Stranger Danger


Notes of Pastor Matthew Dyer

March 27, 2021

Scrripture Reading Genesis 15:13

There are several different Hebrew words that were translated as "stranger" in the Bible.  Here are the words by their Strong's Concordance numbers, pronunciations and general definitions.  Credit: Charles WeismanThis is going to be more of a Bible word study than a sermon this morning, but I think the subject matter is very important, because if one reads the Old Testament and doesn’t understand this word we are going to talk about this morning, one can get rather confused, and also see what seem to be contradictions in the scriptures.

The word we are going to look at this morning is going to be the word Stranger, or what has been translated as Stranger in English from the Hebrew in the Old Testament. I think maybe a good title for this message would be Stranger Danger, like the Neighborhood Watch program’s slogan. Because if one does not understand what the Hebrew word is being used when Stranger is translated in to English in the Old Testament, this person is in for some dangerous theological errors.

Let me give you some examples:

Genesis 15:13 says this:

"And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;”

So we see here that Abraham’s seed Israel, would be a Stranger.

Leviticus 22:12 says this:

“If the priest's daughter also be married unto a stranger, she may not eat of an offering of the holy things.”

This verse seems to condemn the Levites daughter being married to a stranger, just that she can’t eat of the holy things. That’s interesting.

Isaiah 1:7 says this:

“Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.”

Doesn’t sound like these strangers are very good does it?

Leviticus 19:34 says this:

“But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”

Now these strangers that devour the land, we are now to let in and love them as our own. Which is it then?

In case you didn’t know, those were all taken out of context, and are several Hebrew words translated Stranger.

It seems many people when they read the word Stranger in the Old Testament they assume it always means someone of another race or people genetically different then the Israelites. Sometimes it does, but most of the time it does not. People also assume the word Stranger always means the same thing. This is very far from the truth.

I have found even some folks who believe the Anglo-Israel message have struggled with this word, only because they have not taken the time to look up the Hebrew word that it was translated from, and see which stranger the verse is talking about. Many of those people just assume that if the translators translated it Stranger, then everywhere it says stranger must be the same root word. This is just not so.

In the King James Bible the word "stranger" occurs 122 times in 116 verses in the Old Testament.

What many do not know is out of those 124 times, there are 6 Hebrew words that are often translated into that word Stranger, and out of those 6 Hebrew words, not all of them can mean the same thing. That means out of those 124 Strangers you are reading about in scripture, without looking up the Hebrew word to see which Stranger it is speaking about, you may be applying the wrong Stranger in that verse.

Also, in all cases, none of them are universal words to mean one thing all the time, but you must look at the context of the passage and the whole Bible in order to understand what it truly means.

A very common example used is the word “Bill.” It could be a name, it could be something you get in the mail at the end of the month, it could be the anatomy of a Duck, it could be something sent up to be passed as man’s law, etc.

Or even with the word Stranger in the English language here in America. How often do we use this word to describe a person of another race today? We do sometimes, but most of the time it is referring to someone we don’t know or that is strange to us.

So out of the six Hebrew words I want to look at three of them this morning, because these three are the most commonly used. The handout you have will list the other three for you to look those up later.


The Hebrew word GAR which is Strong’s 1616 and this word is used to describe a guest, a sojourner or someone living temporally in the land, or simply a foreigner. It does not describe race, but rather describes you being a stranger in the land in which you are visiting in, and it not being your own.

We see this word first appear in our Bibles in Genesis 15:13 speaking of Abraham.

“And he said unto Abram, Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a (GAR) stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;” - Genesis 15:13

Here we see the scriptures describing the Israelites being sojourners or people that were going to live temporally in the land of Egypt. They had no right to the land; they were just staying temporally, because they were GAR in the land.

This is not a racial or people term, but rather is a description of one’s rights to the land in which they lived on. If they were a stranger to the land in which they lived on, they did not have the same rights as the people who that land belonged too. Sadly today in America, our people don’t look at land the same way our Israelite forebears did. Land was very important, and who was in the land was even more important because you didn’t want other people to come in and take it.

If we turn to Exodus 12:19 we see this word GAR being used to describe a person not born in the land. It does not say they were none Israelite, or not of the same race as Israel, but rather that they were just not born and from that land.

“Seven days shall there be no leaven found in your houses: for whosoever eateth that which is leavened, even that soul shall be cut off from the congregation of Israel, whether he be a (GAR) stranger, or born in the land.”

So we see here there are two parties being mentioned, those born in the land, and those born outside. Now keep in mind this doesn’t mean outside the lands of Israel, this could mean just outside of tribal land too, because we will find later on that Israelites from another tribe could also be Strangers.

Now let’s turn to Exodus 2:21-22

“And Moses was content to dwell with the man: and he gave Moses Zipporah his daughter. And she bare him a son, and he called his name Gershom: for he said, I have been a (GAR) stranger in a (NOKRIY) strange land.”

Now Moses went down to the land of Midian and took a wife of the Midianite who were of the same race. They were not Israelites, but they were not forbidden to intermarry in with. The father of the Midianites was Midian, son of Abraham through one of his other wives.

Moses was an Israelite, born in Egypt, and was raised an Egyptian, and now he is a GAR sojourner in the land of Midian. He is not from there. He is also in a NOKRIY strange land. The word strange here is the Hebrew word NOKRIY which we will talk about in a moment. He is using it to describe it’s foreignness to him.

If we turn to Leviticus 16:29 we see again that this word is being used to describe a sojourner, not a racial alien, but rather just someone that is temporally staying in the land.

“And this shall be a statute for ever unto you: that in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, ye shall afflict your souls, and do no work at all, whether it be one of your own country, or a (GAR) stranger that sojourneth among you:”

We all know here that the Israelites were not a multiculturalism type culture. They did not breed with every person that came along. If we turn to Ezekiel 47:22 we see where the land is being divided among the tribes of Israel this is said:

“And it shall come to pass, that ye shall divide it by lot for an inheritance unto you, and to the GAR strangers that sojourn among you, which shall beget children among you: and they shall be unto you as born in the country among the children of Israel; they shall have inheritance with you among the tribes of Israel.”

Here we see that the GAR stranger or better said sojourner is not unlike the Israelites that they can come in and marry among the Israelites, and even take of the inheritance of Israel. These were not people of another race, but rather the same race, but different people. Much like Moses marrying a Midianite and Joseph marrying an Egyptian wife. At that point in Egypt’s history the people of Egypt were the same race of the Israelites, just a different people.

Now real quick, before moving on to the Hebrew word NOKRIY, I am going to read several verses where this Hebrew word GAR appears. You don’t have to turn there, but maybe write them down for later.

“And thou shalt say unto them, Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the (GAR) strangers which sojourn among you, that offereth a burnt offering or sacrifice,” Lev 17:8

“And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the (GAR) strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people.” Lev 17:10

“Ye shall therefore keep my statutes and my judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations; neither any of your own nation, nor any (GAR) stranger that sojourneth among you:”  Lev 18:26

“But the (GAR) stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were (GAR) strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.” Lev 19:34

So we see here in Leviticus 19:34 that we are to love this GAR stranger like one born among you, or in other words you are to treat him like an Israelite. Is this permission to intermarry with anyone, no matter who they are, that comes in among you to sojourner with you?

There are many examples I could give, but let’s just look at one; that would make this command impossible if this was to mean any people or any race.

Deuteronomy 23:2 “A bastard (a mix blood) shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the Lord. An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the Lord for ever: Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee. Nevertheless the Lord thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the Lord thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the Lord thy God loved thee. Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever.”

What about an Ammonite or Moabite? What if one of them were to come and sojourn among you? If we take the Hebrew word GAR to mean anyone, then we would have to throw this scripture out the window? Because in this passage it doesn’t matter if they are sojourner or not, a Moabite you can’t even seek peace with them.

Now many Bible teachers will say, yes they were not to intermarry unless they converted them to walk in the ways of Yahweh. Okay, but it doesn’t say that. Plain and simple. That would also be seeking peace with them, is it not? So this Hebrew word GAR must mean someone of the same race as the Israelites, but not an Israelite themselves.


Let’s turn to Deuteronomy 14:21 and we see this Hebrew word GAR being used in contrast with the Hebrew word NOKRIY our next word both being used in the same verse.

"Ye shall not eat of anything that dieth of itself: thou shalt give it unto the (GAR) stranger that is in thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an (NOKRIY) alien: for thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother's milk.”

We see in this passage the GAR strangers were to be treated with more respect and were different then the NOKRIY stranger or alien because it had to be sold to them.

NOKRIY is not a universal word, it does not mean non-Israelite every time it is used, but it is used a lot for that reason by the context. It is a word that is normally speaking about something outside of Israel as a people, or of another race. But it is not a universal, it a lot of times is used to describe something simply foreign, strange, or unknown, but not always in the same way as the word GAR is used.

The first time this word appears is in Genesis 31:15 where Rachael and Leah said that they were considered NOKRIY by their father because he had sold them to Jacob. They were no longer a part of their fathers house, but now were considered NOKRIY because they were a part of Jacob’s house.

The word appears in Exodus 2:22 where Moses was describing the land being strange or foreign to him compared to Egypt.

In Job 19:15 we see Job describes his alienation of his family to be like he is a NOKRIY or outside to them.

Then if we look at Deuteronomy 15:3 we see this word now being used as the opposite of an Israelite brother.

“Of a NOKRIY foreigner thou mayest exact it again: but that which is thine with thy brother thine hand shall release”

We see this again in Deuteronomy 23:20

“Unto a NOKRIY stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.”

If we look at Deuteronomy 17:15 we see this again:

“Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a NOKRIY stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.”

I don’t think anyone denies this Stranger is clearly not an Israelite, but rather a non-Israelite NOKRIY of another people or race.

In Judges 19:12 we see again how this word is used as opposite to the Children of Israel:

“And his master said unto him, We will not turn aside hither into the city of a (NOKRIY) stranger, that is not of the children of Israel; we will pass over to Gibeah.”

Without turning there, the women in Moabite, Edomite, Hittite, Canaanite that King Solomon married and broke the law of God, were all NOKRIY strangers according to 1 King 11 and the priest and people during Ezra’s day had all taken NOKRIY strange wives according to Ezra 10 and Nehemiah 13. These were clearing non-Israelites of another race from the context of these passages, and some even list names of the people these NOKRIY women were with.

But before moving on to our next word, I want to further show how this word is not universal for always meaning one of another race but always look at the context to make sure. Let’s turn to Obadiah 1:12 where God is talking to Esau:

“But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother (speaking of Jacob) in the day that he became a NOKRIY stranger…”

Were Jacob and Esau the same race? Of course they were! They were both pure blooded Hebrew men. So it would have been impossible for them to be NOKRIY Strangers to one another in the sense of being of different races. They were however NOKRIY strangers in the sense of their loyalty to God, and their hearts.


The last word I want to look at is the Hebrew word ZUWR or sometimes said as ZOOR. This one I find very interesting because I have listened to several Anglo-Israel preachers over the years say that this word always means “Racial Alien.” In fact, before I did a study into the word Stranger a few years ago, I believed that because that is what I was always taught that the Hebrew word ZUWR always meant racial alien. But it doesn’t always mean that.
ZUWR is used in a sense to mean outsider, separation, a removal and can mean just outside your family, tribe, or the Levitical priesthood.

Let’s turn back to Leviticus 22:12: 

“If the priest's daughter also be married unto a stranger, she may not eat of an offering of the holy things.”

This passage is not implying that it is okay if she is married to a man of another race, except she wouldn’t be able to eat of the offer. From the context of this passage in Leviticus 22 we know that this whole chapter is speaking of the sons of Aaron and the priestly office.

They had special rules and priestly duties to follow, and they were allowed to do things that other Israelites could not under penalty of death.

What this is saying is a daughter of a priest, if she married a man from the tribe of Manassah or Asher, or some other tribe she could not eat of the offering like other Levitcal tribe members could.

If you look at Exodus 29:33, Numbers 1:51, 3:10, 16:40, 18:4 the strangers mentioned here were people outside of the Levitcal or Aaronic priesthood. It could have been anyone inside of Israel or outside that was not of those special priesthoods.

Now with that being said, the word is also used for the enemies of Israel as well, and other people outside of Israel. Like in Isaiah 1:7 where it says: “Your country is desolate, your cities are burned with fire: your land, strangers devour it in your presence, and it is desolate, as overthrown by strangers.”

There is much more that could be said on this topic, but the main reason of me doing this study was to make our people aware that this word Stranger in our Bibles can be very complicated, and does require us to search out to see which Stranger it is talking about to avoid confusion.

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