Alien (גֵּר, ger, also נֵכָר, nekar', or נָכרַי, nokri', both meaning stranger, as often rendered; ἀλλότριος), a foreigner; or person born in another country, and not having the usual rights and privileges of the citizens of the country in which he lives. Among the Hebrew there were two classes of persons denominated thus: 1. The proper aliens (גֵּרַים), those who were strangers generally, and who possessed no landed property, though they might have purchased houses; 2. Those less properly so called (תּוֹשָׁבַים, toshabim', sojourners), i.e. strangers dwelling in another country without being naturalized (Le 22:10; Ps 39:12). Both of these classes were to be treated with kindness, and were to enjoy the same rights with other citizens (Le 19:33-34; De 10:19; De 23:7; De 24:17). Strangers might be naturalized, or permitted to enter into the congregation of the Lord, by submitting to circumcision and renouncing idolatry (De 23:1-8).
The Edomites and Egyptians were capable of becoming citizens of Israel after the third generation. It appears also that other nations were not entirely excluded from being incorporated with the people of Israel. But the Ammonites and Moabites, in consequence of the hostile disposition which they had manifested to the Israelites in the wilderness, were absolutely excluded from the right of citizenship (Michaelis, Mos. Recht, § 63).
In the earlier periods of the Hebrew state, persons who were natives of another country, but who had come, either from choice or necessity, to take up their residence among the Hebrew, appear to have been placed in favorable circumstances. At a later period, viz., the reigns of David and Solomon, they were compelled to labor on the religious edifices which were erected by those princes (2Ch 2:1,17-18, comp. with 1Ch 22:2). These, however, were probably prisoners of war (Jahn, Bibl. Archoeol. § 181). SEE CITIZENSHIP; SEE GENTILE.
The term alien is used figuratively in Eph 2:12, to denote those persons who were without Christ, and who had no interest in the blood of the covenant. SEE ADOPTION.