Scripture profoundly emphasizes the Israelites’ responsibilities to treat strangers in their midst properly. Scripture also, however, makes clear that strangers in Israel were not entitled to be treated exactly in all the same ways as all other Israelites were.
Furthermore, Scripture makes clear additional key truths about what God instructed Israel to do concerning strangers who sojourned in the land. Consider the following verses and what they reveal about strangers in Israel:
Exo 12:19 Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a stranger, or born in the land.
Lev 17:10 And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.
Lev 18:26 Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any stranger that sojourneth among you:
Lev 20:2 Again, thou shalt say to the children of Israel, Whosoever he be of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed unto Molech; he shall surely be put to death: the people of the land shall stone him with stones.
Lev 24:16 And he that blasphemeth the name of the LORD, he shall surely be put to death, and all the congregation shall certainly stone him: as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land, when he blasphemeth the name of the LORD, shall be put to death.
Lev 24:22 Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country: for I am the LORD your God.
Num 15:29 Ye shall have one law for him that sinneth through ignorance, both for him that is born among the children of Israel, and for the stranger that sojourneth among them.
Num 15:30 But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
Eze 14:7 For every one of the house of Israel, or of the stranger that sojourneth in Israel, which separateth himself from me, and setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to a prophet to enquire of him concerning me; I the LORD will answer him by myself:
These verses (and others not cited here) make clear these key truths:
1. Strangers in Israel could not flout God’s laws that He gave to Israel—they were under the same obligations as native Israelites to obey these laws (for example, Lev. 24:22).
2. Strangers who violated Israel’s laws were to be punished, just as the Israelites who did so were punished—strangers were not exempted from such punishments and certainly were not above the laws of the land (for example, Num. 15:30).
3. Strangers could not practice false religions among the Israelites (Lev. 20:2) nor could they engage in any of the abominations of the heathen whom God cast out before the Israelites (Lev. 18:26).
Those who wish to use the Bible to argue for what America should do concerning refugees must account for all that the Bible teaches about strangers in Israel. Only when such a careful and thorough accounting is done will what God would want America to do be fulfilled concerning refugees who come here.