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Exodus 21:7-11 provides instruction with regard to a father selling his daughter to another Israelite to be a slave/servant, with a view to marriage.
Ultimately from reviewing this commandment and the fuller scope of Holy Scripture that will accompany it, we will find that;
a) The Law of Moses is to be observed, however,
b) Halakhah (Jewish Law: oral and the written) states that Jews/Israelites are to abide by local laws in general, and this mixed place typically forbids multiple wives (poligomy), which this passage lightly touches upon.
c) Holy Scripture encourages believers to be content with one wife (1 Timothy 3:2).
d) Divine halakhah states divorce is only acceptable in the event of sexual immorality (Matthew 5:31-32).
e) The Tanakh (Old Testament) and New Testemant (Brit Chadasha) are thus in agreement.
Peaceably, it’s best not to explain away verses and passages from the Old Testament – so here is the explanation which is also consistent with both ancient sages and the New Testament;
7 “When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not go out as the male slaves do.
Exodus 21:7 ESV
[Explanation: A father’s daughter is dealt with differently when compared to a son, in the event she is found unsuitable. Essentially, she does not need to be redeemed – meaning she goes out of her slave worker position free of charge, unlike a male servant who must be redeemed with money during their designated service period.
This free release applies in the event that verse 10 has been transgressed, and thus verse 11 is actioned. ]
8 If she does not please her master, who has 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 broken faith with her.
Exodus 21:8 ESV
[Explanation: A/the purpose of paying for a servant girl was for a help – and all going well, a wife.
If the arrangement was not going well, the servant girl could be redeemed (money could be paid by her father to the man who originally paid for her, and she could then be released and free).
The man who originally purchased her as a slave helper with the view to her becoming his wife, is forbidden from on-selling her to a foreign people, however as per the next verse (9) – he can designate her for his son, and then address her as a daughter from that point onwards.]
9 If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her as with a daughter.
Exodus 21:9 ESV
10 If he takes another wife to himself, he shall not diminish her food, her clothing, or her marital rights.
Exodus 21:10 ESV
[Explanation: If the man marries another wife, the slave girl who became his wife is not to be neglected in the above mentioned areas.]
11 And if he does not do these three things for her, she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.
Exodus 21:11 ESV
[Explanation: If the slave girl who became his wife is neglected (G-d forbid) – this is the scenario where she is allowed to go out from this arrangement free of charge, as verse 7 alludes to.]
Instituted Halakhah (Jewish Law) To Consider
As is the process with Torah Law, its application, and the proscribed approach to observing the statutes – there are some items that need to be considered with along this commandment, the first being divine halakhah as given from G-d and spoken by the Lord Jesus (Yehoshua) Christ (John 12:49, Isaiah 50:4);
Divorce (a get) is only allowed in the event of sexual immorality in a marriage arrangement (Matthew 5:31-32).
This is the stipulation for the man and her being legally divorced.
This being said, if neglected, she may separate – meaning she may go out of her servitude position, but not divorce, as per 1 Corinthians 7:15, 7:21 guides us.
If we draw upon 1 Corinthians 7:37-38, this would ultimately mean she would be doing ‘better’ as a believer if she did infact separate (not divorce), if neglected – as she would then be in a position to focus on her faith and observance first and foremost.
• One Wife
This mixed earth that we currently exist on typically only permits one spouse by local law, and it is Halakhah to abide by a local law such as this.
We can observe this by way of custom and tradition.
Further, if a believer does burn with desire (1 Corinthians 7:8-9), Holy Scripture encourages believing men to have only one wife (1 Timothy 3:2 ESV), otherwise they may be too distracted from their faith, diligent observance, and the sharing of the good news (Gospel) (1 Corinthians 7:32-35).
Hoping it is fruitful.
May the Holy G-d bless you beyond maximum, believing in His risen, created Son the Lord Jesus Christ (Adonai Yehoshua HaMoshiach). Amen.
Rashi has been a blessing along with the other sages in the interpreting of this passage to a good extent.
His commentary can be found here: www.sefaria.org/Rashi_on_Exodus.21.8.2?lang=bi