DOES the Hebrew Bible — the Torah — believe in slavery? The answer seems straightforward. This week’s Torah portion opens (Exodus 21:2-6):
“If you buy a Jewish eved [the Hebrew may be translated slave, servant, or bondsman], he shall work for six years and in the seventh he shall go free, for no charge. If he shall arrive by himself [unmarried], he shall leave by himself; if he is the husband of a woman, his wife shall leave with him. If his master will give him a woman and she bears him sons or daughters, the wife and her children shall belong to her master, and he shall go out by himself.
“But if the eved shall say, ‘I love my master, my wife and my children — I shall not go free,’ then his master shall bring him to the court and shall bring him to the door or to the doorpost, and his master shall bore through his ear with the awl, and he shall serve him forever.”