You shall neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Exodus 22:24). Three classes of persons particularly liable to be oppressed are selected for mention—(1) Strangers, i.e., foreigners; (2) widows; and (3) orphans. Strangers have seldom been protected by any legislation, unless, indeed, they formed a class of permanent residents, like the Metœci at Athens. The law of civilised communities has generally afforded some protection to the orphan and the widow, particularly in respect of rights of property. The protection given is, however, very generally insufficient; and it is of the highest importance that it should be supplemented by an assured belief that, beyond all legal penalties there lies the Divine sentence of wrath and punishment, certain to fall upon every one who, careless of law and right, makes the stranger, the widow, or the orphan to suffer wrong at his hands.
(21) For ye were strangers.—Ye should, therefore, sympathise with “strangers;” not “vex them,” not “oppress them,” but “love them as yourselves” (Leviticus 19:34). The condition of foreigners in Israel is shown to have been more than tolerable by the examples of the Kenites (Judges 1:16; Judges 4:11); of Araunah the Jebusite (2Samuel 24:18-24); of Uriah the Hittite (2Samuel 23:39), Zelek the Ammonite (2Samuel 23:37), and others.Exodus 22:21. A stranger must not be abused, not wronged in judgment by the magistrates, not imposed upon in contracts, nor any advantage taken of his ignorance or necessity, no, nor must he be taunted, or upbraided with his being a stranger; for all these were vexatious. For ye were strangers in Egypt — And knew what it was to be vexed and oppressed there. Those that have themselves been in poverty and distress, if Providence enrich and enlarge them, ought to show a particular tenderness toward those that are now in such circumstances as they were in formerly, now doing to them as they then wished to be done to.Exodus 20:10 note.
stacks—or as it is rendered "shocks" (Jud 15:5; Job 5:26), means simply a bundle of loose sheaves.
nor oppress him; by taking his goods, as the above Targum, and so Jarchi; by refusing to assist him with advice or otherwise, to trade with him, or to give him lodging, and furnish him with the necessaries of life:
for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: out of which they were but just come, and therefore such a reason must be very striking and moving upon them: the Targum of Jonathan prefaces it,"and my people, the house of Israel, remember that ye were strangers, &c.''this they could not have forgot in so short a time, and the remembrance of this should move their compassion to strangers hereafter, when they came to settle in their own land; and therefore, as they would that men should have done to them when in such circumstances, the same they should do to others; and besides, the remembrance of this would serve to abate their pride and vanity, and their overbearing disposition.Thou shalt neither vex a stranger, nor oppress him: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)21. a sojourner shalt thou not wrong …; for ye were sojourners in the land of Egypt] The ‘sojourner’ (gêr), or resident foreigner (see on Exodus 12:48; and cf. Exodus 2:22, Exodus 20:10), had at this time no legal status in Israel, and was thus liable in many ways to injustice and oppression. With this injunction comp. Leviticus 19:33-34, Deuteronomy 1:16; Deuteronomy 10:18 f., and the other passages from Dt. and Jer. cited on v. 22; for allusions to the oppression of the gêr, see Ezekiel 22:7; Ezekiel 22:29, Malachi 3:5.
wrong] Heb. hônâh; cf. Leviticus 19:33 (‘oppress’), also of the gêr.
oppress] lit. crush (Numbers 22:25): fig. of external oppressors, Jdg 2:8 al.; as here, only Exodus 23:9 besides.
for ye were sojourners, &c.] The same motive, in exactly the same words, in Exodus 23:9, Leviticus 19:34 (H), Deuteronomy 10:19. For the cognate verb cased of the ‘sojourn’ in Egypt, see Genesis 12:10 (of Abraham), Exodus 6:4, Deuteronomy 26:5, Isaiah 52:4, Psalm 105:12.
21–27. A group of humanitarian laws. The gêr, or resident foreigner, the widow, and the orphan not to be oppressed, vv. 21–24; interest not to be taken from the poor, v. 25; a garment taken in pledge to be returned before nightfall, vv. 26 f.Verse 21. - Law against oppression of foreigners. It may be doubted whether such a law as this was ever made in any other country. Foreigners are generally looked upon as "fair game," whom the natives of a country may ridicule and annoy at their pleasure. Native politeness gives them an exceptional position in France; but elsewhere it is the general rule to "vex" them. The Mosaic legislation protested strongly against this practice (Exodus 23:9; Leviticus 19:33), and even required the Israelites to "love the stranger who dwelt with them as themselves" (Leviticus 19:34). For ye were strangers. Compare Leviticus 19:34, and Deuteronomy 10:19. In Exodus 23:9 the addition is made - "For ye know the heart of a stranger" - ye know; i.e., the feelings which strangers have when they are vexed and oppressed - ye know this by your own sad experience, and should therefore have a tenderness for strangers.
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