Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner
Rabbi Dr Zvi Aviner 2022
Genesis and the Seven Commandments of Noah
1 Introduction to the Classes
The goal of this course it to change the perception of the Noahide Seven Commandments from a vague set of ancient laws to a personal code of behavior, easily understood and acceptable by anyone.
We’ll learn: Who gave these Commandments to Mankind, Where and When was it done, and for What purpose.
Our unique approach is to follow the text of the Book of Genesis as it goes from one Commandment to the next.
As we’ll see, the Book of Genesis takes us into a journey from one Commandment to the next. It is as if Moses wrote Genesis with the Seven Commandments on his mind.
Chapter One introduces Noah’s First Commandment: IDOLATRY
The Story of Eden introduces Noah’s Second Commandment: ADULTERY,
the Story of Cain killing Abel introduces Noah’s Third Commandment: BLOODSHED,
The Stories about Abraham deal with Noah’s Fourth Commandment: THEFT
The stories about Jacob deal with Noah’s Fifth Commandment: JUSTICE,
The stories about Joseph evolve around Noah’s Sixth Commandments BLASPHAMY.
Our classes are based on the Talmud, the Torah Commentaries, Jewish liturgy and prayers, even the services in the Holy Temple.
Recommended Reading : The Seven Laws of Noah by Aaron Lichtenstein
2: The USA Congress Declaration
In 1991, the USA Congress passed a resolution saying:
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, were known as the Seven Noahide laws:
Whereas without the ethical values and principles the edifices of our civilization stands in serious peril of returning to chaos…”
Congressional resolution (HJ resolution 104 Public Law 102-14.
Signed by President George Bush on 3-26-91.
Here, the Congress declares the Seven Noahide Laws as the moral foundation of our great nation. By this, the USA is the first nation, ever, to recognize the Noahide laws, without which no decent civilization endures
it behooves, therefore, every American person to be familiar with those basic Seven Laws of the Bible
3 Noah’s Seven Commandments as a Group
As shown above, we use in our classes the most common list of the Commandments as follows:
VII: PROHIBITION TO CONSUME BLOOD and LIMBS FROM A LIVING ANIMA
Note that there are several other lists.
Our list, as we’ll learn, follows the order of the Commandments seen in the Book of Genesis.
Note also hat each Commandment is a headline, containing many subtitles.
According to tradition the first six Commandments were given to Adam and Eve in Eden.
Only the seventh one was given to Noah after the Flood.
If so, why do we refer to the entire Seven as Noah’s Laws?
The answer is that since Noah and his wife Naama have replaced Adam and Eve as our flesh and blood parents , we honor them by naming the entire group of Commandments after them.
In principle, though, the basic Six of Adam are the core of all other Commandments added afterward.
For instance, the Seventh Commandment of Noah – Do not eat blood , nor a limb torn from a living animal- was actually added to Noah after the Flood, as part of the Rainbow Covenant – TO ENFORCE MAN’S. STRUGGLE AGAINST BLOODSHED, which is Adam’s Third Commandment. Though the Seventh is considered a new Commandment, yet is came as a support, to enforce the BLOODSHED LAWS that consist the Rainbow Covenant , under which we still live.
Where are the Seven Commandments of Noah
presented in the Torah?
Though the Six Commandments of Adam were given in Eden,
they are not listed there, nor through the Book of Genesis.
They appear first time as part of Moses’ Ten Commandments of Sinai.
As shown here: .
MOSES’ TEN COMMANDMENTS OF SINAI:
I I Am ………………………………………… …………………VI Thou shall not murder
II Thou shall have no other gods………………..…………VII Thou shall not commit adultery
III Thou shall not utter my name in vain……..……………..VIII Thou shall not steal.
IV Observe the Sabbath…………………………………….IX Thou shall not bear false witness
V Honor your father and mother…………………. ….. ..X. Thou shall not covet
The left Tablet carries five Commandments “between Man and G-d,”
The right Tablet carries Commandments “between Man and Man.”
Almost all of Moses’ Commandments are “repetition of Noah’s Commandments” (Talmud)
besides the Commandment to observe the Sabbath
The Fifth Commandment, “honor your father and mother”
is included, according to Maimonides n Noah’s Fifth: JUSTICE
Hence the notion, that what separates Israel from Noahides
is the strict observance of the Sabbath.
Thus we may ask:
Are the Ten Commandments of Sinai
Given to Israel, or to all Nations?
The answer given by the Talmud is the following rule:
“:Any Commandment given to Noah, and repeated by Moses to Israel,
Does apply to both, Noahides and Israel”
The Talmud adds the following:
“Those Commandments given to Israel only, apply to Israel only.
Examples: the Sabbath, or the observance of kosher food.
Hence, as a rule, to be applicable to Noahides,
A Commandment must carry two signatures: Of Noah and of Moses.
It is as Moses says to Noah:
All Nations listen to me, but I tell them to listen to you!
The Seven Commandments’ Order
Which Commandment should come first, and which one second?
The scholars present several lists, with different orders.
As we’ve said, the list we follow is the most accepted one
and it follows the narrative of the Book of Genesis.
However, there are some legal points, as well as logical points,
behind our list.
Legal reasons for the list’ order
The three Commandments at the top: IDOLATRY, ADULTERY and BLOODSHED,
are often listed together in the Talmud, for they incur the death penalty by human court.
The rest four incur monetary retributions only.
Also, the top three can be enforced by the nations on one another,
whereas the others should be accepted voluntarily (RMBM)
Note that in principle,,
Judaism Can’t be enforced by one nation on another.
Conversion to Judaism by force is prohibited.
For instance, the Talmud says that before entering the Land of Israel,
Joshua dispatched “seven scrolls” promising the Canaanites Nation that
Israel would not touch them if they accept the Seven Commandments of Noah.
Note that Joshua did not ask the Canaanites to accept the “613 Commandments of Sinai”
but rather Noah’s seven, that are the base of any decent society.
The Three at the to demand Self Sacrifice
Another reason that IDOLATRY, ADULTERY AND BLOODSHED
are placed at the top of the list is that they command SELF SACRIFICE.
A person should sacrifice his life rather than violating them.
Note that while Israel are COMMANDED to surrender our lives for them,
Noahides do it on their choice, and are rewarded accordingly.
The Talmud brings the following story as examples
The Roman Centurion
The Talmud tells that around 200 AC, a sage named Ben Tradion,
was condemned by Rome to death by fire, for the “grave sin” of teaching Torah.
Tied to a pole, his body wrapped by a Torah scroll, the roman solders placed
wet sponges between his body and the scroll, to prolong his agony and death.
A fat, big centurion solider turned the burning logs to farther prolong his suffering.
Suddenly, the Roman centurion asked the Rabbi: “Do you wish me to shorten your death?”
The Rabbi answered: “If I ask you that, I’d be guilty of suicide!”
The centurion asked: “Do you promise me, Rabbi, that I’ll sit by your side in the world to come?”
And with those words, the centurion jumped into the fire.They say, that so fat he was,
that the fire that arose consumed them both in no time.
They also say that a Heavenly Voice was then heard saying
“The Centurion and the Rabbi share the site by My Throne”.
This story, and other similar stories, is told by the Talmud to show that
the Children of Noah are rewarded for self-sacrificing their lives for God,
no different than Israel.
The Commandments’ Logical order
There is a logic behind the Commandments’ order.
IDOLATRY come first, for if you don’t believe in God,
there is no reason to observe the others.
ADULTERY follows, for if you don’t fear G-d,
what would stop you from having a wonderful affair
with his best friend’s spouse?
BLOODSHED follows, for once you’ve committed ADULTERY,
wouldn’t you expect the offended spouse to chase after you
with a knife, or a pistol?
THEFT follows, for once you’ve stolen someone’s spouse,
why not stealing his assets?
INJUSTICE follows, for having done all the above,
wouldn’t you attempt to cover up your deeds?
BLASPHEMY follows, for if you live in such filth,
wouldn’t you curse your mother and father, and curse G-d,
for bringing you to this world?
We should take that as a rule:
Once you’ve violated a Commandment, expect to be challenge by
the next Commandment on the list !!!
Take King David as an Example
King David, at the peak of his kingship, stumbled over Bat Sheva.
He had felt so powerful, “worshipping himself”, that he stumbled over ADULTERY,
(though technically she was divorced.)
David then arranged the death of her husband Uriah,
thereby committing the next Commandment on the list:
The prophet Nathan, then, charged David with STEALING the wife
and 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
Another example: The Great Gatsby
The Great Gatsby story is well known. The story shows how he I \\slides down
the entire cascade of Adam’s Six Commandments, one by one.
Gatsby is a godless, successful business man (IDOLATRY)
who lusts his old girl-friend, though she is now married (ADULTERY)
Her hurting husband planes to have Gatsby killed (BLOODSHED)
and steal his money (THEFT)
But when the adulterous wife attempts to escape, her car hits a woman, fatally.
Then the Great Gatsby attempts to cover up her deeds (INJUSTICE)
Finally, the Great Gatsby is shot dead by the injured woman’s husband (JuSICE)
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!
Historical impact of
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
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.