Chick-fil-A Biblical Family of the Day

Chick-fil-A president Dan Cathy: “We support biblical families.”

Today’s Chick-fil-A Biblical Family Rule of the Day: Selling your daughter into slavery (Exodus 21:7-11).

When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do. If she does not please her master, who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed; he shall have no right to sell her to a foreign people, since he has dealt unfairly with her. If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter. If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish the food, clothing, or marital rights of the first wife. And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out without debt, without payment of money.

  • The_L1985

    The idea of giving your daughter to your son as a slave is so bizarre to me that I can’t even get my head around it.

    I can understand how someone in desperate circumstances could be driven to the painful decision to sell his own daughter.  I can’t understand there being circumstances that would have you sell your own daughter to your son.  The fact that an adult son probably still lived with his father in those days just makes it even less logical to me.

  • Nicole Resweber

    I think it means the son of the guy who (ick) bought her, not the son of her father. Either way, though.

  • Ursula L

    Interesting how it switches between “slave” and “wife”, almost as if the two concepts  were the same.  

  • Carstonio

     That sounds vaguely like the practice among some fundamentalist Muslims, where the sons as essentially secondary fathers for the daughters, not only “protecting” them but also punishing them if her sexuality brings “shame” upon the family.

  • Kelex

    Heh, I was going to say the same thing.  Unless there’s a problem with the translation, this is…telling.

  • ohiolibrarian

    Slaves and wives. Apparently more or less the same thing.

  • http://twitter.com/Didaktylos Paul Hantusch

    I’m betting the difference between “slave” and “wife” pertains principally to the inheritance rights of the (male) offspring. Note that there is no explicit prohibition against preferring the sons of the new “wife” over the concubine.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Not necessarily–Jacob had two wives and two concubines, and other than the bit where he favored Joseph because Joseph was one of his favored wife’s two children and not the one whose birth killed her, he doesn’t seem to have distinguished between them. Of course that story predates these rules by quite a bit.

  • http://www.nicolejleboeuf.com/index.php Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little

    I think the author of the passage was actually expressing disapproval of men selling their daughters into slavery. Every commandment in this excerpt seems aimed at making it up to the  daughter within the bounds of the surrounding culture: if the buyer isn’t happy with her, that’s HIS fault and she must be “redeemed” (freed?); if he marries her or gives her to his son in marriage, she’s to be treated as an actual wife with all the responsibilities that implies for the, er, owner… In other words, “If you sell your daughter as a slave, she is not to be treated as a slave.”

    Now, why they couldn’t have just cut all that down to “Guys, selling your daughter into slavery is wrong” I don’t know. Perhaps that single commandment would have pushed things beyond the pale in that culture. The author had to pander a little to his base.

    I don’t have the historical knowledge to really know what was going on here. This is just how it reads to me. I would love to hear someone elucidate the place this excerpt had in the culture that authored it (rather than just garden-variety “Haw haw, aren’t Bible-believing Christians stoopid, their holy book uses Wife and Slave interchangeably, says a lot don’t it amirite”).

  • Deborah Moore

    So far as I can tell, the difference between Jacob’s wives and his concubines was that the wives were Laban’s daughters and the concubines were Laban’s slaves.  That meant that Jacob regularly had to deal with his wives’ father and take that into account.  For instance, when he decided to go back home, he had to consult his wives, but not his concubines.  And Laban came after him, angry that Jacob had taken away his daughters but never mentioning his slaves.

    (Come to think of it, looking at Jacob with Leah and Rachel, or Abraham with Sarah and Hagar, it would appear that these patriarchs needed their wives’ permission before laying hands on their slaves).

  • Ursula L

    I think the author of the passage was actually expressing disapproval of men selling their daughters into slavery. Every commandment in this excerpt seems aimed at making it up to the  daughter within the bounds of the surrounding culture: if the buyer isn’t happy with her, that’s HIS fault and she must be “redeemed” (freed?); if he marries her or gives her to his son in marriage, she’s to be treated as an actual wife with all the responsibilities that implies for the, er, owner… In other words, “If you sell your daughter as a slave, she is not to be treated as a slave.”
    Now, why they couldn’t have just cut all that down to “Guys, selling your daughter into slavery is wrong” I don’t know. Perhaps that single commandment would have pushed things beyond the pale in that culture. The author had to pander a little to his base.

    If the point is to discourage men from selling their daughters as slaves, this is a really bad way of going about it.  Because this rule seems to be strictly about Israelites selling their daughters to other Israelites, and the limits on how an Israelite can treat an Israelite-born female slave.This doesn’t limit the behavior of non-Israelite slave owners.  It doesn’t limit the possibility of an Israelite slave trader buying Israelite women and girls, not designating them for their own use, but rather selling them to non-Israelites.  It doesn’t prevent an Israelite man from selling his daughter to a non-Israelite who isn’t bound by these laws.  The effect of these laws would make it financially better for a man to sell his daughter to a foreigner, rather than a fellow Israelite, because she is less valuable to the Israelite, because the way she can be exploited is limited.

  • Amaryllis

    I think the author of the passage was actually expressing disapproval of men selling their daughters into slavery.

    It seems to me to be expressing disapproval of the buyers more than the sellers. That is, if you’re going to take advantage of a father’s desperate economic circumstances, you have to at least remember that the daughter is a human being rather than a commodity.

    Because that’s who’s likely to be selling his children, isn’t it? Not someone who just feels like making a little extra cash, but someone who’s so far deep in debt that he literally has no choice. Children could be seized by one’s creditors just as much as one’s other possessions.

  • BrianR

    I suggest you read chapter 3 “Slaves” in section 2 “Civil Institutions” in Roland De Vaux’s “Ancient Israel–Vol. 1: Social Institutions”

    It sheds a lot of light on how slavery in Israel compared to the surrounding ANE culture.


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