Sojourners

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 This is a study I am doing on the word גֵּר, H1731. (Gur) Translated Sojourner. 

Sojourner” is the frequent translation of the Hebrew term gēr (Hebrew gēr [גר]; plural gērīm [גרים]). This Hebrew term and its translation convey the basic idea that a person (or group) is residing, either temporarily or permanently, in a community and place that is not primarily their own and is dependent on the “good-will” of that community for their continued existence. When the children of Israel left Egypt the Bible records that about 600,000 men besides women and children left. Not all of them were Israelites. Many Egyptians (and perhaps other foreigners) went with them because the God of Israel demonstrated that He was more powerful that the gods of the Egyptians.

The gentiles living among Israel were referred to as Gerim or sojourners. The sojourner in Israel enjoyed many privileges, a position unparalleled in early legal systems which were usually far from favorable to strangers. Because the sojourner was at a natural disadvantage, he became favored under legislation which was designed to protect the weak and helpless Leviticus 19:33When a resident foreigner lives with you in your land, you must not oppress him. Deuteronomy 10:18. He is doing the judgment of fatherless and widow, and loving the sojourner, to give to him bread and raiment.

The historical circumstances were such as to render the position of the resident alien important from the first. A “mixed multitude” went up with the Israelites from Egypt, and after the conquest there were Israelites and sojourners living side by side throughout the country.

Resident aliens (sojourners) are repeatedly mentioned in the historical books; there was a large number in the days of Solomon, apparently the remnant of conquered tribes. In nationality such persons followed the father.

Legally, the gēr had many privileges. The Israelites must not oppress him Exodus 22:21 And a sojourner thou dost not oppress, nor crush him, for sojourners ye have been in the land of Egypt. In fact, they were to love him Deut.10:19 And ye have loved the sojourner, for sojourners ye were in the land of Egypt. The gleanings of the vineyard and harvest field were to be left for him Leviticus 19:10 and thy vineyard thou dost not glean, even the omitted part of thy vineyard thou dost not gather, to the poor and to the sojourner thou dost leave them; I [am] YHVH your God Deut.24:19 Whenever you reap your harvest in your field and leave some unraked grain there,[a] you must not return to get it; it should go to the resident foreigner, orphan, and widow so that the Lord your God may bless all the work you do. 20 When you beat your olive tree you must not repeat the procedure; the remaining olives belong to the resident foreigner, orphan, and widow. 21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard you must not do so a second time; they should go to the resident foreigner, orphan, and widow.

He was included in the provision made in the cities of refuge (Num 35:15; Josh 20:9). Although most legal provisions regard the gēr as poor, some apparently became wealthy (Lev 25:47ff.; Deut. 28:43).

Religiously, nearly all the main holy days applied to the gēr. He was to rest on the Sabbath Exodus 20:10 But the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God; on it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, or your male servant, or your female servant, or your cattle, or the resident foreigner who is in your gates.

The sojourner was to rejoice on Feasts of Weeks and Tabernacles Deut. 16:13 “You shall keep the Feast of Booths seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and your winepress. 14 You shall rejoice in your feast, you and your son and your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow who are within your towns. 15 For seven days you shall keep the feast to the LORD your God at the place that the LORD will choose, because the LORD your God will bless you in all your produce and in all the work of your hands, so that you will be altogether joyful. to observe the Day of Atonement to have no leaven on the Festival of Unleavened Bread Exodus 12:19 There shall be no yeast found in your houses for seven days, for whoever eats that which is leavened, that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is foreigner, or one who is born in the land. 

(Leviticus 23:39–43

On the fifteenth day of this seventh month and for seven days is the Feast of Tabernacles to the LORD. On the first day shall be a holy convocation; you shall not do any ordinary work. For seven days you shall present food offerings to the LORD. On the eighth day you shall hold a holy convocation and present a food offering to the LORD. It is a solemn assembly; you shall not do any ordinary work.

[…]On the fifteenth day of the seventh month, when you have gathered in the produce of the land, you shall celebrate the feast of the LORD seven days. On the first day shall be a solemn rest, and on the eighth day shall be a solemn rest. And you shall take on the first day the fruit of splendid trees, branches of palm trees and boughs of leafy trees and willows of the brook, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God seven days. . . . You shall dwell in booths for seven days. All native Israelites shall dwell in booths, that your generations may know that I made the people of Israel dwell in booths when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God. (Leviticus 23:39–43) This scripture seems to indicate that the sojourner was not required to dwell in booths, only the native Israelites. But resting on the first and eighth days and celebrating with food seems to apply.

He was not compelled to keep the Passover but was permitted to do so if circumcised first Exodus 12:48 48 If a stranger shall sojourn with you and would keep the Passover to the Lord, let all his males be circumcised. Then he may come near and keep it; he shall be as a native of the land. But no uncircumcised person shall eat of it. Deuteronomy 16:5–7 

Deuteronomy 16:5-7 “You are not allowed to sacrifice the Passover in any of your towns which YHVH your Elohim is giving you; 6 but at the place where YHVH your Elohim chooses to establish His name, you shall sacrifice the Passover in the evening at sunset, at the time that you came out of Egypt. 7 “You shall cook and eat it in the place which YHVH your Elohim chooses. In the morning you are to return to your tents. It would appear that unless you can sacrifice a male lamb of the first year without blemish in Jerusalem them you must not celebrate the passover. This is clearly why God does not require it of us.

The feast of unleavened bread is generally mistaken for passover. Passover is only one 24 hour period while the feast of unleavened bread lasts for seven days. Exodus 12:18-19 Therefore you shall observe this day, throughout your generations, as a statute forever. In the first month, from the fourteenth day of the month at evening, you shall eat unleavened bread until the twenty-first day of the month at evening. For seven days no leaven is to be found in your houses. If anyone eats what is leavened, that person will be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he is a sojourner or a native of the land. You shall eat nothing leavened; in all your dwelling places you shall eat unleavened bread. The sojourner here seems to be required to abstain from all leavened foods for the entire seven days of the feast.

He might not eat blood. This was reemphasized in the book of Acts “For it seemed good to the Holy Spirit, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things: that you abstain from things offered to idols, from blood, from things strangled, and from sexual immorality. If you keep yourselves from these, you will do well” (Acts 15:29).

He might offer sacrifices Leviticus 22:18 “Speak to Aaron, and to his sons, and to all the children of Israel, and say to them, ‘Whoever is of the house of Israel, or of the foreigners in Israel, who offers his offering, whether it is any of their vows or any of their free will offerings, which they offer to Yahweh for a burnt offering. Since the temple was destroyed and the Levitical priesthood is no more the system of sacrifices has been done away with and no longer applies to the sojourner.

In this study I have endeavored to lay out the portions of the Torah that apply to us that are not native Israelites yet follow the commandments of YHVH. Of course the Ten Commandments are the foundation and also always apply. This is strictly speaking, my own opinion arrived at by my study of the scriptures and through reading the opinions of others that I respect. Please do your own research and pray for guidance before accepting anyones interpretation.

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