Date of Award
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
The Hebrew Bible recounts the development of Israel’s self-identity as “Strangers and Sojourners” and their relationship with God and other Strangers. A significant passage that connects these relationships says that God “loves the Strangers…You shall also love the Stranger, for you were Strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deut 10:17-19). In the same book that commands love for the Stranger, God tells Israel to separate themselves from foreign nations in the land that they will occupy. In order to investigate an evident disparity concerning the relationship with the Stranger, this dissertation examines the literary motif of the Stranger and the theme of God’s love for the Stranger in the Torah/Pentateuch, as well as the Book of Ruth, by looking at the different representations of the Stranger and how the motif developed with both positive (gēr) and negative implications (nēkār, and zār). The love command in Deuteronomy 10:17-19 specifically concerns the Stranger who is a sojourner (gēr), evoking Israel’s collective memory as sojourners in order to inspire their empathy and compassion. On the other hand, the Stranger who is foreign (nēkār) evokes fear and enmity. The Book of Ruth acts as a commentary on the negative perceptions of the foreigner in the Torah/Pentatuech by serving as an example of love from a Stranger. Ruth gives new meaning to the love command by broadening the sphere of compassion to include the Strangers who are traditionally viewed as foreign threats or enemies. While other research generally focuses on a particular form of the Stranger, this study expands on the research by examining the occurrences of all three forms (gēr, nēkār, and zār) in order to understand the different levels of meaning connected to the Stranger and how that meaning is dependent on the historical context of the literature, the rhetorical and theological interests of the final redactors, and the methods of interpretation by later readers.