Original Research - Special Collection: Eben Scheffler Festschrift

The ‘foreigner in our midst’ and the Hebrew Bible

Gerda de Villiers
HTS Teologiese Studies / Theological Studies | Vol 75, No 3 | a5108 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/hts.v75i3.5108 | © 2019 Gerda de Villiers | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 18 May 2018 | Published: 19 March 2019

About the author(s)

Gerda de Villiers, Department of Old Testament Studies, Faculty of Theology and Religion, University of Pretoria, South Africa


On account of xenophobia, which seems to be a worldwide phenomenon, this article examines the issue of the ‘foreigner in our midst’ and approaches the problem from an Old Testament perspective. Firstly an overview is given on the concepts of ethnicity and group identity, and then two opposing groups of texts are briefly analysed: those that convey an exclusivist attitude and those that are more open and inclusive in their outlook. Consequently, the contexts in which these texts originated are examined. It appears that both groups, the exclusivists and the inclusivists, share the same religious convictions, namely the worship of YHWH, the God of Israel. The article concludes by urging caution when using the Bible in order to address complex social and political issues in contemporary societies.


foreigner; Hebrew Bible; identity; ethnicity; boundaries; exclusive; inclusive; religion


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