Who Are The Gentiles?

benjamites's picture

A SCRIPTUAL study into the meaning of the terms "Gentile" and "Israelite"

All scripture references by poster KJV. I am not opposed to other translations, but just my preference.

"A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of Thy people Israel" Luke 2:32

It is generally taught in the Christian churches of America, that the world is divided into three main religious groups - Jews, Gentiles and Christians. These religious groups teach that anyone who is not a Jew, must belong to one or the other of these remaining groups, and is either a Gentile or a Christian.

The modern definition of a "gentile" as given in Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary is: "relating to the nations at large, as distinguished from the Jews."

But here is something important we MUST know, if we are to understand the Bible. The word GENTILE is not used in any of the ancient manuscripts, simply because there was no such word in the Hebrew or Greek languages. The word GENTILE as used in our modern Bible versions, including the King James Version, in the Old Testament, always comes from the Hebrew word "goy," (singular) and "goyim", (plural). It is translated five different ways in the Old Testament, according to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible; "goy or goyim (singular or plural)", a foreign NATION hence GENTILE; (2) HEATHEN; (3) NATION, and (4) PEOPLE, or ANOTHER."

Notice that the Hebrew word "goy, or goyim," is NEVER translated to mean "non-Jew."
The word "goy" is found in the Old Testament some 557x. 30x it has been translated GENTILE; 11x as people; 142x as heathen; 373x as NATION, and one time as ANOTHER. But not once as "non-Jew."

Let's examine a few specific verses of Scripture in the Old Testament, using the word GENTILE in place of the word NATION, as used by the translators. It should be remembered that the word "goy" or "goyim" was used in every instance in the original Hebrew.

Genesis 12:2 "I will make of thee (Abraham) a great GENTILE (nation.) Doesn't make much sense, does it?

Genesis 17:4,5 ". . . and thou (Abraham) shall be a father of many GENTILES (nations), neither shall thy name any more be called Abram; for a father of many GENTILES (nations) have I made thee."

Genesis 25:23 "And the Lord said to her (Rebekah the wife of Isaac, the son of Abraham) two GENTILES (nations) are in your womb, and two manner of people shall be separated from your bowels; the one people shall be stronger than the other people; and the elder shall serve the younger."

Genesis 48:19 ". . . And his seed (Abraham's descendants) shall become a multitude of GENTILES (nations)."

This kind of translation does not make much sense. But if you will look closely at your King James Version, you will find the translators used the Hebrew word "goy" as NATIONS in one place and as GENTILE in another. Could it be that they were influenced by the Church doctrine of their time, since the word GENTILE never appeared in earlier manuscripts? The King James Version, for instance was written because King James, disliked the footnotes of the Geneva Bible, which was the Bible of the Reformation fathers.

To be continued....

My disappointments in life are God's Divine appointments. Are they for you too?

"Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ. Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit."

Apostle Paul ~ Ephesians 3:4-5

to God, what does goy mean?

The ancient Hebrew language had very few words. Of which fact, by knee-jerk reaction, one may infer: because it was a primitive language. I do not know about ancient Hebrew, but I have a hunch that its "word shortage" may be of the same nature as Helenic Greek. Which is a refined, esoteric language.

In Helenic the words have depth and width of meaning, according to 1). context and 2). level of understanding. [3). there may be a limitation/difference in usage according to the point in time when it was used -- see Dictionary of New Testament Theology]

to reiterate by example:
1). context: 'epilyo' : used in business meant 'to discharge' (an account); whereas in 2Pet 1:20 it means 'to interpret' (scripture)
3). the time factor: in ancient Greek "epilyo' meant 'to loose(n)', 'untie' or 'release', which is not found in the New Testament, but reappears in the 2nd century AD.
2). depth of meaning: 'psyche' may mean 'life' in the sense of earthly/corporeal life, as well as soul/life of the soul/eternal life - cf Mt 16:25vs26.

I believe in those times communication relied a lot more on vibes/feeling and "telepathy" than today. Especially when the scriptures were expounded, words were mere clues to the general direction, and a lot was received through the wisdom of the heart. This is how come the scriptures are so succinct. And that's how they could be propagated for so long by word of mouth among people in the vast majority illiterate, while the written scriptures were rare and people proficient in r&r were few and far between. In the illiterate classes it was an affective memorization, rather than a mechanical or intellectual one. People received the meanings, the notions -- for which words were but external, sensorial orientational clues.

I assume that this was the case with Hebrew as well.

With the word goy you may have an extra point, Patrick and this discussion may have brought our understanding to the next level: what nations? what's nation? what's others? what's Gentiles? in the eyes of God, i mean. Who are the sons of Abraham, after all? only the twelve tribes? thirteen? how about all the other nations who have him as common ancestor? only the chosen nation? who are the chosen people? clue: Mt 4:16,17
i believe that all who choose God are His Chosen People. He had already chosen us when He made us in His Image. The ball is in our court.

May God Bless Lee, Dad, Mike, Jeff, all posters here, for the Holy Spirit had spoken to me through you today in the Name of Jesus Christ