When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them

A little bit more on the Bible and immigration from beliefnet.com

With Trump’s immigration policy now public, those of us who desire to follow Christ have the opportunity to examine what our faith tradition teaches us about showing hospitality to the immigrants and the vulnerable among us. While some Christians short-sightedly stop at quoting Romans 13:1, others will step back, look at the big picture, and acknowledge the existence of a higher law. For example, consider Leviticus 19:33-34:

When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.

Since beliefnet.com is a faith blog, one would expect them to get theology right. Sadly, though, faith blogs do miss the mark sometimes, that is why it’s important for Christians to be discerning and always on the lookout for blatant false teaching (worse case) or poor exegesis and contextual interpretation (best case).

The article this was taken from is called 5 Scriptures That Should End Donald Trump’s Presidential Campaign and that is really all it is; five verses minus context that supposedly make a case that Trump’s immigration policies, or would be policies I should say because he wasn’t even president yet when the article was written, run completely afoul of good Christian theology.

Admittedly Leviticus 19:33-34 on it’s own does make a good case that Trump, and Republicans in general, are missing the biblical mark regarding immigration. But, are they?

Sure, Leviticus 19:33-34 is a wonderful passage but, unfortunately for the folks at beliefnet.com and others who have ripped it out of context it in a similar manner, it has absolutely nothing to do with illegal immigration in America in 2018.

Regarding the Hebrew Scripture’s instructions on the “stranger,” two fundamental questions must be answered: What is a “stranger,” and how did people obtain that status?

The relevant Hebrew word is “ger,” variously rendered in different English translations of the Bible as “stranger,” “sojourner,” “alien” and more recently as “foreigner.” The latter is quite misleading because there are other Hebrew terms for foreigner — for example, “nekhar,” or one who is passing through another country and not seeking residence. “Zar” is another Hebrew term rendered “foreigner,” but it has a more hostile nuance: a squatter or an enemy. The “ger” alone has obtained legal status to live in a different country and might be seen as a foreigner who has become a “protected citizen.”

How did people become legal aliens (gers) in another country? The classic example is when Jacob’s family went to Egypt to escape a famine in Canaan. They asked Pharaoh for permission:

And they said to Pharaoh, “Your servants are shepherds, as our fathers were” … “We have come to sojourn in the land, for there is no pasture for your servants’ flocks, for the famine is severe in the land of Canaan. And now, please let your servants dwell in the land of Goshen.” Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you. The land of Egypt is before you. Settle your father and your brothers in the best of the land. Let them settle in the land of Goshen” (Genesis 47:3-6).

No less authority than the king of Egypt granted this permission. This means that the Hebrews, though foreigners, obtained legal status in Egypt; they were gers.

Now, with proper context, can modern illegal immigrants (who have not been granted permission) be rightly compared to the foreigners Leviticus 19:33-34 is speaking of?

*Added: Here’s more getting it wrong from another faith blog that simply rips 12 passages from their context to discuss (their word) how Christians should treat immigrants, refugees and those in need of help.



Categories: Christianity, Misc.

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