Loving the Immigrant as the Premier Jewish and Christian Ethic

  • Kendra Sofia Blandon UF Department of Religion
Keywords: immigrant, Jewish Studies, Christian Studies, Exodus, Leviticus, Holiness Code, Ethics, Neighbor, Jewish Law, Church, Sojourner, Borders, Walls, God

Abstract

The modern term “immigrant” does not appear in the original Jewish and Christian scriptures. While concepts of nations, borders, and formal immigration did not develop until long after Biblical times, several Hebrew words existed for foreigners. An analysis of the words gēr, nēkār, rēa, zār, and tôšāb reveals how foreign strangers were regarded by the Jewish people. The established covenant commanded Jewish people to “love your neighbor (rēa) as yourself” (Lev. 19:18). This commandment, located in the middle of Leviticus and the middle of the Holiness Code, is considered by many to be the highest development of ethics in scripture. Still, a concentrated debate about passages in both Testaments continues among academics and religious leaders, especially about the Christian obligation to follow the laws of the land, but dissent if the laws are unjust. An examination of Jewish and Christian texts, world views, and contemporary scholarship is needed to determine how, if at all, believers should respond to the present immigration crisis in the United States. This paper shares some of the many stories in scripture about migration, concluding that the story of Jewish and Christian scripture, and indeed, the story of mankind, is one of migration.

Published
2020-11-04