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On Humanity, Chapter 16

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Chapter Summary

First-century Jews were fully integrated into the slave economies of the Greco-Roman world, both owning and serving as slaves. Philo was well-aware that many of the Jews living in Rome were freedmen, and, like most elites of the time, it was difficult for him to imagine not owning (domestic) slaves of his own. Indebtedness was one of the more common causes of forced servitude. Among the Mosaic provisions that establish "gentleness and humanity" according to Spec. 2.79-85 is the law that requires Israelites to set their indentured brethren free after six years. This is to be done out of the sense of kinship that they ought to feel for one another.

Keywords:deserving slaves; Greco-Roman world; mosaic humanity; Philo; servitude



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