(English Index)

(Original Index)




Goy (Hebrew word, regular plural goyim, or goys in Western languages) is a transliterated Hebrew word which translates as "nation" or "people". In practice today it is a synonym for gentile or non-Jew.

In the Hebrew Bible, goy and its variants appear over 550 times in reference to Israelites and to gentile nations. The first recorded usage of goy occurs in Genesis 10:5 and applies to non-Israelite nations. The first mention in relation to the Israelites comes in Genesis 12:2, when God promises Abraham that his descendants will form a goy gadol ("great nation"). While the earlier books of the Hebrew Bible often use goy to describe the Israelites, the later ones tend to apply the term to other nations.

The Rabbinic literature conceives of the non-Jewish nations as numbering seventy, each with their own language. On the verse, "He [God] set the borders of peoples according to the number of the Children of Israel" (Deuteronomy 32:8), Rashi explains: "Because of the number of the Children of Israel who were destined to come forth from the children of Shem, and to the number of the seventy souls of the Children of Israel who went down to Egypt, He set the ‘borders of peoples’ [to be characterized by] seventy languages".

"And if you are friendly only to your friends, are you doing anything out of the ordinary? Even the Gentiles [Goyim] do that" (Matthew 5:47).

Jesus here is referring to the fact that the Goyim had not received God's revelation as had the Jews, and therefore less was to be expected of them.

"For that is what the Lord has ordered us to do, ‘I have set you as a light for the Gentiles [Goyim], to be for deliverance to the ends of the earth’" (Acts 13:47).

Isaiah 49:6, quoted here, is, essentially, the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20), as given to the Jewish people. The phrase "light for the Goyim" (also found in Isaiah 42:6) recalls Isaiah 60:1-3: "Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you... And Goyim will walk in your light". And the "light" who has come is Jesus, the "light of the world" (John 8:12). Only when the Jewish people shine forth this light can they be the "light for the Goyim" that they are supposed to be.