Posts Tagged ‘ethnos’

Pagan – Hebrew: Komer, Zikkaron, and Tame


“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). 

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

Hebrew Word Pictures

כ Kaf – A Wing means ‘to open’ or ‘to allow.’

מ Mem – Water means ‘chaos’ or ‘mighty.’

ר Resh – A Head means ‘highest authority.’

The Hebrew Word Picture for komer: to open or allow chaos’ highest authority.


“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). 

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

“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 Lamentations the word goy or ‘nations’ is used. There is no separate reference to ‘pagan’ which suggests that the translators wanted to differentiate it from Isaiah 56:6-7.  The ‘nations’ entering the sanctuary was forbidden. During the days of Antiochus Epiphanes, the goyim, the Greeks, entered the sanctuary and defiled it with pig’s blood.  Their actions were pagan and they were goyim.  

Hebrew Word Pictures

ז Zayin – A Weapon means ‘to divide’ or ‘cut.’

כ Kaf – A Wing means ‘to open’ or ‘to allow.’

ר Resh – A Head means ‘highest authority.’

י Vav – A Nail means ‘binding.’

נ Nun – A Fish means ‘life.’

The Hebrew Word Picture for zikkaron: divide and allow the highest authority’s binding of life.


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). 

Hebrew Word Pictures

ט Tet – A Snake means ‘twist.’

מ Mem – Water means ‘chaos’ or ‘mighty.’

א Alef – An Ox means ‘first strength.’

The Hebrew Word Picture for tame: twisting chaos’ first strength.

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 which 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’ 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 misuse of the word.

“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 God 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 Israel envious for their Messiah.

©2011 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.

Nations – Hebrew: Goyim

“As for me, this is my covenant with you: you will be the father of many nations” (Genesis 17:4).


Goyim or goy in Hebrew means ‘name of a people or nations.’ Goy is used 561 times in the Hebrew Scriptures and refers to peoples and nations generally in a context of geographical or governmental identity.  They have a unique origin and language.  Only twice is goy used with the idea of pagan and seven times it is [mis]translated as ‘gentile’.

Though goyim or ‘gentile’ can mean ‘pagan,’ its specific meaning must be determined through context.  Abraham did not become the ‘father of many pagans’ nor should every gentile be considered pagan. Abraham became the ‘father’ of many geographical peoples with many different origins, languages, and governmental identities: the goyim [nations]. Though those living in the nations may have had a pagan belief system, many within those systems recognize Abraham as their ‘father of  faith.’ These are the goyim promised to ‘the father of many nations.’ 

“The children fought with each other inside her so much that she said, “If it’s going to be like this, why go on living?” So she went to inquire of Adonai, who answered her, “There are two nations [goyim]  in your womb. From birth they will be two rival peoples. One of these peoples will be stronger than the other, and the older will serve the younger” (Genesis 25:22-23). 

The Hebrew word for two ‘nations’ is goyim.  Two goyim fight in Rebecca’s womb –– not two pagans or two gentiles.  Two nations.  From these two nations came the Edomites from Esau and the Israelites from Jacob. The two nations would war regarding over being the ‘seed’ promised to Abraham.

Obedience to God’s commands would lead to the goyim to recognize Isra’el as a wise and understanding goy with an Elohim who is nothing like the pagan gods within the goyim (Deuteronomy 4:32).

Jeremiah tells Isra’el not to learn the ‘ways of the nations’ (Jeremiah 10:2).   The ‘ways of the nations’ he refers to are definitely not God’s ways and could be considered pagan: holding to religious beliefs contrary to the ways of God. This does not make the nation itself pagan, but their customs and religious practices.

Hebrew Word Pictures

ג Gimel – A Camel means ‘lift up’ or ‘pride.’

י Vav – A Nail means ‘binding.’

י Yod – A Closed Hand means ‘finished work.’

י Yod – A Closed Hand means ‘finished work.’

מ Mem – Water means ‘chaos’ or ‘mighty.’

The Hebrew Word Picture for goyim: lift up the binding the finished work, the finished work of chaos.

“But now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all the Gentiles [ethnos] might come to the obedience that comes from faith” (Romans 16:26). 

Ethnos is used for ‘a nation or people’ in the Greek.

This verse is also evidence the fulfillment of the promise given to Abraham regarding all nations.  Note that the word ethnos is (mis)translated ‘gentiles’ rather than ‘nations.’ 

The word paganin both in the Hebrew and Greek is a completely different word than goy.

©2015 Tentstake Ministries Publishing, all rights reserved.  No copying or reproducing of this article without crediting the author or Tentstake Ministries Publishing.