Exodus 21:7 NASB: Now if a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do

It is clear slaves were treated as property and they were treated similarly both males and females in most situations

Exodus 21:20-21 NASB: And if someone strikes his male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies at his hand, he shall be punished. If, however, the slave survives a day or two, no vengeance shall be taken; for the slave is his property.

Exodus 21:26-27 NASB: And if someone strikes the eye of his male or female slave and destroys it, he shall let the slave go free on account of the eye. And if he knocks out a tooth of his male or female slave, he shall let the slave go free on account of the tooth.

But what is not clear is the distinction between male and female slaves when it comes to freedom.

What is the reason for not setting free the female slaves?

  • The very next four verses explain why - was there something about those verses that seemed confusing or insufficient of an explanation? They also explain when she is to be set free.
    – Robert
    Aug 3, 2022 at 15:23

2 Answers 2


Why are female slaves not set free as males in Exodus 21:7?

Actually, they are to be set free as directed unambiguously in Deuteronomy 15:

12 If any of your people—Hebrew men or women—sell themselves to you and serve you six years, in the seventh year you must let them go free. ...

16But if your servant says to you, “I do not want to leave you,” because he loves you and your family and is well off with you, 17then take an awl and push it through his earlobe into the door, and he will become your servant for life. Do the same for your female servant.

Now, let's see the context in Exodus 21:

7“If a man sells his daughter as a female slave, she is not to go free as the male slaves do. 8 “If she is displeasing in the eyes of her master who designated her for himself, then he shall let her be redeemed. He does not have authority to sell her to a foreign people because of his unfairness to her. 9“If he designates her for his son, he shall deal with her according to the custom of daughters. 10“If he takes to himself another woman, he may not reduce her food, her clothing, or her conjugal rights. 11“If he will not do these three things for her, then she shall go out for nothing, without payment of money.

In Exodus 21, the female slave has acquired the status of a wife. As such, she has more rights than a regular slave. She is not just to be let go without compensation.


In ancient time, the Israelite female did not own a land, which meant her fate depended on a man host. If her father sold her as servant or slave, it was meant to be either the owner or his son's wife, or the wife of one of his male servant or slave (Exodus 21:4). Otherwise, she could be bought by another Israelite, but forbidden to sell her to gentile.

A female without a man host would likely become a prostitute for survival, which God displeased. If she was sold to a gentile, God's commandment was not able to protect her.

The only situation she got set free was the situation in Exodus 9-11, if the son of the owners got another wife and cut her living support. She could leave without any payment to the owner. In this case, my best guess was she would return to her father, hopefully won't be sold again.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.