“You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 22:21; RSV)
“You shall not oppress a stranger; you know the heart of a stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus: 23:9; RSV)
“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Leviticus 19: 33-34)*
“you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Leviticus 19:18; RSV)
“‘And who is my neighbor?'” (Luke 10:29; RSV; opens the Parable of the Good Samaritan, Luke 10:29-37)
Why are we exhorted over and over, across the millenia, first by Moses and then by Jesus, to welcome strangers, treat them with compassion, even offer them healing, attending to their physical needs as well as their spirits? If this attitude were natural to human beings, we would not need so much exhortation!
On the contrary, as sinful humans, yet created by a merciful God we need to hear it. Moses taught the people God’s commandment about equal treatment of aliens many times, in the name of the Lord, during the people’s long sojourn in the wilderness. He reminded them what God sought to have them keep in mind: that they “were strangers in the land of Egypt” and God, in his mercy, had brought them out. He wished them to remember always and put themselves in the place of any strangers living in their midst, and treat them accordingly. Continue reading