| || |The Berean Expositor Volume 45 - Page 37 of 251 Index | Zoom | |
pp. 152 - 155
From the very earliest times provision had been made for "thy stranger within thy
gates" (Exod. 20: 10). The Imperial Dictionary says:
"The peculiar vocation of Israel, a the chosen nation set apart to the Lord by the
covenant seal of circumcision, established a clear line of demarcation between the
Israelites and the surrounding nations; but it did not prevent the presence or preclude the
toleration of strangers among them. The various occasions which brought them into
peaceful or hostile contact with their neighbours belonging to other races necessarily led
to the more or less temporary sojourn, whether voluntary or compulsory, of foreigners in
Israel; and accordingly we find their existence recognized and their position defined by
various precepts, positive and negative, from the time of the exodus and the
establishment of a distinctive Jewish polity."
The word `proselyte' is not to be found in the A.V. of the O.T., but the Greek
proselutos occurs frequently in the Septuagint. The equivalent Hebrew word is ger,
generally rendered `stranger' in the A.V. The first occurrence of this Hebrew word is
Gen. 15: 13:
"And he said unto Abram, know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land
that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years."
This experience of the People of Israel is referred to by the Lord when He commands:
"Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land
of Egypt" (Exod. 22: 21).
These strangers within the commonwealth of Israel, were together with the
Israelites themselves, forbidden to eat unleavened bread during Passover (Exod. 12: 19),
to work on the Sabbath (Exod. 20: 10), to eat blood (Lev. 17: 10), to practice idolatry
(Lev. 20: 2), to blaspheme the name of the Lord (Le. 24: 16), etc. Their lives were
therefore very closely bound up with the People of Israel.
There were however, strangers and strangers, even as there were degrees of
proselytes. Accordingly, when the ordinance of the Passover was appointed, it was
stated, "This is the ordinance of the Passover; there shall no stranger eat thereof"
(Exod. 12: 43). Yet in verse 48 of the same chapter is written, "When a stranger shall
sojourn with thee, and will keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be
circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it". It should be observed that the
Hebrew words resident in these two verses are different; verse 43 referring literally to "a
son of strangeness", ben-nekar and verse 48 to "a sojourner", ger. The usage of the latter
word in this respect seems to indicate the willingness of the stranger to be identified with
the People of Israel, to make their home his home. Such a desire is reminiscent of Ruth
the Moabitess, who said to Naomi: