The key here is that we have been taught to think of other people before ourselves. Now this is a piece of accepted wisdom that has been popularized and supported by the Bible. President Bush needs to think about how our attack will hurt the civilian population of Iraq even though we know that Saddam Hussein will use them as human shields. We suffer men like Hitler because we would rather see people suffer under a dictator than destroy the illusion of peace. We afford more rights to criminals than victims. We suffer injustice because we don't want to offend or hurt someone's feelings. Nomads didn't consider such things and when we project our western values on them we end up with what in our minds are contradictions. For example, we wonder how God could instruct the Israelites to exterminate the people of Canaan. It is not the right question. What will insure the survival and prosperity of the clan? that is the right question. They did not eliminate the canaanites and they suffered as a result. When Lot was taken by the four kings in their attack on Sodom, Avraham didn't ask whether the kings needed the goods or whether they were right in crushing the rebellion or whether it was a legal and just war. He needed to rescue a member of his clan and he did what was necessary, resulting in the death of a lot of people. Simeon and Levi understood that accepting the immoral actions of Shechem would result in the moral disintegration of the clan and they exacted justice for the actions and intents of the people of the city. We do not need to put up with injustice or have our prosperity denied for the sake of false peace or out of fear. The nomads did not for they did not let fear rule their lives.
#6 Among Nomads, the overriding legal responsibility was hospitality.
Not only do we see the crucial nature of hospitality in the stories of the patriarchs but it is codified in the Torah as well. The need for keeping found articles safe until the owner returns and providing safe haven for slaves are just two examples. The teachings of Y'shua support this as well, particularly the parable of the 'good Samaritan'. The answer to the question of 'who is my neighbor/brother is whoever understands and acts on the obligations of hospitality. Avraham's service to his three 'guests', Lot's protection of the messengers to Sodom, Rachel's provision for Avraham's servant are practical examples. Hospitality was not just being nice. It may be a necessity for survival at times in the harsh wilderness. All nomads shared the same risks and helped each other out in this way. A 'do unto others as you would have them do unto you' code they lived by.
Hospitality, however, was not free. It was an intricate social and legal obligation that was understood by each side. Therefore, it was not something that was offered or accepted lightly. The host obligated himself to provide for and protect his guests. That we all understand. The one receiving the hospitality also had an obligation to bless the household with whatever he has. Avraham's servant gave gifts of gold to Rachel. Lot's guests provided deliverance. Elisha provided a child to the couple that housed him. When the men came to Avraham, he offered his hospitality and they accepted. They then blessed him with Isaac. Not only that but the contraction of hospitality put Avraham on an equal level with his guest which then allows him to argue with YHVH about Sodom.
There is one other crucial idea on which hospitality is based. The giving of hospitality is the demonstration of the belief that all people are afforded basic respect and dignity. Even an enemy was at peace when accepting the hospitality of a nomad. To a nomad, no one was as object, each person had value. The nomad understood that we all share the image of God and that living in harmony with all men and their surroundings was their objective. When the nomad achieved that balance, that harmony with the created order, that is when he, and we, can experience God as we were meant to.
The nomadic lifestyle is the complete opposite of what most of us now live. I should say all because if you get e-mail of have a computer, chances are you are or are becoming westernized. We have been taught to value things, wealth. To a nomad/ancient Hebrew having 'things' was not important. When you had to carry around everything you owned, not much was retained. Avraham's wealth walked on it's own. Solomon and his accumulation of wealth in the form of possessions led to Israel's downfall. This is one area where one can easily see how lifestyle leads to correct belief/worldview. If you cannot have a lot of possessions, you no longer think about accumulating them. Things become less important. In western culture, accumulation is everything, we are taught to be good consumers and we hope our children are even better consumers that we are. We have our homes filled with stuff, most of which is useless junk, some of which we pack in boxed when we move and is stays packed until the next one. Yet we become so attached to it, identified with it, really. The process of divesting ourselves of all our useless junk is difficult but all that stuff merely takes up time in our lives that could be better spent on other things.
This lifestyle change is key. Being self contained and mobile forces one to simplify and deaccumulate. Everything one owns becomes valuable not because of appearance but functionality. More importantly, one's sphere of concern shrinks down to a manageable size. Much of our stress, and by extension, disease, results from some much of our lives being out of our control. So many of the things that affect us directly and intimately are things we have no control over. From the chemicals they put in our food to the taxes we pay to the car/heating system/plumbing we can't fix to our child's education and our jobs/boss/retirement to whether we wear a seat belt or not, these are all things we need to concern ourselves with that we exert little control over. Within the self contained nomadic lifestyle, there is little one can't fix, your boss is yourself and one is not stuck within and oppressive socio-political environment-you pick up and move. This is one of the reasons I like camping so much. When camping, the wold is shrunk to the size of the campsite. No boss, no job, no house, nothing except what is in the campsite. It is developing a life in which the world is reduced to a manageable size.
Finally, being a nomad is different from being a traveler. There are people who retire, buy a huge motorhome and travel the country. They are not nomads. They are just as attached to society as they were before they left, they are not allowing the lifestyle to change their attitudes. My personal opinion is that one of the few authentic nomad avenues open to us today is the cruising lifestyle. For the uninitiated, that means traveling the world on a sailboat. That is what my family is planning to do. It allows freedom of movement, it removes any one government's authority and entanglement and one the initial expense is over, it can be a very cheap and rewarding life that is available to anyone, regardless of age. Personally, I am building my boat, you can see progress on my web site. After that, we will be sailing the high seas, allowing the wind/ruach to lead us where it may.