The Patriarchs and the nation of Israel recognized and respected political and private borders. When Abraham “was about to enter Egypt” (Gen. 12:11), he told the Egyptians that his wife was really just his sister, partly in order to obtain favor to change his status from a foreigner to a resident. Abraham was expelled by Pharaoh when his lie was discovered (Gen. 12:16-18). Later, Abraham negotiated water rights in the territory of Abimelech, King of Gerar (Gen. 26:17-22). Isaac had to negotiate a new arrangement with the king when Abraham died (Gen. 26:26-34). When Sarah died, Abraham had to ask permission from the Hittite residents of Hebron to buy a piece of land to bury her because he was “an alien and stranger among you” (Gen. 23:3-4). This might explain why Abraham bowed before the people of Hebron with whom he wanted to do business (Gen. 23:7,12). Jacob had to buy land from the leading family of Shechem in order to pitch his tents there (Gen. 33:18-19). When aliens brought guests into a community, they were treated roughly (Gen. 19:1-11; Judg. 19:10-23), indicating that only citizens had the right to extend hospitality. Bringing in a spouse was an exception (Gen. 24:3-4). Joseph, even as a high-ranking court official, had to ask Pharaoh for permission for his family to live in Egypt (Gen. 45:16-18, 47:1-6). Before Moses would take the Israelites through Edom, Moses asked the king of Edom for passage through his territory and offered to pay a toll (Num. 20:16-17; cf. Judg. 11:16-20). The nation of Israel had carefully defined borders: 1 Sam. 27:1; Josh. chapters 13-19; Num. 21:11-24; Gen. 15:18. On the individual, family and clan level, the Mosaic law required boundary lines to be respected, forbidding the removal landmarks (Deut. 19:14; 27:17), which is equated with theft (Job 24:2).
- James K. Hoffman, The Immigration Crisis 29-57 (2009).