Were ancient territorial borders taken seriously and was national sovereignty recognized? The answer is emphatically “yes.” Not only were wars fought to establish and settle border disputes, borders were vigorously defended, and battles occurred when a neighboring state violated another’s territory. So, national boundaries were normally honored.
Edom’s refusal to allow Israel to pass, even with Israel paying a Toll, was out of keeping w/ the socially accepted custom of offering hospitality to strangers in the ancient and modern Middle East. Still, it is worth noting that even a traveler — a foreigner — passing through the territory of another had to obtain permission to do so.
These episodes demonstrate clearly that nations could and did control their borders and determined who could pass through their land.
On the individual, family, and clan level, property was owned and boundaries established. Personal property and fields were delineated by landmarks — stone markers of some sort. For this reason, the Mosaic law prohibited the removal of landmarks. (Dt. 19:14, 27:17).
So the sense of National boundaries was merely an extension of the reality of property owned by individual, family and clan. During the period of the divided Kingdom (8th cent. BC) the prophet Hosea decried the leaders of Judah for seizing territory of her sister kingdom Israel by taking their boundary stones. (Job 24:2).
So we see that nation states, large and small in the Biblical world were clearly delineated by borders. These were often defended by large forts and military outposts. Countries since biblical times have had the right to clearly established borders that they controlled and were recognized by surrounding Governments.
The borders of countries were respected, and minor skirmishes and even wars followed when people and armies of one nation violated the territory of their neighbor.
All this meant that nations, including Israel had the right to clearly established secure borders and could determine who could and could not enter their land.
Cities and municipalities who offer sanctuary for illegal aliens do so without the support of Biblical law. Because Biblical sanctuary was only intended to allow the innocent party to get a fair hearing and trial, and not for the purpose of sheltering lawbreakers… Cities that provide a safe haven for illegal immigrants, while intending it to be a gesture of justice, are in fact misappropriating Biblical law.
James K. Hoffmeier
The Immigration Crisis — pg. 185
After finishing off one of my wife’s Christmas gifts to me — The Immigration Crisis by James Hoffmeier — I am confirmed in my intuition that the push for Amnesty as it is currently shaped is unbiblical and anti-Christian. Hoffmeier proves that a State is under no compulsion to have a generous immigration policy and does have a responsibility to protect its borders –just as States did even in the Old Testament. The texts used by leftist Christian organizations like Sojourners are ripped out of their context in order to guilt the laity into thinking being a good Christian means disinheriting one’s self and children.
The book of Joshua goes into great detail about the allocation of the territories of the Promised land to the tribes of Israel but the ger (resident Alien) did not receive their own allotment. The Ger (resident Alien — perhaps our equivalent of a perpetual Green card holder) could receive social benefits (i.e. — gleaning rights, a portion of the third year tithes) but they could never own land and so they forever would remain ger.
The resident alien (ger) in Israel was never so integrated and assimilated into the Israeli social order that the distinction between citizen born and alien evaporated. The resident alien (ger) was held to the same law, could become part of the worship cult BUT they were always known as distinct from Israeli born. Hence they are continuously referred to as ger (stranger).
So there was continuity between the native born Israeli and the ger but there was discontinuity as well.
In short the ger (stranger) would always be known as “other.”
In the Old Testament the alien (ger) was a person who entered Israel and followed legal procedures to obtain recognized standing as a resident alien. Hence ger (alien) is the term for legal immigrants. However, the ger (legal immigrants) in the OT were still distinct from those who were permanent residents (citizens). In the OT then there is a distinction between the alien (ger) the foreigner (nekhar or zar) and the permanent residents of the Israeli tribes.
One advocacy group for Amnesty, “Christians for Comprehensive immigration Reform, on the leftist Sojourners website quotes Leviticus 19:33,
“And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not oppress him.” But the stranger that dwelleth with you, shall be as one of yourselves …”
And then based on this Scripture they declare, ‘we are working together to revive comprehensive immigration reform as soon as possible, because we share a set of common morals and theological principles, that compel us to love and care for strangers among us.’
This statement begs the question, does the word ‘ger’ (i.e., — alien, sojourner, stranger) aply to immigrants regardless of their legal standing? If people like the leftist Sojourners are going to cite Biblical passages to legitimatize their position, especially passages that deal with ger (aliens), it is imperative to know what the OT meant by the term ger. By misinterpreting (ger) much of the Christian church today as been lulled into a false position on Amnesty and immigration.