The Term "Goy"

Written by Gil Student


It is frequently claimed that the term "Goy" (pl. goyim or goyyim) means "animal" and is therefore a derogatory term. However, this is not at all true. "Goy" is Hebrew for nation.

Exodus 19:6
"'But you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words that you shall speak to the children of Israel."

The word used here for nation, referring to the children of Israel, is "goy". There are countless examples of the Jewish nation being called "goy". There are also countless examples of other nations being called "goy" or "goyim".

See the Crosswalk Bible Lexicon entry for "Goy". Note that this is a Christian Bible site.

Colloquially, however, non-Jewish nations -- other nations -- are called "goyim" and a member of these nations is called a "goy". Any gentile is therefore called a "goy". It is not a derogatory term, but merely a descriptive term.

Leo Rosten, The Joys of Yinglish (New York:1989), pp. 205-206

goyim (plural)

What Yinglishman does not know, use and enjoy goy? Form rhyme respectively with "boy," "boyish," "doyen." The plural is pronounced GOY-im. The adjective is goyish (neuter), goyisher (masculine), or goyisheh (feminine). From the Hebrew: goy: "nation." Biblical texts called the Hebrews a goy kadosh: "a holy nation."

1. It is important to note that the idea of respect for others, and the values of a pluralistic society, form an old, integral part of Judaism and Jewish tradition. The rabbis taught that all men are equal in the eyes of G-d -- if they do the will of G-d: the Talmud says "Whether Jew or gentile, man or woman, rich or poor -- according to a man's deeds does G-d's presence rest on him."

2. Mormon call any non-Mormon a gentile; Jews are therefore gentiles to Mormons...

3. Just as some gentiles use "Jew" as a contemptuous synonym for driving too shrewd and sly a bargain ("He tried to Jew the price down," is about as odious an idiom as I know), so some Jews use goy in a pejorative sense. Relentless persecution of Jews, century after century, in nation after nation, left a legacy of bitter sayings...


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