As described at Ezekiel 9:3-6, a class of persons is marked in the forehead for protection from destruction by God’s executional forces, not being marked by angels in this instance, nor with a “seal,” but by a man having a “recorder’s inkhorn.” Pictured as “sighing and groaning over all the detestable things that are being done,” these, when ‘marked,’ show themselves to be slaves and devotees of Jehovah, their actions, practices and personalities evidently giving evidence of this before all, as if written ‘on their foreheads.’
In branding slaves for the world political “wild beast” (see BEASTS, SYMBOLIC [The seven-headed wild beast out of the sea]) a symbolic mark is put on the foreheads or the right hands of persons, even by compulsion, as depicted at Revelation 13:16, 17. Those receiving such mark identify themselves as against God and are due to receive his anger in undiluted form.—Rev. 14:9-11; see MARK, II.
ISRAEL’S HIGH PRIEST
In Israel the high priest’s turban had on its front, over the priest’s forehead, a gold plate, “the holy sign of dedication,” upon which was inscribed “with the engravings of a seal” the words “Holiness belongs to Jehovah.” (Ex. 28:36-38; 39:30) As Israel’s chief representative of Jehovah’s worship, it was fitting that the high priest keep his office holy, and this inscription would also serve as a reminder to all Israel of the need of constant holiness in the service of Jehovah. It also served as a suitable picture of the great High Priest, Jesus Christ, and his dedication and holiness to Jehovah.—Heb. 7:26.
BABYLON THE GREAT
Conversely, the symbolical great harlot has the name “Babylon the Great” on her forehead. Ancient Babylon long represented that which was unholy and in opposition to God.—Rev. 17:1-6; see BABYLON THE GREAT.
OTHER USES OF TERM
Other figurative uses of the word “forehead” are found at Isaiah 48:4, where Jehovah stated that Israel’s forehead was copper, evidently because so great was her stubbornness and rebelliousness; also at Ezekiel 3:7-9, God told Ezekiel, who prophesied to hardheaded, hardhearted Israelites, that he had made the prophet’s forehead “like a diamond,” in that he had given him the resolution, determination and boldness to deliver God’s message to them.
When King Uzziah presumptuously and illegally usurped a priest’s duties in attempting to offer incense upon the altar of incense in the temple of Jehovah, his sin and Jehovah’s judgment were plainly and immediately made manifest by leprosy flashing up in his forehead.—2 Chron. 26:16, 19, 20.
A person of non-Israelite extraction, a Gentile. The foreigners among the Hebrews consisted of hired laborers, merchants, captives taken in war, Canaanites not executed or expelled from the Promised Land, and various kinds of transients.—Josh. 17:12, 13; Judg. 1:21; 2 Sam. 12:29-31; 1 Ki. 7:13; Neh. 13:16.
Although foreigners’ rights were limited by the Law covenant, they were to be treated with justice and fairness and were to receive hospitality as long as they did not flagrantly disobey the laws of the land. The foreigner, by virtue of his having no real ties with Israel, was distinct from the circumcised proselyte who had come into membership in the congregation of Israel by completely accepting Law covenant responsibilities. Similarly, the foreigner was different from the settler who had taken up semipermanent residence in the Promised Land, and who, therefore, not only came under certain legal restrictions, but also enjoyed certain rights and privileges.—See ALIEN RESIDENT.
Many non-Israelites composed part of the households of the sons of Jacob and their descendants during the time of the Israelites’ alien residences in Canaan and in Egypt. This came about through the purchasing of slaves, who, by the terms of the covenant with Abraham, had to be circumcised, and through the hiring of servants who lived with the family. (Gen. 17:9-14) Evidently some involved in mixed marriages, along with their offspring, came to form the vast mixed company that accompanied the Israelites in the exodus.—Ex. 12:38; Lev. 24:10; Num. 11:4.
After Israel settled in the Promised Land, foreigners had to be dealt with, such as the Canaanites who were not driven out. (Judg. 2:2, 3) Merchants and craftsmen also began to travel into the land of Israel. (Ezek. 27:3, 17; 2 Sam. 5:11; 1 Ki. 5:6-18) Likely hired laborers accumulated as the Israelites grew more prosperous in developing the Promised Land. (Compare Deuteronomy 8:11-13; Leviticus 22:10.) Foreigners began to be attached to the Israelite armies, and in doing so they developed an esteem for their Hebrew leaders and a respect for the Israelite religion, as in the cases of the Gittites, the Cherethites and the Pelethites.—2 Sam. 15:18-21.
PROVISIONS OF THE LAW COVENANT
In the Law covenant Jehovah provided basic legislation to regulate dealings with foreigners and to protect the Israelite commonwealth and the integrity of its citizens and dependents economically as well as religiously and politically. The Israelites were not to have any fellowship, especially religiously, with the people of the land (Ex. 23:23-25; Deut. 7:16-26; Josh. 23:6, 7), and were not to conclude any covenants with them or their gods. (Ex. 34:12-15; 23:32; Deut. 7:2) Time and again Jehovah stressed the absolute need not to bow down to the gods of the foreigners (Ex. 20:3-7; 23:31-33; 34:14), nor even to inquire into (interest themselves in) their religious practices.—Deut. 12:29-31.
Marriage alliances with foreigners were prohibited, due primarily to the danger of corruption of pure worship. (Ex. 34:16; Deut. 7:3, 24; Josh. 23:12, 13) In the capture of a city not of the proscribed seven Canaanite nations, an Israelite soldier could take a virgin from the city as a wife after she had undergone a period of purification. In such cases no actual alliance would be formed with a foreign tribe or family, her parents having been slain when her city was taken. (Deut. 21:10-14; Num. 31:17, 18; Deut. 20:14) All inhabitants of cities of the seven Canaanite nations were to be destroyed.—Deut. 20:15-18.
An additional restriction was that no uncircumcised foreigner could eat of the Passover. (Ex. 12:43) It appears, however, that foreigners could offer sacrifices through the priestly arrangement, provided the offering itself conformed to divine standards. (Lev. 22:25) Of course, such could never come into the sanctuary (Ezek. 44:9), but they could come to Jerusalem and ‘pray toward God’s house,’ and they would likely not do so empty-handed, that is, without an accompanying sacrificial offering.—1 Ki. 8:41-43.
In governmental matters, the foreigner had no political status and could never become a king. (Deut. 17:15) Though the Israelite and the alien resident and settler in the land could take advantage of the sanctuary provided for the unintentional manslayer in the cities of refuge, there is no mention of such provision for the foreigner.—Num. 35:15; Josh. 20:9.
In economic matters, an animal that had died without the blood being drained could legally be sold to a foreigner. (Deut. 14:21) During sabbath years the Israelite could not be pressed for payment of debts, but the foreigner was not under this arrangement, and could be pressed for payment. (Deut. 15:1-3) Although a fellow Israelite was not to be charged interest, the foreigner could be so charged.—Deut. 23:20.
SOURCE OF DIFFICULTY
During Joshua’s time and the period of the judges that followed, many foreigners were in the land and were a source of constant difficulty. (Josh. 23:12, 13)