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Definitions of Gentile


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I am doing a study at the moment regarding the sons of Noah, their genealogies, intermingling/intermarriages and locations. All this runs into an understanding of the many definitions of Gentile and a deeper study into the "times of the Gentiles". Some definitions are simple. Others are a dig deep, make ya think.

Some say Gentile means anyone not from a Jewish origin

Some say Gentiles is not of the Tribe of Israel (natural born or adopted)

Some say Gentiles are not of Shem/Ham, but are those descendants of Japheth

Some say, based on the geographical travels of Paul's ministry (Northern Mediterranean/Europe/Asia, (Japheth descendants?), the fact that the Apostles were instructed to teach the gospel but not at the moment to the Gentiles thus having them teach around the middle east and down into Africa (Shem and Ham descendants?), the supposed noticeable difference distinguishing a Gentile from others (Shem and Ham descendants) in the biblical lands/texts that the Gentiles were the more northern, racially white "strangers" of Europe and Asia

What other definitions have you heard or what can you expound upon these? Thanks

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24 minutes ago, PeaceKeeper said:

What other definitions have you heard or what can you expound upon these?

The same word often translated as Gentiles from Hebrew and Greek is also translated as nations.  It basically just refers to the foreign nations (from the perspective of the Jewish people).  

Look at Genesis 10:5 in the KJV for example.  It says:  "By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations."

Compare that to this translation from the Sefaria website ("A Living Library of Torah"):

"מֵ֠אֵ֠לֶּה נִפְרְד֞וּ אִיֵּ֤י הַגּוֹיִם֙ בְּאַרְצֹתָ֔ם אִ֖ישׁ לִלְשֹׁנ֑וֹ לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָ֖ם בְּגוֹיֵהֶֽם׃    From these the maritime nations branched out...  by their lands—each with its language—their clans and their nations."

The part in red in the Hebrew is from the same root word:

  גֹּוי‎,  gôy
    rarely (shortened) גֹּי‎,  gōy
    Alt: גֹּויִם‎,  gôyim ; h1471
 From    apparently from the same root as גֵּוָה {h1465} (in the sense of massing)
 Mean    a foreign nation; hence a Gentile; also (figurative) a troop of animals, or a flight of locusts
 KJV    Gentile, heathen, nation, people

The Greek word used in the New Testament has a similar usage:

  ἔθνος, éthnos ; g1484
 From    probably from éthō {g1486}
 Mean    a race (as of the same habit), i.e., a tribe; specifically a foreign (non-Jewish) one (usually by implication pagan)
 KJV    Gentile, heathen, nation, people

So based on how the word is often used in scripture, I think all of the definitions you list are valid, but I would also add that it can simply mean the non-Israelite nations.

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13 minutes ago, InCognitus said:

The same word often translated as Gentiles from Hebrew and Greek is also translated as nations.  It basically just refers to the foreign nations (from the perspective of the Jewish people).  

Look at Genesis 10:5 in the KJV for example.  It says:  "By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations."

Compare that to this translation from the Sefaria website ("A Living Library of Torah"):

"מֵ֠אֵ֠לֶּה נִפְרְד֞וּ אִיֵּ֤י הַגּוֹיִם֙ בְּאַרְצֹתָ֔ם אִ֖ישׁ לִלְשֹׁנ֑וֹ לְמִשְׁפְּחֹתָ֖ם בְּגוֹיֵהֶֽם׃    From these the maritime nations branched out...  by their lands—each with its language—their clans and their nations."

The part in red in the Hebrew is from the same root word:

  גֹּוי‎,  gôy
    rarely (shortened) גֹּי‎,  gōy
    Alt: גֹּויִם‎,  gôyim ; h1471
 From    apparently from the same root as גֵּוָה {h1465} (in the sense of massing)
 Mean    a foreign nation; hence a Gentile; also (figurative) a troop of animals, or a flight of locusts
 KJV    Gentile, heathen, nation, people

The Greek word used in the New Testament has a similar usage:

  ἔθνος, éthnos ; g1484
 From    probably from éthō {g1486}
 Mean    a race (as of the same habit), i.e., a tribe; specifically a foreign (non-Jewish) one (usually by implication pagan)
 KJV    Gentile, heathen, nation, people

So based on how the word is often used in scripture, I think all of the definitions you list are valid, but I would also add that it can simply mean the non-Israelite nations.

 

Thanks for this 

Cool Cool Cool GIFs | Tenor

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Ooh!  Can we have this discussion about the definitions of Heathen too?

My areligious father always took special care to inform all his LDS buddies that he was a heathen, and that was just fine with God because of 2 Nephi 26.  By his reading, it went this way:

"he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female", and "all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile" are all fine and dandy.  But since "he remembereth the heathen" is sandwiched in between those two statements, which means heathen neither need to come unto the Lord, nor are alike unto God like Jew and Gentile.

 

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20 hours ago, PeaceKeeper said:

I am doing a study at the moment regarding the sons of Noah, their genealogies, intermingling/intermarriages and locations. All this runs into an understanding of the many definitions of Gentile and a deeper study into the "times of the Gentiles". Some definitions are simple. Others are a dig deep, make ya think.

Some say Gentile means anyone not from a Jewish origin

Some say Gentiles is not of the Tribe of Israel (natural born or adopted)

Some say Gentiles are not of Shem/Ham, but are those descendants of Japheth

Some say, based on the geographical travels of Paul's ministry (Northern Mediterranean/Europe/Asia, (Japheth descendants?), the fact that the Apostles were instructed to teach the gospel but not at the moment to the Gentiles thus having them teach around the middle east and down into Africa (Shem and Ham descendants?), the supposed noticeable difference distinguishing a Gentile from others (Shem and Ham descendants) in the biblical lands/texts that the Gentiles were the more northern, racially white "strangers" of Europe and Asia

What other definitions have you heard or what can you expound upon these? Thanks

I like how the Book of Mormon is chock-full of prophesy concerning the Gentiles' role in furthering the Lord's work in the last days and the Restoration, and promises associated with their joining Israel.

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4 hours ago, CV75 said:

I like how the Book of Mormon is chock-full of prophesy concerning the Gentiles' role in furthering the Lord's work in the last days and the Restoration, and promises associated with their joining Israel.

Me too.  Isaiah does it as well.  (And of course the Book of Mormon quotes Isaiah a lot in that regard too).

I also like the gospel of Luke's parallel account to Matthew 24.  Recently I've had many discussions with Christians of different denominations about the prophesies concerning the end times.  Most of these Christians try to interpret Matthew 24 as entirely pertaining to the last days, but they forget that in Matthew 24:3, the apostles asked Jesus two separate questions:   

  1. When shall these things be [related to what Jesus said about the destruction of the temple in verse 2: "There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down"]
  2. What shall be the sign of thy coming, and the end of the world.

When I've talked to these other Christians about the end times, I've tried to point out to them that some of the things in Matthew 24 happened when the temple was destroyed in 70 AD (including the "abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet" - Matt 24:15), but they generally don't want to believe that (for some reason).  These other Christians keep expecting a new temple to be built in Jerusalem so that this can be fulfilled in the end times in connection with 2 Thes 2:4, which they interpret to be the antichrist violating the temple in the last days (the "man of sin" sitting "in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God").  I'm not denying that there can't be a duel fulfillment of some of these prophecies, but in my view some of it has clearly been fulfilled once already.

But I think the Luke 21 parallel account of Matthew 24 clears this up (and it's related to the topic of this thread).  It says the following:

Quote

20 And when ye shall see Jerusalem compassed with armies, then know that the desolation thereof is nigh.
21 Then let them which are in Judæa flee to the mountains; and let them which are in the midst of it depart out; and let not them that are in the countries enter thereinto.
 22 For these be the days of vengeance, that all things which are written may be fulfilled.
 23 But woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck, in those days! for there shall be great distress in the land, and wrath upon this people.
24 And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.
(Luke 21:20–24)

As shown above, verse 24 prophesied that the Jews would be scattered again, "until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled".  It makes no sense to connect this event with the last days when Israel is to be gathered again in the last days.  One of the Christians I showed this to got really mad at me, and doesn't want to talk to me anymore about this topic because I was obviously trying to "push my Mormon ideas on her".   Oh well, I tried :) 

But in any event, there are a lot of prophecies regarding the Gentiles and their participation in the gathering of Israel. 

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A Catholic in SLC.

https://www.alcuinbooks.com/pages/books/013492/robert-joseph-dwyer/the-gentile-comes-to-utah-a-study-in-religious-and-social-conflict-1862-1890

An indepth study of Protestants and Catholics as the minorities in the early days of Salt Lake City along with discussing merchants and others who were tolerated as "gentiles" but by the 1880's were pretty much accepted as a part of the general landscape though never could they be insiders.

Edited by mfbukowski
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On 11/7/2022 at 12:33 AM, LoudmouthMormon said:

Ooh!  Can we have this discussion about the definitions of Heathen too?

My areligious father always took special care to inform all his LDS buddies that he was a heathen, and that was just fine with God because of 2 Nephi 26.  By his reading, it went this way:

"he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female", and "all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile" are all fine and dandy.  But since "he remembereth the heathen" is sandwiched in between those two statements, which means heathen neither need to come unto the Lord, nor are alike unto God like Jew and Gentile.

 

Ezekiel likes the term "heathen". From the context he seems to use the word heathen where other prophets of his ilk use gentiles

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On 11/7/2022 at 5:11 AM, InCognitus said:

Me too.  Isaiah does it as well.  (And of course the Book of Mormon quotes Isaiah a lot in that regard too).

I also like the gospel of Luke's parallel account to Matthew 24.  Recently I've had many discussions with Christians of different denominations about the prophesies concerning the end times.  Most of these Christians try to interpret Matthew 24 as entirely pertaining to the last days, but they forget that in Matthew 24:3, the apostles asked Jesus two separate questions:   

  1. When shall these things be [related to what Jesus said about the destruction of the temple in verse 2: "There shall not be left here one stone upon another, that shall not be thrown down"]
  2. What shall be the sign of thy coming, and the end of the world.

When I've talked to these other Christians about the end times, I've tried to point out to them that some of the things in Matthew 24 happened when the temple was destroyed in 70 AD (including the "abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet" - Matt 24:15), but they generally don't want to believe that (for some reason).  These other Christians keep expecting a new temple to be built in Jerusalem so that this can be fulfilled in the end times in connection with 2 Thes 2:4, which they interpret to be the antichrist violating the temple in the last days (the "man of sin" sitting "in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God").  I'm not denying that there can't be a duel fulfillment of some of these prophecies, but in my view some of it has clearly been fulfilled once already.

But I think the Luke 21 parallel account of Matthew 24 clears this up (and it's related to the topic of this thread).  It says the following:

As shown above, verse 24 prophesied that the Jews would be scattered again, "until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled".  It makes no sense to connect this event with the last days when Israel is to be gathered again in the last days.  One of the Christians I showed this to got really mad at me, and doesn't want to talk to me anymore about this topic because I was obviously trying to "push my Mormon ideas on her".   Oh well, I tried :) 

But in any event, there are a lot of prophecies regarding the Gentiles and their participation in the gathering of Israel. 

You may want to look at Leviticus 26 also and the 4 mentions of 7 times in relation to times of the gentiles. It has many ties back to the dreams, visions and other going on in Daniel and its sequence of 4 Gentile dominions that fall eventually.

 

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Another use of the word unique to our church is how it is used to refer to non-members.   Only among some Mormons will you hear the word "gentile" in reference to Jews :rolleyes:

It has also become a derogatory term in many contexts to distinguish "other", in the same way that "alien" has become a derogatory term with the same meaning. 

 

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On 11/5/2022 at 8:22 PM, PeaceKeeper said:

I am doing a study at the moment regarding the sons of Noah, their genealogies, intermingling/intermarriages and locations. All this runs into an understanding of the many definitions of Gentile and a deeper study into the "times of the Gentiles". Some definitions are simple. Others are a dig deep, make ya think.

Some say Gentile means anyone not from a Jewish origin

Some say Gentiles is not of the Tribe of Israel (natural born or adopted)

Some say Gentiles are not of Shem/Ham, but are those descendants of Japheth

Some say, based on the geographical travels of Paul's ministry (Northern Mediterranean/Europe/Asia, (Japheth descendants?), the fact that the Apostles were instructed to teach the gospel but not at the moment to the Gentiles thus having them teach around the middle east and down into Africa (Shem and Ham descendants?), the supposed noticeable difference distinguishing a Gentile from others (Shem and Ham descendants) in the biblical lands/texts that the Gentiles were the more northern, racially white "strangers" of Europe and Asia

What other definitions have you heard or what can you expound upon these? Thanks

The Jew-Gentile paradigm begins after the Abrahamic covenant. Once God has chosen publicly the people of his possession, and establishes that they are not to mingle with "others", whoever they maybe, the distinction begins.

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21 hours ago, Islander said:

The Jew-Gentile paradigm begins after the Abrahamic covenant. Once God has chosen publicly the people of his possession, and establishes that they are not to mingle with "others", whoever they maybe, the distinction begins.

I would disagree only because Japheth's, (son of Noah), descendants are called Gentiles in Genesis 10:5, while the descendants of Ham and Shem are not identified as such. We can all agree that not all the descendants of Ham or Shem were within the seed of Abraham. Understandably this is a "book of Moses" so the definition may have been used differently at different times. That's my whole question for wanting several answers.  

 

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6 hours ago, PeaceKeeper said:

Some say Gentiles are not of Shem/Ham, but are those descendants of Japheth

******

I would disagree only because Japheth's, (son of Noah), descendants are called Gentiles in Genesis 10:5, while the descendants of Ham and Shem are not identified as such. We can all agree that not all the descendants of Ham or Shem were within the seed of Abraham. Understandably this is a "book of Moses" so the definition may have been used differently at different times. That's my whole question for wanting several answers.  

 

From the Jewish perspective, they seem to look at all nations as Gentiles, and Jesus Himself seemed to use it that way. However, I agree with you that the term seems to be applied to the Mediterranean nations, which are identified as the progeny of Japheth. I do not recall the term ever being used to refer to descendants of Ham or Shem. Then we find these are the nations that end up carrying the gospel/teachings of Jesus. These also end up being the people that flock to the Book of Mormon, which the scriptures also call Gentiles. Although the Church has now spread out to  encompass peoples throughout the world, it cannot be denied that it started with the "Gentiles" as that term is used in Genesis. Thanks for bringing up this topic. I was recently thinking about it.

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On 11/6/2022 at 4:33 PM, LoudmouthMormon said:

Ooh!  Can we have this discussion about the definitions of Heathen too?

My areligious father always took special care to inform all his LDS buddies that he was a heathen, and that was just fine with God because of 2 Nephi 26.  By his reading, it went this way:

"he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female", and "all are alike unto God, both Jew and Gentile" are all fine and dandy.  But since "he remembereth the heathen" is sandwiched in between those two statements, which means heathen neither need to come unto the Lord, nor are alike unto God like Jew and Gentile.

 

I think part of being a heathen is not being familiar with the “true faith”. Your dad’s scripture quoting was very counterproductive to his point.

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
On 11/11/2022 at 5:55 PM, PeaceKeeper said:

I would disagree only because Japheth's, (son of Noah), descendants are called Gentiles in Genesis 10:5, while the descendants of Ham and Shem are not identified as such. We can all agree that not all the descendants of Ham or Shem were within the seed of Abraham. Understandably this is a "book of Moses" so the definition may have been used differently at different times. That's my whole question for wanting several answers.  

 

An argument from silence is not an argument at all. If one son of Noah is a gentile, then they ALL are. Abraham was a pagan by birth, just like everybody else. and it is not until God establishes His covenant with him that the dichotomy Jew and gentile begins. There were no Jews prior to this time. Israel was born out of the loins of Abraham. It is in Abraham that God choses a people for himself. Until then, from a biblical standpoint, there were no Hebrews (later called Jews). It is Abraham who is first called "Hebrew" in Gen. 14:13. His descendants are thus differentiated from "the nations" or gentiles based on this covenant. 

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