A foreigner living in a community without relatives. People fleeing famine became aliens among the people where they settled. Thus Elijah was an alien in the home of the widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:20; “to sojourn” is to be an alien). Isaac was an alien with Abimelech, the Philistine king (Genesis 26:3). War leaves refugees who become aliens (Isaiah 16:4). Compare
2 Samuel 4:3. Levites, priests not given inheritance, are aliens (Deuteronomy 18:6). Accidents or crime could cause a person to leave home and become an alien. An alien stood between a person born in the community and a foreigner without any ties to the community. The alien could become a soldier, as did the Amalekite who killed Saul (2 Samuel 1:13). David gathered aliens to build God's house (1 Chronicles 22:2). As an alien in Sodom, Lot owned a house (Genesis 19:9). The patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) were aliens in Canaan, but owned large material resources (Genesis 20:1;
Genesis 32:5). The alien could worship God and was supposed to keep the Sabbath (Exodus 23:12;
Deuteronomy 31:12). Israel had a special place for aliens, because Israel began history in Egypt as aliens (Exodus 23:9). Special laws provided food and clothing for aliens (Deuteronomy 24:19-20;
Deuteronomy 26:12). Aliens had rights in the courtroom (Deuteronomy 24:17;
Deuteronomy 27:19). The ritual expectations of the alien are not always clear (Deuteronomy 14:21;
Leviticus 17:15). God loves aliens (Deuteronomy 10:19). They may observe Passover just as any Israelite (Numbers 9:14) and offer sacrifices (Leviticus 17:8). They should obey sexual laws (Leviticus 18:26). Unexpectedly, the prophets have little to say about aliens. See
Ezekiel 22:7,Ezekiel 22:29. Jeremiah does lament that God appears to be an alien (Jeremiah 14:8). The psalmist saw all people as aliens on earth (Psalms 39:13;
Psalms 119:19). God owns the land (Leviticus 25:23). See Stranger.
These dictionary topics are from the Holman Bible Dictionary, published by Broadman & Holman, 1991. All rights reserved. Used by permission of Broadman & Holman.
Butler, Trent C. Editor.. "Entry for 'ALIEN'". "Holman Bible Dictionary".