B’nei Noach in the Talmud

Sanhedrin 56a and 60b – blasphemy, seven laws, sexual misconduct, eating live meat, idolatry

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Our Rabbis taught: seven precepts were the sons of Noah commanded: social laws; to refrain from blasphemy, idolatry; adultery; bloodshed; robbery; and eating flesh cut from a living animal.

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R. Hanania b. Gamaliel said: Also not to partake of the blood drawn from a living animal. R.

Hidka added emasculation. R. Simeon added sorcery. R. Jose said: The heathens were prohibited everything that is mentioned in the section on sorcery. viz., There shall not be found among you any one, that maketh his son or daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them [sc. the heathens in Canaan] out from before thee. Now, [the Almighty] does not punish without first prohibiting. R. Eleazar added the forbidden mixture [in plants and animals]: now, they are permitted to wear garments of mixed fabrics [of wool and linen] and sow diverse seeds together; they are forbidden only to hybridize heterogeneous animals and graft trees of different kinds.

Whence do we know this? — R. Johanan answered: The Writ saith: And the Lord God commanded the man saying, of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat. And [He] commanded, refers to [the observance of] social laws, and thus it is written, For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and judgment. The Lord — is [a prohibition against] blasphemy, and thus it is written, and he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death. God — is [an injunction against] idolatry, and thus it is written, Thou shalt have no other gods before Me. The man — refers to bloodshed [murder], and thus it is written, Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed. Saying — refers to adultery, and thus it is written, They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and became another man’s. Of every tree of the garden — but not of robbery. Thou mayest freely eat — but not flesh cut from a living animal.

When R. Isaac came, he taught a reversed interpretation. And He commanded — refers to idolatry; God [Heb. elohim] to social law. Now ‘God’ may rightly refer to social laws, as it is written, And the master of the house shall be brought unto elohim [i.e., the judges]. But how can ‘and He commanded’ connote a prohibition of idolatry? — R. Hisda and R. Isaac b. Abdimi-one cited the verse, They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, etc. And the other cited, Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment. Wherein do they differ? — In respect of a heathen who made an idol but did not worship it: On the view [that the prohibition of idolatry is derived from] they have made them a molten calf, guilt is incurred as soon as the idol is made [even before it is worshipped]; but according to the opinion that it is from, because he

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willingly walked after the commandment, there is no liability until the heathen actually follows and worships it. Raba objected: Does any scholar maintain that a heathen is liable to punishment for making an idol even if he did not worship it? Surely it has been taught: With respect to idolatry, such acts for which a Jewish Court decrees sentence of death [on Jewish delinquents] are forbidden to the heathen; but those for which a Jewish Court inflicts no capital penalty on Jewish delinquents are not forbidden to him. Now what does this exclude? Presumably the case of a heathen who made an idol without worshipping it? R. Papa answered: No. It excludes the embracing and kissing of idols. Of which idols do you say this? Is it of those whose normal worship is in this manner; but in that case he is surely liable to death? — Hence it excludes the embracing and kissing of idols which are not usually worshipped thus.

‘Social laws.’ Were then the children of Noah bidden to observe these? Surely it has been taught: The Israelites were given ten precepts at Marah, seven of which had already been accepted by the children of Noah, to which were added at Marah social laws, the Sabbath, and honouring one’s parents; ‘Social laws,’ for it is written, There [sc. at Marah] he made for them a statute and an ordinance; ‘the Sabbath and honouring one’s parents’. for it is written, As the Lord thy God commanded thee! — R. Nahman replied in the name of Rabbah b. Abbuha: The addition at Marah was only in respect of an assembly, witnesses, and formal admonition. If so, why say ‘to which were added social laws’? — But Raba replied thus: The addition was only in respect of the laws of fines. But even so, should it not have been said, ‘additions were made in the social laws’? — But R. Aha b. Jacob answered thus: The Baraitha informs us that they were commanded to set up law courts in every district and town. But were not the sons of Noah likewise commanded to do this? Surely it has been taught: Just as the Israelites were ordered to set up law courts in every district and town, so were the sons of Noah likewise enjoined to set up law courts in every district and town! — But Raba answered thus: The author of this Baraitha [which states that social laws were added at Marah] is a Tanna of the School of Manasseh, who omitted social laws and blasphemy23 [from the list of Noachian precepts] and substituted emasculation and the forbidden mixture [in plants, ploughing. etc.]. For a Tanna of the School of Manasseh taught: The sons of Noah were given seven precepts. viz., [prohibition of] idolatry, adultery, murder, robbery, flesh cut from a living animal, emasculation and forbidden mixtures. R. Judah said: Adam was prohibited idolatry only, for it is written, And the Lord God commanded Adam. R. Judah b. Bathyra maintained: He was forbidden blasphemy too. Some add social laws. With whom does the following statement of Rab Judah in the name of Rab agree: viz., [God said to Adam,] I am God, do not curse Me; I am God, do not exchange Me for another; I am God, let My fear be upon you? — This agrees with the last mentioned [who adds social laws to the list].

Now, what is the standpoint of the Tanna of the School of Manasseh? If he interprets the verse, And the Lord God commanded etc. [as interpreted above], he should include these two [social laws and blasphemy] also, and if he does not, whence does he derive the prohibition of the rest? — In truth, he does not accept the interpretation of the verse, ‘And the Lord God commanded etc., but maintains that each of these [which he includes] is separately stated: Idolatry and adultery.

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for it is written, The earth also was corrupt before God; and a Tanna of the School of R. Ishmael taught: Wherever corruption is mentioned, it must refer to immorality and idolatry. ‘Immorality.’ as it is written, for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth. ‘Idolatry,’ for it is written, Lest ye corrupt yourselves and make you a graven image, etc. And the other teacher [who deduces this from the verse, and the Lord God commanded etc.]? He maintains that this verse [sc. the earth also etc.] merely describes their way of living. ‘Bloodshed’, as it is written, Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, etc. And the other? — This verse [he will maintain] merely teaches the manner of execution. Robbery, for it is written, As the wild herbs have I given you all things; upon which R. Levi commented: as the wild herbs, but not as the cultivated herbs. And the other? — He will hold that this verse is written to permit animal flesh, [but not to prohibit robbery]. Flesh cut from the living animal, as it is written, But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. And the other? — He may hold that this verse teaches that flesh cut from live reptiles is permitted. Emasculation, for it is written, Bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein. And the other? — He may regard this merely as a blessing. Forbidden mixture, as it is said, Of fowls after their kind. And the other? — He will maintain that this was merely for the sake of mating.

R. Joseph said, The scholars stated: A heathen is executed for the violation of three precepts — Mnemonic G Sh R— viz., adultery, bloodshed, and blasphemy. R. Shesheth objected: Now bloodshed is rightly included, since it is written, Whoso sheddeth the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; but whence do we know the others? If they are derived from bloodshed, the other four should also be included; whilst if their inclusion is taught by the extending phrase any man, should not idolatry too be included? But R. Shesheth said thus: The scholars stated, A heathen is executed for the violation of four precepts [including idolatry]. But is a heathen executed for idolatry? Surely it has been taught: With respect to idolatry, such acts for which a Jewish court decrees sentence of death [on Jewish delinquents] are forbidden to the heathen. This implies that they are merely forbidden, but their violation is not punished by death! — R. Nahman b. Isaac answered: Their prohibition is their death sentence.

R. Huna, Rab Judah, and all the disciples of Rab maintained: A heathen is executed for the violation of the seven Noachian laws; the Divine Law having revealed this of one [murder], it applies to all. Now is a heathen executed for robbery? Has it not been taught: ‘With respect to robbery — if one stole or robbed or [seized] a beautiful woman, or [committed] similar offences, if [these were perpetrated] by one Cuthean against another, [the theft, etc.] must not be kept, and likewise [the theft] of an Israelite by a Cuthean, but that of a Cuthean by an Israelite may be retained’? But if robbery is a capital offence, should not the Tanna have taught: He incurs a penalty? — Because the second clause wishes to state, ‘but that of a Cuthean by an Israelite may be retained,’ therefore the former clause reads, ‘[theft of an Israelite by a Cuthean] must not be kept.’ But where a penalty is incurred, it is explicitly stated, for the commencing clause teaches: ‘For murder, whether of a Cuthean by a Cuthean, or of an Israelite by a Cuthean, punishment is incurred; but of a Cuthean by an Israelite, there is no death penalty’? — How else could that clause have been taught? Could he state, ‘forbidden’ … ‘permitted’? Surely it has been taught; A Cuthean and a [Jewish] shepherd of small cattle [sheep, goats, etc.] need neither be rescued [from a pit] nor may they be thrown [therein]! ‘And similar acts.’ To what can this apply in the case of robbery? — R. Aha b. Jacob answered: To a worker in a vineyard [who eats of the grapes]. When so? If his is the finishing work, it is permitted? If it is not the finishing work, is it not actual robbery? — But R. Papa said: This applies to [the theft of] an article worth less than a perutah. But if so, why say that such robbery of a Jew by a Cuthean must not be kept: does he not forgive him? — Though he later forgives him, he is grieved when it occurs [therefore it is prohibited] — But how can you say that such robbery by one Cuthean from another is but a ‘similar act’ [i.e., bordering on robbery]: since a Cuthean does not forgive, is it not actual theft? — But R. Aha, the son of R. Ika answered; It applies to the withholding of a labourer’s wage. One Cuthean from another, or a Cuthean from an Israelite is forbidden, but an Israelite from a Cuthean is permitted. To what can ‘a similar act’ apply in the case of a beautiful woman? — When R. Dimi came, he said in the name of R. Eleazar in the name of R. Hanina: To a heathen who allotted a bondwoman to his slave [for concubinage] and then took her for himself, for this he is executed.

‘A similar act’, however, is not taught with reference to murder. Abaye said: If it should be, however, that it is so taught, it would be in accordance with R. Jonathan b. Saul. For it has been taught; If one was pursuing his neighbour to slay him, and the latter could have saved himself by maiming a limb [of the pursuer, e.g., his foot], and did not thus save himself [but killed him instead],

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he is executed for his death.

R. Jacob b. Aha found it written in the scholars’ Book of Aggada: A heathen is executed on the ruling of one judge, on the testimony of one witness, without a formal warning, on the evidence of a man, but not of a woman, even if he [the witness] be a relation. On the authority of R. Ishmael it was said: [He is executed] even for the murder of an embryo. Whence do we know all this? — Rab Judah answered: The Bible saith, And surely your blood of your lives will I require; this shows that even one judge [may try a heathen]. At the hand of every living thing will I require it: even without an admonition having been given; And at the hand of man: even on the testimony of one witness; at the hand of man: but not at the hand [i.e., on the testimony] of a woman; his brother: teaching that even a relation may testify. On the authority of R. Ishmael it was said: [He is executed] even for the murder of an embryo. What is R. Ishmael’s reason? Because it is written, Whoso sheddeth the blood of man within [another] man, shall his blood be shed. What is a man within another man? — An embryo in his mother’s womb. But the first Tanna [who excludes the murder of an embryo from capital punishment] is a Tanna of the school of Manasseh, who maintains that every death penalty decreed for the heathens is by strangulation. He connects the [second] ‘man’ with the latter half of the sentence, and interprets thus: Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, within man [i.e., within him], shall his blood be shed. Now, how can man’s blood be shed, and yet be retained within him? By strangulation.

R. Hamnuna objected: Now, is not a [heathen] woman commanded [to keep the social laws]? Surely it is written, For I know him, that he will command his sons and his household [which includes the womenfolk] after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord to exercise charity, and judgment? — He raised the objection, and he answered it himself: he would command ‘his sons’ to exercise judgment; ‘his daughters’ to perform charity.

R. Awia the elder said to R. Papa: Let us say that a heathen woman who committed murder must not be executed, since it is written, at the hand of every man [who committed murder] etc. implying, ‘but not at the hand of woman’? — He replied: Thus did Rab Judah say: Whoso

sheddeth man’s blood implies whosoever it be [even a woman]. Let us say that a heathen woman who committed adultery is not executed, since it is written, therefore shall a man forsake [his father and mother, and cleave to his wife], implying that a man [must cleave], but not a woman? — He replied: Thus did Rab Judah say: The verse, And they shall be as one flesh, reassimilated them to each other [making the law of fidelity applicable to both].

Our Rabbis taught: [A man, a man shall not approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness. It would have been sufficient to state,] A man shall not approach etc. What is taught by the repetition, A man, a man? — The extension of the law to heathens, that they too are forbidden incest [including adultery]. Now is this deduced from this verse; is it rather not deduced from a different text, viz., [And the lord God commanded…] saying, which refers to adultery? — The latter text refers to adultery with a woman of their own [i.e., with a heathen married woman]; the former to adultery with one of ours [i.e., a Jewish married woman], for the second clause teaches: If he committed incest with a Jewess, he is judged according to Jewish law. With regard to what is this? — R. Nahman said in the name of Rabbah b. Abbuha: With regard to an assembly, witnesses and formal admonition. Is a Jewess then of less account? But R. Johanan answered thus: It is with regard to a betrothed Jewish maiden, whose violation by heathen law is not a capital offence; hence they are judged by Jewish law.

But if their offence was against a fully married woman, are they judged according to their law? Surely it has been taught: ‘If a heathen committed adultery with a [Jewish] betrothed maiden, he is stoned; with a fully married woman, he is strangled.’ Now if we judged them according to the law pertaining to them, should he not be decapitated? — R. Nahman b. Isaac answered: By a ‘married woman’ this Baraitha means one whose huppah ceremony has been performed, but without the marriage being consummated. Since by their law her violation is not a capital offence, they are judged by ours. For R. Hanina taught: They recognise the inviolability of a woman whose union has been consummated, but not if she merely entered the huppah without the union having been consummated. It has been taught in agreement with R. Johanan: All prohibited [sexual] relationships for which a Jewish Beth din imposes capital punishment are forbidden to heathens, but those for which a Jewish Beth din does not impose death are permitted to heathens; this is R. Meir’s view. But the Sages maintain: There are many relationships for which a Jewish Beth din does not impose death, which are nevertheless forbidden to a Gentile. If a heathen committed incest with a Jewess, he is judged according to Jewish law; if with a heathen woman, he is judged according to heathen law. The only difference that this makes is with respect to a betrothed maiden. But should not the Tanna include a woman whose huppah ceremony has been performed without the marriage being consummated? — The teacher of this Baraitha is the Tanna of the college of Manasseh, who maintains that every death penalty decreed for the heathens is by strangulation, and by both codes [Jewish and heathen] this last- mentioned offence is punished by strangulation.

Now, is R. Meir of the opinion that all relationships for which a Jewish Beth din imposes capital punishment are forbidden to heathens? Surely it has been taught: A proselyte,

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born, but not conceived in sanctity, possesses kin on his mother’s side but not on his father’s side.

E.g., if he married his sister by his mother, [born before his mother’s conversion, and who subsequently became converted too,] he must divorce her; by his father, he may keep her; his father’s sister by his father’s mother, he must divorce her; by his father’s father, he may keep her; his mother’s sister by her mother, he must renounce her; by her father — R. Meir ruled that he must divorce her, but the Sages maintained that he may keep her; for R. Meir held that all forbidden degrees of consanguinity on the mother’s side must be divorced; on the father’s side may be kept. He may marry his brother’s wife, his paternal uncle’s wife, and all other relations by marriage are permitted to him, this including his father’s wife. If he married a woman and her daughter he retains one and must divorce the other. But in the first place, he must not marry them. If his wife died, he may marry his mother-in-law; others say that he may not! — Rab Judah said, There is no difficulty: one dictum is by R. Meir according to R. Eliezer, and one is by R. Meir according to R. Akiba. For it has been taught: Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother; R. Eliezer said: His father means ‘his father’s sister’; his mother, ‘his mother’s sister’. R. Akiba said: His father means ‘his father’s wife’; his mother is literally meant. And he shall cleave, but not to a male; to his wife, but not to his neighbour’s wife; and they shall be as one flesh, applying to those that can become one flesh, thus excluding cattle and beasts, which cannot become one flesh with man.

The Master stated: ‘R. Eliezer said: His father means ‘his father’s sister’. But may it not mean his father literally? — This is forbidden by and he shall cleave, but not to a male. But perhaps it means ‘his father’s wife’? — That is taught by to his wife, but not to his neighbour’s wife [which includes his father’s]. But perhaps it forbids her even after his father’s death? — It must be similar to his mother: just as his mother is not his relation by marriage, so his father must refer to a non-marriage relationship.

‘His mother means, his mother’s sister’. But may it not be literally meant? — That is taught by to his wife, but not to his neighbour’s wife. But perhaps it forbids her even after his father’s death? — It must be similar to his father: just as his father is not literally meant, so his mother is not literally meant.

‘R. Akiba said: His father, means, his father’s wife’. But perhaps it is literally meant? — That is taught by and he shall cleave, but not to a male. If so, is not his father’s wife taught by to his wife, but not to his neighbour’s wife? — That teaches that she is forbidden even after his father’s death.

‘His mother is literally meant’. But is this not taught by to his wife, but not to his neighbour’s wife’? — This refers to his mother who was violated by his father.

What are the grounds of their dispute? — R. Eliezer is of the opinion

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that only by referring to collateral relations can his father and his mother bear similar interpretations. But R. Akiba prefers to interpret his father as his father’s wife, who is designated as the nakedness of his father, rather than his father’s sister, who, is designated as his father’s kin, not his father’s nakedness.

Come and hear: And Amram took him Jochebed his father’s sister to wife. Does it not [presumably] mean his father’s sister on her mother’s side [too]? — No. It means his father’s paternal sister.

Come and hear: And yet indeed she is my sister; she is the daughter of my father, but not of my mother. Does not this prove that his mother’s daughter is forbidden? — Now, is this logical: was she then his sister? She was his brother’s daughter, and therefore, whether by his father or mother, permitted to him. But Abram declared to him [i.e., Abimelech] thus: I am fraternally related to her, [i.e., she is my brother’s daughter] on my father’s side [i.e., my brother by my father] but not on my mother’s side.

Come and hear! Why did not Adam marry his daughter? So that Cain should marry his sister, as it is written, For I said, the world shall be built up by grace. But otherwise, she would have been forbidden [to Cain]? — Once however that it was permitted, it remained so.

R. Huna said: A heathen may marry his daughter. But should you ask, If so, why did not Adam marry his daughter? — In order that Cain might marry his sister, that the world might be built up by grace. Others give this version: R. Huna said: A heathen may not marry his daughter; the proof being that Adam did not marry his daughter. But that proof is fallacious: The reason was that Cain should marry his sister, so that the world should be built up by [Adam’s] grace.

R. Hisda said: A heathen slave [owned by a Jew] may marry his daughter and his mother, for he has lost the status of a heathen, but has not yet attained that of a Jew. When R. Dimi came, he said in the name of R. Eleazar in the name of R. Hanina: A heathen who allotted a bondwoman to his slave [for concubinage] and then took her for himself is executed on her account. From when [is she regarded as the particular concubine of that slave]? — R. Nahman said: When she is referred to as so and so’s mistress. When is she free again [to others]? — R. Huna said: From the time that she goes bareheaded in the streets.

R. Eleazar said in R. Hanina’s name: If a heathen had an unnatural connection with his wife, he incurs guilt; for it is written, and he shall cleave, which excludes unnatural intercourse. Raba objected: Is there anything for which a Jew is not punishable and a heathen is? But Raba said thus: A heathen who violates his neighbour’s wife unnaturally is free from punishment — Why so? — [Scripture saith:] To his wife, but not to his neighbour’s; and he shall cleave, which excludes unnatural intercourse.

R. Hanina said: If a heathen smites a Jew, he is worthy of death, for it is written, And he looked this way and that way, and when he saw that there was no man, he slew the Egyptian. R. Hanina also said: He who smites an Israelite on the jaw, is as though he had thus assaulted the Divine Presence; for it is written, one who smiteth man [i.e. an Israelite] attacketh the Holy One.

(Mnemonic: lifts, his servant, Sabbath.) Resh Lakish said: He who lifts his hand against his neighbour, even if he did not smite him, is called a wicked man as it is written, And he said unto the wicked man, Wherefore wouldst thou smite thy fellow? ‘Wherefore hast thou smiteth is not said, but wherefore wouldst thou smite, shewing that though he had not smitten him yet, he was termed a wicked man. Ze’iri said in R. Hanina’s name: He is called a sinner, for it is written, But

if not, I will take it by force; and it is further written, Wherefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord. R. Huna said: His hand should be cut off, as it is written, Let the uplifted arm be broken. R. Huna had the hand cut off [of one who was accustomed to strike other people]. R. Eleazar said: The only thing to be done with him is to bury him, as it is written, And a man of [uplifted] arm, for him is the earth. R. Eleazar also said: The earth was given only to the strong. as it is said, But as for the mighty man, for him is the earth. Resh Lakish said also: What is the meaning of the verse, He that serveth his land shall be satisfied with bread? If one enslaves himself to his land [continually toiling thereon] he shall be satisfied with bread: if not, he shall not be satisfied with bread. Resh Lakish also said: A heathen who keeps a day of rest, deserves death, for it is written, And a day and a night they shall not rest, and a master has said: Their prohibition is their death sentence. Rabina said: Even if he rested on a Monday. Now why is this not included in the seven Noachian laws? — Only negative injunctions are enumerated, not positive ones.

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But the precept of observing social laws is a positive one, yet it is reckoned? — It is both positive and negative.

R. Johanan said: A heathen who studies the Torah deserves death, for it is written, Moses commanded us a law for an inheritance; it is our inheritance, not theirs. Then why is this not included in the Noachian laws? — On the reading morasha [an inheritance] he steals it; on the reading me’orasah [betrothed], he is guilty as one who violates a betrothed maiden, who is stoned. An objection is raised: R. Meir used to say. Whence do we know that even a heathen who studies the Torah is as a High Priest? From the verse, [Ye shall therefore keep my statutes, and my judgments:] which, if man do, he shall live in them. Priests, Levites, and Israelites are not mentioned, but men: hence thou mayest learn that even a heathen who studies the Torah is as a High Priest! — That refers to their own seven laws.

‘R Hanania b. Gamaliel said: [They were also commanded] not to partake of the blood drawn from a living animal.’

Our Rabbis taught: But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat, this prohibits flesh cut from the living animal. R. Hanina b. Gamaliel said: It also prohibits blood drawn from a living animal. What is his reason? — He reads the verse thus: flesh with the life thereof [shall ye not eat]: blood with the life thereof shall ye not eat. But the Rabbis maintain that this reading teaches that flesh cut from live reptiles is permitted. Similarly it is said, Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life,’ and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh. But the Rabbis maintain that the verse teaches that the blood of arteries, with which life goes out, [is also forbidden as blood].

Why was it first enjoined upon the sons of Noah, and then repeated at Sinai? — As the dictum, of R. Jose b. Hanina. For R. Jose b. Hanina said: Every precept which was given to the sons of Noah and repeated at Sinai was meant for both [heathens and Israelites]; that which was given to the sons of Noah but not repeated at Sinai was meant for the Israelites, but not for the heathens. Now, the only law thus commanded to the children of Noah and not repeated at Sinai was the prohibition of the sinew that shrank [nervous ischiadicus], and in accordance with R. Judah’s view.

The Master said: ‘Every precept which was given to the sons of Noah and repeated at Sinai was meant for both [Noachides and Israelites]’. On the contrary, since it was repeated at Sinai, should we not assume it to be meant for Israel only? — Since idolatry was repeated as Sinai, and we find that the Noachides were punished for practising it, we must conclude that it was meant for both.

‘That which was given to the sons of Noah but not repeated at Sinai was meant for the Israelites, but not for the heathens.’ On the contrary, since it was not repeated at Sinai, should we not assume that it was meant for the Noachides and not for Israel? — There is nothing permitted to an Israelite yet forbidden to a heathen. Is there not? But what of a beautiful woman? — There it is because the heathens were not authorised to conquer. But what of a thing worth less than a Perutah? — There it is because the heathens do not forgive.

‘Every precept which was given to the sons of Noah and repeated at Sinai was meant for both [Noachides and Israelites]’.

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But circumcision, which was given to the Sons of Noah, for it is written, Thou shalt keep my covenant, and repeated at Sinai, And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised, yet was meant for Israel, and not for the Noachides? — That repetition was inserted to permit circumcision on the Sabbath, by interpreting, on the day [whichever it is], and even on the Sabbath.

But procreation, which was enjoined upon the Noachides, for it is written, And you be ye fruitful and multiply. and repeated at Sinai, as it is written, Go say to them, get you in to your tents again, was nevertheless commanded to Israel but not to the heathens? — That repetition was to teach that whatever has been constitutionally forbidden by a majority vote requires another majority vote to abrogate it. If so, may we not say of each [of the Noachian laws] that it was repeated for a definite purpose? — He means this: why should the prohibition be repeated?

‘Now the only law [thus commanded to the children of Israel and not repeated at Sinai] was the prohibition of the sinew that shrank [nervus ischiadicus], and in accordance with R. Judah’s view.’ But these too were not repeated. — These two were repeated, though for a purpose, but this was not repeated at all.

An alternative answer is this: Circumcision was from the very first commanded to Abraham only [and not to the Noachides in general]: Thou shalt keep my covenant, therefore, thou and thy seed after thee in their generations, meaning, thou and thy seed are to keep it, but no others. If so, should it not be incumbent upon the children of Ishmael [Abraham’s son]? — For in Isaac shall thy seed be called. Then should not the children of Esau be bound to practise it? — In Isaac, but not all Isaac. R. Oshaia objected: If so, the children of Keturah should have been exempt! — Did not R. Jose b. Abin, or as others say, R. Jose b. Hanina, state: [And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people;] he hath broken my covenant — this extends the precept [of circumcision] to the children of Keturah?

Rab Judah said in Rab’s name: Adam was not permitted to eat flesh, for it is written, [Behold I have given you all the herbs, etc.] to you it shall be for food, and to all the beasts of the earth, implying, but the beasts of the earth shall not be for you. But with the advent of the sons of Noah, it was permitted, for it is said, [Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you;] even as the green herb have I given you all things. Now one might think that the prohibition of flesh cut from the living animal does not apply to them [sc. the Noachides]: therefore the Writ teacheth, But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. One might think that this prohibition applies even to reptiles; therefore it is stated — but. How is this implied? — R. Huna said [But flesh with the life thereof, which is] the blood thereof: this shews that the prohibition applies only to those creatures whose flesh is distinct from their blood [in its prohibition]; excluding reptiles, whose flesh is not distinct from their blood.

An objection is raised: And rule over the fish of the sea; surely that means that they should serve as food? — No. It refers to toil. But can fish be made to work? — Yes, even as Rahabah propounded: What if one drove [a waggon] with a goat and a shibbuta? Come and hear: and over the foul of the heaven. Surely this is in respect of food? — No. It refers to toil. But can fowl be made to work? — Yes, even as Rabbah, son of R. Huna propounded: According to the ruling of R. Jose b. R. Judah, what if one threshed [corn] with geese or cocks?

Come and hear: And over every living creature that moveth upon the earth! — That refers to the serpent. For it has been taught: — R. Simeon b. Manassia said: Woe for the loss of a great servant. For had not the serpent been cursed, every Israelite would have had two valuable serpents, sending one to the north and one to the south to bring him costly gems, precious stones and pearls. Moreover, one would have fastened a thong under its tail, with which it would bring forth earth for his garden and waste land.

A [further] objection is raised: R. Judah b. Tema said: Adam reclined in the Garden of Eden, whilst the ministering angels roasted flesh and strained wine for him. Thereupon the serpent looked in, saw his glory, and became envious of him? — The reference there is to flesh that descended from heaven. But does flesh descend from heaven? — Yes; as in the story of R. Simeon b. Halafta, who was walking on the road, when lions met him and roared at him. Thereupon he quoted: The young lions roar after their prey; and two lumps of flesh descended [from heaven]. They ate one and left the other. This he brought to the schoolhouse and propounded: Is this clean [fit for food] or not? — They [sc. the scholars] answered: Nothing unclean descends from heaven. R. Zera asked R. Abbahu: What if something in the shape of an ass were to descend? — He replied: Thou howling yorod: did they not answer him that no unclean thing descends from heaven?

‘R. Simeon said, They were also forbidden to practice sorcery.’ What is R. Simeon’s reason? — Because it is written,

60a

Thou shalt not suffer a witch to live; and this is followed by, Whosoever lieth with a beast shall surely be put to death: thus, all who are included in the second prohibition are included in the first.

‘R. Eleazar said; They were also enjoined against the forbidden mixtures.’ Whence do we derive this? — Samuel replied: Because Scripture saith, My statutes ye shall keep, implying the statutes which I have already decreed: viz., Thou shalt not let thy cattle gender with a diverse kind: Thou shalt not sow thy field with mingled seed. This teaches: just as in the case of animal life, the prohibition is against hybridization, so in plant life, the injunction is against grafting; and just as the former holds good both within the land [sc. Palestine] and without, so the latter holds good both within and without Palestine. But if so, does the verse, Ye shall therefore keep my statutes also imply the statutes which I imposed long ago? — There the verse reads, Ye shall therefore keep my statutes which I [now] command you: but here it reads, My statutes ye shall keep, implying the statutes decreed from of old shall ye keep.

Other references:
Sanhedrin 96b – B’nei Noach Avodah Zarah 2a and 2b – idolatry Avodah Zarah 3a and 3b – idolatry Avodah Zarah 64b – idolatry Avodah Zarah 65a and 65b – idolatry Bava Kamma 38a – seven laws Chullin 92a – B’nei Noach

Posted by Rachel Esther of pathoftorah.com

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