Sacred Christian Texts

The following list of texts referring to immigrants and refugees come from the UCC website. As stated on the UCC website, all the texts are from the New Revised Standard Version. Furthermore, please note: the listing of passages from sacred or religious texts is not intended to string along such texts to serve as “proof texts” on the issue of immigration, rather it is simply to show that the issue is present within the scriptures. All passages should be read with contextualization of the text and the reader in mind.  I also linked the passages to the United Nations INTERNATIONAL MIGRANTS BILL OF RIGHTS.   

Biblical Story

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Hebrew Bible

Causes of Human Mobility

Genesis 3:22–24 [3:1–24, the first “sin” and its punishment] – Divine “forced” expulsion of humans out of the Garden.

 

Genesis 7–8 [the flood and the flood subsidies]– Noah takes “refuge” from a natural disaster (flood).

 

Genesis 12:1 [12:1–9, the call of Abram] – The Divine calls on Abram to leave country to another land (migration associated with expansion) “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you.” 

Genesis 12:10 [12:10–20, Abram and Sari in Egypt] – Natural disaster (famine) leads Abram to leave for Egypt, “Now there was a famine in the land. So Abram went down to Egypt to reside there as an alien, for the famine was severe in the land.”

 

Genesis 19: 24–26 [Gen. 19, the story of Sodom] – “Internally Displaced Persons” . . . Lot and family flee Sodom from Divine violence (“sulfur and fire from heaven”).

Genesis 23:4 [Gen. 23, Sarah’s death and burial] – Abraham is a stranger (tôšab) and an alien (gēr) in the land of Canaan (life as a foreigner) 

Genesis 46:1–7 [46, Jacob brings his family to Egypt] – Jacob moves his family to Egypt to escape the famine (45:3) and reunite with Joseph (fleeing disaster and reunification of family members).

Genesis 47:1–6 [46:28–47:12, Jacob settles in Goshen] – Pharaoh welcomes Joseph’s father and brothers and give them land and jobs – “We come to reside [sojourn] as aliens (gūr) in the land . . ..” (47:4) (fleeing disaster, reunification of family members, and every person has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before God)

How "People on the Move" ought to be treated

Exodus 1:8–14 [1:8–22, Israelites are oppressed] – The new Egyptian King fears the Israelites and oppresses them. “Come let us deal shrewdly with them, or they will increase and, in the event of war, join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land” (Ex. 1:10).  Fear of the Other…. Equal protection (see article 3, equal protection, of the IMBR).

Exodus 1:15–2:10 [Israelites are oppressed and the birth and youth of Moses] – Pharaoh orders all the Hebrew male babies to be killed, but Moses is hidden and is saved by Pharaoh’s daughter.  Inherent right to life (see article 5, life, of the IMBR).

Exodus 12:31–39 [Ex. 12:29–42, tenth plaque/ death of the firstborn and the exodus from Rameses to Succoth] – After the Divine struck down all the first born in Egypt, the Israelites were driven out of Egypt and journeyed from Rameses to Succoth. (see article 11, expulsion, of the IMBR).

Exodus 12:49 [12:43–50, directions of the Passover] and Leviticus 24:22 [24:10–23, the festival of weeks] “There shall be one law for the native and for the alien who resides among you.”  (see article 3, equal protection, and article 9, due process, of the IMBR).

Exodus 22:21 [22:16–31, social and religious laws] – Moses speaks on social and religious laws: “You shall not wrong or oppress a resident alien; for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.” (see article 3, equal protection, of the IMBR).

Leviticus 19:9–10 [chapter 19, ritual and moral holiness] and 23:22 [23:15–22, the festival of weeks] Moses gives law in the context of the Festival of Weeks: – Moses gives God’s law: “You shall not strip your vineyards bare…leave them for the poor and the alien.”  (see article 2, human dignity, of the IMBR)

Leviticus 19:33–34 [chapter 19] and 24:22 [24:10–23, blasphemy and its punishment] “When the alien resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the alien. The alien who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the alien as yourself, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” (see article 2, human dignity, and article 3, equal protection, of the IMBR)

Leviticus 25:23 [25:8–55, the year of jubilee] – Moses speaks to social and religious laws: “With me you are but aliens and tenants.” (see article 12, asylum, of the IMBR)

Numbers 9:14 [9:1–14, the Passover at Sinai] and 15:15–16 [chapter 15, various offerings] – “…you shall have one statute for both the resident alien and the native.” (see article 3, equal protection, of the IMBR) (issues of assimilation; contra article 23, culture, of the IMBR)

Numbers 35:9–12 [chapter 35, cities of refuge] and Joshua 20 [cities of refuge] – Establishment of cities of refuge.  Moses give cities of refuge to the Levites so that when the Israelites must flee into Canaan they may have cities of refuge given to them. (see article 12, asylum, of the IMBR). 

Memory of a Common or Ancestral Experience, Labor, Human Dignity, Protection

Deuteronomy 1:16 [1:9–18, appointments of the tribal leaders] “Give the members of your community a fair hearing, and judge rightly between one person and another, whether citizen or resident alien.” (see article 9, Due Process, of the IMBR). 

Deuteronomy 6:10–13 [6:10–25, caution against disobedience] The people of Israel are made aware that the land had come to them as a gift from God and they were to remember that they were once aliens. (re: prompts a memory of a common or ancestral experience celebrating the redemptive powers of chosenness). 

Deuteronomy 10:18–19 [10:12–22, the essence of the law] “For the Lord your God...loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.” (see article 2, human dignity; article 5, life; and 7, legal personhood, of the IMBR).

Deuteronomy 14:28–29 [14:22–29, regulations concerning tithes] and 26: 12–13 [26:1–15, first fruits and tithes] –Tithing was begun, in part, for resident aliens. (see article 5, life, of the IMBR). 

Deuteronomy 24:14 [24:5–22, laws concerning marriage and divorce] “You shall not withhold the wages of poor and needy laborers, whether other Israelites or aliens who reside in your land...” (see article 20, labor, of the IMBR)

Deuteronomy 24:17-18 [24:1–22, laws concerning marriage and divorce] – “You shall not deprive a resident alien...of justice…. Remember that you were a slave in Egypt” (see article 20, labor; and prompts a memory of a common or ancestral experience celebrating the redemptive powers of chosenness)

Deuteronomy 24:19-22 [24:1–22, laws concerning marriage and divorce] – Leave sheaf, olives, grapes for the alien, the orphan, and the widow. (see article 2, human dignity; article 5, life; prompts a memory of a common or ancestral experience celebrating the redemptive powers of chosenness)

Deuteronomy 26:5 [26:1–15, first fruits and tithes] – A wandering Aramean was my ancestor… (re: prompts a memory of a common or ancestral experience celebrating the redemptive powers of chosenness)

Deuteronomy 27:19 [27: 11–26, twelve curses] “Cursed be anyone who deprives the alien…of justice.” (see the entire IMBR). 

I Chronicles 22:1-2 [ 22, David prepares to build the Temple]– Aliens were important in building the temple under David. (see article 20, labor, of the IMBR)

I Chronicles 29:14-15 [29:10–22, David praises God (offerings for building the Temple]: “We are aliens and transients before you…” re: prompts a memory of a common or ancestral experience celebrating the redemptive powers of chosenness)

II Chronicles 2:17-18 [2, preparations for building the Temple] – Solomon took a census of all the aliens and assigned them work. (see article 7, legal personhood; see article 20, labor, of the IMBR).

Psalm 105:12–13 [105, God’s faithfulness to Israel] – Remembering their sojourn: “When they were few in number, of little account, and strangers in it, wandering from nation to nation, from one kingdom to another people,...” (re: prompts a memory of a common or ancestral experience celebrating the redemptive powers of chosenness)

Psalm 137:1-6 [137:1– 9, lament over the destruction of Jerusalem] – “By the rivers of Babylon, there we sat down and wept…How could we sing the Lord’s song in a foreign land?” (re: prompts a memory of a common or ancestral experience celebrating the redemptive powers of chosenness)

Psalm 146:9 [146:1–10, praise for God’s help] – “The Lord watches over the strangers…” (see article 2, human dignity, of the IMBR)

Ecclesiastes 4:1 [4:1–8, judgement and the future belong to God]– “Look, the tears of the oppressed—with no one to comfort them.” (see IMBR).

Protection

Isaiah 16:4 [16, an oracle concerning Moab] – Be a refuge to the outcasts of Moab. (see article 2, human dignity; article 3, equal protection, of the IMBR; welcoming the outcasts).

Jeremiah 7:5-7 [7:1–15, Jeremiah proclaims God’s judgement on the nation] – “If you do not oppress the alien…then I will dwell with you in this place…” (see article 3, equal protection, of the IMBR; re: migrant labor has contributed significantly to economic growth)

Jeremiah 22:3-5 [22:1–10, exhortation to repent] – Do no wrong or violence to the alien (see article 3, equal protection, of the IMBR)

Ezekiel 47:21-22 [47:13–23, new boundaries of the land]– The aliens shall be to you as citizens, and shall also be allotted an inheritance. (see article 14, nationality, of the IMBR)

Zechariah 7:8-10 [7:8–14, punishment for rejecting God’s demands] – Do not oppress the alien. (see IMBR)

Malachi 3:5 [3:1–6, the coming messenger]– The messenger will bear witness against those who thrust aside the alien. (see article 3, equal protection, of the IMBR

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New Testament

Fear of Persecution 

Matthew 2:13-15 [2, infancy narrative]– Jesus and parents flee to Egypt to escape Herod’s search for the child (re: the many who flee their homes for fear of persecution or death)

Matthew 5:10-11 [5, the beatitudes] – “Blessed are those who are persecuted.” (re: the many who flee their homes for fear of persecution or death)

Human Dignity: Treatment

(Matthew 25:35–36 [25: 31-46, judgement of the nations] – “…I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” (see article 4, vulnerable migrants, of the IMRB)

Luke 3:11 [3, proclamation of John the Baptist] – “Whoever has two coats must share with anyone who has none…” (see article 2, human dignity, of the IMBR)

Luke 4:16-21 [4:16–30, Jesus in synagogue] – “…Bring good news to the poor…release to the captives…sight to the blind...let the oppressed go free.” (see article 2, human dignity, of the IMBR)

Romans 12:13 [12:9–21, mark of the true Christian] “…Extend hospitality to strangers…” (see article 2, human dignity, of the IMBR)

II Corinthians 8:13-15 [8:1–15, encouragement to be generous] – “It is a question of a fair balance between your present abundance and their need…” (see article 2, human dignity, of the IMBR)

Ephesians 2:11-22 [one in Christ] – “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God.” (see article 15, family, of the IMBR)

Push/Pull

Hebrews 11 [the meaning of faith/faith of past heroes]– “By faith Abraham…set out for a place…not knowing where he was going.” (re: a memory serving to legitimate movement and a memory pulling by the divine/yearning for inheritance).

Human Dignity: Treatment

Hebrews 13:1-2 [13, service well-pleasing to God/ethical injunctions] – “…show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels…” (see article IMBR)

James 2:5 [2, warning against partiality] – “Has not God chosen the poor in the world…” (see article 4, vulnerable migrants, of the IMBR)

James 2:14-17 [2:14–26, faith without works is dead] – “What good is it…if you say you have faith but do not have works?” (see IMBR)

I John 3:18 [3:11–24, love one another]: – “…Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.” (see IMBR)

I John 4:7-21[4:7–21, God is love]  – “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God…” We love because God first loved us.” (see IMBR)