|—n , pl -thens, -then|
|1.||a person who does not acknowledge the God of Christianity, Judaism, or Islam; pagan|
|2.||an uncivilized or barbaric person|
|3.||(functioning as plural) the heathen heathens collectively|
|5.||unenlightened; uncivilized; barbaric|
|6.||of or relating to heathen peoples or their religious, moral, and other customs, practices, and beliefs|
|[Old English hǣthen; related to Old Norse heithinn, Old Frisian hēthin, Old High German heidan]|
(Heb. plural goyum). At first the word _goyim_ denoted generally all the nations of the world (Gen. 18:18; comp. Gal. 3:8). The Jews afterwards became a people distinguished in a marked manner from the other _goyim_. They were a separate people (Lev. 20:23; 26:14-45; Deut. 28), and the other nations, the Amorites, Hittites, etc., were the _goyim_, the heathen, with whom the Jews were forbidden to be associated in any way (Josh. 23:7; 1 Kings 11:2). The practice of idolatry was the characteristic of these nations, and hence the word came to designate idolaters (Ps. 106:47; Jer. 46:28; Lam. 1:3; Isa. 36:18), the wicked (Ps. 9:5, 15, 17). The corresponding Greek word in the New Testament, _ethne_, has similar shades of meaning. In Acts 22:21, Gal. 3:14, it denotes the people of the earth generally; and in Matt. 6:7, an idolater. In modern usage the word denotes all nations that are strangers to revealed religion.