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Jews and Slavery - Term Paper Example

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Name: Instructor: Course: Date: Jews and Slavery The Jews form a nation of an ethnic and religious group that originated from the Hebrews and Israelites of the Ancient Near East (Faber 14). Their nationality, ethnicity and religion, are strongly interwoven, and they practice Judaism as their traditional faith…
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Jews and Slavery
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Download file to see previous pages In ancient times, Jewish laws and society permitted slavery (Schorsch 37). Slaves made up a significant part and property of a Jewish household. This paper will discuss the Jew’s involvement in slavery and the slave trade. Religious literature on Judaism contained in the Hebrew Bible, also known as Tanakh, contain various laws on the ownership and handling of slaves. The initial Israelite slavery laws as seen in the Tanakh have a resemblance to the slavery laws of the 18th century (Faber 21). The Passover, which is a holy time among the Jews, relates to freedom from slavery. In the middle ages, the Jews, just like their Muslim and Christian neighbors, owned slaves and took part in the slave trade (Schorsch 37). When Portugal and Spain expelled their Jewish subjects, the Jews involved themselves in all types of trade, including the slave trade. Their first participation in the slave trade was recorded in the 5th century after Pope Gelasius allowed them to bring slaves into Italy from Gaul (Faber 19). Later, in the 8th century, a king called Charlemagne gave the Jews authority to act as the sole mediators in the slave trade. The Spanish Jews then sold slaves as body guards to the Caliphs of Andalusia. Jews formed the key traders in the sector of Christian slaves in the medieval ages (Shavit 24). They financed the trade and plotted to enslave, convert and sell non Jews on routes previously created by Muslims and Christians, rarely creating their own routes. They were active in North Africa, Slavonia, Eastern and Central Europe. Their most significant territory was in Portugal and Spain between the tenth and fifteenth centuries (Shavit 20). During the colonization of the Americas by Europe, Jews owned Latin American and Caribbean slaves, most notably from Brazil, Jamaica, Barbados and Suriname. Slave trade was their key occupation and became the region’s largest slave holders (Shavit 12). In that period, the Jews owned large plantations in these countries. Later, in the 17th century, North African Muslim states were more tolerant to the Jews than were the Christians of Spain and Britain. This led to many Jews living in the North African region and establishing business contacts with the people. The most notable buyers of Christian slaves were the Jews from Algiers (Shavit 31). Their counterparts, the Jews from Italy were the key planners of ransom negotiations for the Christian slaves in Algiers and their subsequent freedom and return to their home countries. Following the expulsion of Jews from Portugal and Spain, they heightened their activities in the Atlantic slave trade (Shavit 19). The discovery of the New World further fuelled the activities. In the Atlantic slave trade, the Jews moved African slaves to the New World from Africa in exchange of sugar and manufactured goods (Schorsch 14). There was also a significant participation in the slave trade, in Brazil, by Jews and their descendants who had converted to Christianity, also known as New Christians. The Jews dominated the trade to such an extent that the Christians of Brazil became envious of the plantations owned by the Jews in the Pernambuco river valley (Schorsch 15). In the southern regions of the United States, Jews were not significantly active in the slave trade, and they only represented less than 2 percent of all slave owners in that region. Rather than Judaic laws, the practice of slave ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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