Pagan – Hebrew Words


Komer in Hebrew is the word for ‘pagan’ and means ‘idolatrous.

“He did away with the pagan [idolatrous] priests appointed by the kings of Judah to burn incense on the high places of the towns of Judah and on those around Jerusalem—those who burned incense to Baal, to the sun and moon, to the constellations and to all the starry hosts” (2 Kings 23:5). 


Zikkaron is another Hebrew word for ‘pagan’ and means ‘memorial.’

“Behind your doors and your doorposts you have put your pagan [memorial] symbols. Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed, you climbed into it and opened it wide; you made a pact with those whose beds you love, and you looked with lust on their naked bodies” (Isaiah 57:8). 

“The enemy laid hands on all her treasures; she saw pagan nations enter her sanctuary— those you had forbidden to enter your assembly” (Lamentations 1:10). 

In this verse there is only the word goy or nations.  There is no separate reference to pagan which suggests that the translators added it to differentiate from Isaiah 56:6-7 when foreigners from all nations [goyim] will come to worship God on His holy mountain.  Whatever the reason, the nations entering the sanctuary had been forbidden to enter.  Lamentations is about the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple.  During the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, the goyim, the Greeks, entered the sanctuary and defiled it with pig’s blood.  Thus their actions were pagan, but they were will goyim.  


Tame is another Hebrew word for ‘pagan’ and means ‘unclean.’

“‘Your wife will become a prostitute in the city, and your sons and daughters will fall by the sword. Your land will be measured and divided up, and you yourself will die in a pagan [unclean] country. And Israel will surely go into exile, away from their native land” (Amos 7:17). 

Greek Words for Pagan

“If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan [nation] or a tax collector” (Matthew 18:17). 

The Greek word for pagan in this verse is ethnikos with comes from ethnos and means ‘nations’.  It is mistranslated numerous times as ‘pagan’ and ‘gentile’ and not its intended meaning of ‘nations.’  Those who refuse discipline in the Body of Messiah are to be treated as one would treat an outsider, one of the ‘nations.’

“For the pagan [nations of the] world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them” (Luke 12:30). 

The Greek word for pagan in this verse is ethnos and means ‘nations.’ Again, there is no specific word for pagan in this verse.  

“Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written: “The people sat down to eat and drink and got up to indulge in pagan revelry” (1 Corinthians 10:7). 

The Greek word for pagan here is paizo and means ‘indulge in pagan revelry.’   It is only used once this way in all of Scripture.   Nations, unclean, memorial and idolatrous have been substituted with the word ‘pagan’ and even ‘gentile’ creating a mistranslation of the Scriptures and ultimately a division within the Body of Messiah. 

“But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles [ethnos], how much greater riches will their full inclusion bring!  I am talking to you Gentiles [ethnos]. Inasmuch as I am the apostle to the Gentiles [ethnos], I take pride in my ministry in the hope that I may somehow arouse my own people [Isra’el]  to envy and save some of them” (Romans 11:12-14). 

The  mistranslation of the words goy and ethnos into ‘pagan’ and ‘gentile’ in this passage creates an identity crisis in the Body of Messiah.  Those of the nations, the goyim, though they may be living among ‘pagans’ are not always ‘pagan’ and learning the ‘ways of the nations’.   They are living in the nations because of the foresight of God who knew His people would be dispersed among the ‘nations’.   Those of the goyim or ethnos who have put their faith in Yeshua have the responsibility to make Isra’el envious for their Messiah.

©2011 Tentstake Ministries

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