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Holman Bible Dictionary


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A foreigner living in a community without relatives. People fleeing famine became aliens among the people where they settled. Thus Elijah was an alien in the home of the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:20 ; “to sojourn” is to be an alien). Isaac was an alien with Abimelech, the Philistine king (Genesis 26:3 ). War leaves refugees who become aliens (Isaiah 16:4 ). Compare 2 Samuel 4:3 . Levites, priests not given inheritance, are aliens (Deuteronomy 18:6 ). Accidents or crime could cause a person to leave home and become an alien. An alien stood between a person born in the community and a foreigner without any ties to the community. The alien could become a soldier, as did the Amalekite who killed Saul (2 Samuel 1:13 ). David gathered aliens to build God's house (1 Chronicles 22:2 ). As an alien in Sodom, Lot owned a house (Genesis 19:9 ). The patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) were aliens in Canaan, but owned large material resources (Genesis 20:1 ; Genesis 26:3 ; Genesis 32:5 ). The alien could worship God and was supposed to keep the Sabbath (Exodus 23:12 ; Deuteronomy 31:12 ). Israel had a special place for aliens, because Israel began history in Egypt as aliens (Exodus 23:9 ). Special laws provided food and clothing for aliens (Deuteronomy 24:19-20 ; Deuteronomy 26:12 ). Aliens had rights in the courtroom (Deuteronomy 24:17 ; Deuteronomy 27:19 ). The ritual expectations of the alien are not always clear (Deuteronomy 14:21 ; Leviticus 17:15 ). God loves aliens (Deuteronomy 10:19 ). They may observe Passover just as any Israelite (Numbers 9:14 ) and offer sacrifices (Leviticus 17:8 ). They should obey sexual laws (Leviticus 18:26 ). Unexpectedly, the prophets have little to say about aliens. See Jeremiah 7:6 ; Jeremiah 22:3 ; Ezekiel 22:7 ,Ezekiel 22:7,22:29 . Jeremiah does lament that God appears to be an alien (Jeremiah 14:8 ). The psalmist saw all people as aliens on earth (Psalm 39:13 ; Psalm 119:19 ). God owns the land (Leviticus 25:23 ). See Stranger .

Copyright Statement
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.

Bibliography Information
Butler, Trent C. Editor. Entry for 'Alien'. Holman Bible Dictionary. 1991.

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