Can someone please explain to me the distinction between Bnei Noach and goyim especially with regard to their halachic obligations or lack thereof.

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    – mbloch
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 20:00
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    Possible duplicate of What is the difference between a Ger Toshav, a Ben Noach, an Akum and a Nochri?
    – DonielF
    Commented Mar 3, 2019 at 4:21

1 Answer 1


Goyim means non-Jews. The word comes from the Hebrew word for nations and simply describes non-Jews without implying anything positive or negative about their behavior.

All non-Jews are expected halachically to follow the 7 Noahide laws (see Sanhedrin 56a). Those non-Jews who do observe these commandments are called Bnei Noach (see here for further reading).

  • The Rambam in the passage you quote doesn't equate righteous of the nations with sons of Noah. (I actually tentatively think that the Rambam does equate the two terms, and I brought a proof to it here, but I would expect to see this explained in your answer)
    – b a
    Commented Mar 2, 2019 at 20:27
  • @ba I don't understand your comment. If you equate Bnei Noach with those who observe the "Seven Commandments" then the Rambam reads that Bnei Noach are of the Righteous of the nations and have a portion of the world to come. What am I missing?
    – mbloch
    Commented Mar 3, 2019 at 4:12
  • Um... Bnei Noach are all non-Jews. Those who keep the Seven Mitzvos are Geirei Toshav.
    – DonielF
    Commented Mar 3, 2019 at 4:22
  • See Rambam, Hil. Melachim 8:10, which disagrees with both of your assertions, that a Ben Noach is different from a goy and that a Ger Toshav must live in Eretz Yisrael.
    – DonielF
    Commented Mar 3, 2019 at 4:29
  • @DonielF yes I stand corrected. The Rambam calls it this way because he is permitted to dwell in Israel (Issurei Biah 14:7). Still I don't think people equal goy and ben Noach, bnei Noach are those who observe the 7 mitzvot, at least in today's common discourse
    – mbloch
    Commented Mar 3, 2019 at 4:35

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