Page 7 - May 2022 - Truth & Tidings
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the stranger that dwelleth with you shall   had already come to trust in the Lord
        be unto you as one born among you,    God of Israel.
        and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye   Keeping  in mind these few  general
        were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Lev   background remarks, we turn to the spe-
        19:34). The Israelites were not to have   cific example of hospitality most often
        short memories! They too were once made   cited – the story of Abraham receiving
        welcome in a foreign land, at least during   three strangers (Gen 18:1-15). This is
        Joseph’s time.                        probably what the writer to the Hebrews
          The Jewish law made special provision   referred to when he encouraged the saints,
        for the support of strangers, orphans and   though living through difficult times,
        widows. During harvest time, the cor-  not to forget to entertain strangers, “for
        ners of the fields of grain and the second   thereby some have entertained angels
        gleanings of fruit trees were reserved for   unawares” (Heb 13:2).
        these needy groups: “And when ye reap
        the harvest of your land, thou shalt not   An Open Home – Receptivity
        make clean riddance of the corners of thy   Abraham was sitting in the shade one
        field when thou reapest, neither shalt thou   hot afternoon, when he saw three men
        gather any gleaning of thy harvest: thou   standing in front of his tent in Mamre. He
        shalt leave them unto the poor, and to the   ran to meet and greet them. With great
        stranger: I am the Lord your God” (Lev   courtesy, he welcomed them and humbly
        23:22); “When thou beatest thine olive   offered simple wash facilities and refresh-
        tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs   ments – “a little water … [to] wash your
        again: it shall be for the stranger, for the   feet … a morsel of bread” – to which they
        fatherless, and for the widow. When thou   agreed. The shared understanding was
        gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou   that, when they had rested, they would
        shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for   proceed on their journey.
        the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the   One outstanding feature of this story is
        widow” (Deu 24:20-21).                Abraham’s spontaneous eagerness to help.
          By contrast, the foreigner (nokri) came   There was no hesitation. Even if it was the
        from a markedly idolatrous and immoral   normal custom of desert dwellers receiv-
        culture. They were often self-sufficient   ing travellers, the patriarch was keen to
        and resisted integration into Jewish soci-  be more than formal and to be genuinely
        ety. Because of these factors, they had the   hospitable. Did the three men look poor
        potential to corrupt others. King Solomon   or look wealthy? We do not know. There
        was a notable example of one whose testi-  is no record that they asked for assistance
        mony was compromised by their influence   or pleaded any need of accommodation.
        (1Ki 11:1). Ruth’s self-designation as a
        nokri was an expression of her amaze-  An Open Heart – Inclusivity
        ment at the kindness Boaz was showing   Did the visitors seem to be foreigners or
        her, a lowly widow who had just come   was their physical appearance much like
        from Moab (Rut 2:10,12). She could easily   Abraham’s, a Chaldean? Again, we do not
        have been ignored or shunned, but Boaz’s   know. People can be initially uncomfort-
        generosity went far beyond the demands   able when interacting with others of a
        of the law. Happily, in Ruth’s case, she   different ethnicity. Abraham himself was
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