|jen'-tilz ((goyim) ethnos, people, nation)
RELATED: Israel, Israelite
Easton's Bible Dictionary
(Hebrew, usually in plural, goyim), meaning in general
all nations except the Jews. In course of time, as the Jews began more and more
to pride themselves on their peculiar privileges, it acquired unpleasant associations,
and was used as a term of contempt.
In the New Testament the Greek word Hellenes, meaning literally Greek (as in Acts
16:1 , 16:3
1:14 ), generally denotes any non-Jewish nation.
Hitchcock's Dictionary of Bible Names
Smith's Bible Dictionary
(nations) All the people who were not Jews were so called
by them, being aliens from the worship, rites and privileges of Israel. The word
was used contemptuously by them. In the New Testament it is used as equivalent
to Greek. This use of the word seems to have arisen from the almost universal
adaption of the Greek language.
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
jen'-tilz (goy, plural goyim; ethnos, "people," "nation"):
Goy (or Goi) is rendered "Gentiles" in the King James Version in some 30 passages,
but much more frequently "heathen," and oftener still, "nation," which latter
is the usual rendering in the Revised Version (British and American), but it,
is commonly used for a non-Israelitish people, and thus corresponds to the meaning
of Gentiles." It occurs, however, in passages referring to the Israelites, as
in Genesis 12:2 ; Deuteronomy 32:28 ; Joshua 3:17 ; 4:1 ; 10:13 ; 2 Samuel 7:23
; Isaiah 1:4 ; Zechariah 2:9 , but the word ('am) is the term commonly used for
the people of God. In the New Testament ethnos is the word corresponding to goy
in the Old Testament and is rendered "Gentiles" by both VSS, while (laos) is the
word which corresponds to 'am. The King James Version also renders Hellenes, "Gentiles"
in six passages (John 7:35 ; Romans 2:9 , 10 ; 3:9 ; 1 Corinthians 10:32 ; 12:13),
but the Revised Version (British and American) renders "Greeks."
The Gentiles were far less sharply differentiated from the Israelites in Old Testament
than in New Testament times. Under Old Testament regulations they were simply
non-Israelites, not from the stock of Abraham, but they were not hated or despised
for that reason, and were to be treated almost on a plane of equality, except
certain tribes in Canaan with regard to whom there were special regulations of
non-intercourse. The Gentile stranger enjoyed the hospitality of the Israelite
who was commanded to love him (Deuteronomy 10:19), to sympathize with him, "For
ye know the heart of the stranger, seeing ye were strangers in the land of Egypt"
(Exodus 23:9 the King James Version). The Kenites were treated almost as brethren,
especially the children of Rechab (Judges 1:16 ; 5:24; Jeremiah 35). Uriah the
Hittite was a trusted warrior of David (2 Samuel 11); Ittai the Gittite was captain
of David's guard (2 Samuel 18:2); Araunah the Jebusite was a respected resident
of Jerusalem. The Gentiles had the right of asylum in the cities of refuge, the
same as the Israelites (Numbers 35:15). They might even possess Israelite slaves
(Leviticus 25:47), and a Gentile servant must not be defrauded of his wage (Deuteronomy
24:15). They could inherit in Israel even as late as the exile (Ezekiel 47:22,23).
They were allowed to offer sacrifices in the temple at Jerusalem, as is distinctly
affirmed by Josephus (BJ, II, xvii, 2- 4; Ant, XI, viii, 5; XIII, viii, 2; XVI,
ii, 1; XVIII, v, 3; CAp, II, 5), and it is implied in the Levitical law (Leviticus
22:25). Prayers and sacrifices were to be offered for Gentile rulers (Jeremiah
29:7; Baruch 1:10,11; Ezra 6:10; 1 Macc 7:33; Josephus, BJ, II, x, 4). Gifts might
be received from them (2 Macc 5:16; Josephus, Ant, XIII, iii, 4; XVI, vi, 4; BJ,
V, xiii, 6; CAp, II, 5).
But as we approach the Christian era the attitude of the Jews toward the Gentiles
changes, until we find, in New Testament times, the most extreme aversion, scorn
and hatred. They were regarded as unclean, with whom it was unlawful to have any
friendly intercourse. They were the enemies of God and His people, to whom the
knowledge of God was denied unless they became proselytes, and even then they
could not, as in ancient times, be admitted to full fellowship. Jews were forbidden
to counsel them, and if they asked about Divine things they were to be cursed.
All children born of mixed marriages were bastards. That is what caused the Jews
to be so hated by Greeks and Romans, as we have abundant evidence in the writings
of Cicero, Seneca and Tacitus. Something of this is reflected in the New Testament
(John 18:28 ; Acts 10:28 ; 11:3).
If we inquire what the reason of this change was we shall find it in the conditions
of the exiled Jews, who suffered the bitterest treatment at the hands of their
Gentile captors and who, after their return and establishment in Judea, were in
constant conflict with neighboring tribes and especially with the Greek rulers
of Syria. The fierce persecution of Antiochus IV, who attempted to blot out their
religion and Hellenize the Jews, and the desperate struggle for independence,
created in them a burning patriotism and zeal for their faith which culminated
in the rigid exclusiveness we see in later times.
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