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Xenophobia #AtoZChallenge

This year for the Blogging from A to Z in April Challenge I have chosen a single word for each letter of the alphabet. Each of these words is important in the Bible. I am including a story in each post. Links from biblical references go to Bible Gateway.

#AtoZChallenge 2021 April Blogging from A to Z Challenge letter X

Xenophobia means the fear of strangers. The word does not appear in the Bible. Letter X is always tricky!

However the Bible has plenty to say about strangers, aliens, foreigners, sojourners and Gentiles (non-Jews). The Law given to Moses has rules for the treatment of these people, who may not be worshippers of the Lord. They were to be treated with justice. Exodus 22:21;23:9; Leviticus 19:33,34; Deuteronomy 1:16;10:19;24:1 (Bible Gateway topical)

Ruth and Naomi

In the history of God’s chosen people, they were often strangers themselves, travelling to the Promised Land, exiled or travelling for various reasons. (Letter I and Letter P)

The well-known story of Joseph is set in a time when there was a famine. A later story from the time when Judges ruled begins with a famine.

Naomi and her husband Elimelech lived in Bethlehem with their two sons, Mahlon and Kilion.

Because of the famine, Elimelech and his family went to a country the other side of the Dead Sea – Moab. They settled there, but Elimelech died leaving Naomi with her two sons. Life was very hard for widows in those days. Naomi’s sons married local girls, Orpah and Ruth. After about ten years of living abroad, Mahlon and Kilion also died.

Naomi received word that the Lord had provided food for the people in her original home. She and her daughters-in-law prepared to go to Bethlehem. They all set off together, but Naomi began to wonder what would be in store for her daughters-in-law as foreigners in a place they did not know.

She told them to return to their own mothers and prayed that they would find new husbands. Both Orpah and Ruth declared that they would stay with Naomi, but she argued with them, spelling out the difficulties they would face. Orpah was convinced and returned home, but Ruth promised to stay with Naomi. ‘Where you go I will go. Your God will be my God.’

They continued on their journey until they arrived at Bethlehem as the barley harvest was beginning. Some of the people in Bethlehem recognised Naomi after all this time. She told them not to call her Naomi (which means pleasant), but Mara (bitter). She blamed God for the change in her circumstances. (Letter N mentions the meaning of names.)

Ruth as a foreigner had the right to glean in the fields, picking up the grain the harvesters had missed. She went out to a field and began to glean. It was a field belonging to one of the relatives of her late father-in-law – a well-to-do man named Boaz. He protected and helped her while she was working in his field even leaving sheaves for her to collect.

Another part of the Law set out that a widow should be married to a close kinsman of her husband and any children would be considered to be from her first marriage.

Boaz was not the closest relative, but acted according to the custom of the time to ascertain that the closer relative did not wish to carry out his duty as a redeemer-kinsman.

Ruth and Boaz were married and Naomi was blessed with a grandson, Obed. Obed grew up and became the father of Jesse, whose youngest son became King David.

Boaz, Obed, Jesse and David all were ancestors of Joseph, the earthly father of Jesus. Thus Jesus was from the House of David. Interestingly Boaz’s mother was Rahab from Jericho. She had helped Joshua’s spies.


The story of Ruth is told in the book of Ruth. It is only four chapters long and well worth reading. Rahab’s story is in Joshua 2 and Joshua 6. The genealogy is in Matthew 1:1-17.

Joseph’s story is in Genesis 37-50.

Two occasions when Jesus met Gentile women are in Matthew 15:21-28 and John 4:1-42

Bobbie Ann Cole (mentioned in my post for Letter V) is also looking at the story of Ruth.

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Xenophobia – The Canaanite woman’s story

To navigate between posts, please scroll down to the end of the widgets in the sidebar and use the arrows << or >>.

This is not the first year that I have used xenophobia for my letter X post. I don’t know enough about Xerxes to try to construct a story.

Xenophobia (the fear of strangers) is not a word that appears in the Bible.  However a search of Bible Gateway suggested a story from Matthew Chapter 15:21-28.

First a little background from the Old Testament. There are many instructions in the books of the Law (Exodus to Deuteronomy) about how to treat foreigners living among the chosen people. They did not have the same rights as the people of Israel, but they were able to join in with the celebration of the Passover, for example, if they obeyed the Law by having all their males circumcised. They were to observe the Day of rest (Sabbath) and not to be oppressed. They were allowed to glean whatever remained of the harvest of various crops (presumably as they did not own any land of their own).

In the multicultural world we live in it is challenging to consider our own attitude towards foreigners and refugees. The Laws in the Bible were intended to help people live together in peace. There are also plenty of accounts in the Old Testament of wars between nations.

On a personal level it is good to treat everyone with respect. Jesus taught us to pray for our enemies. Enemies may not be strangers. In some cases they are people, who live nearby, but perhaps bear a grudge against us. Perhaps you consider some groups of people as enemies.

The Canaanite woman was not one of the people of Israel. She was a foreigner. However she asked Jesus to heal her child. His reply was rather unexpected. It concentrated on her being a foreigner. She persisted in her request replying in a witty manner. Jesus healed her child. I wonder why he treated her in this way. Perhaps he wanted to make a point about other people’s prejudices. Perhaps he was exploring his calling. As the only person, who is fully God and fully man, he had to learn in the way that other people do. It is an interesting episode in the New Testament.

This year for the A to Z Challenge I have taken my 2013 Challenge as a starting point for most of the posts. I have written a post based around something or usually someone from the Bible. Sometimes it is a fictional story, for example when I have added some back stories (as a writing exercise). Sometimes it is a summary.

 I hope my readers will be challenged to consider the original texts in more depth. (If only to discover what liberties I have taken with them!)

My Y post for 2013

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X is for Xristos

This April on Sue’s Trifles the theme is the names of God.  There may be more than one name for some of the letters.  There may be others I have omitted.  I hope that by going through the alphabet together we may learn more about the nature of God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

Letter X

Xristos is Greek for Christ.  It does not really begin with X.  The first letter is the Greek capital letter Chi, which is identical to X in some fonts.  The entire word in Greek capitals is ΧΡΙΣΤΟΣ.

There is a symbol consisting of two Greek letters, which can be seen in many churches.  It is ChiRho (ΧΡ).

The first time I took part in Blogging from A to Z in April, I wrote a post about xenophobia (the fear of strangers) for the letter X.  It is interesting to note that Jesus was born among strangers in Bethlehem and was taken to safety in the foreign land of Egypt.  As he travelled around during his three years of teaching, he met people of other races and cultures.  What can we learn from Him about xenophobia?

(For names in this post beginning with earlier letters, I hope the A to Z contents is up-to-date.)

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