The gemara indicates that Nochrim will in the end be accountable for not keeping Shabbat. Elsewhere, however, we learn that "Goy shehisbit chayav mita," if a Nochri purposely keeps Shabbas he is chayav mita, culpabale for the death penalty. Isn't this seemingly contradictory?
You mean the Gemara in Sanhedrin 58b, "a Nochri who is Shoves is punishable with death."
(a) The MAHARSHA here asks your question, and answers that this is actually what the Gemara here means. If Hash-m did not offer Nochrim the Torah, then they cannot know that there is a Mitzvah for Jews to keep Shabbos. If so, then even if they do keep Shabbos, if just out of a need to rest, and not because they think they are doing a Mitzvah. Why, asks the Gemara, should they be Chayav Misah for resting, if they are not doing so as a Mitzvah? (That is, they are punished for keeping Shabbos, and not for refusing to keep it.)
However, the MAHARAM SHIF calls this a "Dochek Gadol," and others point out that Rashi in Sanhedrin (end of 58b) clearly learns that a Nochri is Chayav Misah even for resting on a Monday, and not necessarily on the Shabbos (i.e., even if he does not rest for the Mitzvah of Shabbos).
(b) The simpler answer, though (which appears to be the approach taken by the MAHARSHAL here), is that had the Nochrim accepted the Shabbos, it would have been permitted for them to keep Shabbos. It is only after they refused to accept it, that Hash-m declared that since they did not accept it, they are Chayav Misah for keeping it. Therefore, they may be punished for not accepting the Shabbos in the first place.
Thank you for your response. I must say - the MAHARAM SHIF's & others pointing out Rashi Sanhedrin 58b and I guess Rashi's sheeta itself mystifies me. Anytime a Nochri rests - even on a Monday - even not for the Mitzvah of Shabbos he's chayav misah?! A nochri can't take a vacation?! A Nochri can't take a day off sometimes? Hayeetachayn?
Good question. I believe that even according to Rashi, it is only if the Nochri is resting on a certain day out of religious conviction that it is a problem, and not if he just takes a vacation -- but let's wait until we get to Sanhedrin before discussing this more in depth.