Exodus 22:21

21 "Don't abuse or take advantage of strangers; you, remember, were once strangers in Egypt.

Exodus 22:21 Meaning and Commentary

Exodus 22:21

Thou shall not vex a stranger
One that is not born in the same country, but comes into another country to sojourn, as Jarchi; not a native of the place, but of another kingdom or country; a stranger to the commonwealth of Israel, that is only in it for a time on trade and business, or through one providence or another; or else a proselyte is meant, not a proselyte of righteousness, who has embraced the true religion; but a proselyte of the gate, that takes upon him the commands of the sons of Noah; or, as Aben Ezra here expresses it, who takes upon him not to serve idols; such were allowed to dwell among the Israelites, and they were to carry it friendly and kindly to them, and "not vex" them, nor irritate them with words, as the Targum of Jonathan, and so Jarchi; by calling them names, Gentiles, uncircumcised persons, and the like; upbraiding them with their country, ignorance, and manner of life; they were not to say to a proselyte, as Ben Melech observes, remember thy former works; or, if the son of a proselyte, remember thy father's works:

nor oppress him;
by taking his goods, as the above Targum, and so Jarchi; by refusing to assist him with advice or otherwise, to trade with him, or to give him lodging, and furnish him with the necessaries of life:

for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt:
out of which they were but just come, and therefore such a reason must be very striking and moving upon them: the Targum of Jonathan prefaces it,

``and my people, the house of Israel, remember that ye were strangers''

this they could not have forgot in so short a time, and the remembrance of this should move their compassion to strangers hereafter, when they came to settle in their own land; and therefore, as they would that men should have done to them when in such circumstances, the same they should do to others; and besides, the remembrance of this would serve to abate their pride and vanity, and their overbearing disposition.

Exodus 22:21 In-Context

19 "Anyone who has sex with an animal gets the death penalty.
20 "Anyone who sacrifices to a god other than God alone must be put to death.
21 "Don't abuse or take advantage of strangers; you, remember, were once strangers in Egypt.
22 "Don't mistreat widows or orphans.
23 If you do and they cry out to me, you can be sure I'll take them most seriously;