The law said that slaves were objects to be bought, owned, and sold by their owners. Slaves had no rights such as becoming married, inheriting objects or representing themselves in court. Slaves were punished harsher that free men for breaking the law. The law does allow slaves to own property and do with it what they want. Slaves were not considered to have any family and they were expected to die working as a slave (Bartchy 544).
The social status depended mostly on the status of their owner. There appeared to be no difference between slaves and free men based on dress and race, and they mingled together, making it hard to determine who was a slave and who was free. Slaves had many jobs including household jobs like cooking and cleaning, but some were tutors, doctors, and managers of the house. Slaves also worked as janitors, salesmen...
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...away. I have come to the conclusion through reading the ISBE article and Philemon, that Onesimus was seeking some sort of guidance from Paul about Christianity, instead of looking for a way to escape his owner. Paul doesn’t scold Onesimus for coming to him, but he sends him back with a letter to Philemon telling him that Onesimus has been with himself, and that Philemon should accept him back as a fellow Christian. Paul also tells Philemon that he would keep Onesimus with him, but he didn’t want to do anything without Philemon’s word. This clearly displays that this is a non-hostile letter, regarding the faith of Onesimus, and not just instructions about what to do with him.
Bartchy, S.S. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, Vol. 4. Edetid by Geoffery W.
Bromiley. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1979.
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