the seven Commandments
These are the Seven commandments that the descendants of Noah are commanded:
1. Avodah Zarah עֲבוֹדָה זָרָה
Literally: Strange/foreign work/service – i.e. serving an idol or false deity.
Prohibition against: Idolatry (the deification or worship of any object, creature, human being, or power other than the One True G-d.)
Commandment to: Believe and trust in G-d alone, as the Almighty Creator and Sustainer of the World.
This commandment includes the belief in G-d, that He is the creator of everything and He is constantly creating everything anew, and guides everything by His Providence. Indeed the very essence of life is to recognize and believe in the Supreme Being, the Creator of the universe, accepting His laws with awe and love. He is aware of our deeds, and His Providence is over all of creation.
Refer to: Exodus 20:3-4
2. ‘Birchat’ (Kilelas) HaShem בִּרְכַּת הַשֵׁם
Literally: ‘Blessing’ the Divine Name. – i.e. Cursing G-d
Prohibition against: Blasphemy
Commandment to: Respect and praise G-d and His holy Names.
This commandment forbids cursing G-d (G-d forbid) in anyway. Trust and loyalty are crucial in life. Know that G-d is just, but humans can’t comprehend our Creator, Who is infinite. One shouldn’t extend his “freedom of speech” to the extreme of blasphemy. Don’t speak against the One Who gave you speech!
Refer to: Leviticus 24:15
3. Shefichat Damim שְׁפִיכוּת דָּמִים
Literally: Spilling blood
Prohibition against: Murder and Injury
Commandment to: Respect the sanctity of human life.
This commandment includes prohibitions of murder, abortion (except to save the mothers life), euthanasia and suicide (G-d forbid). This edict protects us from the extremes of selfishness and the violent tendencies that may lie within.
Refer to: Genesis 9:6
4. Gilui Arayot גִּלּוּי עֲרָיוֹת
Literally: Exposure of nakedness – i.e. knowing someone in a forbidden sexual way.
Prohibition against: Sexual transgressions/forbidden relationships (i.e. adulterous, incestuous, bestial or homosexual relationships etc.)
Commandment to: Respect traditional family values, because G-d defined marriage.
This commandment prohibits a gentile man from six immoral acts: with your mother, with your fathers wife, with a another mans wife, with your maternal sister, with an animal, and with another man. Wholesome families are a basis of healthy communities, nations and societies. Sexual transgressions lead to inner spiritual decay.
Refer to: Genesis 2:24
5. Gezel גָּזֵל
Literally: To rob, steal or embezzle.
Prohibition against: Theft (Includes rape and abduction)
Commandment to: Respect the rights and property of others.
This commandment prohibits stealing money or goods, a person (kidnapping), or even stealing from your employer. Since our sustenance comes from G-d, we should seek to earn it with honesty and dignity, not through deceit.
Refer to: Genesis 2:17
6. Ever Min HaChai אֵבָר מִן הֶחָי
Literally: Limb of the living.
Prohibition against: Eating a limb or any meat taken from a live animal
Commandment to: Respect all creatures and avoid cruelty.
This commandment also prohibits cruelty to animals. Humans are given dominion over the Earth, but we are also its caretakers. Although we may make use of animals, we cannot cause them undue suffering. This commandment prohibits meat taken from an animal while its heart was still beating.
Refer to: Genesis 9:3-4
7. Dinim דִּינִים
Literally: Judgement, justice, and law etc.
Prohibition against: Injustice, Societies with no legal system and breaching Torah law.
Commandment to: Establish a Just legal system, and pursue Justice
The descendants of Noah are obligated to create a judicial system to enforce the other six commandments. A fair and effective legal system creates a society worthy of G-d’s blessings. It brings G-d’s ideals for our personal life into a formal order for society, and completes the other six commandments. Justice is the foundation of world peace.
Refer to: Genesis 34:2-4.
These Seven Commandments which G-d gave to the Descendant’s of Noah, i.e. to all mankind, via the Prophet Moses and the oral Torah tradition, are basic laws with far-reaching ramifications which embrace the whole life of the society as well as of the individual, to ensure that the human race will be guided by these Divine laws of morality and ethics, and that the human society will indeed be human, and not a jungle.
The prophet Isaiah foretold that the Jewish people are to be “a light unto the nations” (Isaiah 42:6, 49:6), and as part of fulfilling this task they have preserved in the Babylonian Talmud (Sanhedrin 56a-60b, 96b, Avodah Zarah 2a-3b, 64b, 65a & 65b, Bava Kamma 38a and Chullin 92a) the universal code of seven Noachide commandments, which is a basic program of ethical monotheism.
The Jewish people have been historically deliberately prevented from carrying out their G-d given task, to teach the people of the world the true monotheistic faith in G-d and His Seven Universal Commandments, by the Evil heretical terrorist organization, known as the Catholic “Inquisition”, who have used torture and murder to prevent people receiving the truth and have tricked and misguided innocent people into following a false religious dogma. The Jewish people are now free to be a “light unto the nations” and teach the true faith, without the threat of being burnt to death at the stake by the christian inquisition.
The Oral Torah (i.e. The Talmud) in Sanhedrin 56b alludes to the Seven Commandments of the Covenant of Noah, in G-d’s commandment to Adam not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, in the Written Torah (the Bible):
Genesis 2:16 – “G-d [YKWK], Almighty G-d [Elokim], commanded man, saying: “You may eat freely from every tree of the Garden, but you must not eat from the Tree of Knowledge of good and evil. For on the day that you will eat from it you will certainly die.”
- “G-d” refers to ‘Idolatry’.
- “Almighty G-d” refers to ‘Blasphemy’.
- “Commanded” refers to ‘Establishing Courts of Justice’.
- “Man” refers to ‘Murder’.
- “Saying” refers to ‘Illicit Sex’.
- “You may eat freely” refers to ‘Eating flesh taken from a Living Animal’.
- “From every tree of the garden” refers to ‘Theft’.
This means that these seven laws were encompassed by Adam’s single commandment that was given in the Garden of Eden.
For those who foolishly deny the Oral Torah, please note that the Oral Torah is mentioned in the Written Torah, Exodus 24:12, Where “G-d said to Moses, “Come up to Me, to the mountain and remain there, and I will give you the stone tablets, the Torah (the [verbal] teaching, i.e. the Oral Torah) and the Mitzvah (the [written] commandment, i.e. the Written Torah), which I have written to instruct them.”
According to rabbinical teaching, the Seven Noachide Commandments were actually repeated to Moses on Mount Sinai, two days before the revelation of the Torah, as the verse states: “Moses came and told the people all the words of G-d and all the Mishpatim (laws)…” (Ex. 24:3).
The Seven Noachide Commandments were later codified into the Jewish Legal Code called the ‘Mishneh Torah’, by Rabbi Moses Maimonides (Rambam), in the section called Hilchos Melachim (The Laws of Kings), Chapters 8, 9 and 10. Quoting the Midrash Genesis Rabbah 16:6, Maimonides states that six commandments were given to Adam and the seventh was given to Noah after the flood, as until the Flood Mankind were not permitted to eat meat.
To be an authentic Noachide, one must have the right intention, and this is explained by Rambam in Hilchos Melachim 8:11: “Any person who accepts upon himself the Seven Commandments and is scrupulous in their observance is considered one of the ‘Righteous Gentiles’ and he is given a portion in the World to Come. This is provided that he accepts them and observed them because G-d commanded so in the Torah, and made known to us through Moses, our teacher, that the descendants of Noah had already been commanded in these laws. However, if he observes them due to personal conviction he is not considered a ‘Ger Toshav’ (foreign resident) nor a ‘Righteous Gentile’ nor one of their Sages.”
Some people think that there is no need to connect the laws of ethics and morality with Divine authority, and try to rationalize these principles instead. The fallacy of this thinking is abundantly clear, as we saw in the middle of the last century, a whole nation which had boasted of great philosophic advancement and ethical systems sink to the lowest depth of inhuman depravity and unprecedented barbarism, and the reason for this was that they thought that they could establish a morality and ethics based on human reason, not subject to the authority of a Supreme Being, having themselves become a super race, as they thought.
In essence, the Seven Noahide Commandments establish a stable, humane and just society, which accomplishes G-d’s command of inhabiting/settling the world. This is the basis of civilization, for “He did not create it as a wasteland, but formed it to be inhabited/settled.” (Isaiah 45:18). Observing these Laws helps everyone accomplish his or her true purpose: to make a dwelling place for G-d in this world.
According to the Rambam (Maimonides) in his Hilchos Melachim, the order the commandments were given in is as follows:
‘Six precepts were commanded to Adam: prohibitions against the worship of false gods; cursing G-d; murder; incest and adultery; theft; laws and courts of justice. To Noah, G-d added the prohibition against eating flesh from a living animal, as [Genesis 9:4] states: “Nevertheless, you may not eat flesh with its life, which is its blood.” Thus, there are Seven Commandments.’
‘These matters remained the same throughout the world until Abraham. When Abraham came, he was commanded regarding circumcision in addition to these. He also ordained the morning prayers. Isaac separated tithes and ordained an additional prayer service in the afternoon. Jacob was commanded the prohibition against eating the sciatic nerve. He also ordained the evening prayers. In Egypt, Amram was commanded regarding other commandments. Ultimately, Moses came and the Torah was completed by him.’
The Seven Noachide Commandments are general commandments with many details.
The Rambam in Hilchos Melachim 8:11, writes that all Bnei Noach who accept upon themselves the Seven Commandments and are careful to keep them and are precise in their observance are termed ‘Chasidei Umos ha’Olam’ (‘the Pious Ones of the Nations’) מֵחֲסִידֵי אֻמּוֹת הָעוֹלָם and they merit a share in the World to Come. However, they must keep these commandments specifically because HaShem (G-d) commanded them in the Torah through Moshe Rabeinu (Moses our teacher). If they keep and perform these commandments out of intellectual conviction and as logical guidelines for the survival of the world, they are not a resident alien (Ger Toshav), nor of the Pious among the Gentiles (Chasidei Umot HaOlam), but rather, of their wise men.
When a Ben Noach fulfills a Mitzvah of the Torah that is not prohibited to him, he receives the reward of an ‘Eino Metzuveh v’Oseh’ – ‘one who performs a Mitzvah in which he was not commanded.’ This reward is less than the reward of one who performs Mitzvos in which he was commanded (Gemara Bava Kama 38a, Kidushin 31a).
Besides these seven major Mitzvos, Chazal (the Jewish Sages) received a tradition that there are other Mitzvos and prohibitions that are incumbent upon Bnei Noach. The Beraisa in Sanhedrin 56b, notes certain Tana’im (early Rabbis) who rule that other prohibitions are incumbent upon Bnei Noach. These prohibitions are:
Dam Min ha’Chai
not to eat blood that is taken from an animal when it is alive
Rabbi Chananyah ben Gamliel said: Also not to partake of the blood drawn from a living animal
not to perform castration/emasculation
Rabbi Chidka said, they are also forbidden to castrate
Rabbi Shimon said, also Kishuf (witchcraft /sorcery) is forbidden to them.
Rabbi Yossi said, everything in the Parshah of Kishuf is forbidden to them (Deut. / Devarim 18:10-11)
mating different species of animals
Rabbi Eliezer added Kilayim (forbidden mixture) in plants and animals. They are permitted to wear Sha’atnez – garments of mixed fabrics [of wool and linen] and sow diverse seeds together; they are forbidden only to hybridize heterogeneous animals and graft trees of different kinds.
The Amora’im (later Rabbis) add two more prohibitions:
Not to Keep Shabbat – choosing a day of the week on which to refrain from work (Sanhedrin 58b).
Not to Learn Torah other than the parts that deal with the seven major commandments (San. 59a).
Responding to Chaos – Two sets of Noachide Commandments
N.B. – Please note that some of these additional laws should be treated as a list of recommendations and not as the actual accepted Halacha (Torah Law). For further explanation of this you should consult your Local Orthodox Rabbi or the Shulchan Aruch (Code of Law) for Bnei Noach: ‘The Divine Code’.
The Prophet Jeremiah said that in the end-days, the Gentiles will turn to G-d, coming from the ends of the earth to seek Him.
19. O G-d, my strength and stronghold, my refuge in times of trouble, nations will come to You from the ends of the earth, and they will say: “Our ancestors inherited falsehood,* useless nonsense.
20. Can a man make for himself gods? Such are no gods!”
21. Therefore, I will inform them this time and let them know My might and power, and they will know that My name is G-d.**