Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Self-Harmony of the Bible - 4 (Part Three)

Were Foreigners to Follow God’s Laws?
            Exodus 12:49 (NWT) taken by itself gives the rather “clear” command: “One law will apply for the native and for the foreigner who is residing among you.” This command is further backed up, as it seems, by Leviticus 18:26 (NWT), which says: “But you yourselves must keep my statutes and my judicial decisions, and you must not do any of these detestable things, whether a native or a foreigner who is residing among you.” Therefore, after “affirming” his case that the “one law,” or Mosaic Law was incumbent upon non-Israelites as well, the skeptic astonishes us by Deuteronomy 14:21. It (NWT) says: “You must not eat any animal that was found dead. You may give it to the foreign resident who is inside your cities, and he may eat it, or it may be sold to a foreigner. For you are a holy people to Jehovah your God.”
            However, we must first remove Exodus 12:49 from his evidence, for that concerns the law of the Passover. In some regard, while not a literal rendering, I prefer how the New Living Translation renders that verse, namely: “This instruction applies to everyone,” for it makes clear what is implicitly there, that that instruction was not meant in regard to the entire Mosaic Law, but to the specific instructions for the Passover. Further, we note that Exodus 12:48 (NIV) says: “A foreigner residing among you who wants to celebrate the LORD’s Passover must have all the males in his household circumcised; then he may take part like one born in the land. No uncircumcised male may eat it.” So, we see that the meaning of “foreigner” is not the same in all places. Foreigners did not have to keep the Passover, but some wanted to, so they had to meet the same requirements as the native Israelites; they had to join Jehovah’s people, and by doing so they formed part of Israel, who were under the Law.
            What of Leviticus 18:26? We could reasonably say that the foreigners addressed were only ones who joined themselves to Israel. Or, perhaps because of the moral, rather than ritualistic nature of the specific commands in that context (for example, the prohibition of incest) they applied to those who lived in the land of Israel, even if they had not joined themselves to Israel. However, Deuteronomy 14:21 lets those who had not joined themselves to Israel to eat of forbidden foods, something that Leviticus 18:26 did not forbid. In all, we have established that there is no contradiction. a

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