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The Posuk Says (Gen. 25,23):

שְׁנֵי [גיים] גוֹיִם בְּבִטְנֵךְ וּשְׁנֵי לְאֻמִּים מִמֵּעַיִךְ יִפָּרֵדוּ

Translated as: Two nations are in your womb, and two kingdoms will separate from your innards

What is the diffrence between a גוֹיִם and a לְאֻמִּים

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can you clarify your question. As you translated, one means nations and one means kingdoms. –  Menachem Nov 22 '11 at 4:08
    
Unless otherwise specified I am using the Metusdah translation I want to know what the practical difference in the Hebrew the English is Lav Davka Precise –  simchastorah Nov 22 '11 at 6:26
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@simchashatorah per the example set by Esther, please give credit in each question to the source of any words that you got from somewhere else, including translations. The easy (and useful to others) way is to link to the translation you're using (e.g. chabad.org). Don't rely on statements like "unless otherwise specified," because 90% of the people who read anything you write here are reading only that piece and have no idea about anything else on this site, including your comments elsewhere. –  Isaac Moses Nov 22 '11 at 15:13
    
Related: judaism.stackexchange.com/q/22967 –  msh210 Dec 24 '12 at 15:55

3 Answers 3

Although Rashi (to Tehilim 2:1) quotes Menachem (ben Sruk) who says that the two terms are essentially similar, Netziv and Malbim both say basically the same thing (which Malbim repeats to Tehilim 2:1 and 117:1): A "גוי" is a bunch of people who get together, while a "לאום" is a nation with a unique identity and culture. HaKsav VeHaKabbalah, in a slightly different comment, says that a "לאום" is a people united under a king. Rabbi Hirsch defines a "לאום" as a form of government.

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From the context, it is obvious that not every goy becomes an am.

What I imagine the difference is, is that an Am is a group of people with a deep sense of togetherness, as if they all came from the same mother.

A Goy, is a nation, which is a political faction joined together by their ideas and political philosphy. An Am that has a civil war, will become two Goyim.

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Indeed, this seems to be borne out by Rashi to Gen. 14:1, where he explains that "Tidal king of Goyim" was king of "a place named Goyim, because members of various nations and places gathered together there, and appointed a king over themselves." So there was a single "le'om" (as Rashi here explains, "a kingdom") formed out of many Goyim. –  Alex Nov 22 '11 at 14:36
    
avi, are you saying l'om and am are the same? –  msh210 Nov 22 '11 at 17:41

R. Shlomo Kluger in his sefer Imrei Shefer here says that גוים refer to the nations of the world, and לאומים refer to Yisrael.

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So there are two nations of the world and two Yisraels? I don't understand. –  Double AA Nov 19 at 23:30
    
Although you quoted him correctly, here (ois 39) he is referencing what he wrote on the actual passuk under discussion. Perhaps check there and work it in because as it stands Double AA has a strong question. –  user6591 Nov 20 at 0:21

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