Friday, June 12, 2009

Stranger in the Old Testament

Stranger in the Old Testament
Thomas Allen


In the Old Testament, several words are translated as "stranger." These words are also occasionally translated as "alien," "foreigner," and "sojourner." Some of them identify people of the same race from the perspective of the Israelite writer. Others are used to identify people of a different race. "Ger" (ger, Strong #1616), "gur" (guwr, Strong #1481), and "toshab" (tôwshâd, Strong #8453) are used to identify people of the same race. Nekar (nekâr, Strong #5236), nokri (nokrîy, Strong #5237), noker (neker, Strong #5235), and zar (zuwr, Strong #2114) are used to identify people of another race.

Ger refers to a person of the same race residing permanently in a country of which he is not a citizen. It also refers to a fellow national who is in a foreign country. Toshab generally refers to a person of the same race who is temporarily in the country.

For example, from a French perspective, a ger is a German living in France. A Frenchman living or traveling outside France is a ger. A German passing through France or temporarily in France on vacation or business is a toshab.

Zar typically refers to a racial alien more distantly removed than a nekar, nokri, and noker (nekar, nokri, and noker are synonyms). For example, from a French perspective, an Egyptian or Ethiopian may be a nekar, nokri, or noker. A Zulu or Ibo may be a zar.

Occasionally nokri is used metaphorically to express one’s lowliness in comparison to another. For example, in Ruth 2:10, Ruth calls herself a nokri. She is displaying her humility by debasing herself in comparison to the high esteem that she has for Boaz. (Ruth was a ger. She was of the same race as Boaz. For proof that Ruth and Boaz were of the same race, see The Truth About Ruth: Ruth the Israelite by Robert Alan Balaicius.)

As the following passages show, racial kinsman, ger, have most of the rights, privileges, and duties of a native-born citizen. Nonracial people, nokri and zar, do not enjoy these rights and privileges.

Along with the poor, widows, and orphans, a ger has the right of gleaning (Lev. 19:10, 23:22). Gers are subject to the same civil laws and justice and have many rights and privileges of a citizen (Lev. 19:33, 34; 24:22; Num. 15:15,16, 29; 35:15; Deut. 1;16; 24:14, 17; 27:19; Judg. 20:9). They are subject to the same religious prohibitions (Lev. 20:2, 24:16) and Sabbath requirements (Deut. 5:14). Their children are to become citizens (Ezek. 47:22, 23). If circumcised, a ger may partake in the Passover (Exod. 12:48). He may enter into the covenant with God (Deut. 29:11) and be part of the congregation of Israel (Josh. 8:35).

Deuteronomy 14:21 shows a difference between a citizen, ger, and nokri. Citizens are not to eat anything that dies naturally. Nevertheless, they could give it to a ger to eat or sell it to a nokri. Thus, a ger is given the carcass; a nokri has to buy it.

A toshab has similar civil rights and justice as a citizen (Num.35:15). They observed the Sabbath year (Lev. 25:23). A slave who is a toshab is freed in the year of jubilee (Lev. 25:40). However, a toshab is not to eat of the Passover (Exod. 12:45). Like a zar, a toshab is not to eat holy gifts (Lev. 22:10).

A nekar is not to eat of the Passover (Exod. 12:43). Citizens are not to socialize with them (Deut. 31:16). People are not to marry a nekar (Neh. 9:2, 13:30, Mal. 2:11). A nekar is not to enter God’s sanctuary (Ezek. 44:7, 9). Nekar is also used to identify alien gods and foreign lands.

A person is not to sell a female slave of his race to a nokri (Exod. 21:8). Although a creditor is to release a debtor of his race of his debts every seven years, he is not required to release a nokri of the obligation to pay his debts (Deut. 15:3). Furthermore, a person may not charge his racial kinsman usury on loans, but he may charge a nokri usury (Deut. 23:20). A country is not to make a nokri their ruler (Deut. 17:15). One is not to marry a nokri (Ezra 10:2, 14, 17, 18, 44, Neh. 13:27). Proverbs instruct men to avoid nokri and zar women (Prov. 2:16; 5:3, 10, 17, 20; 6:1, 24; 7:5; 22:14; 23:33; 26:27; 27:2).

A zar is not to eat holy things (Exod. 29:33, Lev. 22:10). Anyone who puts anointing oil on a zar is cut off from his people (Exod. 30:33). If a zar comes near the tabernacle, he is to be executed (Num. 1:51, 3:38). Furthermore, if a zar comes near to a priest, he is to be executed (Num. 18:7). One is not to marry a zar (Deut. 25:5).

A commentary is needed on the use of "stranger" in the prophets. Such a commentary is not presented here because it goes beyond the scope of this paper.

The following are verses showing the different uses of words translated as "stranger," "alien," "foreigner," or "sojourner." These passages show that the above racial explanation is correct. They are written from the perspective of the Israelites. Ger, gur, and toshab are people of the same race as the Israelites. Nekar, nokri, noker, and zar, are people of races other than the race of the Israelites.
[Editor’s Note: The original contains the verses that use the words cited above and shows which of the Hebrew word is used. To save space, the text of these verses has been omitted and only the verses are referenced.]

ger
Genesis 15:13; 23:4; Exodus 2:22; 12:19; 12:48; 12:49; 18:3; 20:10; 22:21; 23:9; 23:12; Leviticus 16:29; 17:8; 17:10; 17:12; 17:13; 17:15; 18:26; 19:10; 19:33; 19:34; 20:2; 22:18; 23:22; 24:16; 24:22; 25:23; 25:35; 25:47; Numbers 9:14; 15:14; 15:15; 15:16; 15:26; 15:29; 15:30; 19:10; 35:15; Deuteronomy 1:16; 5:14; 10:18; 10:19; 14:21; 14:29; 16:11; 16:14; 23:7; 24:14; 24:17; 24:19; 24:20; 24:21; 26:11; 26:12; 26:13; 27:19; 28:43; 29:11; 31:12; Joshua 8:33; 8:35; 20:9; 2 Samuel 1:13; 1 Chronicles 22:2; 29:15; 2 Chronicles 2:17; 30:25; Job 31:32; Psalms 39:12; 94:6; 119:19; 146:9; Isaiah 14:1; Jeremiah 7:6; 14:8; 22:3; Ezekiel 14:7; 22:7; 47:22; 47:23; Zechariah 7:10; Malachi 3:5.

gur

Exodus 6:4; 2 Samuel 4:3; 1 Chronicles 16:19; 2 Chronicles 15:9; Psalms 105:12; Isaiah 5:17; Jeremiah 35:7.

toshab

Genesis 23:4; Exodus 12:45; Leviticus 22:10; 25:6; 25:23; 25:35; 25:40; 25:45; 25:47; Numbers 35:15; 1 Chronicles 29:15; Psalms 39:12.

nekar

Genesis 17:12; 17:27; 35:2; 35:4; Exodus 12:27; 12:43; Leviticus 22:25; Deuteronomy 31:16; 32:12; Joshua 24:20; 25:23; Judges 10:16; 1 Samuel 7:3; 2 Samuel 22:45; 22:46; 2 Chronicles 14:3; 33:15; Nehemiah 9:2; 13:30; Psalms 18:44; 18:45; 81:9; 137:4; 144:7; 144:11; Ezekiel 44:7; 44:9; Isaiah 56:3; 56:6; 60:10; 61:5; 62:8; Jeremiah 5:19; 8:19; Malachi 2:11.

nokri

Genesis 31:15; Exodus 2:22; 18:3; 21:8; Deuteronomy 14:21; 15:3; 17:15; 23:20; 29:22; Judges 19:12; Ruth 2:10; 2 Samuel 15:19; 1 Kings 8:41; 8:43; 11:1; 11:8; 2 Chronicles 6:32; 6:33; Ezra 10:2; 10:11; 10:14; 10:17; 10:18; 10:44; Nehemiah 13:27; Job 19:15; Psalms 69:8; Proverbs 2:16; 5:10; 5:20; 6:24; 7:5; 20:16; 26:27; 27:2; 27:13; Ecclesiastes 6:2; Isaiah 2:6; 28:21; Jeremiah 2:21; Lamentations 5:2; Obadiah 11; Zephaniah 1:8.

noker

Obadiah 12.

zar

Exodus 29:33; 30:9; 30:33; Leviticus 22:10; 22:12; 22:13; Numbers 1:51; 3:10; 3:38; 16:40; 18:4; 18:7; Deuteronomy 25:5; 32:16; 1 Kings 3:18; 2 Kings 19:24; Job 15:19; 19:15; Psalms 44:20; 54:3; 81:9; 109:11; Proverbs 2:16; 5:3; 5:10; 5:17; 5:20; 6:1; 7:5; 11:15; 14:10; 20:16; 21:8; 22:14; 23:33; 27:13; Isaiah 1:7; 17:10; 25:2; 25:5; 29:5; 43:12; 61:5; Jeremiah 2:25; 3:13; 5:19; 30:8; 51:51; Lamentations 5:2; Ezekiel 7:21; 11:9; 16:32; 28:7; 28:10; 30:12; 31:12; Hosea
5:7; 7:9; 8:7; 8:12;
Joel 3:17; Obadiah 11.


References

Balaicius, Robert Alan. The Truth About Ruth: Ruth the Israelite. Mountain City, Tennessee: Sacred Truth Ministries, 2004.
Blanchard, Lawrence. Standing on the Premises: A Presentation of 30 Biblical Propositions of Christian-Israel Identity Theology. Port Orchard, Washington: New Covenant Bible Church, 1998.

Fausset, A.R. Fausset’s Bible Dictionary. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House. 1949.

Hopkins, Richard Kelly. War Cycles Peace Cycles. Lynchburg, Virginia: The Virginia Publishing Company, 1985.

Jacobus, Melancthon W., Edward E. Nourse, and Andrew C. Zenos, editors. A New Standard Bible Dictionary. New York, New York: Funk & Wagnalls Co., 1926.

Strong, James. Stong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible.

Young, Robert. Analytical Concordance to the Bible. Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdman’s Publishing Co., 1970. 

Copyright © 2009 by Thomas Coley Allen. 

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