We have explained in our article
Biblical Formatting located on the world wide web at
that the Biblical Author indicated bullets
by using repeating keywords.
That is, if a modern
author wanted to get a point across using bullets -
a list of similar but contrastive items -
then the Biblical
Author would use repeating keywords.
Today's verse illustrates this principle.
Bullets whether indicated through modern notation or
through the Biblical method of repeating keywords always indicate
contrastive emphasis - that is, each bullet is presumed
to be a distinct item contrasted to the other items on the list. Very often
the bullets are also used to indicate that the entire list is exhaustive
of some spectrum.
At times the bullet structure is not indicated through repeating keywords
but rather through an explicit biblical enumerative statement. Today's verses illustrate this.
the freedom of a minor girl sold as a slave
And if a man sells his daughter to be a maidservant, ....
The explicit enumerative phrase these three things to her identifies three methods of freedom which
we have bulleted. These three methods are discovered through reading the passage and identifying and enumerating separate
methods of freedom. The three methods are
- (1) If she pleases not her master, who has designated her for himself,
- (2) then shall he let her be redeemed; ....
- (3) And if he has designated her to his son, he shall ....
- And if he does not do these three things to her, then (4)she shall go out free without payment of money.
If these three methods are not done then (4)she shall go out, at the commencement of adulthood/puberty, without any payment.
- (1) marriage to the master,
- (2) allowing redemption (by paying off an amount proportional to
the years left - so that a girl sold at age 6 for $60,000 would be able to go free at age 8
by her father paying back $40,000)
- (3) Allowing marriage to his son.
Much more could be said about this Rashi but the above will suffice for now. We point out that the institution of minor female slavery
is poorly understood. It was only allowed in conditions of absolute poverty. Such poverty typically gave rise to death and/or prostitution.
The Torah allowed instead a private deal whereby the girl was promised marriage and board with a private owner. If however upon reaching
puberty neither the owner nor the son liked the girl and would not marry her, and if her father was not in the meantime able to make the
money needed to pay back the owner, then puberty set her free automatically.
Note especially that the owner did not really own her. So for example
if she was sold at age 6 for $60,0000 and her father made back the money he could redeeem her for $40,000 two years later - in other words, the
father's redemption rights took precedence over the owners ownership - that is, the owner did not really own her but took her in because
of her poverty and the potential marriage to his sons. Also note that countries like America have not really eliminated slavery but rather
have eliminated the poverty which causes slavery.