A reflection on what the bible says about refugees for Refugee Sunday.
The Painting above is by Naser Moradi a refugee living in Broadmeadows Detention Centre. See his work here.
Follow this link to an article listing many of the refugee characters in the bible including the passages that describe their displacement.
Here are a some of the passages referring to refugees in the bible:
GER (plural GERIM) is a Hebrew word variously translated Alien, Stranger, Sojourner, Foreigner. I have rendered it as “Refugee” in the following verses.
There shall be one law for the native and for the refugee who resides among you.
You shall not wrong or oppress a resident refugee, for you were refugees in the land of Egypt.
You shall not oppress a refugee; you know the heart of a refugee, for you were refugees in the land of Egypt.
When a refugee resides with you in your land, you shall not oppress the refugee. The refugee who resides with you shall be to you as the citizen among you; you shall love the refugee as yourself, for you were refugees in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.
When you reap the harvest of your land, you shall not reap to the very edges of your field, or gather the gleanings of your harvest; you shall leave them for the poor and for the refugee: I am the Lord your God.
you shall have one statute for both the resident refugee and the native.
God executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and loves the refugees, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the refugee, for you were refugees in the land of Egypt.
You shall not withhold the wages of poor and needy laborers, whether other Israelites or refugees who reside in your land in one of your towns.
You shall not deprive a resident refugee or an orphan of justice; you shall not take a widow’s garment in pledge. Remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this.
When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be left for the refugee, the orphan, and the widow, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all your undertakings. When you beat your olive trees, do not strip what is left; it shall be for the refugee, the orphan, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, do not glean what is left; it shall be for the refugee, the orphan, and the widow. Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I am commanding you to do this.
Cursed be anyone who deprives the refugee, the orphan, and the widow of justice. All the people shall say, “Amen!”
O Lord, how long shall the wicked,
how long shall the wicked exult?
They pour out their arrogant words;
all the evildoers boast.
They crush your people, O Lord,
and afflict your heritage.
They kill the widow and the refugee,
they murder the orphan,
and they say, “The Lord does not see;
the God of Jacob does not perceive.”
Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob,
whose hope is in the Lord their God,
who made heaven and earth,
the sea, and all that is in them;
who keeps faith forever;
who executes justice for the oppressed;
who gives food to the hungry.
The Lord sets the prisoners free;
the Lord opens the eyes of the blind.
The Lord lifts up those who are bowed down;
the Lord loves the righteous.
The Lord watches over the refugees;
he upholds the orphan and the widow,
but the way of the wicked he brings to ruin.
For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, if you do not oppress the refugee, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors forever and ever.
Ezekiel 22:6-7, 12
The princes of Israel in you, everyone according to his power, have been bent on shedding blood. Father and mother are treated with contempt in you; the refugee residing within you suffers extortion; the orphan and the widow are wronged in you… and you have forgotten me, says the Lord God.
Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be swift to bear witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hired workers in their wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the refugee, and do not fear me, says the Lord of hosts.
The word of the Lord came to Zechariah, saying: Thus says the Lord of hosts: Render true judgments, show kindness and mercy to one another; do not oppress the widow, the orphan, the refugee, or the poor; and do not devise evil in your hearts against one another. But they refused to listen, and turned a stubborn shoulder, and stopped their ears in order not to hear.
Then the king will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, you that are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’
Let mutual love continue. Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing that some have entertained angels without knowing it. Remember those who are in prison, as though you were in prison with them; those who are being tortured, as though you yourselves were being tortured.