Who is my Neighbor? Leviticus 19:18 and 34

Leviticus 19 contains variations of the phrase “I am the LORD” 16 times.  R. K. Harrison divides the ethical teachings into 16 paragraphs based on that phrase.  The first 4 (v 2-10) are primarily religious, the second 4 (v. 11-18) are about treating your neighbor rightly, and the third set of 8 (v. 19-37) are miscellaneous.

First observation is that there is some similarity with the 10 Commandments, though the order is not followed (See Exodus 20).  Another is that these precepts are much like the 30 sayings of the Wise found in Proverbs 22:17-24:30.

but what is most interesting is that we find the Second Greatest Commandment (cited by Jesus in Matthew 22:34ff) here in Leviticus 19:18

 You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

So love, an attitude and actions, for which neither is enough without the other, is commanded for the neighbor. 

And should we think that our neighbor is only the person who is enough like me to live where I live, and not those others, glance down to Lev 19:34

 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.

So there is a command to love your neighbor, who is like you, as well as the Alien, those who have moved here from other places, as well as the Sojourner, that is the person who is passing through or taking refuge in your land.

Luke 11:25ff records a discussion between Jesus and an expert in the scriptures.  As they discuss the question of “Who is my neighbor?”  The expert would like that to be a limited category – the people like me.  Jesus applied it to the Samaritan – and went further and showed that this foreigner was more abiding by the law, by showing mercy, than the expert in the law before him.

It raises a question for Christians about aliens, immigrants and illegals who live among us.  Who are we to love?  and How?   



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