The stranger did not lodge in the street - My kindness did not extend merely to my family, domestics, and friends; the stranger - he who was to me perfectly unknown, and the traveler - he who was on his journey to some other district, found my doors ever open to receive them, and were refreshed with my bed and my board.
The stranger did not lodge in the street - This is designed to illustrate the sentiment in the previous verse, and to express his consciousness that he had showed the most generous hospitality.
But I opened my doors to the traveler - Margin, or way. The word used here ארח 'ôrach means properly way, path, road; but it also denotes those who travel on such a way; see Job 6:19, “The troops of Tema looked,” Hebrew ארח תימא têymâ' 'ôrach - the ways, or paths of Tema; that is, those who traveled in those paths. Vulgate here, viatori. Septuagint, “To everyone that came” - παντί ἐλθόντι panti elthonti This was one of the methods of hospitality - the central and crowning virtue among the Arabs to this day, and among the Orientals in all ages. Among the boasts of hospitality, showing the place which this virtue had in their estimation, and the methods by which it was practiced, we may refer to such expressions as the following: “I occupy the public way with my tent;” that is, to every traveler without distinction, my tent is open and my table is spread. “He makes the public path the place for the cords of his tent;” that is, he fixed the pins and cords of his tent in the midst of the public highway, so that every traveler might enter. These examples are quoted by Schultens from the Hamasa. Another beautiful example may be taken from the same collection of Arabic poems. I give the Latin translation of Schultens:
Quam saepe latratum imitanti viatori, cui resonabat echo
Suscitavi ignem, cujus lignum luculentum
Properusque surrexi ad eum, ut praedae mihi loco esset,
Prae metu ne populus mens eum ante me occuparet.
That is, “How often to the traveler, imitating the bark of the dog, and the echo of whose voice was heard, have I kindled a fire, the shining wood of which I quick raised up to him, as one would hasten to the prey, in fear lest someone of my own people should anticipate me in the privileges and rites of hospitality.” The allusion to the imitation of the barking of a dog here, refers to the custom of travelers at night, who make this noise when they need a place of rest. This sound is responded to by the dogs which watch around the tents of their masters, and the sound is the signal for a general rush to show hospitality to the stranger. Burckhardt, speaking of the inhabitants of the Houran - the country east of the Jordan, and south of Damascus, says, “A traveler may alight at any house he pleases; a mat will be immediately spread for him, coffee made, and a breakfast or dinner set before him. In entering a village it has often happened to me, that several persons presented themselves, each begging that I would lodge at his house. It is a point of honor with the host never to receive the smallest return from a guest. Besides the private habitations, which offer to every traveler a secure night‘s shelter, there is in every village the Medhafe of the Sheikh, where all strangers of decent appearance are received and entertained. It is the duty of the Sheikh to maintain this Medhafe, which is like a tavern, with the difference that the host himself pays the bill. The Sheikh has public allowance to defray these expenses, and hence a man of the Houran, intending to travel about for a fortnight never thinks of putting a single para in his pocket; he is sure of being every where well received, and of living better, perhaps, than at his own home.” Travels in Syria, pp. 294,295.
The angels of heaven look upon the distress of God's family upon the earth, and they are prepared to co-operate with men in relieving oppression and suffering. God in His providence had brought the priest and the Levite along the road where the wounded sufferer lay, that they might see his need of mercy and help. All heaven watched to see if the hearts of these men would be touched with pity for human woe. The Saviour was the One who had instructed the Hebrews in the wilderness; from the pillar of cloud and of fire He had taught a very different lesson from that which the people were now receiving from their priests and teachers. The merciful provisions of the law extended even to the lower animals, which cannot express in words their want and suffering. Directions had been given to Moses for the children of Israel to this effect: “If thou meet thine enemy's ox or his ass going astray, thou shalt surely bring it back to him again. If thou see the ass of him that hateth thee lying under his burden, and wouldest forbear to help him, thou shalt surely help with him.” Exodus 23:4, 5. But in the man wounded by robbers, Jesus presented the case of a brother in suffering. How much more should their hearts have been moved with pity for him than for a beast of burden! The message had been given them through Moses that the Lord their God, “a great God, a mighty, and a terrible,” “doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger.” Wherefore He commanded, “Love ye therefore the stranger.” “Thou shalt love him as thyself.” Deuteronomy 10:17-19; Leviticus 19:34. DA 500.1
Job had said, “The stranger did not lodge in the street: but I opened my doors to the traveler.” And when the two angels in the guise of men came to Sodom, Lot bowed himself with his face toward the ground, and said, “Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant's house, and tarry all night.” Job 31:32; Genesis 19:2. With all these lessons the priest and the Levite were familiar, but they had not brought them into practical life. Trained in the school of national bigotry, they had become selfish, narrow, and exclusive. When they looked upon the wounded man, they could not tell whether he was of their nation or not. They thought he might be of the Samaritans, and they turned away. DA 500.2Read in context »
God has given in His word a picture of a prosperous man—one whose life was in the truest sense a success, a man whom both heaven and earth delighted to honor. Of his experiences Job himself says: Ed 142.1
“In the ripeness of my days,
When the secret of God was upon my tent;
When the Almighty was yet with me,
And my children were about me; ...
When I went forth to the gate unto the city,
When I prepared my seat in the broad place [margin],
The young men saw me and hid themselves,
And the aged rose up and stood;
The princes refrained talking,
And laid their hand on their mouth;
The voice of the nobles was hushed.... Ed 142.2
“For when the ear heard me, then it blessed me;
And when the eye saw me, it gave witness unto me;
Because I delivered the poor that cried,
The fatherless also, and him [margin], that had none to
help him. Ed 142.3