6 occurrences in 6 dictionaries

Reference: Servant


This word sometimes denotes a man who voluntarily dedicates himself to the service of another. Thus Joshua was the servant of Moses; Elisha of Elijah; and Peter, Andrew, Philip, and Paul were servants of Jesus Christ. The servants of Pharaoh, of Saul, and of David, were their subjects in general, and their court officers and counselors in particular. The Philistines, Syrians, and other nation were servants of David, that is, they obeyed and paid him tribute. The servants of God are those who are devoted to his service and obey his holy word.

In its primary sense, the word usually means in the Bible either a hired servant, or one whose service was the property of his master for a limited time and under various restrictions. Joseph is the first whom we read of as sold into bondage, Ge 37:27-28. The households of some of the early patriarchs contained many servants, who were apparently treated with kindness and justice; the highest trusts were sometimes confided to them, and they might inherit their master's estate, Ge 14:11-16; 15:2-4; 24:1-10. They shared the religious privileges of the household, Ge 17:9-13,27; 18:19, and were not transferred to other masters.

At the establishment of the Hebrew commonwealth, involuntary servitude was everywhere prevalent; and so far as it existed among the Jews, Moses sought to bring it under the restrictions demanded by religion and humanity. The mildest form of bond-service was that of a Hebrew in the house of another Hebrew. He might become bound to this service in various ways, chiefly through poverty, Ex 21:7; Le 25:39-47; to acquit himself of a debt he could not otherwise pay, 2Ki 4:1; to make restitution for a theft, Ex 22:3; or to earn the price of his ransom for captivity among heathen. This form of service could not continue more than six or seven years; unless, when the Sabbatical year came round, the servant chose to remain permanently or until the Jubilee with his master, in token of which he suffered his ear to be bored before witnesses, Ex 21:2,6; 25:40. The Hebrews servant was not to be made to serve with rigor, nor transferred to any harder bondage; he had an appeal to the tribunals, a right to all religious privileges, the power of demanding release on providing a pecuniary equivalent, and a donation from his master at his release, Le 25:47-55; De 15:12-18. Compare also 2Ch 28:10-11; Ne 5:1-13; Jer 34:8-22. The law likewise provided for the deliverance of a Hebrew, who was in bondage to a resident foreigner, Le 25:47-54.

From the heathen around and among them, especially from their captive enemies and the remains of the Canaanites, the Hebrew obtained many servants. These were protected by law, De 1:16-17; 27:19, and might become proselytes, attend the festivals, enjoy religious instruction and privileges, Ex 12:44; De 12:18; 29:10-13; 31:10-13. The servant who was mutilated by his master was to be set free, Ex 21:26-27; the refugee from foreign oppression was to be welcomed, De 23:15-16; and kidnapping or man stealing was forbidden on pain of death, Ex 21:16; De 24:7; 1Ti 1:10.

Roman slavery, as it existed in the time of Christ, was comparatively unknown to the Jews. The Romans held in bondage captives taken in war, had purchased slaves. Their bondage was perpetual, and the master held unquestioned control of the person and life of his slaves. Yet large numbers were set free, and in many instances Roman freedmen rose to the highest honors.

The allusion of the Bible to involuntary servitude, imply that it is an evil and undesirable condition of life; yet the bondman who cannot obtain his freedom is divinely exhorted to contentment, 1Co 7:20-24. Meanwhile the Bible give directions as to the mutual duties of masters and servants, Eph 6:5-9; Col 3:22; 4:1; Tit 2:9; Phm 1:1-25; 1Pe 2:18; and proclaims the great truths of the common origin of all men, the immorality of every human soul, and its right to the Bible and to all necessary means of knowing and serving the Savior-the application of which to all the relations of master and servant, superior and inferior, employer and employed, would prevent all oppression, which God abhors, De 24:14; Ps 103:6; Isa 10:1-3; Am 4:1; Mal 3:5; Jas 5:4.

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na'ar, meshareth. In our sense, "a free, voluntary attendant", as Joshua of Moses (Ex 33:11; so 2Ki 4:12,43; 5:20; 6:15 margin "minister"; 2Sa 13:17-18; 1Ki 20:14-15). 'Ebed on the other hand is "a bondservant or slave".

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1. The words ebed and ?????? (those most commonly used for 'servant') convey the idea of bondmen or slaves. Some were bought with money and some were taken in war: cf. also Ex 22:3. Such a servant, if circumcised, might among the Israelites eat of the Passover

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See Slave


SERVANT. The word generally signifies a slave. For formerly among the Hebrews, and the neighbouring nations, the greater part of servants were slaves, that is to say, they belonged absolutely to their masters, who had a right to dispose of their persons, their bodies, goods, and even of their lives, in some cases. The Hebrews had two sorts of servants or slaves, Le 25:44-45, &c. Some were strangers, either bought, or taken in the wars. The others were Hebrew slaves, who, being poor, sold themselves, or were sold to pay their debts; or were delivered up for slaves by their parents, in cases of necessity. This sort of Hebrew slaves continued in slavery but to the year of jubilee; then they might return to liberty again, and their masters could not retain them against their wills. If they would continue voluntarily with their masters, they were brought before the judges; there they made a declaration, that for this time they disclaimed the privilege of the law, had their ears bored with an awl, by applying them to the doorposts of their master, Ex 21:2,5-7, &c; and after that they had no longer any power of recovering their liberty, except at the next year of jubilee. Servant is also taken for a man that dedicates himself to the service of another, by the choice of his own will and inclination. Thus Joshua was the servant of Moses, Elisha of Elijah, Gehazi of Elisha; St. Peter, St. Andrew, St. Philip, and the rest, were servants of Jesus Christ.

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