Seidensticker Folly #54: “Neighbor” in OT = Jews Only?

Seidensticker Folly #54: “Neighbor” in OT = Jews Only? September 12, 2020

Atheist and anti-theist Bob Seidensticker, who was “raised Presbyterian”, runs the influential Cross Examined blog. He asked me there, on 8-11-18“I’ve got 1000+ posts here attacking your worldview. You just going to let that stand? Or could you present a helpful new perspective that I’ve ignored on one or two of those posts?” He also made a general statement on 6-22-17“Christians’ arguments are easy to refute . . . I’ve heard the good stuff, and it’s not very good.” He added in the combox“If I’ve misunderstood the Christian position or Christian arguments, point that out. Show me where I’ve mischaracterized them.” 

Bob (for the record) virtually begged and pleaded with me to dialogue with him in May 2018, via email. But by 10-3-18, following massive, childish name-calling attacks against me,  encouraged by Bob on his blog (just prior to his banning me from it), his opinion was as follows: “Dave Armstrong . . . made it clear that a thoughtful intellectual conversation wasn’t his goal. . . . [I] have no interest in what he’s writing about.”

Bob mocks some Christian in his combox on 10-27-18“You can’t explain it to us, you can’t defend it, you can’t even defend it to yourself. Defend your position or shut up about it.” And again on the same day“If you can’t answer the question, man up and say so.” And on 10-26-18“you refuse to defend it, after being asked over and over again.” And againYou’re the one playing games, equivocating, and being unable to answer the challenges.”

Bob’s cowardly hypocrisy knows no bounds. Again, on 6-30-19, he was chiding someone for something very much like he himself: “Spoken like a true weasel trying to run away from a previous argument. You know, you could just say, ‘Let me retract my previous statement of X’ or something like that.” Yeah, Bob could!  He still hasn’t yet uttered one peep in reply to — now — 53 of my critiques of his atrocious reasoning.

Bible-Basher Bob’s words will be in blue. To find these posts, follow this link: “Seidensticker Folly #” or see all of them linked under his own section on my Atheism page.


Leviticus 19:18 (RSV) You shall not take vengeance or bear any grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

Bob wrote in his article, Christians’ Damning Retreat into ‘Difficult Verses’ “ [link] (4-29-20; update of a post from 2-13-16), referring to the above Bible verse:

For starters, “Love your neighbor as yourself” means, “Love your fellow Jewish neighbor as yourself,” so let’s not imagine a big worldwide hug from Yahweh.

This is incorrect. By simple cross-referencing and logical deduction, we see that “neighbor” refers to “every person”. 16 verses later the same moral precept is applied to the non-Jew (thus neatly refuting Bob’s illusion: along with many other passages below):

Leviticus 19:34 The stranger who sojourns with you shall be to you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

Exodus 22:21-22, 25 “You shall not wrong a stranger or oppress him, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. [22] You shall not afflict any widow or orphan. . . . [25] If you lend money to any of my people with you who is poor, you shall not be to him as a creditor, and you shall not exact interest from him.”

And “neighbor” simply means “another man” in the next chapter:

Leviticus 20:10 “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death.”

Reya: the Hebrew word for “neighbor” in Leviticus 19:18, is seen to be the equivalent of “any other person” in passages like this:

Exodus 20:17 “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant, or his maidservant, or his ox, or his ass, or anything that is your neighbor’s.” [one of the Ten Commandments]

In this regard, see my related paper, “Love Your Enemies”: Old Testament Teaching Too?

The “sojourner” or foreigner (not just the fellow Jew) was regarded as a neighbor and to be loved as such:

Deuteronomy 10:17-19 For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the terrible God, who is not partial and takes no bribe. [18] He executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. [19] Love the sojourner therefore; for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.

Deuteronomy 24:14-15, 17-22 “You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brethren or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns; [15] you shall give him his hire on the day he earns it, before the sun goes down (for he is poor, and sets his heart upon it); lest he cry against you to the LORD, and it be sin in you. . . . [17] “You shall not pervert the justice due to the sojourner or to the fatherless, or take a widow’s garment in pledge; [18] but you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt and the LORD your God redeemed you from there; therefore I command you to do this. [19] “When you reap your harvest in your field, and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow; that the LORD your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. [20] When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over the boughs again; it shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. [21] When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward; it shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. [22] You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this.”

Deuteronomy 26:11-13 and you shall rejoice in all the good which the LORD your God has given to you and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the sojourner who is among you. [12] “When you have finished paying all the tithe of your produce in the third year, which is the year of tithing, giving it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within your towns and be filled, [13] then you shall say before the LORD your God, `I have removed the sacred portion out of my house, and moreover I have given it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all thy commandment which thou hast commanded me; I have not transgressed any of thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them;

See also: “Stranger and Sojourner (in the Old Testament)” (International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online)

“All men” were referred to:

Wisdom 12:13 For neither is there any god besides thee, whose care is for all men, to whom thou shouldst prove that thou hast not judged unjustly;

Wisdom 16:12 For neither herb nor poultice cured them, but it was thy word, O Lord, which heals all men.

And “every man”:

Jeremiah 17:10 “I the LORD search the mind and try the heart, to give to every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his doings.”

Jeremiah 32:19 great in counsel and mighty in deed; whose eyes are open to all the ways of men, rewarding every man according to his ways and according to the fruit of his doings;

And “all nations” and “all the peoples”:

Psalms 67:1-5 May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, [Selah] [2] that thy way may be known upon earth, thy saving power among all nations. [3] Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee! [4] Let the nations be glad and sing for joy, for thou dost judge the peoples with equity and guide the nations upon earth. [Selah] [5] Let the peoples praise thee, O God; let all the peoples praise thee!

Isaiah 66:18 “For I know their works and their thoughts, and I am coming to gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come and shall see my glory,”

Habakkuk 2:5 . . . He gathers for himself all nations, and collects as his own all peoples.”

The “whole world” and “earth” and “world” are referred to:

Psalms 24:1 The earth is the LORD’s and the fulness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein;

Psalms 33:8 Let all the earth fear the LORD, let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of him!

Psalms 49:1 Hear this, all peoples! Give ear, all inhabitants of the world,

Isaiah 26:9 . . . For when thy judgments are in the earth, the inhabitants of the world learn righteousness.

Isaiah 27:6 In days to come Jacob shall take root, Israel shall blossom and put forth shoots, and fill the whole world with fruit.

Isaiah 34:1 Draw near, O nations, to hear, and hearken, O peoples! Let the earth listen, and all that fills it; the world, and all that comes from it.

All of this cannot possibly be construed as a provincial “Jews Only” outlook. Bob is out to sea as usual: not only wrong, but as far from the truth as he can possibly be on this topic. When will he ever learn to do serious Bible study when he sets out to pose as some sort of “biblical expert”? He may fool and hoodwink the uneducated, ignorant Christian (and many atheist former Christians were clearly of this type), but he’s easy work for anyone with the least acquaintance with the Bible and how to sensibly, rationally interpret it.


Photo credit: The Good Samaritan (1854), by Luigi Sciallero (1829-1920) [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]


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