I recently wrote an e-book on slavery and the Bible, and made a corresponding YouTube series of videos which is still in progress. One of the key points I make is that scholars of the social sciences have a difficult time precisely defining what “slavery” is.
In contrast, I find that critics of the Bible have a definition of “slavery” that matches Justice Potter Stewart’s definition of pornography: “I know it when I see it.”
In other words, if you show them all of the intense debate that surrounds the term, and how scholars have discussed what exactly constitutes “slavery,” the answer you get is that all of that is just semantic gerrymandering that’s a waste of time. It’s obvious that the Old Testament is teaching “slavery” (not indentured servitude) because that’s what it looks like.
How much of their nose will they cut off to spite their face? This past week I had one fellow insist that prison inmates in America are slaves. He did that so that he could say that a thief held for restitution in Exodus is a slave. Then just an hour ago I had someone that if someone can buy your labor (like an indentured servant) from birth until death, then that’s slavery whether they own you or not. (Never mind that one thing scholars DO agree on is that “slavery” requires a person to be “owned”.)
I suppose it’s just another symptom of the generation that thinks Wikipedia is the most authoritative source out there: If the real definition doesn’t suit you, make up your own!