Deuteronomy 24:7 – Prohibition of Enslaving/Kidnapping


Deuteronomy 24:7


While intentionally entering debt slavery is allowed, kidnapping and selling Israelites into slavery was expressly prohibited. 


This law is limited to Israelites. Kidnapping for the purpose of enslaving is a capital crime. There is no distinction on the economic status of the victim. No Israelite could be enslaved against her or his will. The kidnapper is to be killed in order to eliminate evil from among the Israelites. Kidnapping and selling into slavery, like murder and idolatry, is a crime so heinous that its perpetration endangers the entire community settlement in the Holy Land. 

If enslaving by kidnapping is absolutely prohibited, intentionally entered indentured servitude is at least regrettable. The duty of the kinsman-redeemer to redeem extended family members out of slavery is meant to mitigate debt bondage. Further the Sabbatical year (Deuteronomy 15) was a time for release of Israelites who had sold themselves into bondage but were not redeemed by a kinsman redeemer. Even those Israelites who chose to remain slaves at the Sabbatical year were forcibly liberated in the Jubilee, if they lived to see it. 

Certainly, there is no absolute prohibition on slavery in the Bible. But Deuteronomy strongly limits slavery, at least for Israelites, and contains a multi-tiered plan for liberating all those who were enslaved (and for providing reparations, for that matter).