Is sometimes used in a special sense, easily understood from the context. It usually denotes a foreigner, who is not a native of the land in which he resides, Ge 23:4. The Mosaic Law enjoined a generous hospitality towards foreign residents, saying, "Thou shalt love him as thyself," Le 19:33-34; De 10:18-19; 24:17; 27:19. They were subject to the law, Ex 20:10; Le 16:20, and were admitted to many of the privileges of the chosen people of God, Nu 9:14; 15:14. The strangers whom David collected to aid in building the temple, 1Ch 22:2, probably comprised many of the remnants of the Canaanite tribes, 1Ki 9:20-21. Hospitality to strangers, including all travellers, was the duty of all good citizens, Job 31:32; Heb 13:2.
This word generally denotes a person from a foreign land residing in Palestine. Such persons enjoyed many privileges in common with the Jews, but still were separate from them. The relation of the Jews to strangers was regulated by special laws (De 23:3; 24:14-21; 25:5; 26:10-13). A special signification is also sometimes attached to this word. In Ge 23:4 it denotes one resident in a foreign land; Ex 23:9, one who is not a Jew; Nu 3:10, one who is not of the family of Aaron; Ps 69:8, an alien or an unknown person. The Jews were allowed to purchase strangers as slaves (Le 25:44-45), and to take usury from them (De 23:20).
A foreigner settled among the covenant people, without Israelite citizenship, but subject to Israel's laws, and having a claim to kindness and justice (Ex 12:49; Le 24:22; 19:34; 25:6; De 1:16; 24:17-19; 10:18-19; 16:11,14; 26:11). (See PROSELYTES.) In contrast to one "born in the land," not transplanted, "ezrach." Geer, toshab; geer implies the stranger viewed in respect to his foreign origin, literally, one turned aside to "another people"; toshab implies his permanent residence in the hind of hision. Distinguished from the "foreigner," nakri, who made no stay in Israel. The stranger included the "mixed multitude" from Egypt (Ex 12:38); the Canaanites still remaining in Palestine and their descendants, as Uriah the Hittite and Araunah the Jebusite, Doeg the Edomite, Ittai the Gittite; captives in war, fugitives, and merchants, amounting under Solomon to 153,600 males (2Ch 2:17), one tenth of the population.
Strictly, the stranger had no share in the land. It is to be a peculiarity of restored Israel that the stranger shall inherit along with the native born (Eze 47:22). Still anomalies may have been tolerated of necessity, as that of Canaanites (on conversion to the law) retaining land from which Israel had been unable to eject their forefathers. Strangers were excluded from kingship. Though tolerated they must not violate the fundamental laws by blaspheming Jehovah, breaking the sabbath by work, eating leavened bread at the Passover, infringing the marriage laws, worshipping Moloch, or eating blood (Le 24:16; 18:26; 20:2; 17:10,15; Ex 20:10; 12:19). If the stranger were a bondservant he had to be circumcised (Ex 12:44). If free he was exempt, but if not circumcised was excluded from the Passover (Ex 12:48); he might eat foods (De 14:21) which the circumcised stranger might not eat (Le 17:10,15).
The liberal spirit of the law contrasts with the exclusiveness of Judaism after the return from Babylon. This narrowness was at first needed, in order to keep the holy seed separate from foreign admixture (Nehemiah 9; 10; 13; Ezra 10). But its degeneracy into proud, morose isolation and misanthropy our Lord rebukes in His large definition of "neighbour" in the parable of the good Samaritan (Lu 10:36). The law kept Israel a people separate from the nations, yet exercising a benignant influence on them. It secured a body of 600,000 yeomen ready to defend their own land, but unfit for invading other lands, as their force was ordained to be of infantry alone. Interest front a fellow citizen was forbidden, but from a stranger was allowed, subject to strict regard to equity. The hireling was generally taken from strangers, the law guarded his rights with tender considerateness (De 24:14-15). (See NETHINIM; SOLOMON'S SERVANTS.)
This seems, on the whole, the most suitable English word by which to render the Heb. z
1. This term was applied to any sojourning among the Israelites, who were not descendants of Israel. The law gave injunctions against the oppression of such. Nu 15:14-30.
2. Gentiles are also called 'strangers' from the covenants of promise (Eph 2:12), showing that the covenants made with Israel did in no wise embrace the Gentiles, though God's grace at all times extended to them.
3. Those called strangers in 1Pe 1:1 were Jews away from their own land: sojourners of the dispersion.
4. Both the O.T. and the N.T. saints were and are strangers upon earth. David said, "I am a stranger with thee, and a sojourner, as all my fathers were." Ps 39:12. They "confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth." Heb 11:13. The same is true of the saints now. 1Pe 2:11. Their citizenship is in heaven, and this earth is no longer their home or their rest.
A "stranger," in the technical sense of the term, may be defined to be a person of foreign, i.e. non-Israelitish, extraction resident within the limits of the promised land. He was distinct from the proper "foreigner," inasmuch as the latter still belonged to another country, and would only visit Palestine as a traveller: he was still more distinct from the "nations," or non-Israelite peoples. The term may be compared with our expression "naturalized foreigner." The terms applied to the "stranger" have special reference to the fact of residing in the land. The existence of such a class of persons among the Israelites is easily accounted for the "mixed multitude" that accompanied them out of Egypt,
formed one element the Canaanitish Population,which was never wholly extirpated from their native soil, formed another and a still more important one captives taken in war formed a third; fugitives, hired servants, merchants, etc., formed a fourth. With the exception of the Moabites and Ammonites,
all nations were admissible to the rights of citizenship under certain conditions. The stranger appears to have been eligible to all civil offices, that of king excepted.
In regard to religion, it was absolutely necessary that the stranger should not infringe any of the fundamental laws of the Israelitish state. If he were a bondman, he was obliged to submit to circumcision,
if he were independent, it was optional with him but if he remained uncircumcised, he was prohibited from partaking of the Passover,
and could not be regarded as a full citizen. Liberty was also given to an uncircumcised stranger in regard to the use of prohibited food. Assuming, however, that the stranger was circumcised, no distinction existed in regard to legal rights ha between the stranger and the Israelite; to the Israelite is enjoined to treat him as a brother.
Le 19:34; De 10:19
It also appears that the "stranger" formed the class whence the hirelings were drawn; the terms being coupled together in
The liberal spirit of the Mosaic regulations respecting strangers presents a strong contrast to the rigid exclusiveness of the Jews at the commencement of the Christian era. The growth of this spirit dates from the time of the Babylonish captivity.
STRANGER. 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, ????. One class were those who, whether Hebrews or foreigners, were destitute of a home, in Hebrew ??????. The others were persons who, though not natives, had a home in Palestine; the latter were ????, 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, Le 19:33-34; 24:16,22; Nu 9:14; 15:14; De 10:18; 23:7; 24:17; 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, 1Ch 22:2; 2Ch 2:1,16-17. 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 ??, 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, Le 19:18.