Exodus 23:9
Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
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(9) Thou shalt not oppress a stranger.—See Note on Exodus 22:21. The repetition of the law indicates the strong inclination of the Hebrew people to ill-use strangers, and the anxiety of the legislator to check their inclination.

Exodus 23:9. Thou shalt not oppress the stranger — Though aliens might not inherit lands among them; yet, they must have justice done them. It is an instance of the equity of our law, that if an alien be tried for any crime, except treason, the one half of his jury, if he desire it, shall be foreigners; a kind provision that strangers may not be oppressed. For ye know the heart of a stranger — That is, ye know by experience what a distressed, friendless condition that of a stranger is. The disposition, dejection, and distress of his heart, make him an object of pity, not of malice or injustice. Ye know his heart is easily depressed, and very unable to bear repulses. There is a great beauty in the expression.

23:1-9 In the law of Moses are very plain marks of sound moral feeling, and of true political wisdom. Every thing in it is suited to the desired and avowed object, the worship of one only God, and the separation of Israel from the pagan world. Neither parties, friends, witnesses, nor common opinions, must move us to lessen great faults, to aggravate small ones, excuse offenders, accuse the innocent, or misrepresent any thing.Four precepts evidently addressed to those in authority as judges:

(a) To do justice to the poor. Comparing Exodus 23:6 with Exodus 23:3, it was the part of the judge to defend the poor against the oppression of the rich, and the part of the witness to take care lest his feelings of natural pity should tempt him to falsify evidence.

(b) To be cautious of inflicting capital punishment on one whose guilt was not clearly proved. A doubtful case was rather to be left to God Himself, who would "not justify the wicked," nor suffer him to go unpunished though he might be acquitted by an earthly tribunal. Exodus 23:7.

(c) To take no bribe or present which might in any way pervert judgment Exodus 23:8; compare Numbers 16:15; 1 Samuel 12:3; Acts 26:26.

(d) To vindicate the rights of the stranger Exodus 23:9 - rather, the foreigner. (Exodus 20:10 note.) This verse is a repetition of Exodus 22:21, but the precept is there addressed to the people at large, while it is here addressed to the judges in reference to their official duties. The caution was perpetually necessary. Compare Ezekiel 22:7; Malachi 3:5. The word rendered "heart" is more strictly "soul," and would be better represented here by feelings.

3. countenance—adorn, embellish—thou shalt not varnish the cause even of a poor man to give it a better coloring than it merits.Ver. 9: The heart of a stranger, i.e. the disposition, dejection, and distress of his heart, which makes him an object of pity, not of malice or mischief.

Also thou shall not oppress a stranger,.... As these were not to be vexed and oppressed in a private manner and by private men, see Exodus 22:21 so neither in a public manner, and in a public court of judicature, or by judges on the bench when their cause was before them, by not doing them justice, showing a partiality to those of their own nation against a stranger; whereas a stranger ought to have equal justice done him as a native, and the utmost care should be taken that he has no injury done him, and the rather because he is a stranger:

for ye know the heart of a stranger; the fears he is possessed of, the inward distress of his soul, the anxiety of his mind, the tenderness of his heart, the workings of his passions, his grief and sorrow, and dejection of spirit: the Targum of Jonathan is,""the groaning of the soul of a stranger": this the Israelitish judges knew, having had a very late experience of it:"

seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt; where they had been vexed and oppressed, brought into hard bondage, and groaned under it; and therefore it might be reasonably thought and expected that they would have a heart sympathizing with strangers, and use them well, and especially see that justice was done them, and no injury or oppression of any kind.

Also thou shalt not oppress a stranger: for ye know the {e} heart of a stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.

(e) For since he is a stranger, his heart is sorrowful enough.

9. The gêr, or foreigner ‘sojourning’ in Israel, not to be ‘crushed.’ Identical, in great measure verbally, with Exodus 22:21 : here, no doubt, directed specially against unfair judgement (cf. Deuteronomy 24:17 ‘Thou shalt not wrest the judgement of the sojourner,’ Exodus 27:19, Malachi 3:5).

stranger (each time)] sojourner: see on Exodus 22:11.

for ye (emph.) know …, seeing ye were sojourners, &c.] see on Exodus 22:21.

the heart] lit. the soul, i.e. the feelings.

Verse 9. - Thou shalt not oppress a stranger. This is a repetition of Exodus 22:21, with perhaps a special reference to oppression through courts of justice. For thou knowest the heart of a stranger. Literally, "the mind of a stranger," or, in other words, his thoughts and feelings. Thou shouldest therefore be able to sympathise with him. CEREMONIAL LAWS (vers. 10-19). Exodus 23:9The warning against oppressing the foreigner, which is repeated from Exodus 22:20, is not tautological, as Bertheau affirms for the purpose of throwing suspicion upon this verse, but refers to the oppression of a stranger in judicial matters by the refusal of justice, or by harsh and unjust treatment in court (Deuteronomy 24:17; Deuteronomy 27:19). "For ye know the soul (animus, the soul as the seat of feeling) of the stranger," i.e., ye know from your own experience in Egypt how a foreigner feels.
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