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Strangers & Aliens

A collection of biblical texts regarding the fate of immigrants

Selected by Ken Sehested

Dispute over the fate of immigrants is at least as old as ancient Israel’s covenant documents,
though the word is commonly translated in English as “strangers” and “aliens.”
Below is a sampling of relevant biblical texts.

Deut. 10:19   You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.

Job 29:16   I was a father to the needy, and I championed the cause of the stranger.

Ps. 94:6   They kill the widow and the stranger, they murder the orphan.

Job 31:32   . . . the stranger has not lodged in the street; I have opened my doors to the traveler

Exod. 12:49   . . . there shall be one law for the native and for the alien who resides among you.

Exod. 20:10   But the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God; you shall not do any work — you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.

Exod. 23:9   You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.

Lev. 19:34   The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

Lev. 23:22   When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and for the alien: I am the LORD your God.

Lev. 24:22   You shall have one law for the alien and for the citizen: for I am the LORD your God.

Deut. 1:16   I charged your judges at that time: “Give the members of your community a fair hearing, and judge rightly between one person and another, whether citizen or resident alien.

Deut. 23:7   You shall not abhor any of the Edomites, for they are your kin. You shall not abhor any of the Egyptians, because you were an alien residing in their land.

Deut. 24:17   You shall not deprive a resident alien or an orphan of justice; you shall not take a widow’s garment in pledge.

Deut. 24:19   When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be left for the alien, the orphan, and the widow, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all your undertakings.

Deut. 26:5   . . . you shall make this response before the LORD your God: “A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous.

Deut. 27:19    Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien, the orphan, and the widow of justice. All the people shall say, “Amen!”

Ps. 39:12    Hear my prayer, O LORD, and give ear to my cry; do not hold your peace at my tears. For I am your passing guest, an alien, like all my forebears.

Jer. 7:6   if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt,

Jer. 22:3   Thus says the LORD: Act with justice and righteousness, and deliver from the hand of the oppressor anyone who has been robbed. And do no wrong or violence to the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place.

Ezek. 22:29   The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery; they have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the alien without redress.

Zech. 7:10   do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the alien, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another.

Mal. 3:5   Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be swift to bear witness against . . . those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the alien, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts.

Hebr. 13:2   Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it.

Matt. 25:35   . . . for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me.

Eph. 2:17-22   So he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father.  So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

©Ken Sehested @ prayerandpolitks.org