word of Latin origin (from "gens"; "gentilis"), designating a people not
Jewish, commonly applied to non-Jews. The term is said (but falsely so) to
imply inferiority and to express contempt. If used at all by Jews of modern
times—many of them avoiding it altogether, preferring to speak of "non-Jews"—this
construction of its implications must certainly be abandoned as contrary
to truth. The word "Gentile" corresponds to the late Hebrew "goi," a synonym
for "nokri," signifying "stranger," "non-Jew." In the Hebrew of the Bible
"goi" and its plural "goyyim" originally meant "nation," and were applied
both to Israelites and to non-Israelites (Gen. xii. 2, xvii. 20; Ex. xiii.
3, xxxii. 10; Deut. iv. 7; viii. 9, 14; Num. xiv. 12; Isa. i. 4, lx. 22;
Jer. vii. 28). "Goi" and "goyyim," however, are employed in many passages
to designate nations that are politically distinct from Israel (Deut. xv.
6; xxviii. 12, 36; Josh. xxiii. 4). From this use is derived the meaning
"stranger" (Deut. xxix. 24; comp. II Chron. vi. 32 ="'amme ha-'areẓ"). As
the non-Israelite and the nokri were "heathens," "goi" came to denote a "heathen,"
like the later "'akkum," which, in strict construction, is not applicable
to Christians or Mohammedans (see below). In its most comprehensive sense
"goi" corresponds to the other late term, "ummot ha-'olam" (the peoples of
Toward idolatry and the immoralities
therewith connected, the Biblical writings display passionate intolerance.
As the aboriginal population of Canaan was the stumbling-block for Israel,
constantly exposed to the danger of being contaminated by Canaanitish idolatrous
practises, the seven "goyyim," i.e., nations (Deut. vii. 1, xii. 2),
were to be treated with but little mercy; and, more especially, marriages
with them were not to be tolerated (Deut. vii. 3; comp. Ex. xxxiv. 16). Notwithstanding
this prohibition, mention is made of marriages with non-Hebrews of other
stock than the seven nations enumerated (Ruth i. 4; II Sam. iii. 3; I Kings
vii. 14, xiv. 21; I Chron. ii. 34), and even of marriages in direct contravention
of the prohibitive law (Judges iii. 6; II Sam. xi. 3; I Kings xi. 1 et seq.,
xvi. 31). This proves that the animosity against non-Hebrews, or "goyyim,"
assumed to have been dominant in Biblical times among the Hebrews, was by
no means intense. The caution against adopting the "ḥuḳḳot ha-goyyim" (Lev.
xviii. 2), and the aversion to the customs of "the nations," rest on the
recognition of the morally pernicious character of the rites indulged in
by the Canaanitish heathens.
"stranger," whether merely a visitor ("ger") or a resident ("ger toshab"),
was placed under the protection of the Law, though possibly a distinction
was made between the transient and the permanent stranger; from the former,
for instance, interest could be taken and a debt was collectable even in
the Year of Release. But God was said to love the stranger (Deut. x. 18;
Ps. cxlvi. 9). The native-born was required to love him (Lev. xix. 33-34).
Recourse to the courts was open to him (Ex. xxii. 21, xxiii. 9; Deut. xxiv.
17, xxvii. 19). "One law and one statute" was to apply to native and stranger
alike (Lev. xxiv. 22; Num. ix. 14; xv. 16, 29; Ex. xii. 49). But of the stranger
it was expected that he would forego the worship of
idols (Lev. xx. 2; Ezek. xiv. 7) and the practise of sorcery, incest, or
other abominations (Lev. xviii. 26), and that he would refrain from eating
blood (Lev. xvii. 10), from working on Sabbath (Ex. xx. 10, xxiii. 12), from
eating leavened bread on Pesaḥ (Ex. xii. 19), and from violating Yom ha-Kippurim
(Lev. xvi. 29). For other provisions concerning the stranger, or non-Jew
("goi"), see Lev. xvii. 8; xxiv. 16, 22; Num. xv. 14, xxxv. 15; Deut. xiv.
21; xvi. 11, 14).
Restrictions in the matter of the reception of strangers (see Proselyte and Proselytism) were made in the case of (1) Edomites and Egyptians, who were entitled to acceptance only in the fourth generation, i.e.,
the third from the original immigrant; and (2) Ammonites and Moabites. These
latter two were put on a level with persons of illegitimate birth, and were
therefore excluded from "the congregation of the Lord forever" (Deut. xxiii.
et seq.; compare the American anti-Chinese legislation).
The strangers, i.e.,
the goyyim, enjoyed all the benefits of the poor-laws (see Deut. xiv. 28,
xxvi. 11; comp. Job i. 7); and the Prophets frequently enjoin kindness toward
the non-Israelite (Jer. vii. 6, xxii. 3; Ezek. xxii. 7; Zech. vii. 10; Mal.
iii. 5; comp. Ps. xciv. 6).
Non-Israelites figure in the Bible as exemplars of fidelity (see Eliezer), devotion (Ruth), and piety (Job);
and Deutero-Isaiah's welcome and promise to the "sons of the stranger" (Isa.
lvi. 3-6; comp. Ezek. xlvii. 22) likewise betoken the very opposite of the
spirit of haughty exclusiveness and contempt for the non-Israelite said to
be characteristic of the Jew and of Judaism.
Ezra and Nehemiah, it is true, rigorous measures were proposed to insure
the purity of the holy seed of Abraham (Neh. ix. 2; xiii. 3, 23; Ezra ix.
2 et seq., x. 3); but the necessities of the situation justified the narrower policy in this case.
pre-exilic times the intercourse between Israelites and non-Israelites (non-Canaanites)
was not very active or extensive, and non-Israelites (Egyptians, Assyrians,
Babylonians) always appeared as enemies. But the Exile brought Israel into
closer contact with non-Israel. If the conclusions of the critical schools
are accepted, according to which the opening chapters of Genesis date from
this period, the fact that Israel posits at the beginning of history the
unity of all humanity should give pause to the ascription to Judaism of hostility
toward the Gentile majority of humanity. The books of Ruth and Jonah are
also documentary proof that the Hebrew racialism of Ezra met with strenuous
opposition. Greeks, Syrians, and Romans, the peoples with whom post-exilic
Israel had incisive relations, were not animated by a spirit apt to engender
in the Jew a responsive sentiment of regard. Nor were their morals ("ḥuḳḳot
ha-goyyim") such as to allay the apprehension of faithful Jews as to the
probable results of contact. The Maccabean revolution, the struggle against
Hellenism, the rise against Rome under both Titus and Hadrian, are the historical
background to the opinions expressed concerning non-Jews and the enactments
adopted against them. Yet withal, both relatively —by comparison with the
attitude of the Greek world toward the non-Greek (barbarian), or with the
Roman treatment of the non-Romans (the "pagani") —and absolutely, the sentiments
of the Jew toward the non-Jew were superior to the general moral and mental
atmosphere. The Essenes certainly represent the cosmopolitan and broadly humanitarian tendencies of Judaism; and as for the Pharisees, their contempt for the Gentile was not deeper than their contempt for the Jewish 'Am ha-Areẓ
(the unlearned, suspected always of laxity in religious duty). The golden
rule is Pharisaic doctrine (comp. Ab. R. N., Recension B, xxvi., xxix., xxx.,
In judging the halakic enactments one
must keep in mind not merely the situation of the Jews—engaged in a bitter
struggle for self-preservation and exposed to all sorts of treachery and
suffering from persecution—but also the distinction between law and equity.
The law can not and does not recognize the right of demented persons, minors,
or aliens to hold property. Even modern statutes are based on this principle;
e.g., in the state of Illinois, U. S. A., an alien can not inherit
real estate. But what the law denies, equity confers. The Talmudic phrase
"mi-pene darke shalom" ("on account of the ways of peace"; see below) is
the equivalent of the modern "in equity."
the views of the Tannaim concerning Gentiles were influenced largely by their
own personal temper and the conditions of their age, is apparent from an
analysis of the discussion on the meaning of Prov. xiv. 34, of which two
versions are found: one in Pesiḳ. 12b; the other in a baraita in B. B. 10b.
According to the former, Eliezer, Joshua, and Eleazar b. 'Arak, under their
master Johanan ben Zakkai; and Gamaliel, a certain Abin b. Judah, and Neḥunya
ben ha-Ḳana are the participants. In the latter version, Eliezer, Joshua,
Gamaliel, Eleazar of Modi'im, and Neḥunya ben ha-Ḳana are mentioned. It is
probable that two distinct discussions, one under Johanan ben Zakkai and
the other under Gamaliel, were combined, and the names and opinions confounded
(see Bacher, "Ag. Tan." i. 38, note). This, however, is immaterial, in view
of the fact that each of the men quoted gives a different interpretation;
the truly humane one by Neḥunya (in the Pesiḳta, by Eleazar ben 'Arak) alone
meeting with the approval of the master. According to R. Eliezer, the maxim
"Love, benevolence ["ḥesed"] exalteth a nation" refers to Israel; while whatever
charity the Gentiles practise is really sinful, the motive being self-glorification.
Joshua is of the same opinion, alleging that whatever charitable action the
Gentiles do is done to extend their kingdom. Gamaliel also expresses himself
to the same effect, adding that the Gentiles, by their impure motive, incur
the penalty of Gehenna. Eleazar of Modi'im sides with him, saying that "the
Gentiles practise benevolence merely to taunt Israel." But Neḥunya ben ha-Ḳana
(in the Pesiḳta, Eleazar ben 'Arak) interprets the maxim as follows: "Righteousness
exalteth a nation; for benevolence both for Israel and for the Gentiles is
a sin-offering." Themaster, approving this construction,
explains that, in his view, the passage teaches that as the sin-offering
works atonement for Israel, so does benevolence for the Gentiles.
following anthology of haggadic observations on non-Israelites, or Gentiles
is arranged chronologically, as it is essential that the time-element be
kept in view and that the opinions of one tanna be not taken as those of
Gamaliel II. is recorded a conversation with two pseudo-proselyte generals,
who, being sent to investigate Jewish practises, take exception only to the
provision permitting to a Jew the use of property stolen from a non-Jew (Sifre,
Deut. 344; B. K. 38a—the law which, in regard to the damage done by a goring
ox, does not put Jew and Gentile on an equal footing). In Yer. B. Ḳ. 4b they
censure also the prohibition of Jewish women from attending non-Jewish women
as midwives and nurses. Gamaliel is reported to have repealed the obnoxious
law on the use of stolen property, (see Grätz in "Monatsschrift," 1881, p.
Eliezer b. Hyrcanus is less tolerant. According
to him, the mind of every non-Jew is always intent upon idolatry (Giṭ. 45b).
The cattle of a heathen is unfit for sacrifices ('Ab. Zarah 23b). Explaining
Prov. xiv. 34, he maintains that the non-Jews only practise charity in order
to make for themselves a name (B. B. 10b; Pesiḳ. 12b; Gamaliel is credited
with the same opinion in B. B. 10b). The persecutions which, at the instigation
of Judæo-Christians, Eliezer had suffered at the hands of the Romans may
explain his attitude, as well as his opinion that the Gentiles have no share
in the life to come (Tosef., Sanh. xiii. 2; Sanh. 105a). He nevertheless
cites the example of a non-Jew, Dama b. Netina, as illustrative of the command
to honor father and mother (Ḳid. 31a; 'Ab. Zarah 23b; comp. Yer. Peah 15c;
Ḳid. 61b; Pesiḳ. R. xxiii.).
Joshua b. Hananiah,
contrary to Eliezer b. Hyrcanus, contends that there are righteous men among
the Gentiles, and that these will enter the world to come (Tosef., Sanh.
xiii. 2), though as a rule Gentiles cling to vain things and are rejected
(Prov. xxviii. 19; Gen. R. lxxxii.). He excludes the descendants of Amalek
from the Messianic kingdom (Sifre, Deut. 310; Mek., Yitro, 57a); while all
other Gentiles will adopt monotheism ('Ab. Zarah 24a; comp. Pesiḳ. 28b).
He is of the decided opinion that Gentiles (heathen) may lead a righteous
life and thus escape Gehenna (see Zunz, "G. V." p. 269, note d; Bacher, "Ag.
Tan." i. 159). It is also reported of Joshua b. Hananiah that in a dialogue
with the emperor Hadrian—who insisted that, as God's name was not mentioned
in those parts of the Decalogue addressed to all men, the Gentiles were preferred,
Israel being threatened with greater punishments-he controverted that monarch's
conclusions by means of an illustration not very complimentary to the Gentiles
(Pesiḳ. R. xxi.).
Eleazar of Modi'im, in reference
to Micah iv. 5, explains that Israel, though guilty of the same sins as the
Gentiles, will not enter hell, while the Gentiles will (Cant. R. ii. 1).
In another of his homilies, however, he speaks of the joy with which the
Gentiles blessed Israel for having accepted the Decalogue (Zeb. 116a). On
the whole, he is very bitter in his condemnations of the heathen. "They profit
by their deeds of love and benevolence to slander Israel" (referring to Jer.
xl. 3; B. B. 10a).
Eleazar ben Azariah maintains,
on the basis of Ex. xxi. 1, that a judgment rendered by a non-Jewish (Roman)
court is not valid for a Jew (Mek., Mishpaṭim). There is also recorded a
high tribute which he paid to a heathen servant, Ṭabi, who was so worthy
that Eleazar declares he felt that he himself ought to be the servant (Mldr.
Mishle to Prov. ix. 2).
Ishmael ben Elisha used
to reply to the heathen's benedictions and imprecations: "The word befitting
you has long since been uttered." Asked for an explanation, he referred to
Gen. xxvii. 29 (Hebr.): "Those that curse thee shall be cursed; those that
bless thee shall be blessed" (Gen. R. lxvi.). In order to protect Jews he
would decide in their favor, using the non-Jewish or the Jewish code as suited
the occasion (Sifre, Deut. 16; in B. Ḳ. 113a this is given as a prescription
of his for others to follow, against which Akiba, recognizing that this would
be a profanation of God's name, protests "mi-pene ḳiddush ha-Shem").
like Hillel, declared the command to love one's neighbor as oneself (Lev.
xix. 18) to be the fundamental proposition of religion (Sifra, Ḳedoshim,
ed. Weiss, p. 89a; Yer. Ned. 41c; Gen. R. xxiv.; comp. Ab. iii. 14; Ab. R.
N. xxxix.). Robbery of which a Gentile is the victim is robbery (B. B. 113a).
For his opinion of the non-Jewish peoples, the "Dialogue Between Israel and
the Gentiles" is characteristic (Mek., Beshallaḥ, ed. Weiss, p. 44b; Sifre,
Deut. 343; Cant. R. i. 3, v. 9, vi. 1). In another dialogue, Israel's monotheism
is shown to be far superior to the ever-changing belief of the Gentiles (Mek.,
Yitro, x.). His contempt for the folly of idolatry as practised by the Romans
is apparent in his conversation with Rufus, in which he compares the gods
to dogs (Tan. Terumah, ed. Stettin, p. 139; comp. Grätz, "Gesch." iv. 447).
Akiba's disciples Tarphon is noted for his antipathy to the Judæo-Christians,
whose books he would burn without regard for the name of God occurring therein,
preferring the temple of idolaters to them (Shab. 116a).
the Galilean rebukes Israel for its inconstancy, which he contrasts with
the fidelity shown by the Gentiles to their ancestral beliefs (Sifre, Deut.
87). The good done by Gentiles is rewarded (see Gen. xxiii. 5; Sifra, Aḥare
Judah ben Baba holds that by the customs
of the heathen forbidden in Lev. xviii. 3 were meant the cosmetic arts (Sifra,
86a: see commentary of Abraham ben David ad loc.; comp. Tosef., Soṭah, xv. 9; Shab. 62b).
warning against the practises of the heathen in Lev. xviii. 3 is interpreted
by R. Meïr (Sifra, 85b) to refer to the superstitions "of the Amorites" (enumerated
in Shab. 67a; comp. Mishnah vi., last section). He would not permit Jews
to visit the theaters (arenas) of the Gentiles, because blood is spilled
and idols are worshiped there (Tosef., 'Ab. Zarah, ii. 5; 'Ab. Zarah 18b;
Yer. Sanh. 40a; Ab. R. N. xxi.). Intolerant of idolatry ('Ab. Zarah i. 5,
8; ii. 2, 4; iii. 1; Blumenthal, "Rabbi Meïr," pp. 82 et seq.), it
was Meïr who insisted that in Lev. xviii. 5 the word "man," not "priest,"
"Levite," or "Israelite," occurs, and thus claimed that a non-Jew versed
in the Torah equals in rank the high priest (B. Ḳ. 38a; Sanh. 59a; Sifra,
86b, where II Sam. vii. 19 ["ha-adam"]; Isa. xxvi. 2, "goi ẓaddiḳ"; Ps. xxxiii.
1, "ẓaddiḳim," and cxxv. 4, "le-ṭobim," are similarly applied to Gentile
and Jew alike). He was on a footing of intimacy with the Gentile philosopher
Euonymos of Gadara (Grätz, l.c. iv. 469). In an anecdote, significant
as indicating the freedom of intercourse between Jew and Gentile, Meïr illustrates
the cynic materialism of a rich heathen who, angry at the lack of a trifle
at his banquet, which offered "whatever was created in six days," broke a
rich plate; pleading that, as the world to come was for Israel, he had to
look to this world for his pleasures (Pesiḳ. 59b; Num. R. xxi.). Meïr has
a conversation with a "hegemon," who expresses his contempt of Israel, calling
the Israelites slaves; whereupon Meïr shows that Israel is a wayward son,
always finding, if ready to repent, the father's house open (Jellinek, "B.
H." I. 21). This anecdote, also, is significant as showing the sentiments
of the Gentiles toward the Jews.
Simon ben Yoḥai is preeminently the anti-Gentile teacher. In a collection of three sayings of his, beginning with the keyword
(Yer. Ḳid. 66c; Massek. Soferim xv. 10; Mek., Beshal-laḥ, 27a; Tan., Wayera,
ed. Buber, 20), is found the expression, often quoted by anti-Semites, "Ṭob
shebe-goyyim harog" (="The best among the Gentiles deserves to be killed").
This utterance has been felt by Jews to be due to an exaggerated antipathy
on the part of a fanatic whose life experiences may furnish an explanation
for his animosity; hence in the various versions the reading has been altered,
"The best among the Egyptians" being generally substituted. In the connection
in which it stands, the import of this observation is similar to that of
the two others: "The most pious woman is addicted to sorcery"; "The best
of snakes ought to have its head crushed" (comp. the saying, "Scratch a Russian
and you will find a Tartar").
On the basis of
Hab. iii. 6, Simon b. Yoḥai argued that, of all the nations, Israel alone
was worthy to receive the Law (Lev. R. xiii.). The Gentiles, according to
him, would not observe the seven laws given to the Noachidæ (Tosef., Soṭah,
viii. 7; Soṭah 35b), though the Law was written on the altar (Deut. xxvi.
8) in the seventy languages. Hence, while Israel is like the patient ass,
the Gentiles resemble the easy-going, selfish dog (Lev. R. xiii.; Sifre,
Deut., Wezot ha-Berakah, 343). Yet Simon speaks of the friendly reception
given to Gentiles (Sifre, Deut. 1). The idols were called "elilim" to indicate
that "wo  is them that worship them" (Jellinek, l.c.
v. 78). Simon b. Yoḥai insists upon the destruction of idols, but in a different
manner from that proposed by others ('Ab. Zarah iii. 3; 'Ab. Zarah 43b).
He extends to Gentiles the prohibition against sorcery in Deut. xviii. 10
et seq. (Tosef., 'Ab. Zarah, viii. 6; Sanh. 55b).
ben 'Illai recommends the daily recital of the benediction. "Blessed be Thou
. . . who hast not made me a goi" (Tosef., Ber. vii. 18: Men. 43b, sometimes
ascribed to Meïr; see Weiss, "Dor," ii. 137). Judah is confident that the
heathen (Gentiles) will ultimately come to shame (Isa. lxvi. 5; B. M. 33b).The Gentiles took copies of the Torah, and yet did not accept it (Soṭah 35b).
the son of Jose the Galilean, calls the Gentiles poor "goyyim dawim," because
they would not accept the Torah (Mek., Yitro. 62a), referring to Hab. iii.
6 and Ps. cxlvii. 20.
Joshua ben Ḳarḥa is reported
to have answered the accusation—still repeated in modern anti-Semitic literature—that
Israel refuses to celebrate the festivals of the Gentiles—by showing that
nature's bounties bring joy to all men alike (Gen. R. xiii.).
ben Gamaliel II. is the author of the saying that strict justice shall be
done the Gentile, who shall elect whether he shall be tried according to
the Jewish or the Gentile code (Sifre, Deut. 16).
Josiah holds that every idolatrous heathen is an enemy of Israel (Mek., Mishpaṭim, 99a).
Jonathan insists that eclipses are of bad augury for Gentiles only, according to Jer. x. 2 (Mek., Bo, 19b).
According to Hananiah b. Akabia the word
(Ex. xxi. 14) may perhaps exclude the Gentile; but the shedding of the blood
of non-Israelites, while not cognizable by human courts, will be punished
by the heavenly tribunal (Mek., Mishpaṭim, 80b).
Gentile circuses and theaters continued while the Temple was in ruins, was
a perplexing problem for many a plous Jew. Nehorai learns from Elijah that
this is the cause of earthquakes (Yer. Ber. 13c; Midr. Teh. to Ps. xviii.
Jacob, the grandson of Elisha ben Abuya, reports
having seen a heathen bind his father and throw him to his dog as food (Sifre,
Simon ben Eleazar does not favor the social amenities (e.g.,
invitations to wedding-feasts) between Gentiles and Jews (Tosef., 'Ab. Zarah,
iv. 6; Ab. R. N. xxvi.; 'Ab. Zarah 8a), referring to Ex. xxxiv. 16.
to Judah ha-Nasi, the word "goyyim" designates the nations that subjected
Israel, while "ummim" denotes those that did not. Both must praise the God
of Israel (Midr. Teh. to Ps. cxvii. 1).
ben Jair prohibits the appropriation of an object lost by a non-Jew, as this
is tantamount to desecrating God's name (B. K. 113b).
ben Jose likens Israel to a stone, and the Gentiles to a potsherd (Isa. xxx.
14), applying the proverb: "If the stone falls on the pot, wo to the pot;
if the pot falls on the stone, wo to the pot." This he offered as a consolation
to persecuted Israel (Esther R. iii. 6).
complains of the cruelty of the non-Jews toward Israel (Mek., Beshallaḥ,
27a; but see Bacher, "Ag. Tan." ii. 331, note 2).
With regard to the attitude of the Palestinian amoraim toward Gentiles the following facts may be stated:
antipathy was due to idolatry itself and not to the fact that idolaters were
of non-Jewish stock, appears from Ḥanina bar Ḥama's discussion with Jonathan
b. Eleazar of the question whether one should take a road passing by a temple
of idols or one passing through a disreputable district, in which the decision
was given in favor of the latter ('Ab. Zarah 17a, b). It was also this amora
who ascribed moral sanctity to the marriages of non-Jews (Noachidæ; Yer.
Sanh. 58c), though he himself witnessed gross immoralities perpetrated by
non-Jews ('Ab. Zarah 22b). Yet he is credited with the opinion that during
the Messianic time only the heathen will be subject to death (Gen. R. xxvi.).
b. Ḥiyya deduces from II Kings xx. 18 that he who shows hospitality to a
heathen brings the penalty of exile upon his own children (Sanh. 104a).
of the parables of Joshua b. Levi illustrate strikingly the reciprocal feelings
entertained in his day between Jews and Gentiles. The latter accused the
former of being descended from illegitimate compulsory connection between
their female ancestors and the Egyptians (Pesiḳ. 82b); the Jews, in turn,
likened the Romans to dogs (referring to Isa. lvi. 11; Midr. Teh. to Ps.
iv. 8; comp. Matt. xv. 26; Mark vii. 27; Bacher, "Ag. Pal. Amor." 1. 146-147).
That Joshua had objections only to the Jews following the evil practises
of the Gentiles, is evidenced by his comments on Ezek v. 7, xi. 12 (Sanh.
39b), in which he points out that Israel deserved censure for rejecting the
good customs as well as for adopting the evil ones of the nations ("Ye have
not done according to the approved among them ["ke-metuḳḳanim she-bahem"],
but we have done according to the corrupt ones ["ke-meḳulḳalim she-bahem"]").
His liberality is also attested in his legendary visits to paradise and hell
for the purpose of ascertaining whether non-Jews were to be found in the
former (Jellinek, l.c. ii. 48-51).
bar Nappaḥa complains of the insults and injuries offered by Gentiles to
his people (referring to Lam. iii. 21; Pes. 139b; Cant. R. ii. 14; Ex. R.
xxi.). He lays stress on the fact that God offered the Law to all nations,
who refused to accept it ('Ab. Zarah 2b); therefore while the virus of lust
that the serpent injected into Eve was neutralized in Israel, the "nations
of the world" still have it in their blood (Shab. 145b; Yeb. 103b; 'Ab. Zarah
22b). "The wise among the heathen is called and must be honored as a wise
man" (Meg. 16a), is one of Johanan's sayings, though he is also the author
of another which holds that, as the Torah was given as a heritage to Israel,
a non-Israelite deserves death if he studies it (Sanh. 59a). Notwithstanding
all this, he maintains that Gentiles outside of Palestine are not to be regarded
as idolaters, but as observers of their ancestral customs (Ḥul. 13b). Significant
of the attitude of the Gentiles toward the Jews in his day is his observation
that when a Gentile touches the pot placed on the common hearth by a Jew,
the latter does not deem it rendered unclean; but that as soon as a Jew touches
the pot of the Gentile, the latter shouts "Unclean!" (Esther R. ii. 3). Under
certain circumstances, Johanan permitted the eating of food prepared by Gentiles
(Yeb. 46a). His also is the maxim, "Whosoever abandons idolatry is called
'Jew"' (Meg. 13a).
Resh Laḳish prohibited the
use of water which had been revered by heathens; but he had to recall his
decision ('Ab. Zarah 58b; comp. Yer. Sheb. 38b, c, concerning a public bath
in which was a statue of Aphrodite).
Pedat observes that the suggestion of intermarriage always comes from the
Gentile side: "Never does an Israelite put his finger into the mouth of a
non-Israelite, unless the latter has first put his into the mouth of the
Israelite" (Gen. R. lxxx.). According to Eleazar, the Jew and not the heathen
is bound to sanctify God's name (Yer. Sheb. 35a). Murders committed by Gentiles
are recorded by God on His own cloak in order that He may have authentic
proof of their atrocities (Midr. Teh. to Ps. ix. 13).
calls attention to the fact that the Gentiles as well as Israel were offered
the Torah (Pesiḳ. 200a; Tan., Berakah, 3). He complains also of the insults
to which Jews are exposed in the theaters of the Gentiles (Proem 17 to Lam.
R.) by Gentile actors and attendants. He indorsed the law (B. Ḳ. iv. 3) according
to which a Gentile whose ox had been gored by the ox of a Jew was not entitled
to damages (B. Ḳ. 32a).
Assi is the author of the injunction not to instruct the Gentile in the Torah (Ḥag. 13a).
Nappaḥa is the author of some parables in which Israel is exalted to offset
the slanders of the Gentiles; and the latter, in turn, are spoken of in terms
of contumely (Bacher, "Ag. Pal. Amor." ii. 291).
enumerates six commandments (prohibitions of polytheism and of blasphemy;
the institution of courts of justice; prohibitions of shedding of blood,
of incest, and of robbery) which are binding upon all men (Gen. R. xvi.;
Midr. Teh. to Ps. i. 10; the "Torat Adonai" is said to consist of these universal
laws; so that to be the "happy" man of whom the psalm speaks one need not
necessarily be a Jew). Levi is, however, very severe in his reflections on
the morality of the Gentiles (Cant. R. to vi. 8; see Bacher, l.c.
p. 329, note 7). Levi claims that the injunction not to take revenge (Lev.
xix. 18) does not apply to Gentiles (Eccl. R. viii. 4).
Abba b. Kahana protests, in an explanation of Ruth iv. 16, against racial arrogance on the part of Israel (Ruth R. viii.).
and Jose permitted the baking of bread for the Roman soldiers on Sabbath-day
(Yer. Sheb. 35a; Yer. Sanh. 21b; comp. Yer. Beẓah 60c). Yet they would not
permit the use of a scroll partially burned in a conflagration caused by
these same soldiers.
Judan applies the proverb,
"A fat animal becomes lean; but a lean one has to give up the ghost," to
Israel's maltreatment on the part of the Gentiles (Lam. R. iii. 20).
b. Ḥama calls attention to the fact that Israel on Sukkot offered seventy
heifers for all the nations, and prayed for them, applying the verse (Ps.
cix. 4). "On account of my love they attack me" (Pes. 193b). Other stories
of his bring out the fact that in his day the Jews were not liked by their
Gentile neighbors (Yer. Peah 16d; Lam. R. i. 11; comp. Josephus, "B. J."
iii. 2, § 2).
Abin testifies that Israel was called by others "stubborn" and "stiff-necked" (Ex. R. xlii.: ).
Tanḥuma enjoins that if one is greeted by a Gentile with the salutation of peace or a blessing, one should answer "Amen!"(;
Yer. Ber. 12c; Yer. Suk. 54a; Yer. Meg. 72a), though he likens the nations
to wolves and Israel to a lamb (Pesiḳ. R. ix. [ed. Friedmann, p.32a]).
Babylonian Amoraim advert but rarely to the relations of the Israelites to
the Gentiles; and, while on the whole their haggadic interpretations are
less numerous than those of the Palestinian schools, the paucity of their
comments on Gentiles is noteworthy as illustrative of the fact that the typical
Gentile against whom rabbinical animosity was directed was the depraved Roman.
According to Rab, the Saturnalia and the Calends originated with Adam, and
were based on purely human sentiments ('Ab. Zarah 8a; Yer. 'Ab. Zarah 39c),
a view certainly betokening tolerance for pagan customs. Similarly does Rab
recognize the chastity of non-Jewish women, as is shown by his story of the
Gentile woman who when sick was willing to serve any idol in order to be
cured, but who upon coming to the temple of Baal-peor preferred to remain
sick rather than to take part in the worship of that god (Sanh. 64a). It
is the immorality of idolatry that more especially strikes him (Sanh. 63b).
The moral purpose of the Torah for all men (; Lev. R. xiii.) is one of his themes. His ethical maxims are addressed as a rule to man and not to the Jew (Sanh. 107a).
Cruelty to one's fellow men marks one a non-Abrahamite (Beẓah 32b). Hospitality like Abraham's—i.e.,
to all men—Rab commends highly (Shab. 127a; Shebu. 35b; B. M. 86b). For him
the Persian empire represented the typical antipode of piety and justice.
Hence his saying (in opposition to Samuel), "Guilty of death is he that learns
anything from a Magian [Persian]" (Shab. 116b); and the following: "Rather
under the Romans than under the Persians" (ib. 11a).
'Uḳba, on the other hand, regards Rome as one of the two daughters of Hell
(Prov. xxx. 15), the other being Apostasy or Heresy ('Ab. Zarah 17a).
for whom the only distinction of the Messianic age is the absence of the
subjugation of Israel by Gentile powers, makes no difference between Israel
and the nations as far as God's judgment is concerned (Yer. R. H. 57a).
benediction of the trees in springtide is characteristic of his broad spirit,
since he praises God for thus delighting the "sons of man," not the Israelite
alone (Ber. 43b; R. H. 11a).
Naḥman bar Jacob,
finally, forbids every kind of irony and taunt except such as are directed
against the idolatry of the non-Jews prevailing in his day (Meg. 28b; Sanh.
63b). Bibliography: E.C.E.G.H.
rabbinic literature, owing to the censor's overvigilance and ignorance, the
term "Gentile" is often erroneously identified with "Kuti" (= "Samaritan"),
"Egyptian," "Amalek," etc., and in rare instances is misplaced for "Noẓri"
= "Christian." Thus the censor's zeal to protect "the faith" had the effect
of characterizing the Christian as a heathen, which was far from the authors'
intention (see "Paḥad Yiẓḥaḳ," ,
p. 7a). As a rule the Talmud, especially the Mishnah, speaks of the Gentiles
who dwelt in Palestine under the Jewish government, either as idolaters or
as domiciled aliens ("ger toshab"), bound to observe the seven moral commandments
given to Noah's descendants: namely, against (1) idolatry, (2) incest, (3)
homicide, (4) robbery, (5) eating limbs of live animals, (6) castration,
and (7) the mixing of breeds (Sanh. 56b); and having their own judges in
every district and town like the Israelites (ib.), the Gentiles outside
of Palestine were not considered strict idolaters, but blind followers in
the path of their ancestors (Ḥul. 13b).
nations in the Holy Land were to be exterminated for fear they might teach
the Israelite conquerors idolatry and immoral practises (Deut. vii. 1-6,
xviii. 9-14, xx. 16-18); but in spite of the strenuous efforts of Joshua
and other leaders the Israelites could not drive them out of the Promised
Land (Josh. xiii. 1-6). Having in view the curbing of assimilation and the
protection of the Jewish state and society, the legislators, men of the Great
Assembly, adopted stringent measures against these Gentiles. These laws were
collected and incorporated in the Mishnah, and were interpreted in the Gemara
of the Jerusalem and Babylonian Talmuds. The restrictive regulations may
be classified as having been enacted for the following reasons: (1) to exalt
monotheism, and Israel as a nation; (2) to combat and outlaw barbarism; (3)
to overcome the unreliability of the Gentile; and (4) to counteract Gentile
laws not in harmony with the humanitarian laws of the Jews.
Pharisees, interpreting the spirit of the Law, and acting under the elastic
rule that "there is a time to serve the Lord by relaxing his law" (Ps. cxix.
126, Hebr.; Yoma 69a), permitted the desecration of the Sabbath in besieging
a Gentile city "until it be subdued" (Deut. xx. 20), in accordance with Shammai's
interpretation (Shab. 19a). This definition was not new, as already the Maccabeans
had taken advantage of it in fighting the enemy unceasingly, putting aside
the observance of the Sabbath for the sake of God and of their national existence
(I Macc. ii. 43, 44). Probably for the same reason (to facilitate war with
the Gentile enemy), the Rabbis modified the laws of purification so as not
to apply when one comes in contact with a corpse or human bones, or when
one enters an enclosure containing a dead body. With regard to the text "This
is the law when a man dieth in a tent" (Num. xix. 14), they held that only
Israelites are men, quoting the prophet, "Ye my flock, the flock of
my pasture, are men" (Ezek. xxxiv. 31); Gentiles they classed not as men
but as barbarians (B. M. 108b). The Talmudic maxim is, "Whoever has no purification
laws can not contaminate" (Naz. 61b). Another reason assigned is that it
would have been utterly impossible otherwise to communicate with Gentiles,
especially in the post-exilic times (Rabinovitz, "Mebo ha-Talmud," p. 5,
Wilna, 1894). Patriotism and a desire to regain a settlement in the Holy
Land induced the Rabbis, in order not to delay the consummation of a transfer
of property in Palestine from a Gentile to a Jew, topermit the deed to be written on the Sabbath, an act otherwise prohibited (B. Ḳ. 80b).
barbarian Gentiles who could not be prevailed upon to observe law and order
were not to be benefited by the Jewish civil laws, framed to regulate a stable
and orderly society, and based on reciprocity. The passage in Moses' farewell
address: "The Lord came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined
forth from Mount Paran" (Deut. xxxiii. 2), indicates that the Almighty offered
the Torah to the Gentile nations also, but, since they refused to accept
it. He withdrew His "shining" legal protection from them, and transferred
their property rights to Israel, who observed His Law. A passage of Habakkuk
is quoted as confirming this claim: "God came from Teman, and the Holy One
from Mount Paran. . . . He stood, and measured the earth; he beheld, and
drove asunder [ = "let loose,"
"outlawed"] the nations" (Hab. iii. 3-6); the Talmud adds that He had observed
how the Gentile nations steadfastly refused to obey the seven moral Noachian
precepts, and hence had decided to outlaw them (B. Ḳ. 38a).
follows that the Gentiles were excepted from the general civil laws of Moses.
For example, the Law provides that if a man's ox gores and kills a neighbor's
ox, the carcass and the surviving ox shall be sold, and the proceeds divided
between the respective owners (half-damages). If, however, the goring ox
has been known to be dangerous and its owner has not kept watch over it,
he shall pay full damages for the dead ox and take the carcass (Ex. xxi.
35-36, Hebr.). Here the Gentile is excepted, as he is not a "neighbor" in
the sense of reciprocating and being responsible for damages caused by his
negligence; nor does he keep watch over his cattle. Even the best Gentile
laws were too crude to admit of reciprocity. The laws of Hammurabi provide:
"If the ox has pushed a man, and by pushing has made known his vice, and
the owner has not blunted his horn, has not shut up his ox, and that ox has
gored a man of gentle birth and caused him to die, the owner shall pay half
a mina of silver" (Johns, "Oldest Code of Laws," § 251, Edinburgh, 1903).
This price of a half-mina of silver was also the fixed fine for cutting down
a tree (ib. § 59). It appears that only a nominal sum was paid when
a man not of gentle birth was killed, and even less when a neighbor's ox
was gored. The Mishnah, bearing such facts in mind, therefore declares that
if a Gentile sue an Israelite, the verdict is for the defendant; if the Israelite
is the plaintiff, he obtains full damages (B. Ḳ. iv. 3). It should be noted
that in these tort cases public or sacred property ()
was also an exception, for the reason that both are wanting in individual
responsibility and in proper care. The principle was that the public could
not be fined since it could not collect in turn. The Gemara's reliance on
the technical term "neighbor" () in the text as its justification for excluding both the Gentile and the public, is merely tentative.
Talmud relates in this connection that the Roman government once commissioned
two officers to question the Rabbis and obtain information regarding the
Jewish laws. After a careful study, they said: "We have scrutinized your
laws and found them just, save the clause relating to a Gentile's ox, which
we can not comprehend. If, as you say, you are justified by the term 'neighbor,'
the Gentile should be quit when defendant as well as when plaintiff." The
Rabbis, however, feared to disclose the true reason for outlawing the Gentiles
as barbarians, and rested on the textual technicality in the Mosaic law,
in accordance with which they had authority to act in all cases coming within
their jurisdiction (B. Ḳ. 38a).
The Mosaic law
provides for the restoration of a lost article to its owner if a "brother"
and "neighbor" (Deut. xxii. 1-3), but not if a Gentile (B. Ḳ. 113b), not
only because the latter would not reciprocate, but also because such restoration
would be a hazardous undertaking. The laws of Hammurabi made certain acts
connected with "articles lost and found" a ground of capital punishment.
"If the owner of the lost property has not brought witnesses identifying
his lost property; if he has lied, or has stirred up strife, he shall be
put to death" (Johns, l.c. § 11). The loser, the finder, or an intermediate
person was put to death in certain stages of the search for the missing article
(ib. §§ 9-13). The Persian law commanded the surrender of all finds
to the king (B. Ḳ. 28b). As an illustration of the Gentile law and of Jewish
magnanimity, the following is related in the Talmud: "Queen Helen lost her
jewelry, and R. Samuel, who had just arrived in Rome, found it. A proclamation
was posted throughout the city offering a certain sum of money as a reward
for the restoration of the jewels within thirty days. If restored after thirty
days, the finder was to lose his head. Samuel waited and restored the jewels
after thirty days. Said the queen: 'Hast thou not heard of the proclamation?'
'Yes,' answered Samuel, 'but I would show that I fear not thee. I fear only
the Merciful.' Then she blessed the God of the Jews" (Yer. B. M. ii. 5).
the mandate concerning the oppression of or withholding wages from a hireling
brother or neighbor, or a domiciled alien (Deut. xxiv. 14-15) who observes
the Noachian laws, is not applicable in the case of a Gentile. That is to
say, a Gentile may be employed at reduced wages, which need not be paid promptly
on the same day, but may be paid in accordance with the usual custom of the
place. The question arose whether a Jew might share in the spoils gained
by a Gentile through robbery. One Talmudic authority reasoned that the Gentile
exerted himself to obtain the ill-gotten property much less than in earning
his wages, to which the Mosaic law is not applicable; hence property seized
by a Gentile, if otherwise unclaimed, is public property and may be used
by any person. Another authority decided that a Jew might not profit by it
(B. M. 111b).
Ashi decided that a Jew who sells a Gentile landed property bordering on
the land of another Jew shall be excommunicated, not only on the ground that
the Gentile laws do not provide for "neighbors' boundary privileges" (),
but also because the Jewish neighbor may claim "thou hast caused a lion to
lie on my border." The ban shall not be raised unless the seller stipulates
to keep theJew free from all possible damage arising
from any act of the Gentile (B. Ḳ. 114a). The same Ashi noticed in a vineyard
a broken vine-branch bearing a bunch of grapes, and instructed his attendant,
if he found that it belonged to a Gentile, to fetch it; if to a Jew, to leave
it. The Gentile owner overheard the order, and asked: "Is it right to take
from a Gentile?" Ashi replied: "Yes, because a Gentile would demand money,
but a Jew would not" (ib. 113b). This was an adroit and sarcastic
answer. In truth, Ashi coincided with the opinion of the authority stated
above; namely, that, as the presumption is that the Gentile obtained possession
by seizure, the property is considered public property, like unclaimed land
in the desert (B. B. 54b). The consensus of opinion, however, was against
this authority. R. Simeon the Pious quotes to show that legal possession
was required even in dealing with the Seven Nations: "And thou shalt consume
[ = "eat the spoils"] all
the people which the Lord thy God shall deliver thee" (Deut. vii. 6, Hebr.),
meaning that Israel could claim the land only as conquerors, not otherwise
(B. Ḳ. 113b).
In one instance a Gentile
had the benefit of the technical term "neighbor," and it was declared that
his property was private. The Law provides that an Israelite employed in
his neighbor's vineyard or grain-field is allowed to pick there as much as
he can eat while working (Deut. xxiii. 25-26). But since the employer in
this case was a Gentile (i.e., not a "neighbor"), the Israelite was
forbidden to eat anything without permission (B. M. 87b). As regards the
property of this Gentile perhaps his title to it was not disputed, and it
was therefore considered just as sacred as that of a Jew.
against Gentiles, while strictly in accordance with the just law of reciprocity
and retaliation, having for their object to civilize the heathen and compel
them to adopt the civil laws of Noah, were nevertheless seldom practised.
The principal drawback was the fear of "profaning the Holy Name" ().
Consequently it was necessary to overlook legal quibbles which might appear
unjust in the eyes of the world, and which would reflect on the good name
and integrity of the Jewish nation and its religion. Another point to be
considered was the preservation, "for the sake of peace" ("mi-pene darke
shalom"), of the friendly relations between Jew and Gentile, and the avoidance
of enmity (; 'Ab. Zarah 26a; B. Ḳ. 113b).
only was the principle of retaliation directed against the heathen Gentile,
but it also operated against the lawless Jewish herdsmen of sheep and other
small cattle, who trespassed on private property in Palestine contrary to
the ordinance forbidding them to raise their herds inland (Tosef., B. Ḳ.
viii. [ed. Zuckermandel, p. 362]; comp. Sanh. 57a). All retaliation or measures
of reprisal are based on the Jewish legal maxim of eminent domain, "The judicial
authority can annul the right to the possession of property and declare such
property ownerless" (, B. B. 9a).
Another reason for discrimination was the vile and vicious character of the
Gentiles: "I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation " (=
"vile," "contemptible"; Deut. xxxii. 21). The Talmud says that the passage
refers to the Gentiles of Barbary and Mauretania, who walked nude in the
streets (Yeb. 63b), and to similar Gentiles, "whose flesh is as the flesh
of asses and whose issue is like the issue of horses" (Ezek. xxiii. 20);
who can not claim a father (Yeb. 98a). The Gentiles were so strongly suspected
of unnatural crimes that it was necessary to prohibit the stabling of a cow
in their stalls ('Ab. Zarah ii. 1). Assaults on women were most frequent,
especially at invasions and after sieges (Ket. 3b), the Rabbis declaring
that in case of rape by a Gentile the issue should not be allowed to affect
a Jewish woman's relation to her husband. "The Torah outlawed the issue of
a Gentile as that of a beast" (Miḳ. viii. 4, referring to Ezek. l.c.).
the Greeks, no Gentiles, not even the Persians, were particular in shedding
blood (B. Ḳ. 117a). "Meeting a Gentile on the road armed with a sword [on
his left], the Jew shall let him walk on his right [being thus ready to wrench
away the weapon if threatened with it]. If the Gentile carries a cane [in
his right hand], the Jew shall let him walk at his left [so that he may seize
the cane if raised against him]. In ascending or descending the Jew shall
always be above, and shall not stoop down for fear of assassination. If the
Gentile ask to be shown the way, the Jew shall extend his own journey a point
farther and shall not tarry on reaching the stranger's destination" ('Ab.
Taking these conditions into consideration,
the precautions against the employment of Gentile midwives can be easily
understood. A Gentile woman was not allowed to suckle a Jewish babe, save
in the presence of Jews. Even so it was feared that the Gentile nurse might
poison the child (ib. 25a). As a retaliative measure, or for fear
of accusation, the Rabbis forbade Jewish midwives and nurses to engage themselves
in Gentile families, unless offered a fee for the service or to avoid enmity
(ib.). The same rule applied to physicians (Maimonides, "Yad," 'Akkum,
ix. 16). The Roman laws ordained that physicians should be punished for neglect
or unskilfulness, and for these causes many were put to death (Montesquieu,
"L'Esprit des Lois," xxix. § 14). In a place where no Jewish physician could
be found to perform the rite of circumcision the question arose whether a
Gentile or a Samaritan mohel might be chosen to operate. If the Gentile is
"an expert physician patronized by the public, he may be employed, as it
is presumed he would not jeopardize his reputation by purposely injuring
a Jewish patient" ('Ab. Zarah 27a).
such a character as that depicted above, it would naturally be quite unsafe
to trust a Gentile as a witness, either in a criminal case or in a civil
suit. He could not be depended upon to keep his promise or word of honor
like a Jew (Bek. 13b). The Talmud comments on the untruthfulness of Gentiles
("a band of strange children whose mouth speaketh vanity, and their right
hand [in raising it to take an oath] is a right hand of falsehood" [Ps. cxliv.
11]), and contrasts it with thereputation of a Jew:
"The remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity nor speak lies; neither shall
a deceitful tongue be found in their mouth" (Zeph. iii. 13). Also excluded
as a "neighbor" was the Gentile in whose trust property was left with all
prescribed provisions (Ex. xxii. 6-14). The Torah does not discriminate against
the testimony of a Gentile, save when he is held to be a robber; when it
is thought that he has no intention of perjuring himself he is believed (Mordecai,
Annotations to Rosh Giṭ. 10). Hence documents and deeds prepared by Gentile
notaries in their courts are admitted as valid evidence (Giṭ. i. 4). R. Simeon
even validates a Jewish writ of divorce signed by a Gentile notary (ib.).
In dietary cases, where a Gentile is disinterested his evidence is accepted
(Shulḥan 'Aruk, Yoreh De'ah, 86, 1). A Gentile's testimony to a man's death,
incidentally related as a matter of fact, he being unaware that his evidence
is wanted, is held sufficient to release a woman from her marriage bond and
to permit her to marry again (Giṭ. 28b; Shulḥan 'Aruk, Eben ha-'Ezer, 17,
14; see 'Agunah).
After the destruction of Jerusalem the condition of the Gentiles in general
was somewhat improved by the establishment of Roman courts of justice; but
the laws of the latter, borrowed from the Persians and modified by feudalism,
never attained the high standard of Jewish jurisprudence. Even under the
Roman supremacy the Jews were permitted to decide their civil and criminal
cases in accordance with their own code of laws, just as in countries like
Turkey, China, and Morocco extra-territorial rights are granted by treaty
to the consular courts of foreign nations. In a mixed trial where the suitors
were respectively Jew and Gentile, the Jew had to abide by the harsh and
illogical laws of the Gentiles; and for this the Jew retaliated whenever
It sometimes happened that the
Gentile, wishing to take advantage of the liberal Jewish laws, summoned his
Jewish opponent to a Jewish court. In such cases the Gentile would gain little
benefit, as he would be dealt with in accordance with the Jewish or the Gentile
law, as might be least advantageous to him. The judge would say: "This is
in accordance with our law" or "with your law," as the case might be. If
this was not satisfactory to the Gentile, legal quibbles and circumventions
might be employed against him. R. Akiba, however, would not permit such proceedings,
which tended to profane the Holy Name (B. Ḳ. 113a).
differences between their laws were the main barriers between Jew and Gentile.
The Talmud would excommunicate a Jew who without a summons testified in a
petty Gentile court as a single witness against a Jew, for the Jewish law
required at least two witnesses. But in the supreme court a single Jewish
witness might testify, as the Gentile judge would administer the oath to
the defendant, which proceeding was similar to that prescribed by Jewish
The Jewish mode of acquisition
of real property by deed or by three years' undisputed possession did not
apply to Gentiles (Ḳid. 14b), who as a rule acquired their property by seizure.
The Persian laws leased property for a term of forty years, so that three
years' occupation would not amount to a presumption of purchase (B. B. 55a).
In case of transfer of chattels, a money payment was sufficient without delivery
or removal, which the Jewish law required (B. Ḳ. 13a). Part payment or a
consideration was not valid (B. B. 54b).
by a consideration was an old established Jewish law: "This was the manner
in former time in Israel concerning redeeming and concerning changing, for
to confirm all things; a man plucked off his shoe and gave it to his neighbor"
(Ruth iv. 7). The article of consideration in "former times" was changed
in later times to a kerchief ().
The Gentiles did not admit acquisition by a consideration. Transfers of their
property were effected only for ready money to the full amount (Ḳid. 8a).
The Persians bound themselves by an exchange of presents, which was considered
equivalent to a word of honor, but not, however, in the sense of a consideration
('Ab. Zarah 71a).
The Persian law ordered the
guarantor to pay immediately on the default of the debtor; while the Jewish
law required the creditor first to proceed against the debtor, and that then,
if the debt were not paid, he should sue the guarantor (B. B. 173b, 174a).
Jewish law against overcharging one-sixth or more above the current price
of marketable merchandise—a violation of which affected the validity of the
sale—applied only to a Jew or domiciled alien, not to a Gentile. "If thou
sell ought unto thy neighbor, or buyest ought of thy neighbor's hand, ye
shall not oppress [overcharge] one another" (Hebr. = "his brother"; Lev.
xxv. 14), was contrary to the Gentile legal maxim, "A bargain is a bargain."
For this the Gentile was paid in his own coin, so to speak. Samuel declared
legal a transaction in which an error has been made by miscalculation on
the part of a Gentile. Following out his theory, Samuel was unscrupulous
enough to purchase from a Gentile a gold bar for four zuz, which was the
price of an iron bar; he even beat down the price one zuz. Such transactions,
while regarded as perfectly proper and legitimate among the Gentiles, were
not tolerated among the Jews themselves.
other hand, there were many examples of cases in which Jews refused to take
advantage of errors. A rabbi once purchased wheat from a Gentile agent, and,
finding therein a purseful of money, restored it to the agent, who blessed
"the God of the Jews." Simeon b. Shaṭaḥ restored a valuable pearl he had
found on a donkey to the Gentile of whom he had purchased the beast (Yer.
B. M. ii. 5). In cases of wilful murder, an alien Gentile who observed the
Noachian laws which forbid murder was treated like a Jew. "One law and one
manner [judgment] shall be for you and for the stranger that so-journeth
with you" (Num. xv. 16)—that is, provided he abides by the same law. According
to the Talmud, there is a difference between a domiciled alien (), one who abandoned idolatry in order to be allowed to settle in Palestine, and a true alien (), who voluntarily and conscientiously observed the Noachian laws (see Proselyte and Proselytism). In regard to manslaughter (unpremeditated homicide), for which the culprit was exiledto
a city of refuge (Num. xxxv. 11), the Mishnah says: "All were exiled for
the manslaughter of an Israelite; and an Israelite was exiled for the manslaughter
of others, save a domiciled alien. The latter was exiled for the manslaughter
of another domiciled alien" (Mak. ii. 3). This was in accord with the general
rule that a man could not be sentenced to death without a previous warning
(; Sanh. 57a); and since
such forewarning was necessarily lacking in cases of manslaughter, the Israelite
guilty thereof was simply exiled, this step being taken to forestall the
avenger of blood. The Gemara to the Mishnah cited above (Mak. 8b) holds that
an alien was not entitled to the forewarning, and hence should be executed.
robbery or defaulting in a trust the guilty person was required to repay
the principal and to pay one-fifth in addition (Lev. v. 21-24 [A. V. vi.
2-4]); in other cases fines, ranging from double to four and five times the
original amount for theft, were imposed (Ex. xxii. 1-4). Where the stolen
property belonged to a Gentile or to the public, however, the guilty was
required to pay only the principal, without the additional fines (Maimonides,
"Yad," Gezelah, i.7). As the fine was a personal compensation, the public,
lacking individuality, could not receive it; nor could a Gentile, since his
own laws were at variance with reason and justice. For example, the Twelve
Tables ordained that a thief be whipped with rods and condemned to slavery;
and the Greeks inflicted capital punishment for stealing even a trifle.
prohibition of usury, or rather of taking any amount over and above that
of the original loan, specifies of "a poor brother" and a stranger (alien)
"that he may live with thee" (Ex. xxii. 25; Lev. xxv. 35-37). "Unto a stranger
[= "foreigner"], however,
thou mayest lend upon usury" (Deut. xxiii. 20). This was a purely economic
measure, encouraging a tax on loans to foreigners, and cautioning against
impoverishing the domestic producer. The Gentile was considered a foreigner
whom an Israelite need not support, and his own laws did not prohibit usury.
The Jewish prohibition extended to the alien ("ger"), as the text plainly
indicates; but there is a question whether it included a domiciled alien
("ger toshab"; B. M. 71a). Nevertheless the Mishnah says the Gentile poor
shall be supported together with the Jewish poor, for the sake of peace (Giṭ.
61a). The Talmud also says that a pious Jew shall not take interest from
a Gentile, and quotes Ps. xv. 5: "He that putteth not out his money to usury"
(Mak. 24b). In fact, the Talmud did not tolerate the charging of interest
to Gentiles (B. M. 71a). See Usury.
relation of the Jews to the ruling government was fixed by Samuel's maxim,
"The law of the land is binding," thus validating all enactments of the land
not in conflict with the Jewish religion, and rendering unto Cæsar his due
as regards taxes and imposts, which no one might evade—provided, however,
that the taxes were authorized (B. Ḳ. 113a). Rabbenu Tam, defining this maxim,
adds: "provided the king's edicts are uniform, and apply to all his subjects
in all his dominions." R. Eliezer of Metz says: "provided the king taxes
his own subjects and settlers; but he can not extort money from journeymen
passing through his dominion without having any intention to remain there.
Otherwise, it is not law, but robbery" (Mordecai in B. Ḳ. x. § 215; Annotations
to Rosh Ned. iii. 11).
as the Jews had their own distinct jurisdiction, it would have been unwise
to reveal their laws to the Gentiles, for such knowledge might have operated
against the Jews in their opponents' courts. Hence the Talmud prohibited
the teaching to a Gentile of the Torah, "the inheritance of the congregation
of Jacob" (Deut. xxxiii. 4). R. Johanan says of one so teaching: "Such a
person deserves death" (an idiom used to express indignation). "It is like
placing an obstacle before the blind" (Sanh. 59a; Ḥag. 13a). And yet if a
Gentile study the Law for the purpose of observing the moral laws of Noah,
R. Meïr says he is as good as a high priest, and quotes: "Ye shall therefore
keep my statutes, and my judgments, which if a man do, he shall live in them"
(Lev. xviii. 5). The text does not specify an Israelite or a Levite or a
priest, but simply "a man"—even a Gentile ('Ab. Zarah 26a).
Laḳish (d. 278) said, "A Gentile observing the Sabbath deserves death" (Sanh.
58b). This refers to a Gentile who accepted the seven laws of the Noachidæ,
inasmuch as "the Sabbath is a sign between God and Israel alone," and it
was probably directed against the Christian Jews, who disregarded the Mosaic
laws and yet at that time kept up the observance of the Jewish Sabbath. Rabbina,
who lived about 150 years after the Christians had changed the day of rest
to Sunday, could not quite understand the principle underlying Resh Laḳish's
law, and, commenting upon it, added: "not even on Mondays [is the Gentile
allowed to rest]"; intimating that the mandate given to the Noachidæ that
"day and night shall not cease" (="have no rest ") should be taken in a literal sense (Gen. viii. 22)—probably to discourage general idleness (ib.
Rashi), or for the more plausible reason advanced by Maimonides, who says:
"The principle is, one is not permitted to make innovations in religion or
to create new commandments. He has the privilege to become a true proselyte
by accepting the whole Law" ("Yad," Melakim, x. 9). R. Emden (),
in a remarkable apology for Christianity contained in his appendix to "Seder
'Olam" (pp. 32b-34b, Hamburg, 1752), gives it as his opinion that the original
intention of Jesus, and especially of Paul, was to convert only the Gentiles
to the seven moral laws of Noah and to let the Jews follow the Mosaic law—which
explains the apparent contradictions in the New Testament regarding the laws
of Moses and the Sabbath.
the conversion of the Gentile to Christianity or to Islam, the heathen and
pagan of the civilized or semi-civilized world has become almost extinct,
and the restrictions placed on the ancient Gentile are not applicable to
the Gentile of the present day, except in so far as to consider him a Noachian
observingall moral laws, in contradistinction to
the Jew, who as one of the chosen people observes in addition the Mosaic
laws. That the laws against the Gentile as a barbarian were not entirely
expunged from the rabbinic literature after the advent of Christianity, was
due to the persecutions and the barbaric treatment of the Jews in the Middle
Ages. The gradual decrease of animosity may, however, be noted by comparing
the various codes and collections of responsa. For example, that a Jewish
physician should be forbidden to offer his services to a Gentile was contrary
to the general practise of the Jews in the Middle Ages. Maimonides himself
became the physician of Sultan Saladin in Egypt. The prohibition against
the employment of a Gentile nurse or midwife "except a Jewess stands by her"
was modified by an eminent authority with "so long as there is a Jew living
in that town who is liable to come into the house" (Moses of Coucy, "Semag,"
§ 45). That no such distinction exists anywhere nowadays is an acknowledged
fact, proving conclusively that the Rabbis regulate their decisions in accordance
with the spirit of the Jewish law.
special Jewish jurisdiction in civil cases is still maintained in the Orient,
in some parts of Europe, and even in America, where the bet din administers
the law, mostly by arbitration, effecting a compromise between the litigants
for the sake of avoiding the "law's delay" and of saving the expenses of
trial in the secular courts. See also Aliens; Noachian Laws; Proselytes and Proselytism; Usury; Worship, Idol. Bibliography: E.G.H.J.D.E.
opinions of a few of the noted and authoritative scholars are here cited
to show the favorable change which the attitude of the Jews toward the Gentiles
underwent in post-Talmudic times.
R. Sherira Gaon,
president of the college in Pumbedita in the tenth century, permitted Jews
to bring suit in a Gentile court on the defendant's refusal to have the case
adjudicated by a Jewish tribunal. "Even if the Jew be the robber and the
Gentile the one robbed, it is the duty of those who know it to so testify
before the justice" (quoted in "Be'er ha-Golah" to Shulḥan 'Aruk, Ḥoshen
Mishpaṭ; see also ib. 426, 5).
(twelfth century), in his code written in Egypt, says: "It is forbidden to
defraud or deceive any person in business. Jew and non-Jew are to be treated
alike. If the vendor knows that his merchandise is defective, he must so
inform the purchaser. It is wrong to deceive any person in words, even without
causing him a pecuniary loss ("Yad," Mekirah, xviii. 1). In his Mishnaic
commentary Maimonides remarks: "What some people imagine, that it is permissible
to cheat a Gentile, is an error, and based on ignorance. The Almighty—praised
be His Name!—instructed us that in redeeming a Hebrew servant from the services
of a Gentile owner 'he shall reckon with him that bought him'" (Lev. xxvi.
50), meaning to be careful in his calculation not to cheat the Gentile. This
was in Palestine, where the Jews had the upper hand over the Gentiles. How
much more should the law be observed at the present time, when they have
no sovereignty over the Gentiles. Moreover, neglect of the precept would
cause the desecration of His Name, which is a great sin. Deception, duplicity,
cheating, and circumvention toward a Gentile are despicable to the Almighty,
as "all that do unrighteously are an abomination unto the Lord thy God" (Deut.
xxv. 16; commentary to Kelim xii. 7).
Coucy (thirteenth century) writes: "I have been preaching before those exiled
to Spain and to other Gentile countries, that, just because our exile is
so prolonged, it behooves Israel to separate from worldly vanities and to
cleave to the seal of the Holy One, which is Truth, and not to lie, either
to Jew or Gentile, nor to deceive them in the least thing; to consecrate
themselves above others, as 'the remnant of Israel shall not do iniquity
nor speak lies.' . . . Behold, the visitation of the Flood for the violence
done to the wicked Gentiles!" ("Semag," § 74).
the same period R. Judah of Ratisbon, compiler of the "Sefer Ḥasidim," quotes:
"It is forbidden to deceive any person, even a Gentile. Those who purposely
misconstrue the greeting to a Gentile are sinners. There can be no greater
deception than this" ("Sefer Ḥasidim," § 51, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1817).
"If either a Jew or Gentile should request a loan, he should get a frank
answer. Do not say, 'I have no money,' when the reason is the fear to trust"
(ib. § 426). "One shall not act in bad faith even to Gentiles. Such
acts often bring down a person from his rank; and there is no luck in his
undertaking. If perchance he succeeds, punishment is visited on his children"
(ib. § 1074).
In the fifteenth century
R. Isaac b. Sheshet, who lived in North Africa, in response to an inquiry
regarding the status of a non-Jew, quotes authorities to prove that the Gentiles
nowadays are not ultraidolaters, and consequently are not subject to the
Talmudic restrictions mentioned above. He further says: "We must not presume
that such restrictions were fixed rabbinical ordinances, not to be changed.
On the contrary, they were made originally to meet only the conditions of
the generations, places, and times" (Responsa, No. 119).
(sixteenth century), the author of the Shulḥan 'Aruk, decides that "the modern
Gentiles are not reckoned as heathen with reference to the restoration of
lost articles and other matters" (Bet Joseph to Ṭur Ḥoshen Mishpaṭ, § 266;
see also Ṭur Yoreh De'ah, § 148, ed. Venice, 1551).
R. Benjamin (seventeenth century), replying to an inquiry regarding an error of a Gentile in overpayingeighteen
ducats, says: "For the sake of consecrating the Holy Name, a Jew shall correct
and make good the error of a Gentile. . . . Jacob charged his sons to return
to the governor of Egypt the silver put, perhaps by oversight, in the sacks
of corn purchased by them from him. One must not take advantage of an error
made either by a Mohammedan or by a Christian. Otherwise, the nations would
rightly reproach the chosen people as thieves and cheats. I myself had occasion
to restore to a Gentile money received through error" (Benjamin Beer, Responsa,
No. 409, Venice, 1539).
Mayence writes: "The commandment prohibiting theft, like those against murder
and adultery, applies to both Jews and Gentiles" ("Sefer Ra'aban," § 91,
Ezekiel Landau (eighteenth century), in the introduction to his responsa "Noda' bi-Yehudah" (ib.
1776), says: "I emphatically declare that in all laws contained in the Jewish
writings concerning theft, fraud, etc., no distinction is made between Jew
and Gentile; that the titles 'goi,' ''akkum,' etc., in no-wise apply to the
people among whom we live."
Senior Zalmon (d.
1813), the representative authority of the modern Ḥasidim, in his version
of the Shulḥan 'Aruk (vi. 27b, Stettin, 1864), says: "It is forbidden to
rob or steal, even a trifle, from either a Jew or Gentile, adult or minor;
even if the Gentile grieved the Jew, or even if the matter devolved is not
worth a peruta [mite], except a thing that nobody would care about, such
as abstracting for use as a toothpick a splinter from a bundle of wood or
from a fence. Piety forbids even this."
Lipschütz (nineteenth century), in his commentary to the Mishnah, says: "A
duty devolves upon us toward our brethren of other nations who recognize
the unity of God and honor His Scriptures, being observers of the seven precepts
of Noah. . . . Not only do these Gentiles protect us, but they are charitably
inclined to our poor. To act otherwise toward these Gentiles would be a misappreciation
of their kindness. One should say with Joseph: 'How can I do this great wickedness
and sin against God?'" ("Tif'eret Yisrael" to B. Ḳ. iv. 4). Bibliography:E.G.H.J.D.E.
Judaism, as inculcated in the catechisms and explained in the declarations
of the various rabbinical conferences, and as interpreted in the sermons
of modern rabbis, is founded on the recognition of the unity of the human
race; the law of righteousness and truth being supreme over all men, without
distinction of race or creed, and its fulfilment being possible for all.
Righteousness is not conditioned by birth. The Gentiles may attain unto as
perfect a righteousness as the Jews. Hence the old Jewish doctrine, "The
righteous among the Gentiles are sharers [in the felicity] of the world to
come" (Tosef., Sanh. xiii.), is reaffirmed by the modern Synagogue. "Neighbor,"
in the command, "Thou shalt love thy neighbor like thyself " (Lev. xix.),
signifies every human being.
Judaism does not accept the rabbinical maxim, "Ḳiddushin en lahem, abal be'ilat
ba'al yesh lahem," to the effect that coition but not marriage obtains among
the Gentiles. This reflection on the morals of the non-Jewish world arose
out of the conditions of Roman civilization; but, in view of the observance
in civilized countries of the Biblical laws of marriage, the modern Synagogue
acknowledges without quibble the sanctity of matrimony contracted under the
sanction of the civil law or of the Church. Where the civil law is in conflict
with the Jewish law, the civil law in general takes precedence; where degrees
of consanguinity are permitted in the Mosaic law, but forbidden in the civil
law, the latter is recognized by the Synagogue. But where the civil law permits
marriages within certain degrees of consanguinity forbidden in the Mosaic
code, the Jewish law is respected.
of the Gentile tribunals is also recognized in civil suits, whether the parties
be Jews or Gentiles. In these cases the maxim of Samuel, "The law of the
land is law" ("Dina de-malkuta dina"; Giṭ. 6b), is applied in its broadest
sense. The term "huḳḳot ha-goyyim," after rabbinical precedent (see above,
under R. Meïr), is applied, if at all, only to such customs as conflict with
the implications of ethical monotheism (sorcery, superstition: see Pes. 111a),
and to the introduction into the synagogal service of rites repugnant to
the genius of monotheistic Judaism. The rabbinical injunction against placing
animals in the stable of a Gentile (Giṭ. 46b), as well as the provisions
freeing the slave sold to a non-Jew, had its root in the horrid indulgences
of the Roman-Greek world. Slavery, whether of Jew or Gentile, is abhorrent
in the eyes of modern Judaism. The caution against being found alone with
a Gentile, and against leaving a woman alone with one ('Ab. Zarah ii. 1),
has lost what reasonableness it had in the days of Roman depravity (see Sifra,
Aḥare Mot, 9). The Jewish religion teaches the very contrary of the assumption
basic to these injunctions. The Christian, whose morality is fundamentally
Jewish, never fell under the designation used in these rabbinical warnings.
philanthropy draws no distinction between Gentile and Jew. The provision
for the relief and care of Gentile dependents and the burial of their dead
(Giṭ. 61a) is in full authority, not merely "mi-pene darke shalom" (see above),
but as grounded in the very essence of Jewish benevolence. The examples of
the old rabbis, quoted in part above, in extending the law of reverence for
old age (Maimonides, "Yad," Talmud Torah, vi. 9) to the aged among the Gentiles
(Ḳid. 33a); in giving the salutation of peace to the non-Jew (Ber. 17a; Giṭ.
61, 62); in gladdening the hearts of Gentiles on their holidays ('Ab. Zarah
12a, 65a), are recalled in modern catechisms and treatises of Jewish ethics,
to teach that the same regard for the dignity of man shall be extended to
every one created in God's image. The Mishnaic interdiction of celebrating
the holidays of the heathen by intercourse with them on those days (ib.
i. 1), reasonable enough when idolatry was supreme, has been superseded by
the injunction to have due and reverent regard for the religious usages of
non-Jews,and to enter heartily into the spirit of
such common celebrations as have no bearing on the positive monotheistic
tenets of Judaism.
The oath before
a Gentile magistrate is inviolable, though Judaism discourages the practise
of taking an oath, believing that "one's yes should be yes, and one's no
should be no" (B. M. 49a; Sheb. 36a). Honesty and truthfulness are insisted
on in all dealings, whether with a Jew or a Gentile. The Rabbis insisted
that the sin known as "genebat da'at" (the stealing of another's good opinion
by false representations or by the pretense of friendship and the like) be
avoided in one's intercourse even with a heathen (Ḥul. 94a). In view of the
virulent aspersions on Jewish morality, it should be noted that modern Judaism,
like rabbinical Judaism, makes false dealings, usury, theft, and the like
of which a Gentile is the victim, a "ḥillul ha-shem" on the part of the Jew,
the one sin for which only death may bring atonement (Lev. R. xxii.; Yer.
Ned. 38b; Ab. iv. 4).
The modern prayer-books (e.g.,
the English edition of Einhorn's "'Olat Tamid," Chicago, 1896) have substituted
in the prayer for peace in the "Shemoneh 'Esreh" the words "all nations"
and "all the sons of man, thy children," for the old reading "thy people
Intermarriage is not countenanced by
modern Judaism; but this is not due to contempt for the Gentiles, but to
the conviction that unity of religion is essential to the happiness of the