Noahide Laws

The Seven Laws of Noah (Hebrew: ??? ????? ??? ??, Sheva mitzvot B'nei Noach), often referred to as the Noahide Laws are a list of seven moral imperatives which, according to the Talmud, were given by God to Noah as a binding set of laws for all mankind.[1] According to Judaism any non-Jew who lives according to these laws is regarded as a Righteous Gentile and furthermore only a non-Jew who carefully abides by these laws is assured of a place in the world to come (Olam Haba), the Jewish concept of eternal life[2]. Adherents are often called B'nei Noah (Children of Noah) or Noahides and may often network in Jewish synagogues.

The Noahide Laws were predated by six laws given to Adam in the Garden of Eden.[3] Later at the Revelation at Sinai the Seven Laws of Noah were succeeded by the Ten Commandments and the other laws of the Torah. According to Judaism, the 613 mitzvot or "commandments" given in the written Torah, as well as their reasonings in the oral Torah, were only issued to the Jews and are therefore only binding upon them, since they are regarded as having inherited the obligation from their ancestors. Furthermore it is actually forbidden by the Torah for non-Jews on whom the Noahide Laws are still binding, to elevate their observance to the Torah's mitzvot.[4]

Whilst several Jewish organizational bodies such as Chabad form the loose frame of a Noahide community, Noahides tend to congregate less than followers of other religions, thus their exact numbers are unknown. Noahides exist predominantly in the United States, South America and Europe. The Seven Laws of Noah have officially been recognised in the United States Congress:

"Whereas Congress recognizes the historical tradition of ethical values and principles which are the basis of civilized society and upon which our great Nation was founded; Whereas these ethical values and principles have been the bedrock of society from the dawn of civilization, when they were known as the Seven Noahide Laws."[5]

The Seven Laws

The seven laws listed by the Talmud are[6]

  1. Prohibition of Idolatry: - You shall not make for yourself an idol.

  2. Prohibition Murder: - You shall not murder.

  3. Prohibition of Theft: - You shall not steal.

  4. Prohibition of Sexual Promiscuity: - You shall not commit adultery.

  5. Prohibition of Blasphemy: - You shall not blaspheme.

  6. Prohibition of Cruelty to Animals: - Do not eat the flesh of a living animal.

  7. Requirement to have just Laws: - You shall set up an effective government to police the preceding six laws.

According to rabbinic Judaism, as expressed in the Talmud, the Noahide Laws apply to all humanity through mankind's descent from one paternal ancestor who in Hebrew tradition is called Noah (the head of the only family to survive during The Flood). In Judaism, ??? ?? B'nei Noah (Hebrew, "Descendants of Noah", "Children of Noah") refers to all of mankind.[citation needed]

The Talmud also states: "Righteous people of all nations have a share in the world to come" (Sanhedrin 105a). Any non-Jew who lives according to these laws is regarded as one of "the righteous among the gentiles". Maimonides writes that this refers to those who have acquired knowledge of God and act in accordance with the Noahide laws out of obedience to Him. According to what scholars consider to be the most accurate texts of the Mishneh Torah, Maimonides continues on to say that anyone who upholds the Noahide laws only because they appear logical is not one of the "righteous among the nations," but rather he is one of the wise among them. The more prolific versions of the Mishneh Torah say of such a person: "..nor is he one of the wise among them."[

According to the Biblical narrative, the Deluge covered the whole world killing every surface-dwelling creature except Noah, his family and the creatures of Noah's Ark. After the flood, God sealed a covenant with Noah with the following admonitions (Genesis 9):

  • Food: "Also, flesh with the life -the blood- in it do not eat." (9:4)
  • Murder: "I will also inquire about your blood, your life, from all animals, and from each human I will inquire about his brother's blood. Who sheds the blood of man, by man his blood will be shed, because in the image of God was man made."

The Talmud (tractate Sanhedrin 56a/b, quoting Tosefta Sanhedrin 9:4) states that the instruction to not eat "flesh with the life" was given to Noah, and that Adam and Eve had already received six other commandments. Adam and Eve were not enjoined from eating from a living animal since they were forbidden to eat any animal. [7] The remaining six are exegetically derived from a seemingly superfluous sentence in Genesis 2:16.

Judaism holds that gentiles (or goyim "non-Jews [literally 'Nations']") are not only not obligated to adhere to all the laws of the Torah (indeed, they are forbidden to fulfill some laws, such as the keeping of the Jewish Sabbath in the exact same manner as Israel [8]). Rabbinic Judaism and its modern-day descendants discourage proselytization. The Noahide Laws are regarded as the way through which non-Jews can have a direct and meaningful relationship with God or at least comply with the minimal requisites of civilization and of divine law.[citation needed]

A non-Jew who keeps the Noahide Law in all its details is said to attain the same spiritual and moral level as Israel's own Kohen Gadol (high priest) (Talmud, Bava Kamma 38a). Maimonides states in his work Mishneh Torah (The laws of kings and their rulership 8:11) that a Ger Toshav who is precise in the observance of these Seven Noahide commandments is considered to be a Righteous Gentile and has earned a place in the world to come. This follows a similar statement in the Talmud (tractate Sanhedrin 105b). However, according to Maimonides, a gentile is considered righteous only if a person follows the Noahide laws specifically because he or she considers them to be of divine origin (through the Torah) and not if they are merely considered to be intellectually compelling or good rules for living.[9]

Noahide law differs radically from the Roman law for gentiles (Jus Gentium), if only because the latter was an enforceable judicial policy. Rabbinic Judaism has never adjudicated any cases under Noahide law (per Novak, 1983:28ff.), although scholars disagree about whether the Noahide law is a functional part of Halakha ("Jewish law") (cf. Bleich).

In recent years, the term "Noahide" has come to refer to non-Jews who strive to live in accord with the seven Noahide Laws; the terms "observant Noahide" or "Torah-centered Noahides" would be more precise but are infrequently used. The rainbow, referring to the Noahide or First Covenant (Genesis 9), is the symbol of many organized Noahide groups.[citation needed] A non-Jewish person of any ethnicity or religion is referred to as a bat ("daughter") or ben ("son") of Noah, but most organizations that call themselves ??? ?? (b'nei noach) are composed of gentiles who are keeping the Noahide Laws

[edit] Subdividing the Seven Laws

Various rabbinic sources have different positions on the way the seven laws are to be subdivided in categories. Maimonides (Melakhim 10:6 of the Mishneh Torah) lists one additional Noahide commandment forbidding the coupling of different kinds of animals and the mixing of trees. Rabbi David ben Solomon ibn Abi Zimra (Radbaz), a contemporary commentator on Maimonides, expressed surprise that he left out castration and sorcery which were listed in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 56b).

The tenth century Rabbi Saadia Gaon added tithes and levirate marriage. The eleventh century Rav Nissim Gaon included "listening to God's Voice", "knowing God" and "serving God" besides going on to say that all religious acts which can be understood through human reasoning are obligatory upon Jew and Gentile alike. The fourteenth century Rabbi Nissim ben Reuben Gerondi added the commandment of charity.

The sixteenth century work Asarah Maamarot by Rabbi Menahem Azariah of Fano (Rema mi-Fano) enumerates thirty commandments, listing the latter twenty-three as extensions of the original seven. Another commentator, Rabbi Zvi Hirsch Chajes (Kol Hidushei Maharitz Chayess I, end Ch. 10) suggests these are not related to the first seven, nor based on Scripture, but were passed down by oral tradition. The number thirty derives from the statement of the Talmudic sage Ulla in tractate Hullin 92a, though he lists only three other rules in addition to the original seven, consisting of the prohibitions against homosexuality and cannibalism, as well as the imperative to honor the Torah.

Talmud commentator Rashi remarks on this that he does not know the other Commandments referred to. Though the authorities seem to take it for granted that Ulla's thirty commandments included the original seven, an additional thirty laws is also possible from the reading.

The tenth century Shmuel ben Hophni Gaon lists thirty Noahide Commandments based on Ulla's Talmudic statement, though the text is problematic[10]. He includes the prohibitions against suicide and false oaths, as well as the imperatives related to prayer, sacrifices and honoring one's parents. The commandments, according to Shmuel ben Hophni Gaon, cover:

[edit] Prohibition against idolatry

  • No idolatry
  • To pray only to God
  • To offer ritual sacrifices only to God

[edit] Prohibition against blasphemy

[edit] Prohibition against murder

[edit] Prohibition against theft

  • No stealing
  • No kidnapping of persons

[edit] Prohibition against sexual immorality

[edit] Prohibition against eating the limb of a living animal

  • Not to eat a limb of a living creature (whilst it is still alive)
  • Not to eat or drink blood
  • Not to eat carrion (for those recognised by a Beth Din)

[edit] Establish courts of justice

  • To establish courts and a system of justice
  • No false oaths

The contemporary Rabbi Aaron Lichtenstein counts 66 instructions but Rabbi Harvey Falk has suggested that much work remains to be done in order to properly identify all of the Noahide Commandments, their divisions and subdivisions.

Theft, robbery and stealing covers the appropriate understanding of other persons, their property and their rights. The establishment of courts of justice promotes the value of the responsibility of a corporate society of people to enforce these laws and define these terms. The refusal to engage in unnecessary lust or cruelty demonstrates respect for the Creation itself as renewed after the Flood. To not do murder would include human sacrifice.

This is what i'm studying on now,

seems confusing at some points,and out of date at others.

any intelligent insight or thoughts would be appreciated.

" Prohibition against eating the limb of a living animal"
Hmm sure sounds to me like don't eat animals, but i guess its not taken that way

"Not to eat a limb of a living creature (whilst it is still alive) "
I don't really understand the problem here, I suppose its a bit better for the animal to be killed first maybe, but was this such a rampant practice that we needed a law for it?

"Not to eat or drink blood "
Again this sounds like a vegetarian commandment, draining the blood seems like a bit of a copout to me, i mean how is that any better than flesh with blood still in it, I am curious to hear the exact wording of all this the way it was given out, without external interpretations. Sounds like a call to veggie to me much like some stuff in Christianity which is convenientlly re-tooled using advanced theological gymnastics to allow us to not follow the letter of the law.


  1. ^ compare Genesis 9:4-6

  2. ^ Sheva M Bnei Noach, Mishnah Torah

  3. ^ Genesis 2:16

  4. ^ Yerusha LeYacov,[citation needed] Talmud Bavli

  5. ^ Public Law 102-14, H.J. Res 104, 102nd Congress of the United States of America, March 5, 1991.

  6. ^ Sanhedrin 56

  7. ^ Rashi on Gensis 9:3

  8. ^ Jewish Encyclopedia but are forbidden to observe them.Gentiles May Not Be Taught the Torah.

  9. ^ Mishneh Torah Shofitm, Wars and Kings 8:14

  10. ^ Each surviving manuscript is defective between the seventeenth and nineteenth positions, cf. The Seven Laws of Noah by Rabbi Aaron Lictenstein, pp. 119

 Again this sounds like a vegetarian commandment,

i keep finding many references through my studies that seem

to suggest we are  suppose to be vegetarians.

Rob, where are you studying this? The Noahide movement is small and not really known outside of Jewish circles.

BTW: I would use the following translations;

1) to establish courts of justice

2) not to commit blasphemy

3) not to commit idolatry

4) not to commit incest and adultery

5) not to commit bloodshed

6) not to commit robbery

7) not to eat flesh cut from a living animal.

minor word variations can led to different conclusions.

minor word variations can led to different conclusions.

i have found that to be a definete truth.

I also study online at the University of Illinois library,and in person at the Southeastern IL college library.


Surely by definition every non-jew must break the idolatory commandment, simply because they don't believe in the God of the Talmud (or they have added to it in Christians and Jews case).

Luckily .....
(from wikipedia)

Judaism does not have a specific doctrine about the afterlife, but it does have a tradition of describing Gehenna. Gehenna is not hell, but rather a sort of Purgatory where one is judged based on his or her life's deeds. The Kabbalah describes it as a "waiting room" (commonly translated as an "entry way") for all souls (not just the wicked). The overwhelming majority of rabbinic thought maintains that people are not in Gehenna forever; the longest that one can be there is said to be 11 months, however there has been the occasional noted exception. Some consider it a spiritual forge where the soul is purified for its eventual ascent to Olam Habah (heb. ???? ???; lit. "The world to come", often viewed as analogous to Heaven). This is also mentioned in the Kabbalah, where the soul is described as breaking, like the flame of a candle lighting another: the part of the soul that ascends being pure and the "unfinished" piece being reborn.

there are many writings in history,that say or teach of a purgatory.

ther's also a saying,that i would have to look up to quote,but from memory says,that once

the dead have filled purgatory,they shall walk the earth till the judgement day.

which would seem logical if you believe in ghosts.

Siamang- Trust me, if a strict Jewish interp. is true, there are more non-Jews in Heaven than Jews. Idolatry at that time was literally idol worship, only in post-Temple times did more complex ideas come about. So by simply refraining from worshipping idols, many non-Jews can enter Heaven.


"i keep finding many references through my studies that seem

to suggest we are suppose to be vegetarians.

what does that mean to you?

me or Rob