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Bible Dictionaries

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary


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Moses inculcated and enforced by numerous and by powerful considerations, as well as by various examples of benevolent hospitality, mentioned in the book of Genesis, the exhibition of kindness and humanity to strangers. There were two classes of persons who, in reference to this subject, were denominated strangers, נרים . One class were those who, whether Hebrews or foreigners, were destitute of a home, in Hebrew תושבים . The others were persons who, though not natives, had a home in Palestine; the latter were נרום , strangers or foreigners, in the strict sense of the word. Both of these classes, according to the civil code of Moses, were to be treated with kindness, and were to enjoy the same rights with other citizens, Leviticus 19:33-34; Leviticus 24:16; Leviticus 24:22; Numbers 9:14; Numbers 15:14; Deuteronomy 10:18; Deuteronomy 23:7; Deuteronomy 24:17; Deuteronomy 27:19 . In the earlier periods of the Hebrew state, persons who were natives of another country, but who had come, either from choice or from necessity to take up their residence among the Hebrews, appear to have been placed in favourable circumstances. At a latter period, namely, in the reigns of David and Solomon, they were compelled to labour on the religious edifices which were erected by those princes; as we may learn from such passages as these: "And Solomon numbered all the strangers that were in the land of Israel, after the numbering wherewith David his father had numbered them; and they were found a hundred and fifty thousand and three thousand and six hundred; and he set three score and ten thousand of them to be bearers of burdens," &c, 1 Chronicles 22:2; 2 Chronicles 2:1; 2 Chronicles 2:16-17 . The exaction of such laborious services from foreigners was probably limited to those who had been taken prisoners in war; and who, according to the rights of war, as they were understood at that period, could be justly employed in any offices, however low and however laborious, which the conqueror thought proper to impose. In the time of Christ, the degenerate Jews did not find it convenient to render to the strangers from a foreign country those deeds of kindness and humanity which were not only their due, but which were demanded in their behalf by the laws of Moses. They were in the habit of understanding by the word רע , neighbour, their friends merely, and accordingly restricted the exercise of their benevolence by the same narrow limits that bounded in this case their interpretations; contrary as both were to the spirit of those passages which have been adduced above, Leviticus 19:18 .

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Bibliography Information
Watson, Richard. Entry for 'Stranger'. Richard Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary. 1831-2.

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