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Goi , also Goj , ( Yiddish גוי Goj , plural גוים Gójim ) is a Yiddish word that is also used in German and denotes a non-Jew, sometimes a Jew who does not adhere to the rules of Jewish law. It comes from the Hebrew word goj ( גּוֹי, Plural גּוֹיִם gojím ) with the meaning " nation " or " people ". In German the use of Goi is also known in pejorative form.

Forms, development of meaning

The word goj is one of the four words that means “people” or “nation” in the Hebrew Bible; the other three are עַם ʿam , לְאֹם leʾom and much less often אֻמָּה ʾummah . There are numerous parallelisms between these words: e.g. B. Hab 2.13  EU ( ʿam , leʾom ), Ps 2.1  EU ( goj , leʾom ), Ps 33.10  EU and Zef 2.9  EU ( goj , ʿam ), Ps 117.1  EU ( goj , ʾummah ). So far they have been felt to be synonymous, precisely in the meaning of "multitude of peoples or nations of the world". From the fact that “my people” (meaning is God's people) is rendered as עַמִּי ʿammi , the use of the word has probably resulted that goj rather refers to other peoples than the Jewish; but this meaning is not exclusive. In this respect, the translation “ pagans ”, like Luther's, is too narrow and misleading. There is no special word for a single Gentile in the Hebrew Bible. A non-Jew living in the Jewish area is referred to as גֵּר ger 'settler', 'migrant', and those living outside are collectively referred to as goyim 'peoples'.

The Hebrew form for a non-Jewish woman is גּוֹיָה Gojah (plural: גּוֹיוֹת Gojoth ; Yiddish: Goje , Gojte ; plural: Gojes , Gojtes ), the adjectival Yiddish form is Gojish (גוייִש); the expression שיקסע Schickse also exists for non-Jewish women . Today is Goy mostly as a general designation of non-Israelites (לֹא-יְהוּדִים lo-Jewish people used non-Jews), although the term is commonly used in the original meaning ( "people", "nation").

Symbolic meanings of the word from the time of the origin of the Tanach are still "swarm of locusts" and "all kinds of beasts". In Joel 1.6  EU the "swarm of locusts" is obviously used as a metaphor for an invading army. Accordingly, the Brown-Driver-Briggs-Lexicon declares עם י as opposing the goyim and as “people under arms”, “mighty force”, “fighting” and “in conflict [with evildoers]” as well as “herds” and “flocks of animals”.

The term Goy appears for the first time in the Torah in Gen 10.1  EU in relation to non-Israelites. In Gen 12.2  EU and many other passages in the Bible, the term is also used for the Israelites themselves, for example when Abraham learns that he will be the tribal father of a גּוֹי גָּדוֹל goj gadol , a "great people".

As שבת גוי Schabbesgoi , Shabbesgoi or in German also Sabbat-Goi , in Hebrew גּוֹי שֶל שַׁבָּת Goj schel Schabbath , a non-Jewish servant is referred to who carries out the work prohibited for Jews in a Jewish household or a Jewish institution on Shabbat .

Use in German

If the term Goy is used by Jews to refer to other Jews, this is also a pejorative reference to “un-Jewish” behavior such as disregard of Jewish rules, to behavior contrary to traditional Judaism or a reference to vicious or unintelligent behavior: for example, he means hot a Yidish head ("He has a Jewish head", Yiddish ) "He is intelligent", whereas in contrast Er hot a goy head ("He has a Goy head") stands for "He is stupid".


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Ernest Klein: A comprehensive etymological dictionary of the Hebrew language for readers of English . Carta et al. a., Jerusalem 1987, ISBN 965-220-093-X , pp. 94 (English, archive.org ). For the Hebrew word goj there is given as the original biblical meaning "nation" or "people". The meaning “non-Jew” is post-biblical ( PBH ), the meaning “non-religious Jew” is modern ( NH ). The word gojut (Goi quality, "Goiheit") comes from medieval Hebrew ( MH ). The corresponding lexicon entries are:

    גּוֹיmn 1 nation, people. 2 PBH Gentile. 3 NH to irreligious Jew. [Of uncertain origin: possibly related toגֵּו (= body), and properly denoting an ethnic 'body'.] Derivatives: גּוֹיָה, גּוֹיוּת, גּוֹיִי.
    גּוֹיָהfn PBH a Gentile woman, [f. ofגּוֹי.]
    גּוֹיוּתfn MH state of being a Gentile; heathenism. [Formed fromגּוֹי with suff. ־וּת [...].]
    גּוֹיִיadj. Gentile. [Formed fromגּוֹי with suff. ־י.]
  2. Example: “Even fully assimilated Jews, who would have wanted nothing more than recognition from the Gentiles, could on occasion, for example during a provocation - even if only to themselves - mumble the word Goi, that contemptuous term for the Gentile, the outsider , the dull soul. ” Fritz Stern : Gold and Iron. Bismarck and his banker Bleichröder . Ullstein 1978. p. 573.
  3. The Hebrew words can be seen in the Blue Letter Bible the occurrences in the Hebrew Bible and the corresponding item in the following English translation of Gesenius'schen dictionary to look up: Samuel Prideaux Tregelles: Gesenius's Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures: With Additions and Corrections From the Author's Thesaurus an Other Works. London 1857. Direct links to the words are ʾummah , goj , leʾom , ʿam , ger .
  4. Gesenius (also online available) mentions in the article goj the place Zef 2.9  EU (in the STP 2016 "my nation" in the STP 1980 and Luther only the second occurrence of "my people") as the only evidence of the Form goji (my people). There are found in the Masoretic text the consonants of goy , but the vowel signs of goji , namely a Chireq as a vowel when iodine and the accent Tipcha also in iodine, as if it were the consonant of the stressed syllable. The site was so by the Masoretes like a Ketib goj with the Qere goji treated, but without marking and footnote. Most translators follow the proofreading and write “my people”.
  5. "גּוֹי (goy)", in: Francis Brown, S. Driver & C. Briggs, Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon , Hendrickson Publishers (1996); similar : "גּוֹי (gowy)" , in: King James Version Old Testament Hebrew Lexicon (online)
  6. Irene Belyeu, Revelation in Context: A Literary and Historical Commentary on the Book of Revelation with Supporting Referents and Notes , Xulon Press 2006, p. 205
  7. "גּוֹי (gowy)", in: Robert L. Thomas, New American Standard Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible / Hebrew-Aramaic and Greek Dictionaries , Holman Bible Publishers (1981)
  8. "גּוֹי (goy)", in: STD James & LLD Strong, Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible with Dictionaries of the Hebrew and Greek Words , MacDonald Publishing (1974/2006)
  9. Petra van der Zande: Remember, watch and rejoice . Lulu.com,, ISBN 978-965-7542-55-2 , p. 12.