Joshua Bowen, Did the Old Testament Endorse Slavery? (Mechanicsville, MD: Digital Hammurabi Press, 2020), 16.
When discussing slavery in ancient Israel, we are more limited in our sources than if we were discussing slavery as was known in the wider ancient Near East. Generally speaking, we are usually restricted to the information we can gather from the copies of the texts that comprise what we refer to as the Old Testament or the Hebrew Bible. To put this into perspective, when we come to chapter two and examine the evidence for slavery in the ancient Near East, we will see that our sources are often the original legal texts or documents from their actual time of writing. That’s right: we actually have the original tablets and stelae on which these texts were written, not simply copies of the originals (or copies of copies). However, with the Hebrew Bible, we are most often left with only copies of the originals, which requires a rather different approach to accessing the data.