediterranean World. The Fertile Crescent wasn’t a crescent at all. It mostly resembled the shape of a dumbbell. God had placed Israel in the center of all the turmoil and action of the ancient world ( Ezekiel 5.5). In many ways, Israel benefitted and, to a degree, controlled the overland trading routes. The powerful and independent Kingdom of Tyre saw this lucrative opportunity when Israel fell to the Babylonians (Ezekiel 26.2). Tyre already controlled the sea routes and, with the addition of this land bridge, would have a monopoly on that region’s trade. All this historical information serves as a backdrop helping readers make sense of the message of the bible.

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