Meaning of the Term.

A 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 the world).

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.

The "Stranger."

The "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 thathe 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.

Under 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.

Judaism Not Hostile to Gentiles.

In 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., xxxiii.).

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."

Tannaitic Views of Gentiles.

How 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.

The 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 the Talmud.

Gamaliel II.

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. 493).

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").


Akiba, 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).

Among 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).

Jose 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 Mot, 85b).

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).

R. Meïr.

The 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).

Judah 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).

Eliezer, 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.).

Simon 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).

Why 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. 8).

Jacob, the grandson of Elisha ben Abuya, reports having seen a heathen bind his father and throw him to his dog as food (Sifre, Deut. 81).

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.

According 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).

Phinehas 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).

Simon 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).

Antigonus 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:

Views of the Amoraim.

That 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.).

Hezekiah 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).

Some 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).


Johanan 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).

Eleazar ben 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).


Abbahu 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).

Isaac 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).

Levi 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.).

Jonah 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).

Phinehas 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]).

Views of Babylonian Amoraim.

The 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).

Mar '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).

Samuel, 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).

Judah's 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).

  • Bacher, Ag. Pal. Amor.;
  • idem, Ag. Bab. Amor.;
  • idem, Ag. Tan.
E. C. E. G. H.—In Relation to Jews:

In 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).

The seven 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.

Rabbinical Modification of Laws.
  • 1. The 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).
  • 2. The 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).
Laws of Hammurabi.

It 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.

The 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).

Similarly, 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's Decisions.

R. 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.

Discriminations 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).

Not 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).

Discrimination Against Gentiles.
  • 3. 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.).Excepting 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. Zarah 25b).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).
Unreliability of Gentiles.

With 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).

As Suitors in Civil Cases.
  • 4. 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 occasion arose.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).The 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 law (ib.).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).Acquisition 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).The 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.On the 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.
Gentile Property Exempt from Fines.

For 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.

Gentile Poor to Be Supported.

The 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.

The 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).

Gentiles May Not Be Taught the Torah.

Inasmuch 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).

Resh 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.

Present Status of the Gentile.

With 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.

The 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.

  • In addition to the works cited in the article, Levensohn, Zerubbabel, Warsaw, 1875;
  • Ben Judah, i., §§ 71-73, Warsaw, 1878;
  • Zweifel, Sanegor, pp. 263-308, ib. 1885;
  • Bloch, Gegen die Anti-Sem. Vienna, 1882;
  • Baum, Ein Wichtiges Kapitel über der Völker, Frankfort-on-the-Main, 1884;
  • Briman, Gesetzsammlung des Judenspiegels, Jassy, 1885.
  • Anti-Jewish: Eisenmenger, Entdecktes Judenthum, Königsberg, 1711;
  • Chiarini, Theorie, du Judaisme, i. 322-359, Paris, 1830;
  • McCaul, The Old Path of Modern Judaism, i. 27-47, London, 1847;
  • Rohling, Talmud-Jude, Leipsic;
  • Rohling, Meine Antwort an die Rabbiner, Prague, 1883.
  • For Talmud references compare the expurgations by the censor in the various editions of , of which the Cracow ed., 1894, is the more complete.
E. G. H. J. D. E.—From the Post-Talmudic Period to the Present Time:

The 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).

Maimonides (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).

Moses of 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).

Opinions of Jewish Scholars.

About 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).

Caro (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).

Eliezer of Mayence writes: "The commandment prohibiting theft, like those against murder and adultery, applies to both Jews and Gentiles" ("Sefer Ra'aban," § 91, Prague, 1610).

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."

Israel 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).

  • Hamburger, in Hebrew Review, i. 145-164, Cincinnati, 1880.
E. G. H. J. D. E.—Attitude of Modern Judaism:

Modern 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.

On Marriage.

Modern 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.

The jurisdiction 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.

Impartiality of Jewish Philanthropy.

Jewish 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 Israel."

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 home.

E. C. E. G. H.