Joshua 2:1, Rahab. Rahab, the non-Israelite innkeeper and inhabitant of Jericho, was a woman of faith who became a sincere convert to the Israelites’ religion, and ended up becoming an ancestor of David and Yeshua. Throughout Scripture, there are examples of righteous non-Israelites confessing their faith in the Elohim of Israel, choosing to leave behind their pagan cultures and being grafted into the nation of Israel. Who are some other examples of this in Scripture? (See Gen 41:45; Exod 12:38,48–49; Lev 18:26; Num 15:16; Deut 10:19; 31:12; Ruth 1:16.) Rahab was a stranger or alien seeking to be grafted into Israel. What does Scripture say about this class of people?
Stranger (Foreigner or Alien; Heb. nekar). Rahab was a stranger or foreigner to Israel. She is a prophetic picture of Gentiles who come to faith in the Elohim of Israel and are grafted into that nation.
Scripturally the Hebrew word nekar (Strong’s H5236/TWOT 1368b) is used in reference to anything or anyone that is foreign to the religion or people of Israel (Exod 12:43; Deut 31:16; 32:16; Judg 10:16; Neh 9:2; Isa 60:10; Ezek 44:7).
Nekar can also refer to people who forsake their foreign or alien ways and join themselves to the people and to Elohim, the God of Israel, and who take hold of the covenants of Israel (Isa 56:3–6; cp. Eph 2:11–14). In Exodus 12:43 and 48, the KJV uses the word stranger, though in each verse they are two different Hebrew words. In the former, the word nekar is used in reference to those who are not allowed to partake in Passover. In the latter verse, the Hebrew word for stranger is ger (Strong’s H1616/TWOT 330a) meaning “a temporary inhabitant, or a newcomer.”
This word is also translated in the KJV as stranger, or alien, but also carries with it the connotation of “a sojourner.” The TWOT defines a ger as follows: “The root means to live among people who are not blood relatives; thus, rather than enjoying native civil rights, the ger was dependent on the hospitality that played an important role in the ancient near east.… The ger in Israel was largely regarded as a proselyte. He was to be present for the solemn reading of the [Torah] Law (Deut 31:12) showing that he was exposed to its demands. The law concerning unleavened bread applied to him as well as the native (Exod 12:19) and a circumcised ger could keep Passover (Exod 12:48f.; Num 9:14).” He was also included in the celebration of the Day of Atonement (Lev 16:29), the Feast of Tabernacles or Booths (Deut 16:14), like the native he was forbidden from worshipping foreign gods (Lev 17:8), and was forbidden from eating blood (Lev 17:10, 12, 13). The laws of sexual chastity applied to him as well as to the native (Lev 18:26) along with the Sabbath laws (Exod 20:10; 23:12). He experienced the same legal and civil rights as a native Israelite (Deut 1:16; 24:17; 27:19) and Israel was to not oppress the ger (Exod 22:21; Deut 10:19) but to love him as themselves (Lev 19:34) (The TWOT, vol. 1, pp. 155–156)
In brief, Israel’s treatment of the ger was a means of evangelizing the world with the message of YHVH’s Torah-truth. All could come into a spiritual relationship with the Elohim of Israel without respect to ethnicity and there was one Torah (i.e., YHVH’s instructions, teachings or precepts in righteousness) for both Israelite and non-Israelite. Indeed, this was the driving force behind Paul’s passion for the Gentiles (or people of the nations).
Realizing the basis of evangelism from the Tanakh and the command to make proselytes by bringing aliens and strangers into the covenants and commonwealth of Israel and into a righteous relationship with the Elohim of Israel may help us to understand Paul’s statements in Ephesians 2:11–19 (cp. 1 Pet 2:8–11).
As we study the concept of the stranger’s relationship to Elohim, to the people and Torah covenants of Israel, it is interesting to note that Scripture nowhere indicates that YHVH would ever make a new or different covenant with the Gentiles or have different standards of righteousness for them than for Israel. Rather, the Gentiles were expected to assimilate into Israel, become Israel, follow the laws of Israel and be treated as Israel. This rule of law for the people of El never changed even through the apostolic age despite what most Christian biblicists teach to the contrary. Remember, YHVH stated clearly that he does not change (Mal 3:6), and Yeshua taught that any religious tradition of men that nullifies the Word of YHVH should be ignored (Mark 7:7–9).