When you come upon your enemy’s ox or donkey going astray, you shall bring it back.
When you see the donkey of one who hates you lying under its burden and you would hold back from setting it free, you must help to set it free.
You shall not pervert the justice due to your poor in their lawsuits. Keep far from a false charge, and do not kill the innocent and those in the right, for I will not acquit the guilty. You shall take no bribe, for a bribe blinds the officials, and subverts the cause of those who are in the right.
You shall not oppress a resident alien; you know the heart of an alien, for you were aliens in the land of Egypt.
Exodus 23:4-9 (NRSV)

*   *   *

As Moses attempts to shape a just society for his people, even oxen and donkeys have a standing. Even when they belong to an enemy.

Remarkably, his thought leaps from the beasts of burden to the affliction of the poor, the innocent, and the righteous. And then Moses cuts through the issue of bribery, declaring it to be subversion – something that sabotages both the people and righteousness.

As Moses attempts to shape a just society for his people, the resident alien also has standing, a reminder of the identity of the Jewish people and the necessity of honoring all who would work with them.

*   *   *

But would the Inhabitants of this Island bow to the Sceptre of the Son of God in their Hearts, they should not need to be afraid of any tripple Leagues or conclave Consultations to do them Hurt; for yet would God arise, and break such Associations, and take such wicked Wits in their own Craftiness, so that their Hands should not find their Enterprizes; so should England become the Renown of Kingdoms, and a Mart of Nations, maugre the Strength of hellish Combinations. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)


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