Ancient Hebrews back then lived in small group. They really didn't care how they treated people who weren't part of group. It's also possibly the translation's interpretation of whatever word was used.
Because the Israelites DIDN'T mean anyone. Their rules and commandments were only to apply to how to treat other Jews, not Gentiles. The bible repeatedly states it is ok to discriminate against or do violence to Gentiles. The ancient Israelites were highly xenophobic.
8 months ago
Last edited at 9:47PM on 7/22/2013
You need to remember that you read a translation into English, and that the Hebrew original has nuances that are hard to translate. Exodus 20:16 uses the Hebrew word "re'akha' which is commonly translated into 'thy neighbor', but "re'a" in Hebrew is not a neighbor in the modern sense. It means more a fellow human, Jew or Gentile. As evidence cf. Ex. 11:2, where the same word means the Egyptians, not the Hebrews. Therefore the commandment means not to bear false witness against any person, not even your enemy like the Egyptians were at the time.
If you are reading an English translation, you can't always trust the words. There are many things in Hebrew that can't be translated to English. There just isn't really an English word for it, but the translator just settled for whatever. Usually when you see the word neighbor, it means fellow.