Thursday, April 13, 2017

Noahide Law, the Pharisees and the Babylonian Talmud

American Public Law 102-14 enshrines the “Seven Noahide Laws” as the “ethical values” upon which the United States was founded. The law also asserts that it is the nation’s “responsibility” to transmit these “ethical values” to the generations of the future. We read in the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia that under these laws, those who practice other faiths, blaspheme against Judaism or commit “adultery” are to be punished by death and that non-Jews are commanded to set up “courts of justice” to judge the masses upon these laws. It would also seem that the Chief Rabbis of Israel also support the Noahide Laws being commanded upon non-Jews from their blessings upon the 2008 book “The Divine Code“. But where did these ideas about Noahide Law come from? Noahide Law is not some bizarre aberration of Judaism, it is fundamental and central to Jewish cannon. In which Jewish holy book can we find the Noahide Laws? To answer these questions, we need to learn a little about the most important of all Jewish scriptures, The Babylonian Talmud.

Do Jews Follow The Bible?

Do Jews follow the Bible? Isn’t the Old Testament of the Bible the sacred scripture of the Jews? Yes, and no. The Old Testament of the Bible is called “Torah” among other names by Jews. As we learned in the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, the “Noahide Laws” are named after the presumed to be patriarch of all modern humans, Noah. But when Noah exited the ark after the flood, the god of the Bible did not give him seven commandments all humans are to follow, and certainly not in the elaborated fashion as we found in the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia entry. Let’s take a look at the passage in the book of Genesis where the god of the Bible tells Noah what to do:

But flesh with its life, that is, its blood, you shall not eat. 5 I will surely require your blood of your lives; at the hand of every animal I will require it. At the hand of man, even at the hand of every man’s brother, I will require the life of man. 6 Whoever sheds man’s blood, his blood will be shed by man, for God made man in his own image. 7 Be fruitful and multiply. Increase abundantly in the earth, and multiply in it.”– Genesis 9: 4-7

From reading the above passage we can see that it is likely that the god of the Bible gave Noah and his descendants at most three commands: not to eat animal flesh which had not been drained of blood, not to murder, and to increase and multiply on the earth. Never does the god of the Bible give Noah and his descendants the elaborate detailed law we had found in the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia entry. The rest of the commands which are found later in the Old Testament (starting in the book of Exodus) were not given to the entire world, but to Israel alone (these commands are known as the Mosaic Code).  So where did the Seven Noahide Laws come from?

The Babylonian Talmud And The Pharisees

Thus,the Talmud frequently speaks of “the seven laws of the sons of Noah,” which were regarded as obligatory upon all mankind, in contradistinction to those that were binding upon Israelites only (Tosef., ‘Ab. Zarah, ix. 4; Sanh. 56a et seq.).” – Laws, Noachian, 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia

Before we can understand why the Seven Noahide Laws are not found in Bible, we need to learn about the Pharisees, the Saducees and the Babylonian Talmud. In ancient Israel there were two major denominations of Judaism, there were Pharisee Jews and Sadducee Jews. Sadducee Jews believed only in the “Written Torah”, which we know today as the Old Testament. Pharisees on the other hand believed in both “Written Torah” and “Oral Torah”, Oral Torah being laws supposedly sent to the Jews along with the written word. The Pharisee Jews eventually wrote down this “Oral Torah” centuries later into what is today known as “The Talmud” (also known as The Babylonian Talmud).  So which of these groups are the forefathers of today’s Judaism?  After the destruction of the Jewish Temple in 70 A.D., the Sadducees disappeared, but the Pharisees remained and became the spiritual ancestors of modern Judaism. Today, most Jews follow the path of the Pharisees, they hold the “Oral Torah” or Babylonian Talmud (a.k.a Talmud) to be just as binding as the “Written Torah” or Old Testament. In fact, so strong is the belief in Talmudic Pharisaism among Jews that “Saduducess” (those who follow only the Old Testament) are considered to be non-Jews. Again, it is in the Talmud where we find the elaboration of the Seven Noahide Laws.

Pharisees vs Sadducees

The most important of the three were the Pharisees because they are the spiritual fathers of modern JudaismTheir main distinguishing characteristic was a belief in an Oral Law that God gave to Moses at Sinai along with the Torah. The Torah, or Written Law, was akin to the U.S. Constitution in the sense that it set down a series of laws that were open to interpretation. The Pharisees believed that God also gave Moses the knowledge of what these laws meant and how they should be applied. This oral tradition was codified and written down roughly three centuries later in what is known as the Talmud.The Pharisees also maintained that an after-life existed and that God punished the wicked and rewarded the righteous in the world to come. They also believed in a messiah who would herald an era of world peace.Pharisees were in a sense blue-collar Jews who adhered to the tenets developed after the destruction of theTemple; that is, such things as individual prayer and assembly in synagogues… The Sadducees were elitists who wanted to maintain the priestly caste, but they were also liberal in their willingness to incorporate Hellenism into their lives, something the Pharisees opposed. The Sadducees rejected the idea of the Oral Law and insisted on a literal interpretation of the Written Law; consequently, they did not believe in an after life, since it is not mentioned in the Torah. The main focus ofSadducee life was rituals associated with the Temple.The Sadducees disappeared around 70 A.D., after thed estruction of the Second Temple. None of the writings of the Sadducees has survived, so the little we know about them comes from their Pharisaic opponents.These two “parties” served in the Great Sanhedrin, a kind of Jewish Supreme Court made up of 71 members whose responsibility was to interpret civil and religious laws. – (Ancient Jewish History: Pharisees, Sadducees & Essenes, Virtual Jewish Library)

Modern Judaism Is “Pharisaism” (aka Talmudism)

The Jewish religion as it is today traces its descent, without a break, through all the centuries, from the Pharisees.  Their leading ideas and methods found expression in a literature of enormous extent, of which a very great deal is still in existence.  The Talmud is the largest and most important single piece of literature . . . and the study of it is essential for any real understanding of Pharisaism.” – (Universal Jewish Encyclopedia, 1948, Vol. 8, pg. 474.)

“Pharisaism” Is Talmudism And Modern Rabbinic Judaism 

Pharisaism became Talmudism, Talmudism became Medieval Rabbinism, and Medieval Rabbinism became Modern Rabbinism. But throughout these changes of name, inevitable adaptation of custom, and adjustment of Law, the spirit of the ancient Pharisee survives unaltered. When the Jew reads his prayers, he is reciting formulae prepared by pre-Maccabean scholars; when he dons the cloak prescribed for the Day of Atonement and Passover Eve, he is wearing the festival garment of ancient Jerusalem; when he studies the Talmud, he is actually repeating the arguments used in the Palestinian academies. – (Rabbi Dr. Louis Finkelstein, Instructor of Talmud, and later president of the Jewish Theological Seminary of America, “The Pharisees: The Sociological Background of Their Faith, page xxi”)

The Talmudic Pharisaism Regulates And Shapes Modern Judaism 

In King Agrippa (41-44) the Pharisees had a supporter and friend, and with the destruction of the Temple the Sadducees disappeared altogether, leaving the regulation of all Jewish affairs in the hands of the Pharisees. Henceforth Jewish life was regulated by the teachings of the Pharisees; the whole history of Judaism was reconstructed from the Pharisaic point of view, and a new aspect was given to the Sanhedrin of the past. A new chain of tradition supplanted the older, priestly tradition (Abot i. 1). Pharisaism shaped the character of Judaism and the life and thought of the Jew for all the future. True, it gave the Jewish religion a legalistic tendency and made “separatism” its chief characteristic; yet only thus were the pure monotheistic faith, the ethical ideal, and the intellectual and spiritual character of the Jew preserved in the midst of the downfall of the old world and the deluge of barbarism which swept over the medieval world. – (Pharisees, 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia)

According The The Talmud, “Sadducees” (Old Testament Believers) Are Like “Samaritans” (Non-Jews)


The Noahide Laws In The Talmud

When we read the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia entry on Noahide Law, we saw several reverences to the Talmud, particularly the book of Sanhedrin.

Thus,the Talmud frequently speaks of “the seven laws of the sons of Noah,” which were regarded as obligatory upon all mankind, in contradistinction to those that were binding upon Israelites only (Tosef., ‘Ab. Zarah, ix. 4; Sanh. 56a et seq.). – (Noahide Laws, 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia)

Fortunately for us, there is a reputable English version Talmud available for us online. The 1961 Soncino Babylonian Talmud was published by the Jews College of London and was praised by Chief Rabbi of London, J. H. HERTZ

A reliable English translation of the whole Babylonian Talmud has long been looked forward to by scholars. This expectation is beginning be realised by the publication of the Soncino edition of the Order Nezikin.

The translation is based on the Text of the Wilna Talmud, corrected where necessary in the light of variants from MSS. and other printed editions. All the censored passages reappear in the Text or in the Notes. The Notes bring the essence of the classical interpretations, clarify the argument, explain technical expressions, and show in what sense the Biblical verses quoted are to be understood. Wherever possible, place-names are identified, historical and archaeological allusions elucidated, and their parallels in the life of contemporary nations traced.

This notable achievement is due to the quite extraordinary erudition of the Editor, Rabbi Dr I. Epstein, assisted by his staff of scholarly translators. The Editor’s Prefatory Note gives some indication of his colossal task. Aside from planning the scope and character of the work, the Editor Fixed the Text, controlled the translation and interpretation, as well as the introductions and glossaries to the various parts, and supplied the greater portion of the ‘cultural’ notes.

The Publishers too have done their share in the undertaking conscientiously and efficiently. With the result, that never before has there appeared a translation of the Order Nezikin as helpful to the student as these volumes of the Soncino edition of the Babylonian Talmud in English.

London, Chanukah 5695
2 December 1934

The Noahide Laws In The Book Of Sanhedrin

Below is reproduced folios 56a-57b of the 1961 Soncino Babylonian Talmud, which are the sections dealing with Noahide Law. You will find that much of this document mirrors what you already read in the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia. Here is the doctrine of the Pharisees, the laws which would rule us all under Talmudic Noahide Law.

Sanhedrin 56a
1961 Soncino Babylonian Talmud

1. Death by Decapitation

“Heathens” who blaspheme are to be decapitated, we are all “sons of Noah” and so we are all required to adhere to the Noahide Laws. Footnote 23 to the passage makes it clear that according to Talmudic doctrine we are all responsible to follow the Noahide Laws because they were enacted before the time of Abraham. The punishment for breaking any of the Noahide Laws by a Gentile is death by decapitation.

Our Rabbis taught: [Any man that curseth his God, shall bear his sin.[21] It would have been sufficient to say], ‘A man, etc:’ What is taught by the expression any man?[22] The inclusion of heathens, to whom blasphemy is prohibited just as to Israelites, and they are executed by decapitationfor every death penalty decreed for the sons of Noah is only by decapitation.[23] 

2. Blasphemy with Substitutes

The Talmudic passage continues with a debate between the Rabbis, they want to come to a conclusion as to if a person is to be put to death if they blaspheme using a substitute for the name of god. Rabbi Meir of the Talmud seems to believe that anyone, Jew or Gentile who blasphemes using a substitute should be killed, but the Jew should be stoned to death while the Gentile should be decapitated. Rabbi R. Miyasha seems to believe that only Heathens should be killed for blaspheming with substitutions, but Rabbi Issac seems to believe that even heathens must use the direct name of god to be killed for blasphemy (Please See Footnote 31). However, even though their does seem to be a debate, the Jewish Encyclopedia entry on the Noahide Laws makes the definite statement that unlike Jews, “Heathens” are decapitated for blaspheming even when they use a substitute for the name of god.

Now, is [the prohibition of blasphemy to heathens] deduced from this verse? But it is deduced from another, viz., The Lord, referring to the ‘blessing’ of the Divine Name.[24] — R. Isaac the smith[25] replied; This phrase [‘any man’] is necessary only as teaching the inclusion of substitutes of God’s name,[26] and the Baraitha is taught in accordance with R. Meir’s views For it has been taught: Any man that curseth his God shall bear his sin.[27] Why is this written? Has it not already been stated, And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord, he shall surely be put to death? Because it is stated, And he that blasphemeth the name of the Lord shall surely be put to death, I might think that death is meted out only when the ineffable Name is employed. Whence do I know that all substitutes [of the ineffable Name] are included [in this law]? From the verse, Any man that curseth his God — shewing culpability for any manner of blasphemy [even without uttering the Name, since the Name is not mentioned in this sentence]: this is the view of R. Meir. But the Sages maintain: [Blasphemy] with use of the ineffable Name, is punishable by death: with the employment of substitutes, it is the object of an injunction. [but not punishable by death].

This view [of R. Isaac the smith] conflicts with that of R. Miyasha; for R. Miyasha said: If a heathen [son of Noah] blasphemed, employing substitutes of the ineffable Name, he is in the opinion of the Sages punishable by death. Why so? — Because it is written, as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land [when he blasphemeth the name of the Lord, shall be put to death]. This teaches that only the stranger [i.e.. a proselyte], and the native [i.e., a natural born Israelite] must utter the ineffable Name; but the heathen is punishable even for a substitute only. But how does R. Meir interpret the verse, ‘as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land’? — It teaches that the stranger and citizen are stoned, but a heathen is decapitated. For I would think, since they are included [in the prohibition], they are included [in the manner of execution too]: hence we are taught otherwise. Now how does R. Isaac the smith interpret the verse, ‘as well the stranger, as he that is born in the land’, on the view of the Rabbis?[30] — It teaches that only a stranger and a native must revile the Name by the Name, but for a heathen this is unnecessary. Why does the Torah state any man?[31] — The Torah employed normal human speech.[32]

3. Courts of Justice for Non-Jews

The Talmudic passage ends by including all seven of the Noahide Laws which all men must follow. These include not only abstaining from “blasphemy” but also “idolatry” and “adultery”. The footnotes give us two very important pieces of information. First, the Noahide laws are for everyone, not just Jews, and anyone who breaks these laws is to be put to death (SEE FOOTNOTE 34). Second, Jews are instructed to set up courts of justice “or, perhaps, to observe social justice” to ensure the Noahide Laws are followed by all (SEE FOOTNOTE 33).

Our Rabbis taught: seven precepts were the sons of Noah commanded: social laws;[33] to refrain from blasphemy, idolatry; adultery; bloodshed; robbery; and eating flesh cut from a living animal.[34]

21. Lit., ‘A man, a man’, Heb. ish ish, [H].
22. The only place where death is explicitly decreed for non-Israelites is in Gen. IX, 6: Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed. It is a general law, applicable to all, having been given in the pre-Abrahamic era; his blood shall be shed must refer to the sword, the only death whereby blood is shed.
23: The only place where death is explicitly decreed for non-Israelites is in Gen. IX, 6: Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed. It is a general law, applicable to all, having been given in the pre-Abrahamic era; his blood shall be shed must refer to the sword, the only death whereby blood is shed.
24. V. infra 56b. And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, of every tree of the garden, thou mayest freely eat. Gen. II, 16. Every word or phrase in this verse is separately interpreted, the Lord teaching the prohibition of blasphemy to a Noachide.
25. In the Talmudic period the Rabbi was an honorary official; consequently, he had to have a private occupation e.g., R. Joshua, who came into conflict with R. Gamaliel, was a blacksmith, (Ber. 28a.) others translate, charcoal-burner.
26. I.e., even if only a substitute was employed in blasphemy, the death penalty is incurred.
27. Lev. XXIV, 15
28. Ibid. 16.
29. Ibid.
30. That a heathen too must use the ineffable Name for incurring punishment.
31.This is a difficulty For R. Isaac and R. Miyasha, as they explain the opinions of the Sages. They both maintain that the culpability of a heathen is deduced from And the Lord (God commanded etc.) When employing substitutes, his culpability, in the view of R. Miyasha is deduced from as well the stranger etc.; Whilst R. Isaac denies that it is punishable at all. Hence the difficulty, why the repetition ish ish, a man, a man?
32. I.e., no particular significance attaches to the repetition, it being the usual idiom.
33. I.e., to establish courts of justice, or, perhaps, to observe social justice (Nahmanides on Gen. XXXIV, 13): Hast. Dict. (s.v. Noachian precepts) translates ‘obedience to authority’.
34. These commandments may be regarded as the foundations of all human and moral progress. Judaism has both a national and a universal outlook in life. In the former sense it is particularistic, setting up a people distinct and separate from others by its peculiar religious law. But in the latter, it recognises that moral progress and its concomitant Divine love and approval are the privilege and obligation of all mankind. And hence the Talmud lays down the seven Noachian precepts, by the observance of which all mankind may attain spiritual perfection, and without which moral death must inevitably ensue. That perhaps is the idea underlying the assertion (passim) that a heathen is liable to death for the neglect of any of these. The last mentioned is particularly instructive as showing the great importance attached to the humane treatment of animals; so much so, that it is declared to be fundamental to human righteousness.

Sanhedrin 56b
Babylonian Talmud, Soncino, Published 1961

4. Other Laws for Non-Jews

“Sorcery”, divination and astrology (observer of times) are added to the list of forbidden practices which even “heathens” are not permitted, non-Jews are also forbidden from crossbreeding differing kinds of animals or grafting together different species of trees, but these restrictions are not as barring as the seven main Noahide Laws.

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.[1] Now, [the Almighty] does not punish without first prohibiting.[2] 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.

5. “Social Laws”

Here it is stipulated that these “social laws” were given to humans in the Garden of Eden, thus the argument that Noahide Laws and their derivatives are applicable to all humans (all humans coming from Eden).

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.[3] 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.[4] 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.[5] God — is [an injunction against] idolatry, and thus it is written, Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.[6] The man — refers to bloodshed [murder], and thus it is written, Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, by man shall his blood be shed.[7] 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.[8] Of every tree of the garden — but not of robbery.[9] Thou mayest freely eat — but not flesh cut from a living animal.[10]

6. Death for Idolatry

Just like Jews, “heathens” are to be sentenced to death for practicing idolatry.

When R. Isaac came,[11] 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].[12] 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.[13] And the other cited, Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment.[14] 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 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.[15] Now what does this exclude? Presumably the case of a heathen who made an idol without worshipping it?[16] R. Papa answered: No. It excludes the embracing and kissing of idols.[17] 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.

7. Noahide Courts

So here we learn that Noahides (non-Jews) are commanded to set up their own courts to enforce the Noahide laws within their communities, these courts are different from Jewish courts and run on different rules which make it easier to convict and kill non-Jews. The judging of criminal cases (at least for Jews in Israel) are to be done before a “Sanhedrin”, a Jewish high court. However, Noahides are commanded to set up their own courts to enforce the Noahide Laws. While Jews are to be judged by a full Sanhedrin and only if there were two witnesses to their “crime” and only if they received a warning, a Noahide being tried in a Noahide court are afforded only one judge, one witness and need not have been warned against their transgression. Yet again, the second class citizenship of even “domiciled” Gentiles under Noahide Laws is evident in the pages of the Talmud. (SEE FOOTNOTE 20)

‘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;[18] ‘the Sabbath and honouring one’s parents’. for it is written, As the Lord thy God commanded thee![19] — 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.[20] If so, why say ‘to which were added social laws’?[21] — But Raba replied thus: The addition was only in respect of the laws of fines.[22] 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 townBut 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 blasphemy[23] [from the list of Noachian precepts] and substituted emasculation and the forbidden mixture [in plants, ploughing. etc.].[23] 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 mixturesR. Judah said: Adam was prohibited idolatry only, for it is written, And the Lord God commanded Adam.[24] 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?[25] — 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.

1. Deut. XVIII, 10ff.
2. Therefore, since it is stated that they are being expelled as a punishment for these sins, they must first have been warned (i.e., prohibited) against them.
3. Gen. II, 16.
4. Gen. XVIII, 19. Thus ‘command’ relates to justice and judgment.
5. Lev. XXIV, 16 — ‘The Lord’ being used in connection with blasphemy.
6. Ex. XX, 3.
7. Gen. IX, 6.
8. Jer. III, 1. Thus ‘saying’ is used in connection with adultery.
9. Since it was necessary to authorize Adam to eat of the trees of the garden, it follows that without such authorisation — i.e., when something belongs to another — it is forbidden.
10. By interpreting thus: Thou mayest eat that which is now ready for eating, but not whilst the animal is alive. It is perhaps remarkable that a verse, the literal meaning of which is obviously permission to enjoy, should be interpreted as a series of prohibitions. Yet it is quite in keeping with the character of the Talmud: freedom to enjoy must be limited by moral and social considerations, and indeed only attains its highest value when so limited. Cf. Ab. VI, 2: No man is free but he who labours in the Torah.
11. V. p. 361, n. 5.
12. Ex. XXII, 7. The root idea of ‘elohim’ is power, majesty.
13. Ex. XXXII, 8.
14. Hos. V, 11, referring to idolatry; thus in both cases ‘command’ is used in connection with idolatry.
15. V. Mishnah 60b.
16. For which a Jew is not punished by death.
17. Teaching that these are not punishable.
18. Ex. XV, 25. Ordinance (Heb. mishpat) refers to social law.
19. Deut. V, 16. This occurs in the fifth commandment of the second Decalogue. Similar words are used in the fourth commandment: therefore the Lord thy God
commanded thee to keep the sabbath day. In both cases then there is a reference to some previous event, shewn by the use of the past tense: commanded thee. Now the second Decalogue, though spoken by Moses towards the end of his life in the plains of Moab many years after the first at Sinai, was nevertheless a repetition thereof. Therefore this reference back must have been made in the first promulgation also, and can only relate to Marah, where, as stated above, ‘he made for them a statute and an ordinance’, i.e., gave certain laws to the the Israelites.
20. I.e., that Justice should be meted out by an ‘assembly’. viz., a Sanhedrin; that an accusation was to be attested by at least two witnesses, and that a formal warning or admonition was to be given to the accused before he committed his offence, as otherwise he was not liable to the prescribed penalty. But the sons of Noah, though bidden to observe civil laws, were not bound by these regulations.
21. Since the addition was only in the method of procedure, but not in actual content.
22. E.g., Deut. XXII, 19, 29, where a slanderer of a woman’s honour is ordered to pay 100 silver shekels to her father, and a seducer of a virgin 50 silver shekels. These payments are not regarded as equitable indemnifications against loss sustained, but as fines for reprehensible acts. These laws were wanting in the civil code of the sons of Noah, and only these commands added at Marah.
23. The text employs abbreviations for these commands.
24.Which means that He commanded him to remember His Godhead, and not to reject it for a different deity.
25. ‘Let my fear be upon you’ is an exhortation to dispense justice uprightly, without fear of man.

Sanhedrin 57a
Babylonian Talmud, Soncino, Published 1961

8. “Immorality”

The Rabbis speak about the prohibitions against immorality (adultery) which is prohibited to all, even non-Jews.

for it is written, The earth also was corrupt before God;[1] and a Tanna of the School of R. Ishmael taught: Wherever corruption is mentioned, it must refer to immorality and idolatry.[2] ‘Immorality.’ as it is written, for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the earth.[3] ‘Idolatry,’ for it is written, Lest ye corrupt yourselves and make you a graven image, etc.[4] And the other teacher [who deduces this from the verse, and the Lord God commanded etc.]?[5] He maintains that this verse [sc. the earth also etc.] merely describes their way of living.[6] ‘Bloodshed’, as it is written, Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, etc.[7] And the other?[8] — This verse [he will maintain] merely teaches the manner of execution.[9] Robbery, for it is written, As the wild herbs have I given you all things;[10] upon which R. Levi commented: as the wild herbs, but not as the cultivated herbs.[11] And the other?[12] — He will hold that this verse is written to permit animal flesh,[13] [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.[14] And the other?[15] — He may hold that this verse teaches that flesh cut from live reptiles is permitted.[16] Emasculation, for it is written, Bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.[17] And the other?[18] — He may regard this merely as a blessing.[19] Forbidden mixture, as it is said, Of fowls after their kind.[20] And the other?[21] — He will maintain that this was merely for the sake of mating.[22]

9. Non-Jews Always Punished

In this passage we learn not only are “ heathens” executed for idolatry, but that only for Jews is there a difference between “prohibition” and “punishment”; a Jew may be prohibited from a certain act but not punished for transgressing them, however, for “heathens” prohibition means punishment for transgression, and the punishment is death (SEE FOOTNOTE 29).

R. Joseph said, The scholars[23] stated: A heathen is executed for the violation of three precepts — Mnemonic G Sh R—[24] 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;[25] but whence do we know the others? If they are derived from bloodshed,[26] the other four should also be included; whilst if their inclusion is taught by the extending phrase any man,[27] should not idolatry too be included?[28] 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.[29]

10. Killing Non-Jews Ok

Here we learn that even though Gentiles are executed for breaking any of the Seven Noahide Laws, one of which is murder, a Jew who murders a Gentile (Cuthean) is not punished for this crime; a Jew is never punished by courts of “justice” for killing a non-Jew. Cuthean is another world for a gentile (goy) (SEE FOOTNOTE 33)

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[30] or [seized] a beautiful woman,[31] or [committed] similar offences,[32] if [these were perpetrated] by one Cuthean[33] 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’?[34] 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.’[35] 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‘?[36] — 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.][37] need neither be rescued [from a pit] nor may they be thrown [therein]![38] ‘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?[39] If it is not the finishing work, is it not actual robbery?[40] — But R. Papa said: This applies to [the theft of] an article worth less than a perutah.[41] But if so, why say that such robbery of a Jew by a Cuthean must not be kept: does he not forgive him?[42] — 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,[43] is it not actual theft? — But R. Aha, the son of R. Ika answered; It applies to the withholding of a labourer’s wage.[44] One Cuthean from another, or a Cuthean from an Israelite is forbidden, but an Israelite from a Cuthean is permitted.[45] To what can ‘a similar act’ apply in the case of a beautiful woman? — When R. Dimi came,[46] 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.[47]

‘A similar act’, however, is not taught with reference to murder.[48] 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],

1. Gen. VI, II
2. And once they were punished for these offences, they must first have been admonished against them.
3. Ibid. ‘Corrupted his way’ connotes immorality; cf. the way of a man with a maid. Prov. XXX, 19.
4. Deut. IV, 16.
5. How does he utilize this latter verse?
6. But is not intended to imply a prohibition.
7. Gen. IX, 6.
8. I.e., who deduces it from the verse, all the Lord commanded.
9. I.e., by the sword, v. p. 380 n. 5; but the fact of execution is taught elsewhere.
10. Ibid. 3.
11. I.e., only as that which grows wild, without any owners; but not as that which is cultivated, hence owned by someone. This proves that robbery was forbidden them.
12. V. n. 8.
13. Which was prohibited to Adam, v. infra 59b.
14. Ibid. 4. ‘Flesh with the blood thereof’ means flesh cut from the living animal.
15. V. n. 8.
16. V. infra 59a, b.
17. Ibid. This, of course, is a direct negation of emasculation.
18. V. p. 386, n. 8,
19. But it is not intended to convey any prohibition.
20. Ibid. VI, 20; hence different species are not to be crossed.
21. V. p. 386, n. 8.
22. It being easier to mate with the same species than with another; but no prohibition is implied thereby.
23. The term be Rab does not necessarily mean the school presided over by Rab, though it may have that meaning occasionally. In one sense, it connotes the school founded by him, but lasting many generations after his lifetime. In another, it denotes schools in general. In this very instance, the views attributed to be Rab conflict with the teaching of Rab, Rab Judah, and all his disciples (Weiss. Dor II, p. 206.)
24. [H]: a mnemonic is given to facilitate the remembering of the subjects of a discussion. Here it stands for Gilluy ‘Arayoth — adultery; Shefikuth damin — murder; and birkath ha-shem — blasphemy.
25. Gen. IX, 6.
26. That as bloodshed was forbidden on pain of death, so were the others too.
27. Heb. [H]. Lev. XXIV, 15: Any man ([H]) that curseth his God shall bear his sin. Ibid. XVIII, 6: No man ([H]) shall approach to any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness. In both cases one referring to blasphemy, and the other to incest, the repetition of ish extends the law to embrace heathens too.
28. Lev. XX, 2: Whosoever he be (ish ish ) of the children of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn in Israel, that giveth any of his seed to Moloch (i.e., engages in idol worship); he shall surely be put to death. The repetition then, here too, should extend the death penalty for idolatry to heathens.
29. I.e., in speaking of heathens, when the Tanna teaches that they are forbidden to do something, he ipso facto teaches that it is punishable by death; for only in speaking of Jews is it necessary to distinguish between prohibition and punishment.
30. Stole (ganab) refers to secret stealing, robbed (gazal), to stealing by open violence.
31. In war, v. Deut. XXI, 10-14 — a species of robbery. [This is the only possible and correct rendering of the text, contra Goldschmidt. Cf. Tosef A.Z.]
32. Acts which are not actual robbery, but partake of its nature.
33. ‘Cuthean’ (Samaritan) was here substituted by the censor for the original goy (heathen).
34. [I.e., though it is forbidden to rob the heathen (v. Yad, Genebah I, 2; VI, 8), the offence was non-actionable. For reason, v. B. K. (Sonc. ed.) note
on Mishnah 37b.]
35. But actually it is punishable too. [This is merely a survival of old Semitic tribal law that regarded theft and robbery as a crime against the state, and consequently punishable by death. V. Muller, D. H., Hammurabi, 88]
36. Thus the Tanna does refer to punishment; since then he omits a reference to punishment in the clause under discussion, it shows that the heathen is not executed for robbery. In the whole of this discussion the punishment referred to is death.
37. Both are regarded as robbers the latter because they permit their charges to graze in other people’s fields.
38. One need neither exert oneself to save them from death, nor may one encompass it. This, of course, is theoretical only, v. p. 388, n. 6. Not a few of these harsh utterances (where they do not reflect the old Semitic tribal law, v. p. 388. n. 7) were the natural result of Jewish persecution by the Romans, and must be understood in that light. In actual practice, these dicta were certainly never acted upon, and it is significant that a commission of Roman officers, after investigating Jewish law in its relation to Gentiles, took exception only to two laws, one relating to the damage done by a goring ox, and the other permitting a Jew the use of property stolen from a Gentile. R. Gamaliel repealed this latter law. (B.K. 38a: Sifre Deut. 344.) Hence, reverting to the discussion, the Tanna could not have stated that the murder of a Cuthean by a Jew is permissible, therefore he is forced to speak of punishment.
39. E.g., the gathering in of the grapes. Deut. XXIII, 25 is interpreted by the Rabbis as referring to work in connection with the finishing touch given to
the produce.
40. Not merely bordering thereon.
41. A small coin, one-eighth of the Roman as.
42. One does not mind such a trifle, and readily forgives it.
43. Even such a trifle, v. infra 59a.
44. This only borders on a robbery, for actual robbery means depriving a person of what he already possesses
45. I.e., non-actionable.
46. R. Dimi was a Palestinian Amora of the fourth century, who travelled to and fro between, Babylon and Palestine, and was very zealous in transmitting the teachings of Palestine Scholars to his colleagues in Babylon (v. J. E. IV, 603; cf. p. 361, n. 5, supra.
47. This, though not actual robbery, is similar to it.
48. A deed is either actual murder or not. Even unwitting murder is murder, though the Almighty shewed mercy by sparing the murderer.

Sanhedrin 57b
Babylonian Talmud, Soncino, Published 1961

11. More On Noahide Courts

Finally, here in the last tractate we learn that Jews are tried by 23 judges (full Sanhedrin) and need to be accused by two witnesses (SEE FOOTNOTE 16), while a “heathen” need only one witness and one judge to be sentenced to death in their Noahide Courts.

he is executed for his death.[1] R. Jacob b. Aha found it written in the scholars’[2] Book of Aggada:[3 ] 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;[4] this shows that even one judge [may try a heathen].[5] At the hand of every living thing will I require it: even without an admonition having been given;[6] And at the hand of man: even on the testimony of one witness;[7 ] at the hand of man:[8] 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.[9] What is a man within another man? — An embryo in his mother’s womb.[10] 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?[11] — 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,[12] ‘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[12] 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.[13] 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?[14] — 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?[15] — R. Nahman said in the name of Rabbah b. Abbuha: With regard to an assembly, witnesses and formal admonition.[16] Is a Jewess then of less account?[17] But R. Johanan answered thus: It is with regard to a betrothed Jewish maiden,[18] whose violation by heathen law is not a capital offence;[19] 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[20] 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[21] 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.[22] 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,

1. Yet this cannot be regarded as real murder, and hence may be called ‘a similar act’. But the sages dispute this, and maintain that he is not executed at all.
2. V. p. 387, n, 7. It may also mean the School of Rab (Bacher. Agad. Bab. Amor. p. 2).
3. Aggadah (or Haggadah, from nagad, to declare), means the whole non-legal portion of Jewish learning. Here however, an actual law is cited from the Book of Aggadah. In the T. J. and Midrashim, many statements cited in the T. B. as being from the Book of Aggadah of the schools, are those cited under the name of Noachian precepts. Hence it is possible that the reference is to a collection of laws relating to Gentiles, and in order to distinguish it from specifically Jewish laws, it was called the Book of Aggadah (Weiss, Dor, III, p. 158).
4. Gen. IX, 5.
5. The interpretation is based on the use of the singular, ‘I’ will require.
6. This is based on the extending word ‘every’.
7. This is based on the singular.
8. Not the same phrase in Heb. as the preceding one.
9. Lit. rendering of Gen. IX, 6.
10. This law was directed against the Roman practice of prenatal murder. Weiss, Dor, II, 22.
11. Ibid. XVIII, 19. Why then should a woman’s testimony be inadmissible?
12. According to Rab Judah’s exegesis.
13. Lit. rendering of Lev. XVIII, 6.
14. V. p. 383.
15. Since by the Noachian Law also he is liable to death.
16. He must be tried by a full Sanhedrin; he cannot be convicted on the testimony of less than two witnesses, and he must have been formally admonished before committing the offence.
17. I.e., is he dealt with more leniently because his offence was against a Jewess? For when his offence is against a heathen, these are unnecessary.
18. V. p. 333, n. 3; p. 337, n. 5.
19. As they do not regard her as married until the actual consumation of the nuptials.
20. V. p. 333, n. 3.
21. The Gaon of Wilna deletes ‘many’: Maimonides likewise does not include it in his text. Actually, the dispute of the Sages and R. Meir is only in
reference to a half sister by one’s mother.
22. Tosef. ‘A.Z. IX. Since heathen law does not recognise this as a capital offence, he is judged by our law. This statement supports R. Johanan’s


  1. Thankyou so much for giving out the truth many many PEOPLE do not understand this kind of ancient influence still perpetuating in the earth,

  2. This whole thing is so evil ... May the Lord rebuke the Pharisees of this age !

  3. The L-rd alone makes this decision.