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Jewish Slavery in Antiquity$
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Catherine Hezser

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780199280865

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199280865.001.0001

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The Sources of Slaves

The Sources of Slaves

(p.221) 10 The Sources of Slaves
Jewish Slavery in Antiquity

Catherine Hezser (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

The main source of slaves in antiquity was the enslavement of war captives, which accompanied conquest of foreign territories in the course of imperialist policies. Other forms of enslavement such as natural reproduction, debt slavery, child exposure and sale, and the theft of human beings seem to have been less common and dependent on particular socioeconomic conditions and behavioural patterns. They will have gained in significance in late antiquity, however, when new war captives became scarce. Slaves would be sold at slave markets but also on other occasions, on the basis of mutual sales agreements between owners. Since the category of the slave was markedly distinct from that of the free person in both Jewish and Roman society, the transition from one mode to the other was legally regulated, so that particular forms of enslavement were prohibited and others allowed. However, it is not clear whether and to what extent these legal limitations were actually followed by the populace.

Keywords:   slaves, slavery, Jewish Society, antiquity, child exposure, sale, socioeconomic conditions, prisoners of war, Roman society, debt slavery

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