THE ALIEN IN THE LAND
The Law of Moses is not simply "religious" law, it is national law. It is law that was fully in force when Israel was sovereign, not under foreign domination. Therefore, Gentiles who chose to live in the land of Israel during such times had a different relationship to the Law of Moses than other Gentiles did.
Their difference can be seen in the laws governing the feasts of the Lord, including Shabbat, the sacrifices in the Temple, purity, and sin. It can also be seen in the laws governing the practical means of loving ones neighbor as oneself. Significant parts of the Law of Moses were binding on Gentiles who lived in the midst of Israel. They were not Jews, but they were living in the land God had set apart for the Jews.
The Feasts of the Lord
Concerning Passover, the Lord declared, "For seven days no yeast is to be found in your houses. And whoever eats anything with yeast in it must be cut off from the community of Israel, whether he is an alien or native-born." Exod. 12:19
"An alien living among you who wants to celebrate the LORDs Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat of it. The same law applies to the native-born and to the alien living among you." Exod. 12:48-49
" An alien living among you who wants to celebrate the LORDs Passover must do so in accordance with its rules and regulations. You must have the same regulations for the alien and the native-born. " Num. 9:14 As for Yom Kippur, "This is to be a lasting ordinance for you: On the tenth day of the seventh month you must deny yourselves and not do any work whether native-born or an alien living among you because on this day atonement will be made for you, to cleanse you. Then, before the LORD, you will be clean from all your sins. It is a sabbath of rest, and you must deny yourselves; it is a lasting ordinance." Lev. 16:29-31
In the same way, the blessing of Shabbat was for all. "The seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates." Exod. 20:10
"Six days do your work, but on the seventh day do not work, so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slave born in your household, and the alien as well, may be refreshed." Exod. 23:12
"The seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your ox, your donkey or any of your animals, nor the alien within your gates, so that your manservant and maidservant may rest, as you do." Deut. 5:14
The Sacrifices in the Temple
The laws covering sacrifices applied equally to all. "Say to them: Any Israelite or any alien living among them who offers a burnt offering or sacrifice and does not bring it to the entrance to the Tent of Meeting to sacrifice it to the LORD that man must be cut off from his people." Lev. 17:8-9
"Speak to Aaron and his sons and to all the Israelites and say to them: If any of you either an Israelite or an alien living in Israel presents a gift for a burnt offering to the LORD, either to fulfill a vow or as a freewill offering, you must present a male without defect from the cattle, sheep or goats in order that it may be accepted on your behalf. Do not bring anything with a defect, because it will not be accepted on your behalf." Lev. 22:18-20
"For the generations to come, whenever an alien or anyone else living among you presents an offering made by fire as an aroma pleasing to the LORD, he must do exactly as you do. The community is to have the same rules for you and for the alien living among you; this is a lasting ordinance for the generations to come. You and the alien shall be the same before the LORD: The same laws and regulations will apply both to you and to the alien living among you. " Num. 15:14-16
Purity and Sin
The same was true for laws governing eating blood or the flesh of animals from which the blood had not been properly drained. "Any Israelite or any alien living among you who eats any blood I will set my face against that person who eats blood and will cut him off from his people. For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for ones life. Therefore I say to the Israelites, None of you may eat blood, nor may an alien living among you eat blood.
"Any Israelite or any alien living among you who hunts any animal or bird that may be eaten must drain out the blood and cover it with earth, because the life of every creature is its blood. That is why I have said to the Israelites, You must not eat the blood of any creature, because the life of every creature is its blood; anyone who eats it must be cut off.
"Anyone, whether native-born or alien, who eats anything found dead or torn by wild animals must wash his clothes and bathe with water, and he will be ceremonially unclean till evening; then he will be clean." Lev. 17:10-15.*
Everyone had to treat the name of the Lord as holy. "Anyone who blasphemes the name of the LORD must be put to death. The entire assembly must stone him. Whether an alien or native-born, when he blasphemes the Name, he must be put to death." Lev. 24:16
No one was permitted to engage in the abominations for which God had destroyed the Canaanites. "Say to the Israelites: Any Israelite or any alien living in Israel who gives any of his children to Molech must be put to death. The people of the community are to stone him." Lev. 20:2
In general, sin was sin, no matter who committed it. "If anyone injures his neighbor, whatever he has done must be done to him: fracture for fracture, eye for eye, tooth for tooth. As he has injured the other, so he is to be injured. Whoever kills an animal must make restitution, but whoever kills a man must be put to death. You are to have the same law for the alien and the native-born. I am the LORD your God. " Lev. 24:19-22
"One and the same law applies to everyone who sins unintentionally, whether he is a native-born Israelite or an alien. But anyone who sins defiantly, whether native-born or alien, blasphemes the LORD, and that person must be cut off from his people." Num. 15:29-30
Provisions of Mercy
Even as the Gentiles living in the land were subject to the prohibitions that governed the life of the nation, so also they were the recipients of the mercy which God commanded. "Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice, or take the cloak of the widow as a pledge." Deut. 24:17
"When you have finished setting aside a tenth of all your produce in the third year, the year of the tithe, you shall give it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that they may eat in your towns and be satisfied. Then say to the LORD your God: I have removed from my house the sacred portion and have given it to the Levite, the alien, the fatherless and the widow, according to all you commanded. I have not turned aside from your commands nor have I forgotten any of them. " Deut. 26:12-13
God instituted the provision of cities of refuge so that vengeance and blood feuds would not become the law of the land. "Any of the Israelites or any alien living among them who killed someone accidentally could flee to these designated cities and not be killed by the avenger of blood prior to standing trial before the assembly." Josh. 20:9
And in the age to come, when Israel comes into the fullness of its inheritance, the Gentiles who have chosen to live within Israel will receive their portion as well. " 'You are to distribute this land among yourselves according to the tribes of Israel. You are to allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who have settled among you and who have children. You are to consider them as native-born Israelites; along with you they are to be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel. In whatever tribe the alien settles, there you are to give him his inheritance,' declares the Sovereign LORD." Ezek. 47:21-23 They live according to the law of the land, and have their inheritance in the land.
*Deut. 14:21 seems to modify Lev.17:15: "Do not eat anything you find already dead. You may give it to an alien who is within your gates, and he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner...." Because of this and other verses, the Rabbis saw distinctions being made between the ger hashaar (the Gentile within the gate), the ger toshav (the Gentile fully living with the people), and the ger tzedek (the Gentile who became a proselyte).
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