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(a situation no less true in Israel than elsewhere).59 The mashal-users, however, were not so enamored by a romantic view of the proletariat that they neglected to note that the poor sometimes oppressed one another.60

The Neutral Group The concept of the "stranger" (rz) is particularly

interesting because of its ambiguity. This figure is not always a negative one; at times it is precisely the stranger who praises the wise.

Let a stranger praise you, but not your mouth, a foreigner, but not your lips. Proverbs 27:2

The difficulty with strangers is that they are an unknown quantity. One can never know for how long they might be in the community. Most likely their customs are unusual and unconventional. Perhaps their values, always much more difficult to detect, are likewise unconventional. Hence, financial transactions with them ought to be avoided completely.61

The word rz, however, may not always carry an ethnic sense. It may refer to one who is an "outsider" from the

59

14:31; 22:16.

60

28:3.

61

11:15; 20:16; 27:13.

45

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