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Thursday, July 27, 2017

How the Bible wants us to treat aliens, foreigners and strangers.

Note: Refugees may become immigrants, but not all immigrants, legal or illegal, are refugees. The concept of border security probably was seldom considered in Bible times. In the verses below, “alien,” “foreigner” & “stranger” seem to mean “non-Israelite.” Some of these would have been refugees.
Matthew 7:12 Therefore whatever you desire for men to do to you, you shall also do to them; for this is the law and the prophets. (The Golden Rule)

Exodus 22:21 You shall not wrong an alien or oppress him, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.

Exodus 23:9 You shall not oppress an alien, for you know the heart of an alien, since you were aliens in the land of Egypt.

Leviticus 19:10 You shall not glean your vineyard, neither shall you gather the fallen grapes of your vineyard. You shall leave them for the poor and for the foreigner. I am the Yahweh your God. (This command is repeated in other parts of the Bible.)

Leviticus 19:33 If a stranger lives as a foreigner with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. 34 The stranger who lives as a foreigner with you shall be to you as the native-born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you lived as foreigners in the land of Egypt. I am Yahweh your God.

Deuteronomy 10:19 Therefore love the foreigner, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.

The Bible also says, in reference to a specific refugee crisis:
Isaiah 16:3 Give counsel! Execute justice! Make your shade like the night in the middle of the noonday! Hide the outcasts! Don’t betray the fugitive! 4a Let my outcasts dwell with you! As for Moab, be a hiding place for him from the face of the destroyer. (The Moabites hadn't always been good to Israel. See Josh 24:9, Judg 3:12-30, 1 Sam 12:9.)

Hebrews 13:1 Let brotherly love continue. 2 Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers*, for in doing so, some have entertained angels without knowing it. 3 Remember those who are in bonds, as bound with them, and those who are ill-treated, since you are also in the body.

*The NIV Study Bible thinks this may mean “Christians that you don’t know.” The two commentaries I consulted did not say this. There are Christian refugees.

(Scripture quotations from World English Bible, public domain.)

A recent poll found that only 12% of Christians say that they get their views on immigration from the Bible. 

Thanks for reading.

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October 25, 2017: I found, just reading, using my Bible reading plan, an additional passage, which may also be relevant: Ezekiel 47:21 “So you shall divide this land to yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. 22 It will happen, that you shall divide it by lot for an inheritance to you and to the aliens who live among you, who will father children among you. Then they shall be to you as the native-born among the children of Israel. They shall have inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel. 23 It shall happen, that in whatever tribe the stranger lives, there you shall give him his inheritance,” says the Lord Yahweh.

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