I would like to improve this question so that it can be re-opened and hopefully receive some answers. Unfortunately the close voters did not indicate in their comments why the question was too broad.

My guess? It is my feeling that they took a look at my section "Supporting Questions" and assumed that there was no single main question. However, I clearly indicated at the top that there is only one main question.

The supporting section was only intended to provoke thought and forestall some overly simplified answers which fail to account for the relevant considerations and ramifications. How should I rephrase my question, or is there another more appropriate site where I should ask it?

2 Answers 2


There is plenty of interest in the area you want to probe. My own sense is that your intention for the "supporting questions" backfired. I look at this and think: "This Q is basically = Everything I Ever Wanted to Know About Immigration in Ancient Israel -- And I'm Not Afraid to Ask!!"

Either blow away your "supporting Qs", or rewrite them as background information to show "research effort". (I recommend the former, FWIW.) It ought to be clear to potential answerers that they do NOT need to deal with these aspects, and the way it's currently framed looks rather like an invitation to treat them. Fergedaboudit. :/

Or ... do some further research first, then "zoom in" on particular passages to fill out your understanding of this area. There are several related areas intertwined in your question, at least these, possibly more:

  1. the status of the "stranger/foreigner" in "biblical Israel". The most important Hebrew terms here are ger ("sojourner") and nokri ("foreign[er]"), and you could explore passages where these terms occur.
  2. the nature of amalgamation of non-Israelites into Israel -- the best narrative examples here are Rahab (Joshua 2, 6) and Ruth (contrast Joseph in Gen 37-50, who turns up in Egypt [as it were], speaks Egyptian, and [eventually] is regarded as an "Eypgtian").
  3. the status of "borders" in antiquity, especially the ancient Near East (obviously), rather than "classical" antiquity, although one might expect some continuity here.
  4. the nature of "national identity" in antiquity, although this is a contested concept according to some who see (erroneously, IMHO) the rise of the "nation state" only with modern Europe.
  5. the attitude displayed to foreign nations throughout the Hebrew Bible (one famous example: contrast, e.g., Deut 23:1-8 with Isa 56:3-8 -- but there are plenty of other passages to consider).

There is a substantial scholarly bibliography on each of these areas. Perhaps this begins to suggest why the way you've formulated the question using Deut 19:33-34 as a starting point, with its attendant sub-questions, begins to look a poor fit for the StackExchange Q&A model, which necessitates well-focused questions ("be specific"!) in order to work.


I can concur much with what Dɑvïd said in his answer to your question here. However, while the close reason may have been "too broad," that may have been just what the "majority" of those voting to close picked. But I believe you have a more fundamental problem with your "main question":

Do you think it is an accurate use of the biblical example of ancient Israel, and how God directed her to treat foreigners, when political activists (or others) call for an Open Borders style immigration policy?

By asking about an "accurate use ... when political activists (or others) call for an Open Borders style immigration policy," you are asking a question about application of the text, not meaning of the text, the latter being on-topic (hermeneutics), but the former generally not on BH.

So you also need to consider how to re-frame the main question to either:

  1. be about the border policies of ancient Israel, not about the political activist's use (accurate or not) of the Bible in a present day context, or
  2. be about the hermeneutic principles that may be behind seeing "open borders" in the text by some current interpreters (with examples from those interpreters).
  • my assumption, which some may disagree with (fair point), is that if #1 is disproven then #2 is invalid. If #1 is proven true then I agree that becomes another question. Jul 16, 2018 at 5:50
  • 1
    Excellent point. It also strikes me as an anachronistic way of framing the question, but that's tied up with other issues already note.
    – Dɑvïd
    Jul 16, 2018 at 22:13

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