Why would anyone sell their daughter? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.
It sounds bizarre to us really. Why on Earth would someone sell their daughter? Do they want money more than they want a daughter? That does seem to be what is going on in Exodus 21.
7 “If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as male servants do. 8 If she does not please the master who has selected her for himself, he must let her be redeemed. He has no right to sell her to foreigners, because he has broken faith with her. 9 If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. 10 If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. 11 If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money.
The problem here is too many of us are reading this from our cultural perspective. We might think of something like sex trafficking going on or people turning their children into prostitutes at their home. This sounds like a family that really doesn’t care for their daughter.
However, when we look at the ancient world, by and large, marriage was about survival and continuing in the family name. This would be more like indentured servitude. serving someone for an amount of time in order to get something out of the deal. This was done by many people at first to get to America.
Okay. So how does that tie into survival? A poor family would have to work extra hard to provide for every family member. For us, we don’t understand this in a world where if we want bread, we can just drive down to the supermarket. For them, just getting a meal was long and laborious and it took time and energy to make bread.
By selling their daughter, they were selling her into a family that could afford her and could provide for her and make a better laugh for her. She would be moved into a new family unit. This doesn’t mean the old family could no longer have any contact with her, but essentially today when a family gives their daughter to a man who wants to marry her, they do the same. When my former in-laws gave my ex-wife to me, they realized that I was going to be the new primary family unit and my parents realized she would be my new primary family unit. I was the one meant to provide for her.
And notice, the new family is meant to do that, especially the husband. He has to provide food, shelter, and yes, marital rights. The man is to consistently love his wife. A man cannot sell her because that would be breaking the covenant promise to her. If the man’s son marries her, the master must treat the new girl like a daughter. If the son marries another woman, this one is not to be deprived and if she is, she can go her own way. In other words, for a book supposedly sexist, the woman has all the freedoms here and the man has all the responsibilities.
Again, we are not really at marriage for love yet, but we will be getting to that kind of attitude. Even still, that needs some temperance as love is badly misunderstood. Keep waiting as that is a way’s away.
(And I affirm the virgin birth)