Copy Right 2022
Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner
Noah’s Commandments as a Group
There are several lists of the Seven Laws of Noah, presented in different order. In our class we’ll use the following one:
VII: PROHIBITION TO CONSUME BLOOD and LIMBS FROM A LIVING ANIMALS
Our list, as we’ll learn, follows the order of the Commandments seen in the Book of Genesis.
There are, however, important legal and logical reasons behind the choice order in our list, as we’ll soon see.
Note that each Commandment is a huge headline, containing many subtitles.
Tradition holds that the first six of these seven Commandments were given to “Adam and Eve in Eden.” Then, after the Flood, G-d added the seventh one was to Noah, along with the Rainbow Covenant, under which we still live.
Survey of our Course
As the title of this course implies, we examine the Book of Genesis
from the view point of Noah’s Seven Laws.
Tradition says that IDOLATRY Trial of Mankind is mentioned,
the first time ever, at Adam creation, when G-d says
“Let us make an Adam in Our Form and Our Image.’(1:26)
By speaking in plural with modesty, says Rashi,
G-d opened the door for idolaters to think that
there are more than One Creator.
As it turns out, whoever G-d ‘consulted’ to make Adam,
Has become our IDOLATRY TRAP throughout history.
And as we’ll see in our class, tradition identifies all those
“consultants’ in Genesis Chapter One itself!
In the same token let’s ask, it turns out that ADULTERY Commandment
It at the core of the story of the Garden of Eden, in Genesis Chapters 2-4.
The famous verse: “Therefore a man leaves his father and mother
cleaves to his wife and they become one flesh” is the “halachic” source
of both MARRIAGE and ADULTERY for Mankind.
It sanctions MARRIAGE for Mankind by the word One,
that hints for the presence of the One G-d in the Union
between a man and a woman.
The same verse prohibits sexual cohabitation with six relatives:
Your mother, father’s wife (even if she is not your mother)
your sister, your daughter, granddaughter, and your daughter-in law.
The same verse also forbids ADULTERY:
Cleave to your wife, ot to another person’s wife.
And it forbids also HOMOSEXUALITY and BESTIALITY.
We’’ discuss these prohibitions as we’ll learn the Darden of Eden.
The first BLOODSHED is mentioned in the Torah
When Cain ‘stood up’ and murdered his brother Abel.
BLOODSEHD continued to inflict society till Noah’s Flood.
After the Flood, G-d entered with Noah the Rainbow Covenant,
In which G-d tells Noah all the BLOODSHED Laws in details,
Including suicide, abortion, indirect or direct killing.
Mankind is warned that violating these BLOODSHED Laws
would bring the Flood again!
In the Rainbow Covenant, Noah received a new Commandment,
the prohibition to eat blood and a limb torn from a living creature.
It is the seventh commandment, one above Adam’s six.
Thus the 7th commandment came to enforce our stance
against BLOODHSHED, which Adam’s 3rd.
After Noah and his Rainbow Covenant, the Book of Genesis
takes us to Adam’s next law, THEFT. At Abraham’s’ time,
humanity is inflicted with a new, larger scale of THEFT
performed by Empires and their armies. Mankind discovered
a new way to build wealth and power – invade other nations,
grab their territories and enslave their people to work for you
in the fields and in your household.
Abraham, as the text shows, fought bitterly against that trend.
He was the first to recognize G-d, the CREATOR, as the One Who
“Owns the Heavens and Earth” (Genesis 14: 22) – AaDoNai.
IN return, G-d gave him a new Commandment, Circumcision,
Which is “the Owner’s emblem in our flesh,” (Soforno.)
By this, Abraham and his seeds have become obligated
with eight Commandment, one above Noah’s seven.
And as you see, Abraham’s 8th commandment has come to enforce
his stance against violating Adam’s 4th, THEFT.
The 7th commandment enforces Adam’s 3rd.
The 8th commandment enforces Adam’s 4th.
V: CIVIL OREDER AND JUSTICE
Next in line the Book of Genesis introduces us to Jacob,
who struggles for JUSTICE and CVIL ORDER.
We see him struggling for his birthrights,
for his right to marry the girl whom he loved,
his right to be fairly compensated for his work,
and his right to reside in a city without the mayor’s son
abducting and violating his daughter, Dinah.
All of the above issues are CIVIL ORDER and JUSTICE issues.
And as he wrestles with Esau’s angel, his name is changed to Israel.
ISRAEL, therefore, is born to fight – first of all – for JUSTICE and CIVIL ORDER.
And like Noah and Abraham, Jacob receives a new Commandment,
the ninth, in which he and his seeds would avoid the consumption
of the sciatic nerve, to commemorate the struggle with Esau’s angel.
Hence the 9th Commandment of Jacob has come to
enforce his struggle against violating JUSTICE and CIVIL ORDER,
which is Adam’s 5th.
You see how the Book of Genesis takes us through
Adam’s Six Commandments one by one.
Next in line is the story of selling Joseph,
an act of sheer BLASPHEMY when conducted by a “royal” family
such as Jacob and his sons.
That BLASPHEMY is corrected, however, when
Joseph brothers admit their wrong doing in Joseph’s ears.
But it would be fully corrected only at the Exodus,
after the brothers themselves and their children
had been enslaved for 210 years!
THE COMMANDMENT’S CORRECT ORDER
As you see, the Torah presents the entire Six Commandments of Adam
In the following order:
IDOLATRY, ADALTERY, BLOODSHED, THEFT, INJUSTICE, BLASPHEMY.
That order is therefore the most credible one!
The Book of Genesis implies that humanity has been challenged
In history by Adam’s Commandments.
In. fact, it implies that each one of us, with no exception,
Is due to face the challenge of these moral issues
day by day throughout our lives.
Let’s therefore keep this on our minds!
The Commandment’s Cascade
There is a logic behind the Commandments’ order.
If you have violated one, the next Commandment would challenge you.
IDOLATRY comes first, for if a person does not believe in G-d,
there is no reason to observe the others.
ADULTERY follows, for if you don’t fear G-d,
what would stop a man from having a wonderful affair
with his best friend’s spouse?
BLOODSHED follows, for once a person has committed ADULTERY,
wouldn’t he/she expect the offended spouse to avenge with
a knife or a pistol?
THEFT follows, for once a person has stolen someone’s spouse,
why not steal his assets?
INJUSTICE follows, for having done all the above,
wouldn’t the offender attempt to cover up his/hers dee
BLASPHEMY follows, for living in such filth,
wouldn’t a person curse his mother and father and curse G-d,
for having brought him to this world?
The commandments’ cascade is so much embedded in our psyche
that they are often used in the Bible and the general literature
to describe the moral downfall of a person. Here are some examples:
King David as an Example
King David, at the peak of his kingship and glory, stumbled over Bat Sheva.
Feeling so powerful, almost “worshipping himself”,
he stumbled over ADULTERY (though technically Bat Sheva was divorced.)
David then arranged the death of her husband Uriah,
thereby committing the next Commandment on the list: BLOODSHED.
The prophet Nathan, then, charged David with STEALING Uriah’s wife,
thereby committing INJUSTICE. Then the prophet shouted:
“You are the King of Israel and by giving a bad example,
you’ve also desecrated the name of G-d!” – BLASPHEMY!
Thus David stumbled over the entire cascade!
Another example: The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby story is well known. The story shows how he slides down
the entire cascade of Adam’s Six Commandments, one by one.
Gatsby is a godless, successful business man (IDOLATRY)
who lusts for his old girl-friend, though she is now married (ADULTERY.)
Her hurting husband plans to have Gatsby killed (BLOODSHED)
and steal his money (THEFT.)
But when the adulterous wife attempts to escape her husband,
her car hits a woman, fatally.
The Great Gatsby attempts to cover up her deeds (INJUSTICE)
but he is shot dead by the injured woman’s husband (JUSTICE.)
The story is so popular, since it follows the cascade of Adam’s Commandments,
which are embedded in our psyche from Eden,
becoming our Natural Moral Code!
The Historical Impact of Noah’s Commandments
The impact of Noah’s Seven Commandments on history is immense. Thus –
was born by St. Paul, who was ‘dispatched’ by the elders of
the nascent Christian Jewish sect to teach the gentiles the Seven Laws of Noah,
along with the “good news of the coming of the Messiah. (Acts)
was born when two Jewish tribes of the city of Yathrib (now Medina)
opened their schools to the local pagan Arabs, teaching them the Seven Laws of Noah,
along with other stories of Genesis and some prophets. The rest is history.
Let’s pray that today, as the nations are stirred up to accept the Seven Commandments,
humanity won’t repeat the errors of the past and would not introduce a new religion