From alien to immigrant Created by pfranklyn on 5/26/2010 5:53:27 AM
The Hebrew word ger has several meanings in the Old Testament. In some contexts it is translated as foreigner or stranger or exile. In many contexts the translations from the mid-twentieth century used the word alien. The Common English Bible will often translate this word as immigrant, which is the most up-to-date meaning of gur or ger in the English language. After 50 years of space travel and science fiction films, the word alien has taken on new baggage: beings from outer space. Most are scary. ET was a gentle alien, but deeply feared by adults.
Even when we shift to the word immigrant, as you can see in the sample book of Genesis that is posted at this site online, we have not eliminated the fear that permeates our society when new waves of immigrants compete for resources with old waves of immigrants. Most of us are by nature xenophobic. We have a fear of strangers, provided that we got here first. This phobia is not eliminated by switching from alien to immigrant in our common language. But it does help the participants in the modern political debate to think about what the Bible has to say about the ger:
Gen 12: 10 When a famine struck the land, Abram went down toward Egypt to live as an immigrant since the famine was so severe in the land.
Gen 15:13 Then the Lord said to Abram, “Have no doubt that your children will live as immigrants in a land that isn’t their own.
Lev 19:33 When immigrants live in your land with you, you must not cheat them. Any immigrant who lives with you must be treated as if they were one of your citizens. You must love them as yourself because you were immigrants in the land of Egypt; I am the Lord your God.
Love a neighbor as yourself. Love an immigrant as yourself. It's a relevant translation.
~~ Paul Franklyn