And if a stranger sojourn with thee in your land.
Before I pass on to the other iniquities, I have thought fit to introduce this precept, wherein the people are commanded to cultivate equity towards all without exception. Fob if no mention had been made of strangers, the Israelites would have thought that, provided they had not injured any one of their own nation, they had fully discharged their duty; but, when God recommends guests and sojourners to them, just as if they had been their own kindred, they thence understand that equity is to be cultivated constantly and towards all men. Nor is it without cause that God interposes Himself and His protection, lest injury should be done to strangers; for since they have no one who would submit to ill-will in their defense, they are more exposed to the violence and various oppressions of the ungodly, than as if they were under the shelter of domestic securities. The same rule is to be observed towards widows and orphans; a woman, on account of the weakness of her sex, is exposed to many evils, unless she dwells under the shadow of a husband; and many plot against orphans, as if they were their prey, because they have none to advise them. Since, then, they are thus destitute of human aid, God interposes to assist them; and, if they are unjustly oppressed, He declares that He will be their avenger. In the first passage He includes widows and orphans together with strangers; in the latter He enumerates strangers only; yet the substance is the same, viz., that all those who are destitute and deprived of earthly succor, are under the guardianship and protection of God, and preserved by His hand; and thus the audacity of those is restrained, who trust that they may commit any wickedness with impunity, provided no earthly being resists them. No iniquity, indeed, will be left unavenged by God, but there is a special reason why He declares that strangers, widows, and orphans are taken under His care; inasmuch as the more flagrant the evil is, the greater need there is of an effectual remedy. He recommends strangers to them on this ground, that the people, who had themselves been sojourners in Egypt, being mindful of their ancient condition, ought to deal more kindly to strangers; for although they were at last oppressed by cruel tyranny, still they were bound to consider their entrance there, viz., that poverty and hunger had driven their forefathers thither, and that they had been received hospitably, when they were in need of aid from others. When He threatens, that if the afflicted widows and orphans cry unto Him, their cry shall be heard, He does not mean that He will not interfere, if they endure their wrongs in silence; but He speaks in accordance with the ordinary practice, that those who find no consolation elsewhere, are wont to appeal to Him. Meanwhile, let us be sure that although those who are injured abstain from complaining, yet God does not by any means forget His office, so as to overlook their wrongs. Nay, there is nothing which incites Him more to inflict punishment on the ungodly, than the endurance of His servants.
The nature of the punishment is also expressed; those who have afflicted widows and orphans shall perish by the sword, so that their own widows and orphans may be exposed to the audacity, violence, and knavery of the ungodly. Moreover, it must be observed that, in the second passage, they are commanded to love strangers and foreigners as themselves. Hence it appears that the name of neighbor is not confined to our kindred, or such other persons with whom we are nearly connected, but extends to the whole human race; as Christ shows in the person of the Samaritan, who had compassion on an unknown man, and performed towards him the duties of humanity neglected by a Jew, and even a Levite. (Luke 10:30.)