Noahide Seven Commandments Torah classes
The front page of this internet site posts the USA Congress’s recent resolution, recognizing the Seven Laws of Noah as the “base for the moral fabric of our great nation” signed by President GW Bush, 3-26-91.
By this declaration, the USA has become the first nation ever to publicly honor the Seven Laws of Noah as its moral guidance. Let’s pray that other nations would follow suit.
Let’s highlight some words quoted from the Congress’ declaration:
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 have been the bedrock of society from dawn of civilization when they were known as Seven Noahide Laws
Whereas without these ethical values and principles the edifices of our civilization stands in serious peril of returning to chaos
Whereas society is profoundly concerned with the recent weakening of these principles that has resulted in crisis that beleaguer and threaten the fabric of civilized society…
The USA Congress in its wisdom declares that without these Laws of Noah, our society stands in serious peril of returning to chaos, inferring to Noah’s Flood.
It is therefore incumbent on every American to become familiar with these Seven Laws and know their origin.
As the Congress declaration says, the Seven Laws of Noah are the basic for any decent human society (Ebn Ezra, 12th century Spain.)
These Seven Laws of Noah are:
VII: PROHIBITION TO CONSUME BLOOD and LIMBS TORN FROM A LIVING ANIMAL
Note that these commandments are huge headlines of moral principles, that split into many laws, which would take a lifetime to master.
Where and when were they given?
Although many religions and traditions recognize these laws, only the Torah spells them out as a group that comes in a a certain order.
Moreover, tradition holds that the first Six of these Seven Laws were given to Adam (and Eve) in the Garden of Eden. Hence they are engraved in our psyche and are shared by Mankind. The Seventh Law was added to Noah after the Flood, as a part of the Rainbow Covenant.
If so, why wouldn’t we refer to the Seven Laws after Adam, rather than after Noah?
We may say that Noah replaced Adam after the Flood. We are all Children of Noah.
In fact, the term Children of Adam designates Mankind, emphasizing our common ancestors,while the term “Children of Noah” emphasizes our common FAITH.
The Book of Genesis and the seven laws
Our course will follow the Seven Commandments as they appear, one by one, throughout the Book of Genesis. Thus,
Genesis Chapter One presents our CREATOR, and the basis of (I) IDOLATRY in details, as we’ll learn .
Then the Story of Eden establishes (II) ADULTERY and marriage
Then Cain and Abel introduce the first (III) BLOODSHED.
Then Noah and the Flood focus on all the above, including (IV) THEFT.
Then Nimrod and his Babylonian Tower introduces Empires and (IV) ORGANIZED THEFT, ABDUCTION and FORCED SLAVERY.
Abraham fights against all the above, and recognizes G-d as the Owner of everything.
Then Jacob struggles for his (V) CIVIL RIGHT and for JUSTICE. His name is changed to Israel;.
The story of Joseph focuses on Sanctifying G-d Name , the opposite of (VI) BLASPHEMY.
It seems as if the Book of Genesis was written with the Seven Commandments on the author’s mind.
Note that knowing the Seven Commandments would introduce you to the source of all monotheistic religions on Earth
There are several good books about the Seven Commandments, among them:
1. “The Seven Laws of Noah,” by Aaron Lichtenstien, a scholarly work.
2. “The Seven Commandments,” by Michael Dalen, an easily read book.
The impact of the Seven Commandments of Noah on history is immense. Thus
Christianity was born when St. Paul was ‘dispatched’ by the elders of the nascent Christian Jewish sect in Jerusalem, to teach the gentiles the Seven Laws plus the “good news of the coming of the Messiah” (see Acts.)
Islam, centuries later, was born when Jewish tribes in the city of Yathrib (now Medinah, north of Mecca) opened their schools to the local pagan Arabs, teaching them the Seven Laws of Noah, and other stories of the Bible. The rest is history.
In fact, other major religions like Buddhism and Shintoism also share similar moral principles with Noah’s Seven Commandments.
Before diving into each Commandment separately, let’s look at the list as a whole. There are several lists in the literature. The list we’ve chosen for our classes reflects some legal, philosophical, and psychological principles.
Legal (Halachic) reasons:
The three laws at the top: IDOALTRY, ADULTERY and BLOODSHED, are often quoted together, since they are ‘severe,’ their violation incurs the death penalty by a human court. Although this is rarely implemented, their retributions reflect their serious status.
Another reason for bounding them together at the top of the list, is the fact that we are obligated to surrender our lives rather than violating them. |We sanctify God’s name by our lives rather than violating them. This applies to Israel as an explicit, separate Commandment, whereas the Nations are rewarded (but not commanded) to keeping them.
Psychological or logical reasons:
IDOLATRY comes first, for if you do not believe in G-d, what would stop you from violating all the rest of the commandments?
ADULTERY follows, for if you do not fear G-d, what would hold you back from having an affair with your best friend’s wife?
BLOODSHED follows next, since once you’ve committed ADULTERY, wouldn’t you aspire to also get rid of her (his) spouse? And who would run after you with a drawn knife, if not her humiliated husband (or wife)?
THEFT follows next, since once you’ve stolen someone’s wife, why not stealing his or her property, thereby committing also
INJUSTICE follows for sure, since once you’ve committed the above, wouldn’t you aspire to cover your actions with INJUSTICE?
BLASPHEMY follows next, since living in a society that allow the above, would bring you to curse your mother, your father and your CREATOR.
A sad case as a demonstration.
The above cascade of events is often observed in our society. Such was the following case I’ve personally witnessed:
A decent member of our congregation, a physician and a devout religious man, had a wife who did not believe in the Torah or in G-d (IDOLATRY.)
One day the husband caught her unexpectedly with her lover on a couch inside their home (ADULTERY)
He later said that had he his gun on him at that time, he would have shot them both (BLOODSHED)
He also discovered that his adulteress wife had supported her lover financially, for years, out of her husband bank account (THEFT)
When they appeared at the court, her notoriously shrewd lawyer turned everything upside down, bringing the judge to decide against the husband (INJUSTICE.)
In his sorrow, the husband almost cursed G-d (BLASPHEMY).
Another famous example: The Great Gutsby
At first, the Great Gutsby makes a fortune in a wicked, godless way (IDOLATRY)
He still covets and entices his former girlfriend, who is now married to another man (ADULTERRY)
Her cheated husband now plans Gutsby’s murder, which indeed takes place at the end of the story (BLOODSHED)
But his adulteress girlfriend runs, accidentally, over a woman involved in stealing (THEFT)
The Great Gutsby now covers the accident, protecting his beloved one (INJUSTICE)
The author was so successful, and his story seems so compelling, because it is (unintentionally) based on the predicted cascade of the Commandments, engraved in our psyche from the time we were in Eden. </font size>
Now: what is IDOLATRY, exactly?
Read also: “Genesis Vs. Science, Can They Match?” By Zvi Aviner, at www.smashwords.com