There's a real problem with how people interpret/translate the word גר Ger as it appears in the Bible, for example in the most recent Parshat Shavua, Torah Portion of the Week, Mishpatim, Exodus 21-24.
וְגֵ֖ר לֹ֣א תִלְחָ֑ץ וְאַתֶּ֗ם יְדַעְתֶּם֙ אֶת־נֶ֣פֶשׁ הַגֵּ֔ר כִּֽי־גֵרִ֥ים הֱיִיתֶ֖ם בְּאֶ֥רֶץ מִצְרָֽיִם׃What did the writer of the Bible mean by גר Ger?
Exodus 23:9 You shall not oppress a stranger, for you know the feelings of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.
First of all, it wasn't a "convert," known today in Hebrew as a גר צדק, righteous ger. Four thousand 4,000 years ago there was no such thing as a formal conversion. The idea that someone "converts" to Judaism is much more recent. Even the iconic "conversion" of Ruth was no more than a statement of identification and oath to live and die according to however her mother-in-law Naomi does. People lived in clans and were expected to adopt the ways/religion/gods of the dominant clan.
A גר Ger, if modeled on how Yosef and Yaakov's family/clan lived in Egypt, was one of a clan that didn't follow the dominant religion/gods of the society. When Pharaoh invited Yaakov to live in Egypt, he set them up in a "ghetto" of sorts in Goshen. Pharaoh's Egypt wasn't a 20th century American melting pot, which encouraged assimilation into the dominant culture/society.
The גר Ger wasn't like modern immigrants; they were more nomadic. They followed the money and didn't own land. There was something intrinsically temporary about the life of a גר Ger.
Think about it, please. I'd like your reactions.
|I expect stormy reactions to this post.|