Skip to content

Sukkat Shalom B'nei Noach

Home » UNDERSTANDING THE SEVEN NOAHIDE LAWS – Part 1

UNDERSTANDING THE SEVEN NOAHIDE LAWS – Part 1

בס”ד

THEIR ORIGINS AND IMPLICATIONS

When discussing the Seven Noahide Laws with people, there are two questions that frequently come up. The first question of Jewish people is, “Which three of the Ten Commandments do you not have?” and the second question of non-Jewish people is, “Where can I find the Seven Noahide Laws in the Tanakh?” People search the Bible for a similar list as found, for example, in Exodus 20:1-14, but there is no such list.


The 10 Utterance and the 7 Laws

Abbreviated, we can represent the Ten Commandments as follows:

  • 1. I am the Lord your G-d…
  • 2. You shall have no other gods…
  • 3. You shall not take the Name of the Lord your G-d in vain…
  • 4. Jews are to Remember/Observe their Sabbath day…
  • 5. Honor your father and mother…
  • 6. You shall not murder.
  • 7. You shall not commit adultery.
  • 8. You shall not steal.
  • 9. You shall not bear false witness…
  • 10. You shall not covet

The 7 Noahide Laws are:

  • 1. Prohibition of idolatry – the opposite: Embrace G-d’s Oneness, get to know Him
  • 2. Prohibition of blasphemy / Do not curse Him – the opposite: Bless Him for what you receive from Him and pray to Him regarding everything that concerns you.
  • 3. Prohibition of murder – the opposite: Guard human life
  • 4. Prohibition of sexual transgressions – the opposite: Live a moral family life
  • 5. Prohibition of theft – the opposite: Respect the property of others
  • 6. Ensure justice – the opposite: Prohibition of injustice
  • 7. Prohibition of eating eiver min hachai (meat of a living animal) – the opposite: Respect animal life

Comparing the Ten Utterances and the Seven Noahide Commandments

When we place these two lists side by side, we see that commandments are mentioned that look similar, that some commandments seem to be missing, or that some are described differently. However, we are comparing apples to oranges.

The 10 Utterances, Aseres HaDibros, actually contain 14 commandments. See the article by AskNoah: “How are Noahide and Jewish Commandments listed in the Torah? These 14 commandments are part of the 613 commandments that Jews must observe, many of which deal with closely related matters. So it is not valid to limit the comparison of the 7 Noahide Commandments and their details only to the Aseres HaDibros, to the exclusion of the other 599 Jewish Commandments.

The comparison of the legal systems of two countries can help illustrate this point.  Both countries have laws against murder or theft, but they will have shaped them in their own way, with corresponding consequences. It can be interesting to compare them to discover differences and similarities or to learn from them, but they are not the same. This comparison of the legal systems of two countries with the 10 Utterances and the 7 Commandments does not entirely hold, because countries can create their own legal systems based on different religious and moral values and norms, while the 10 Utterances and the 7 Commandments are both given by G-d as part of the Torah.

Let’s move to the other question in Part 2 : where can we find the 7 Noahide Laws in the Tanakh?

By Angelique Sijbolts

Sources:

Texts from Sefaria.org

With thanks to Dr. Michael Schulman and Rabbi Tani Burton for the feedback and imput

© Copyright, all rights reserved. If you enjoyed this article, we encourage you to distribute it further.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


The reCAPTCHA verification period has expired. Please reload the page.