In Leviticus 19:20 they speak of a Canaanite slave being betrothed to a Hebrew (and defiling herself with another man). From this I understand that a non Jewish slave women was going to marry a Jew.

But Deuteronomy 7:4 prohibits marriage to "them" (7 nations)

How are these verses reconciled? Is it because of Ezra? Did he have the "final word" on this?

  • 3
    If you're only basing yourself on the written Torah, how do you know she's a Canaanite slave? (you're right, or at least half right, I just want to know why you assume that)
    – Heshy
    Oct 17, 2017 at 21:26
  • 2
    +1 for the accuracy of your question, though interestingly the talmud in Yevamos 46a says a slavewomen must do tevila and accept the mitzvos but due to her masterforcing her into the mikva "leshaim Avdus" remains a slave which is semi jewish,therefore she is no longer a canaanite gentile which deuteronomy 7,4 is mentioning, but there is still a different prohibition to marry a canaanite slave woman see my answer bellow at the end.
    – user15464
    Oct 18, 2017 at 12:08
  • What premise are you coming with when you bring Ezra into the question?
    – robev
    Oct 18, 2017 at 12:27
  • @Heshy ooooh good point.... I didn't realize the inconsistency of my statement.
    – Lilopinpin
    Oct 18, 2017 at 15:50
  • 1
    You're making am assumption when you mention Ezra, but it's not clear to me what it is. Why is he relevant?
    – robev
    Oct 18, 2017 at 16:00

3 Answers 3


The Hebrew man that is betrothed to the canaanite slavewomen is actually a Hebrew slave as it Says in the Midrash Sifrei on the pasuk Vayikra 19,20:במאורסת לעבד עברי הכתוב מדבר The verse is speaking about a canaanite slave who is engaged to a Hebrew slave.

The Hebrew slave is allowed to marry a Canaanite slave. This seems clear from the Verse in shemos 21,4 אִם־אֲדֹנָיו֙ יִתֶּן־ל֣וֹ אִשָּׁ֔ה וְיָלְדָה־ל֥וֹ בָנִ֖ים א֣וֹ בָנ֑וֹת הָאִשָּׁ֣ה וִילָדֶ֗יהָ תִּהְיֶה֙ לַֽאדֹנֶ֔יהָ וְה֖וּא יֵצֵ֥א בְגַפּֽוֹ׃-If the hebrew slaves master gives him a wife and she bares to him children, the wife and her children monetarily belong to the master and when the hebrew slave goes out free(after 6 years/Yovel) he goes alone.

But you might ask maybe the act is still forbidden but if the master gave him a slavewomen and he had children with the canaanite slavewoman against the will of Hashem they belong to the master?

Thats why we need the rabbis from tractate Kiddushin 15a דברים טו, יח) "כי משנה שכר שכיר עבדך"-- שכיר אינו עובד אלא ביום, עבד עברי עובד בין ביום ובין בלילה. וכי תעלה על דעתך שעבד עברי עובד בין ביום ובין בלילה?! והלא כבר נאמר (דברים טו, טז) "כי טוב לו עמך"-- עמך במאכל, עמך במשתה. וא"ר יצחק מכאן שרבו מוסר לו שפחה כנענית. Devarim 15,18: (Hashem wants you to award presents to the Hebrew slave when He leaves because) "He has worked double the regular worker work." The Gemora says a worker can only work during the day, A Jewish slave works in the day and night. But how is it possible to work at night as well (exhaustion would be not sustainable)? Surely it is written Devarim 15,16: "for it is good for him with you (the master)?" same food and drink as the master etc. Rav Yitzchak says that the work at night is that his master is allowed to force him to co habit with the canaanite slavewoman in order to have more slaves.

By the way The Hebrew slave has to do all the other Mitzvos, marrying a Canaanite slave which is normally forbidden (under the prohibition of וְלֹא יִהְיֶה קָדֵשׁ מִבְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל which Targum Onkles translatesולא יסב גברא מבני ישראל אתתא אמה - A jewish person must not marry a slavewoman) is the only exception.

  • Very interesting. Basically it's an exception to the rule. So what are the slaves awarded when they leave? And the children from such marriage remain in the masters ownership? And are they considered jewish?
    – Lilopinpin
    Oct 18, 2017 at 15:54
  • The hebrew slave has to leave eventually and is awarded either 15 sela(r' Meir0 30(R'Yehuda)or 50(R' Shimon) in kiddushin 17a this is because the Pasuk says Devarim 15,13הַעֲנֵיק תַּעֲנִיק לוֹ מִצֹּאנְךָ וּמִגָּרְנְךָ וּמִיִּקְבֶךָ אֲשֶׁר בֵּרַכְךָ ה´ אֱלֹהֶיךָ תִּתֶּן לוֹ. The slave leave. The canaanite slave is bequethed them their children and childrens children till a freedom document is given by the owner and since they have already accepted the mitzvos and done tevilla (and mila for males), they become completely Jewish.
    – user15464
    Oct 18, 2017 at 17:00
  • vayikra 19והוא שפחה נחרפת לאיש והפדה לא נפדתה או חפשה לא נתן לה בקרת תהיה לא יומתו כי לא חפשה .In Gitin 39b we learn a document is needed for freedom, from a divorce of a woman since there is a gezeira shava גמר לה לה מאשה מה אשה בשטר אף עבד נמי בשטר. Also she becomes Jewish because the sifri implies"לא יומתו כי לא חופשה"-- הא אם חופשה הרי אלו חייבים מיתה if she is free then he would be liable to death if she was betrothed to another man this shows she is jewish.
    – user15464
    Oct 18, 2017 at 17:00

In this particular case she is a nonJewish slave owned by two Jewish masters. One of the masters sets her free, but the other master does not. As a slave, she is allowed to be given to a Jewish or non-Jewish slave, but forbidden to live with a Jew. As Rashi points oun in Kedoshim 19:20, had she been fully freed, she would be a regular Jew (as a ger - convert) and the normal rules of marriage would apply.

and she had not been [fully] redeemed: Heb. וְהָפְדֵּה לֹא נִפְדְּתָה, she is redeemed, but not redeemed. And when the unqualified term פִּדְיוֹן, “redemption” is employed, it means [redeeming with money. — [Torath Kohanim 19:53]

nor had her document of emancipation been granted her: [the unqualified term חוֹפשׁ, “freeing,” refers to doing so] with a document [of release]. — [Torath Kohanim 19:53]

Since she is half a Jew, she is forbidden to a slave, just as any other Jewish woman. Since she is half a slave she is forbidden to a Jewish man.

However, she is not subject to the punishment for adultery either, as that only applies to a legitimately married woman (who is fully Jewish). If a Jew has relations with her, and they are both aware of the sin, then she gets lashes and he is required to bring a sin offering.


According to Maimonidies, marrying an idolater[1] is a biblical sin (negative commandment #52).

Regarding that verse, Rashi writes (based on the Mishna):

חרפת לאיש. מְיֻעֶדֶת וּמְיֻחֶדֶת לְאִישׁ, וְאֵינִי יוֹדֵעַ לוֹ דִמְיוֹן בַּמִּקְרָא; וּבְשִׁפְחָה כְנַעֲנִית חֶצְיָהּ שִׁפְחָה וְחֶצְיָהּ בַּת חוֹרִין הַמְאֹרֶסֶת לְעֶבֶד עִבְרִי שֶׁמּוּתָּר בְּשִׁפְחָה הַכָּתוּב מְדַבֵּר: נחרפת לאיש [AND WHOSOEVER LIETH CARNALLY WITH A WOMAN THAT IS A HANDMAID] GIVEN OVER TO A MAN — נחרפת signifies: destined and designated to a man. I do not know of any similar use of it (the root חרף) in Scripture. — And it is of a Canaanitish handmaid who is partly a שפחה and partly a free-woman and who is betrothed to a Hebrew servant who is permitted to marry a שפחה, that Scripture is here speaking (Sifra, Kedoshim, Chapter 5 2; Keritot 11a).

[1]. In the listing of Mitzvos he writes the command as "שלא להתחתן בעובדי עבודה זרה", but in his other listing of mitzvos, he writes "שלא להתחתן בגויים" - not marrying a non-Jew.

  • Does it have anything to do with the fact that slaves owned by Jews are different than just a non-Jew?
    – ezra
    Oct 17, 2017 at 21:18

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