Leviticus 19:33-34 Meaning of When a Foreigner Resides among You in Your Land

Leviticus 19:33-34
“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

Explanation and Commentary of Leviticus 19:33-34

God took special care to see that his people treated foreigners with love and mercy. His rationale to them was that they too had been strangers and were oppressed in Egypt. They ought not to treat others in the same way, but should instead bless them and care for them, even treating them as though they were native-born.

The theme of sojourning runs all the way through the Bible. We are to consider our home in heaven with God, and the earth is a temporary sojourn (1 Pt 2:11). As strangers we have been built into a community, the Church, that will grow by welcoming other strangers. Love for our neighbor is extended to the stranger when they become our neighbor.

Governments, who are separated from the Church, have to decide what kinds of protections are needed for borders and the citizens within them. Christians, whenever they are able to participate in seeing that “foreigners” are treated well, are behooved to do so.

Breaking Down the Key Parts of Leviticus 19:33-34

#1 “Whenever a foreigner resides among you in your land,”
It is a given that people will be displaced for various reasons in this fallen world. Often this happens because of wars and famine. A foreigner, therefore, will often arrive distressed and in need of hospitality and refuge.

#2 “do not mistreat them.”
In our sin, our inclination is to fear the other. We love ourselves and love anyone who is like us. Anyone who is very different is a threat to our self-love, and we are apt to mistreat them. God warns that he will not tolerate this.

#3 “The foreigner residing among you must be treated as a native-born.”
This is a command to treat the stranger well, but it does also give some foundation to the idea that if someone comes into your land, then they should assimilate to a certain degree to the place they have come to live. At any rate, they should be allowed to participate in society along with those born there.

#4 “Love them as yourself,”
This is the antidote to the self-love that leads to hatred and is the same as the second great commandment to “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mk 12:31), and the golden rule (Mt 7:12). It is truly a practical way to love God.

#5 “for you were foreigners in Egypt.”
God grounds this command in the sojourn experience for the Israelites enslaved in Egypt. For the Christian, we were enslaved by satan (Ro 6:20-22) in the dominion of darkness, and we, in fact, still dwell in enemy territory, though within the refuge of the Church.

#6 “I am the Lord your God.”
God powerfully ends the command with the reminder that the one who commands them is the God of the universe and is to be obeyed. None of God’s commands are suggestions, but laws to be kept.

This extraordinary 8-minute video will make you an expert on the book of Leviticus.

Biblical Translations of Leviticus 19:33-34

NIV
“When a foreigner resides among you in your land, do not mistreat them. The foreigner residing among you must be treated as your native-born. Love them as yourself, for you were foreigners in Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

NLT
“Do not take advantage of foreigners who live among you in your land. Treat them like native-born Israelites, and love them as you love yourself. Remember that you were once foreigners living in the land of Egypt. I am the Lord your God.”

ESV
“When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

KJV
“And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him. But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

NKJV
“And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.”

Leviticus 19:33-34 Meaning

Author Bio
Natalie Regoli is a child of God, devoted wife, and mother of two boys. She has a Masters Degree in Law from The University of Texas. Natalie has been published in several national journals and has been practicing law for 18 years. If you would like to reach out to contact Natalie, then go here to send her a message.