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We translate עובדי עבודה זרה to mean serving an idol or idol worship.

The word זר mean foreign, as in, לא יהיה אל זר, do not serve a foreign god.

The word עובד כוכבים means serving the stars.

What is the difference between the two?

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    Why do you assume they refer to different things? It is colloquially understood to be the same thing. It would help if you could provide a source that treats the two as separate categories. – Isaac Kotlicky May 18 '16 at 18:32
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Star worshippers was a term invented by the editors of the printing process to avoid angering the religious majority amongst whom we lived.

They would have been very insulted (to the point of violence) if we kept the old term as they knew we considered them worshippers of a foreign Deity. By using the term star worshippers we along with them got to point and laugh at those fools who actually worshipped stars?!?! Ha ha! Everybody stayed happy. And alive.

As told by Rabbi Belsky a'h.

  • Happy and alive, that's nice. +1 – NVZ May 19 '16 at 14:37

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