Subdividing the Seven Commandments
Various rabbinic sources have different positions on the way the seven laws are to be subdivided in categories. Maimonides (Melakhim 10:6) lists one additional Noahide commandment forbidding the coupling of different kinds of animals and the mixing of trees. Maimonides commentator Radbaz expressed surprise that he left out castration and sorcery which were listed in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 56b).
The tenth century Rabbi Saadia Gaon included tithes and levirate marriage. The eleventh century Rav Nissim Gaon states that all religious acts which can be understood through human reasoning are obligatory upon Jew and Gentile alike. According to this reasoning, he included "listening to God's Voice", "knowing God" and "serving God". The fourteenth century Rabbi Nissim ben Reuben Gerondi included the commandment of charity.
The sixteenth century work Asarah Maamarot by Rabbi Menahem Azariah of Fano (Rema mi-Fano) enumerates thirty commandments, listing the latter twenty-three as extensions of the original seven. Another commentator (Kol Hidushei Maharitz Chayess I, end Ch. 10) suggests these are not related to the first seven, nor based on Scripture, but were passed down by oral tradition. The number thirty derives from the statement of the Talmudic sage Ulla in tractate Hullin 92a, though he lists only three other rules in addition to the original seven, consisting of the prohibitions against homosexuality and cannibalism, as well as the imperative to honor the Torah.
Talmud commentator Rashi remarks on this that he does not know the other Commandments referred to. Though the authorities seem to take it for granted that Ulla's thirty commandments included the original seven, an additional thirty laws is also possible from the reading.
The tenth century Shmuel ben Hophni Gaon lists thirty Noahide Commandments based on Ulla's Talmudic statement, though the text is problematic. He includes the prohibitions against suicide and false oaths, as well as the imperatives related to prayer, sacrifices and honoring one's parents. The commandments, according to Shmuel ben Hophni Gaon, cover:
- No idolatry
- To pray
- To offer ritual sacrifices only to God
- No murder
- No suicide
- No Moloch worship (infant sacrifice)
- No stealing
- Sexual Immorality
- Food Laws
- Not to eat a limb of a living creature
- Not to eat or drink blood
- Not to eat carrion (for those recognised by a Beth Din)
- To establish courts and a system of justice
- No false oaths
The contemporary Rabbi Aaron Lichtenstein counts 66 instructions but Rabbi Harvey Falk has suggested that much work remains to be done in order to properly identify all of the Noahide Commandments, their divisions and subdivisions.
Theft, robbery and stealing covers the appropriate understanding of other persons, their property and their rights. The establishment of courts of justice promotes the value of the responsibility of a corporate society of people to enforce these laws and define these terms. The refusal to engage in unnecessary lust or cruelty demonstrates respect for the Creation itself as renewed after the Flood. To not do murder would include human sacrifice.