From Wikinoah English
Revision as of 12:10, 17 February 2010 by BillyJDial (talk | contribs) (Reverted edits by Abrahamson (Talk) to last revision by Kaz)

Jump to: navigation, search

According to Halakhic 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.

In Jewish tradition, the terms Ben Noach - Son of Noah or Bat Noach - Daughter of Noah is used to refer to a generic human being. There are seven noahide laws that are applicable for all humanity, regardless of culture or ethnicity. Technically the term Ben Noach or Bat Noach does not necessarily mean that an individually keeps the noahide laws, however in most modern usage this is implied. Orthography: People familiar with the Hebrew letter 'ח' - Khet usually spell the word NOACHIDE, otherwise it is spelled often NOAHIDE for the convenience of English speakers.

Classical Definition

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 [citation needed] ). 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.[1]

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).

Modern Usage

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.

According to the Tanach, B’nei Noah literally the children of Noah[2] are descendants of Noah the only survivor of the flood that destroyed all of humanity. Noah’s children Shem, Ham, and Japheth along with their wives and Noah’s wife Naamah also survived the flood aboard the ark. Once the survivors were able to leave the ark for dry ground they began to start new families and rebuild the earth. The story of Noah culminates in the promise of God to Noah that he would never again destroy the world through a flood. The sign of this promise was the rainbow[3]

The Laws of Adam

Along with the promise of new life God reestablished the six laws originally given to Adam[4] in the garden (prohibition against idolatry,[5] blasphemy, theft, murder, illicit sex and the command to establish courts of justice) and added a new law, the prohibition of eating the limb of a living animal.

Universal Obligation

Because these laws were given to the new first family of humanity all human beings are obligated to fulfill them. These laws are discussed throughout the Talmud most notably in Sanhedrin 56a. The Medieval sage Rabbi Moshe Ben Maimon (the Rambam) collected all of the decisions in the Talmud and halachic decisions in his time and laid them out clearly so that everyone would know their obligations. The Rambam called this great work the Mishnah Torah.

Not only were the Jewish Laws recorded with their explanations in the Mishnah Torah, but the Noachide Laws were also collected with their explanation in the Rambam’s great work in Sefer Shoftim in the last book Hilchot Melachim U’Milchamot.

The Great Renewal

Over the last two thousand years since the expulsion of the Jewish people from the land of Israel adherents to the Noachide laws have been sparse if non-existent. Due to the heavy persecution of the Jewish people those not born as Jews often chose to convert rather than simply observe the Noachide Laws.

With the regathering of the Jewish people to their land it has been possible for people to once again observe the Noachide Laws. Today a modern movement of adherents of the Noachide law exists; calling themselves B'nei Noah or Noahides in honor of Noah their ancestor who received these laws from God.

Although relatively a new movement B’nei Noah has already made serious strides in developing their emerging community. Although a new movement Noachides recognize the impact of the Noahide Laws on America. Not only has this impact been recognized by Noahides but even former Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush officially recognized the roots of American government in the Noahide Laws.[6]Recently a High Council of B’nei Noah was formed by the nascent Sanhedrin to aid in the development of the laws and the community.

See Also



Interfaith & Intrafaith



  1. Mishneh Torah Shofitm, Wars and Kings 8:14
  2. Just as the term "Children of Israel" not only represents a people (in the case of the Children of Noah the entire World) it also means that those identified with this term hold to a common ideology. The term "B'nei Noah", therefore, represents not only physical descendants of Noah but also "spiritual" descendants.
  3. Among the Jewish people and B'nei Noah this rainbow is a sign of the Noachide covenant. Man's part of this covenant is to obey the seven universal laws given to Noah by God. For more information on the Noahide Covenant see: ["A Brief Introduction to the Noahide Covenant"]
  4. See Hilchot Melachim
  5. The prohibition against idolatry is more complex than it may first appear. For a fuller examination of the complexities regarding idolatry see[Idolatry] and [Idol Chatter]
  6. [Public Law 102-14, H.J. Res 104]