"The Earth Belongs to HaShem and the Fullness Thereof."
The Seven Noahide Laws
By Jagannatha Prakash © 2004
One of the best-known biblical accounts is the global flood. Many ancient cultures record or remark on their tradition's remembrances of this historic event. Not surprisingly, many Pagan elements have been attached to the retelling of the account, names have been changed and so on, and yet the amount of ancient confirmations of the event lends solid support that it certainly occurred.
Likewise, everyone knows about the frozen animals found at the North Pole with vegetation in their mouth and other evidence that something like the global deluge took place.
In the Tanakh, the Hebrew Bible, Moses recorded the actual details of the event. In the future, I plan to add a section on the Flood itself. For now however, we're interested in what happened after Noah and his family left the ark (Gen. 8:15- ).
Immediately after leaving the ark, Father Noah released the animals, built an alter, and worshiped and praised HaShem for sparing them (8:20). This is what we all should do: Praise HaShem first for His many blessings, not the least of which being our very existence. The worship of HaShem is the central issue of all life. When birds sing and wolves howl they are glorifying the Creator. All life is a testament to His creative works and goodness. Humanity, according to the Torah, exists in a very special role as caretakers of HaShem creation. As Noah and his family left the ark, they therefore glorified HaShem.
After accepting their offering:
... HaShem smelled the sweet savor; and HaShem said in His heart: 'I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.
It's significant to note here that HaShem decided "... nor will I ever again destroy every living being..." as the New JPS says. Rather than destroy humanity, HaShem established a global covenant and provided a way for all of Noah's descendants to find favor and acceptance in His sight. HaShem declared the rainbow would forever symbolize this universal Noahide Covenant (9:12) and serve as a reminder of HaShem's love.
Next, Noah was told that the animal creation would henceforth have a natural "fear" of humankind. Prior to this time, Scripture teaches that no such fear existed between man and beast. In the Messianic Age, this fear will again be removed:
1 And there shall come forth a rod out of the stem of Jesse, and a Branch shall grow out of his roots:
A main subject of this website is learning ways in which we can reconnect and support HaShem original design and plan for the planet. In the Garden of Eden, the Bible clearly tells us that the first humans did not eat meat:
2 And the spirit of HaShem shall rest upon him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of HaShem
3 And shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of HaShem: and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears:
6 The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.
7 And the cow and the bear shall feed; their young ones shall lie down together: and the lion shall eat straw like the ox.
8 And the sucking child shall play on the hole of the asp, and the weaned child shall put his hand on the cockatrice' den.
9 They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of HaShem, as the waters cover the sea.
10 And in that day there shall be a root of Jesse, which shall stand for an ensign of the people; to it shall the Gentiles seek: and his rest shall be glorious.
"And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat:
This of course excluding the fruit of the forbidden tree. There is no reference to their eating their fellow creatures. After expulsion from the Garden, God told them:
17 ...cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life;
The proper human diet is discussed elsewhere
For now, note that this fear was clearly placed upon the animals for their protection, as the text continues to say that henceforth: "Every creature that lives shall be yours to eat; as with the green grasses..." However, when eating the animals, it is required that their blood not be eaten along with the meat.
Next, the subject turns to maintaining justice in human society. If a person kills another person, it is a serious matter. Such a person, found guilty beyond doubt, is to be put to death by the community. The rationale given for this is that HaShem made man in His own image (9:8). What does this mean? It means that humanity is HaShem's legal and political representative on earth. If we don't upload righteousness and justice, who will? Above, at 8:21, HaShem states that our hearts are evil. By empowering humanity to handle our own rectification in this way, people are forced collectively to take responsibility for our actions. We are given motivation to better ourselves for the good of the group and as HaShem's representatives. Hence, it is said that the sins of HaShem's people blasphemes His name or reputation.
At 9:8 HaShem says that this new Covenant or Pact is being made with Noah and "his offspring to come," and with the animals and every living thing. The Noahide Covenant therefore is a universal commitment.
It has been charged by some that HaShem cares nothing about the earth, that the natural world is sinful and vile. Such people expect to spend eternity in heaven and so care little about the earth. This is not what the Tanakh teaches however. Adam was told to care for the earth as its caretaker and here HaShem shows His concern for the natural order by including all life in the Noahide Covenant. It is clearly stated that humans are to be the caretakers the planet and the representatives of HaShem (Gen. 3:15,16). We are supposed to exploit the planet, to cause global warning, wars, plagues... Conversely, the current attempts by Secular Humanists and others to lower humanity to the level of being simply another species of terrestrial life, are in direct opposition with the revealed Will of HaShem. Our role is much higher than that. Think of this way, humanity exists as priests and priestesses of the earth. We are to care for and nurture life.
The next section of text is very important because here HaShem sets up the order for how human relations are to be conducted in the future by delegating the responsibilities. To fully understand this would require more space than is justified here. Generally speaking however, this discussion begins as Noah's son Ham goes into his father's tent and "sees his father's nakedness," which probably means that he sexually molested his father as he slept in his drunken state (Gen. 9:20-23). It certainly was more than simply seeing his father naked.
After this event, Noah declares the roles of his sons and their offspring and announces the authority of the earthly governance established by HaShem:
18 Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field;
19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.
Shem: This oldest son of Noah is to have the rights of the firstborn. He is the leader of the b'nei Noach, the children of Noah. The descendants of Shem are said to include Abraham and his physical descendants, which would include the Semitic Jews and Arabs, the people living to the east of Babylon and the Persian Gulf, the Assyrians and others. Also, there is a "spiritual seed of Abraham" that includes all those who convert to Judaism. Converts to Judaism becomes Jewish and is thus adopted into lineage of Shem.
These biblically mandated responsibilities have misused in the past. Please understand that they refer to nations that will arise from the descendants of these three people. Such texts refer to the roles these people will perform in future. This is especially true of their dealings with the Jewish people (through whom Abraham's blessings were primarily dispersed) and the working out of HaShem's plan for the restoration of the earth. Using these passages to justify racial prejudices etc. is both unscriptural and ungodly.
Earth's inhabitants are one and the Noahide Covenant is incumbent upon us all:
Ham: Canaan (Ham's son) and his offspring are specifically cursed by Noah. It is declared that these people will be servants to their brothers. Ham's descendants are said to include Ethiopians, Egyptians, Libyans, Phoenicians, Hittites and others
Japheth: His descendants will be "enlarged" and blessed. They will "dwell in the tents of Shem." They will live by the blessings of Shem. Later on in Genesis this relationship becomes clearer. If the descendants of Japheth use their material blessings to bless and bolster the descendents of Shem, they will be blessed. Conversely, if they 'leave the tents of Shem,' turn their backs on Shem; refusing to support and bless the Shemites, then HaShem will curse Japheth's descendants. This blessing/cursing applies to the descendants of Ham as well; however, it is especially in place for the descendants of Japheth who are told to live in the tents of Shem.
The descendants of Japheth include the Cimmerians, Cimbri, Celts, Scythians, Russians, Greeks, Anglo-Saxons, Syrians, Thracians, Armenians, peoples of Asia Minor, Sicilians, Cypriots, etc.
26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation,
These Noahide Laws therefore apply to all the descendants of Father Noah.
27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:
28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.
The Noahide Laws
1. Worship Only HaShem
2. Honor and Praise HaShem
3. Respect and Protect Human Life
4. Respect the Family
5. Respect the Rights and Properties of Others
6. Respect the Sanctity of all Life
7. Pursue Justice
The Noahide Laws Extrapolated
Based on these, Noahide Nazarenes understand the following:
1. Worship Only HaShem: Do not worship anyone or anything except HaShem Himself. This prohibits the worship of prophets, angels, saints and so on. While due honor may be show to others, only HaShem is to be worshipped
2. Honor and Praise HaShem: Do not curse Him or anyone in His name. Praise and Credit His Goodness in all things. Do not undertake vows in HaShem's name. Use the Sacred Name always with respect. Do not evoke non-specific terms such as "Lord" of "God" to the exclusion of the Holy Name, nor use spelling devises such as G-d etc because HaShem is an individual Being and is like none other.
3. Respect and Protect Human Life: . Do not commit murder, suicide, euthanasia or abortion. This also prohibits all stem cell and similar researches if such research utilizes the death of human beings (including infanticide). Rightly view humankind as the representatives of HaShem and respect them accordingly. Noahide Nazarenes are not required to be pacifist, however we are forbidden to "murder." To protect an innocent life the taking of the life of a wrongdoer may at times be required. Such an act is not "murder." Likewise, defending one's country in times of attack is acceptable, going to war for unjust causes is not. For instance, killing for oil reserves is murder, killing to defend Israel or one's homeland and allies is not. Serving positions that support unjust wars is to share in the guilt for those wars. Hence, one who is morally opposed to fighting in a conflict would be morally opposed to supporting in other ways. In all such cases, the Noahide must determine when violence is and is not appropriate and act accordingly.
4. Respect the Family: Do not engage in sexual immorality. Defend family integrity and avoid divorce, incest, bigamy, abortion (infanticide), etc. Teach children HaShem's ways as these are their birthrights as members of the human family; teach them their family histories as these are their birthrights in their biological family. Because of the current debates, it should be noted that nowhere does HaShem nor the Bible condemn same-gender marriages, hence this law does not prohibit such. Upon such relationships are incumbent the same requirements as placed upon any other (for information on this topic visit my Grace Inclusive web site.
5. Respect the Rights and Properties of Others: Do not steal, cheat, or kidnap. Share the goodness of the earth with others.
6. Respect the Sanctity of all Life: Do not eat the flesh of any animal while it is still alive. Defend the well-being of the Earth and its inhabitants.
7. Pursue Justice: Establish courts of law to enforce the Seven Noahide Commandments and to enforce just laws.
8:15. And Elohiym (God) spoke unto Noah, saying:
16. 'Go forth from the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee.
17. Bring forth with thee every living thing that is with thee of all flesh, both fowl, and cattle, and every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth; that they may swarm in the earth, and be fruitful, and multiply upon the earth.'
18. And Noah went forth, and his sons, and his wife, and his sons' wives with him;
19. every beast, every creeping thing, and every fowl, whatsoever moveth upon the earth, after their families; went forth out of the ark.
20. And Noah builded an altar unto HaShem; and took of every clean beast, and of every clean fowl, and offered burnt-offerings on the altar.
21. And HaShem smelled the sweet savour; and HaShem said in His heart: 'I will not again curse the ground any more for man's sake; for the imagination of man's heart is evil from his youth; neither will I again smite any more every thing living, as I have done.
22. While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease.'
9:1. And Elohiym blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them: 'Be fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth.
2. And the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, and upon all wherewith the ground teemeth, and upon all the fishes of the sea: into your hand are they delivered.
3. Every moving thing that liveth shall be for food for you; as the green herb have I given you all.
4. Only flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat.
5. And surely your blood of your lives will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it; and at the hand of man, even at the hand of every man's brother, will I require the life of man.
6. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed; for in the image of Elohiym made He man.
7. And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; swarm in the earth, and multiply therein.'
8. And Elohiym spoke unto Noah, and to his sons with him, saying:
9. 'As for Me, behold, I establish My covenant with you, and with your seed after you;
10. and with every living creature that is with you, the fowl, the cattle, and every beast of the earth with you; of all that go out of the ark, even every beast of the earth.
11. And I will establish My covenant with you; neither shall all flesh be cut off any more by the waters of the flood; neither shall there any more be a flood to destroy the earth.'
12. And Elohiym said: 'This is the token of the covenant which I make between Me and you and every living creature that is with you, for perpetual generations:
13. I have set My bow in the cloud, and it shall be for a token of a covenant between Me and the earth.
14. And it shall come to pass, when I bring clouds over the earth, and the bow is seen in the cloud,
15. that I will remember My covenant, which is between Me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall no more become a flood to destroy all flesh.
16. And the bow shall be in the cloud; and I will look upon it, that I may remember the everlasting covenant between Elohiym and every living creature of all flesh that is upon the earth.'
17. And Elohiym said unto Noah: 'This is the token of the covenant which I have established between Me and all flesh that is upon the earth.'
18. And the sons of Noah, that went forth from the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth; and Ham is the father of Canaan.
19. These three were the sons of Noah, and of these was the whole earth overspread.
20. And Noah the husbandman began, and planted a vineyard.
21. And he drank of the wine, and was drunken; and he was uncovered within his tent.
22. And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.
23. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father's nakedness.
24. And Noah awoke from his wine, and knew what his youngest son had done unto him.
25. And he said: Cursed be Canaan; a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren.
26. And he said: Blessed be HaShem, the Elohiym of Shem; and let Canaan be their servant.
27. Elohiym enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and let Canaan be their servant.
28. And Noah lived after the flood three hundred and fifty years.
29. And all the days of Noah were nine hundred and fifty years; and he died.