According to rabbinic Judaism, as expressed in the Talmud, the Noahide Laws apply to all humanity through mankind's descent from one paternal ancestor who in Hebrew tradition is called Noah (the head of the only family to survive during The Flood). In Judaism, בני נח B'nei Noah (Hebrew, "Descendants of Noah", "Children of Noah") refers to all of mankind.
Judaism holds that gentiles (goyim "non-Jews [literally 'Nations']") are not obligated to adhere to all the laws of the Torah (indeed, they are forbidden to fulfill some laws, such as the keeping of the Sabbath in the exact same manner as Israel  ). Rabbinic Judaism and its modern-day descendants discourage proselytization. The Noahide Laws are regarded as the way through which non-Jews can have a direct and meaningful relationship with God or at least comply with the minimal requisites of civilization and of divine law.
A non-Jew who keeps the Noahide Law in all its details is said to attain the same spiritual and moral level as Israel's own Kohen Gadol (high priest) (Talmud, Bava Kamma 38a). Maimonides states in his work Mishneh Torah (The laws of kings and their rulership 8:11) that a Ger Toshav who is precise in the observance of these Seven Noahide commandments is considered to be a Righteous Gentile and has earned a place in the world to come. This follows a similar statement in the Talmud (tractate Sanhedrin 105b). However, according to Maimonides, a gentile is considered righteous only if a person follows the Noahide laws specifically because he or she considers them to be of divine origin (through the Torah) and not if they are merely considered to be intellectually compelling or good rules for living.
Noahide law differs radically from the Roman law for gentiles (Jus Gentium), if only because the latter was an enforceable judicial policy. Rabbinic Judaism has never adjudicated any cases under Noahide law (per Novak, 1983:28ff.), although scholars disagree about whether the Noahide law is a functional part of Halakha (cf. Bleich).
In recent years, Noahide has come to refer to non-Jews who strive to live in accord with the seven Noahide Laws; the terms "observant Noahide" or "Torah-centered Noahides" would be more precise but are infrequently used. The rainbow, referring to the Noahide or First Covenant (Genesis 9), is the symbol of many organized Noahide groups. A non-Jewish person of any ethnicity or religion is referred to as a bat "daughter" or ben "son" of Noah, but most organizations that call themselves בני נח are composed of gentiles who are keeping the Noahide Laws.
Interfaith & Intrafaith
- Jewish views of religious diversity
- Ger Toshav
- Ger Tzedek
- Other religions as potentially Noahide