It wasn't slavery as we know it. It was more like indentured servitude. Like, if you had a debt, you could work it off. So really, we are all slaves in that way since we all have some debt we are paying. God is just and loving.
Oh, oh, oh, I love this one, I really do. You deserve an ice cold beer for bringing it up. Your male and female slaves are to come from the nations around you; from them you may buy slaves. You may also buy some of the temporary residents living among you and members of their clans born in your country, and they will become your property. You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life, but you must not rule over your fellow Israelites ruthlessly.
This is from Leviticus 25:44-46 (NIV). There is absolutely no mention of indentured servitude. But there's is a very specific mention of buying and selling people of different nations
and owning them as property for life
. What did those people owe the Israelites to have to work it off? There is also absolutely no mention of people selling themselves into servitude, the only act described is the one of buying slaves.
There's also a clear distinction between slaves and servants in the Bible. Israelites can be sold and held as servants
for six years (one can even sell his daughter - not her
daughter, mind you - into servitude), not slaves, not to mention that they can't be sold to foreigners. And I quote:If you buy a Hebrew servant, he is to serve you for six years. But in the seventh year, he shall go free, without paying anything. If he comes alone, he is to go free alone; but if he has a wife when he comes, she is to go with him. If his master gives him a wife and she bears him sons or daughters, the woman and her children shall belong to her master, and only the man shall go free.
And:If a man sells his daughter as a servant, she is not to go free as male servants do. 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. If he selects her for his son, he must grant her the rights of a daughter. If he marries another woman, he must not deprive the first one of her food, clothing and marital rights. If he does not provide her with these three things, she is to go free, without any payment of money.
Actually, this could also indicate that women 'servants' were meant as sex slaves ('marital rights' can't really be interpreted in any other way) and that marriage itself was fully considered servitude or slavery for the woman.
Judges 1:28 also describes how Canaanites were 'pressed into forced labor'. The same goes for Judges 1:30, where Zebulun subjected them to forced labor. There is no mention of 'indentured servitude' or 'working off debt'. I don't see any ambiguity anywhere in those verses. Or should we understand them 'metaphorically' like everything the apologetics don't have an answer for?