Who was in the Exodus
The old testament spends allot of time making laws and rules about how to treat immigrants, foreigners, mixed crowd folks, or as the NRSV translates alien. Here is a non-comprehensive list a few declarative statements
- Exodus 22:21 Moses gives God’s law: “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien
- Leviticus 19:34 The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself
- Deuteronomy 1:16 Give the members of your community a fair hearing, and judge rightly between one person and another, whether citizen or resident alien.
- Deuteronomy 24:17 You shall not deprive a resident alien or an orphan of justice...
- Jeremiah 7:5-6 For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, if you do not oppress the alien..."
- Ezekiel 47:22 You shall allot it as an inheritance for yourselves and for the aliens who reside among you and have begotten children among you. They shall be to you as citizens of Israel; with you they shall be allotted an inheritance among the tribes of Israel.
- Malachi 3:5 Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, 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.
Here is a list of non-comprehensive thematic ideas about aliens
- Abraham and his covenant. (I wrote a blog on it)
- Lot and his family
- Jesus and his Parents Fled (Ask what your politics would to Jesus)
- and of course Exodus from Pharaoh (this blogs topic)
If a preacher wants to shout a chapter and verse after commenting that we must treat the immigrant as a citizen two problems seem to emerge. One is which verse to choose, or if you decide to list them all what else are you going to cut from your sermon. But I prefer to stick in one place, so let stick with Exodus 12.
I have to this point of the blog assumed that my readers know the story of Exodus. Exodus is the story of God's work in freeing people from slavery in Egypt. The first half centers around a man named Mosses who escaped a genocide as a child worked high up in the government in one of the biggest cities at the time, fled to a rural community for many years and returned as an old man to free the slaves. I was always told it was free to Isreal, but I now think that was misleading.
A mixed crowd also went up with them, and livestock in great numbers, both flocks and herds."-Exodus 12:38
Yes, I am stating it again, but OTHER PEOPLE joined in. Mosses freed Isreal and other people. But God was calling people to live differently. And He made a covenant with Abraham to bless the nations. Are these ideas contradicting, to live differently and to save other tribes? They aren't if the other tribes are given a way to join. If they can make themselves part of the tribe, even if they racially a different skin tone (circumcisions) or they have a culture guideline to follow (tradition and law). If they could, surely God's word would have these instructions very close to the story of freeing the mixed crowd.
.....10 verses later.....
48 If an alien who resides with you wants to celebrate the Passover to the Lord, all his males shall be circumcised; then he may draw near to celebrate it; he shall be regarded as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it; 49 there shall be one law for the native and for the alien who resides among you.
I think an entire blog is needed may be necessary to discuss circumcision, but for the sake of this blog, I will cut to the point...... (Pun Intended)
Circumcision was a tribal distinction that was attainable for any male. If you were not born in it, it would be tougher, but possible. If the tribe mark is blonde hair and blue eyed, then there may be no way to get in if you were not born that way. It is fair to look at this and see it as something not necessary, there is plenty of this in the New Testament to affirm this idea, but it not just a backward idea. If you had a multitude of tribes, of different races and families, and wanted to create a sense of unity, removing foreskin is a way to do that. There is a distinction to make the multitude of people, physically similar.
And then there is another statement, one of political inclusion. That there shall be the same law for natives as there is for aliens. Not only is there a way for the mixed group of people to join in physically, but legally there is no distinction. One law means one law. Foreigners and aliens get the same legality in rights and punishments as natives or citizens. God is God of all.
Exodus is a theme that is echoed through out the bible. If we see the exodus as a selective movement of God choosing just some of the people he loves two problems occur. First, you miss the story where a mixed group of people is saved. The second is you can conclude from the details that God elects only his chosen people. Missing this theme will support anti biblical ideas about theology and God such as Zionism or hyper neo-Calvinism.
Or we can see that there is a huge detail, God saves mixed people from slavery, not just the Jewish people. One of the first things after the freedom from pharaoh is how to get the mixed group in with the Jewish tribe. It about getting more people in, not just saving the favorites.
God wants to bless all the people of the earth and has set things up so we all could. After the resurrection of Jesus, the church speaks the truth in everyone's native tongue at Pentecost. We are all under the cross like we were all under the one law. And thankfully years later the Apostle Paul clears up the circumcision thing. Spoiler alert, we don't need it anymore to be int he tribe.