The Commandments of the Noahide – Part 1

On the Temple Mount with friends

Before we start discussing the Noahide Commandments, perhaps it would be good to discuss what is a Noahide. Or better, to define the term “Noahide” briefly. During the Exodus there were people other than the Israelites that exited with them as they left Egypt. These people were perhaps some Egyptians and possibly slaves from other lands the Egyptians had conquered. They are referred to in the Torah sometimes as “Sojourners” or “Strangers”, meaning traveling with someone; in this case those traveling with the Israelites from Egypt. These sojourners/strangers are mentioned various times in conjunction with some of the commandments given to the Israelis. However, prior the giving of the ten commandments at Mount Sinai, there were commandments given that were directed to all humans. These commandments are referred to as the “seven commandments of Noah”.

Everybody can trace their ancestry back to Noah. Thus these commandments are referred to as the commandments of Noah, because they are for all decedents of Noah, both non-Israeli and Israeli. Those that are non-Israeli (ger) that choose to believe in the G-d of Israel, walk with (abide with) the Israeli, and follow these commandments of Noah, are referred to as Noahide. The Noahide follows the seven commandments of Noah and the commandments referred to in the Torah for those abiding with the Israeli. The Noahide is free to follow the other commandment that are for the Israeli if they desire, but they are not under obligation to follow these commandments. Some of the Jewish denominations teach that the Noahide is not to totally keep the Sabbath however.

There a three Hebrew words in the Torah that are used to refer to the person that is not Israeli. These three words sometimes get translated to the same English word thus potentially creating some confusion to those of us that are Noahide and want the detail. These words are: “gur” – to abide; “ger” – non-Israeli, not having inheritance rights; “toshab” – stranger. Ger and toshab both get translated as stranger as a rule, thus causing some confusion for the true meaning of the verse. Gur usually gets translated as “sojourner”.

The following verses contain one of these three words in them, I have the original Hebrew word substituted for the English in each case, with its meaning in brackets. This is not meant to be an exhaustive list. These verses are listed to demonstrate another way of understanding them.

  • Ex 12:45 A tashab (stranger) and a hired servant shall not eat thereof. (ASV)
  • Ex 12:48 And when a ger (non Israeli) shall gur (abide) with thee, and will keep the passover to Hashem, let all his males be circumcised, and then let him come near and keep it; and he shall be as one that is born in the land: but no uncircumcised person shall eat thereof. (ASV)
  • Ex. 18:3 and her two sons; of whom the name of the one was Gershom; for he said, I have been a ger (non Israeli) in a foreign land: (ASV)
  • Ex. 23:12 Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest; that thine ox and thine ass may have rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the tashab (stranger), may be refreshed. (ASV)
  • Lev 17:8 And thou shalt say unto them, Whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the ger (non Israeli) that gur (abides) among them, that offereth a burnt-offering or sacrifice, 17:9 and bringeth it not unto the door of the tent of meeting, to sacrifice it unto Hashem; that man shall be cut off from his people. (ASV)
  • Lev. 19:33 – 34 And if a ger (non Israeli) gur (abides) with thee in your land, ye shall not do him wrong. The ger (non Israeli) that gur (abides) with you shall be unto you as the home-born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were ger (non Egyptians) in the land of Egypt: I am Jehovah your God. (ASV) (This verse is of particular interest, because the same word “ger”, is used for the “non Israeli” and when the Israeli were in the same situation as “non Egyptians”)
  • Num 9:14 And if a ger (non Israeli) shall gur (abide) among you, and will keep the passover unto Hashem; according to the statute of the passover, and according to the ordinance thereof, so shall he do: ye shall have one statute, both for the gur (abides), and for him that is born in the land. (ASV)
  • Num. 15:14 And if a ger (non Israeli)gur (abides) with you, or whosoever may be among you throughout your generations, and will offer an offering made by fire, of a sweet savor unto Hasham; as ye do, so he shall do. (ASV)

The Laws of Noah can be viewed as seven categories of laws or as seven individual laws. As individual laws they have been listed in a variety of ways. They result as the same, but are written a little different. Following are a few examples:

The seven Noahide laws as traditionally enumerated are the following:
1. Not to worship idols.
2. Not to curse God.
3. To establish courts of justice.
4. Not to commit murder.
5. Not to commit adultery, bestiality, or sexual immorality.
6. Not to steal.
7. Not to eat flesh torn from a living animal.
The earliest complete rabbinic version of the seven laws can be found in the Tosefta:
1. Concerning idolatry
2. Concerning blasphemy
3. Concerning adjudication
4. Concerning blood-shed
5. Concerning sexual immorality
6. Concerning robbery
7. Concerning a limb torn from a living animal
1. Do not profane G-d’s Oneness in any way.
2. Do not curse your Creator.
3. Establish courts of law and ensure justice in our world.
4. Do not murder.
5. Harness and channel the human libido.
6. Do not steal.
7. Do not eat a limb of a living animal.
Comparison of the 7 Laws of Noah – Traditional List, Earliest List, Chabad’s List

As you can see in the three examples shown above, these are three different list, each express the same commandments only in a different way.

These seven commandments can also be seen as seven category titles. With each one containing several commandments. These seven categories have a total of about 100 commandments that are listed among the the 613 found in the Torah.

This article will be in multiple parts, this being the introduction, and the following articles we will be discussing each commandment individually. We will be taking the approach of each of the seven commandments as a individual commandment and as a category for other related commandments.

By, Jim Behnke

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s