The Seven Noachide Laws

Are The Seven Noachide Laws Written In The Torah?

In the post titled Gentiles and Jews, we described how the distinction between Gentiles and Jews came into existence and why. In this post we establish the veracity of the Noachide Laws, show where they are mentioned in the Torah, and describe them.

The first question that's on everybody mind is "How do we know that the Noachide Laws are legitimate and not human fabrications?"

The first point that needs to be made clear is that the Oral Law was Divinely revealed as well as the Written Law. Very briefly put, the way that the majority of the commandments are written in the Torah makes it virtually impossible to know how to observe them; the Torah presents many of them in a completely ambiguous fashion and omits many or all necessary details. One who seeks to observe them will find that he has to supply contextual information for himself. This is typically accomplished by creating interpretations usually based on extra-Biblical academic studies combined with one's own anecdotal information.

The Written and Oral Torah were designed to complement each other. The Written Torah will often refer to an idea or commandment in shorthand, and the Oral Torah will expound on it to explain its meaning. In short, whether one wishes to observe either the Mosaic or the Noachide laws, reliance on the Oral Law is critical. Technically speaking while there is no need for the Written Torah to refer to the Oral Torah, perhaps out of mercy for us God made actual references to it in the Written Law.

Interestingly enough, they were not revealed publicly all in one place and time as the Torah was, and pre-exist any written material; the verses that we read were not written until after the Exodus from Egypt. Instead, they were progressively revealed apparently within the context of events relating to them. The people in Genesis seem to have known them via communication with God and transmission of information, which indicates that they were "public knowledge."

For more information about Noachide resources, see the My Noachide Family YouTube channel, which is full of videos.

What Are The Seven Noachide Laws?

The Seven Noachide Laws are:
  1. Do not deny God: Genesis 2:16. See Noachide Law 1.
  2. Do not blaspheme God: Leviticus 24:15. See Noachide Law 2.
  3. Do not murder: Genesis 9:6. See Noachide Law 3.
  4. Do not engage in incestuous, adulterous or homosexual relationships: Genesis 2:24. See Noachide Law 4.
  5. Do not steal: Genesis 2:16, Genesis 21:25. See Noachide Law 5.
  6. Do not eat of a live animal: Genesis 9:4. See Noachide Law 6.
  7. Establish courts/legal system to ensure law obedience: Genesis 9:6. See Noachide Law 7.

1. Do Not Deny God


Genesis 2:16 says, "And the Lord God commanded man, saying, "Of every tree of the garden you may freely eat." This text focuses on the Name Elokim to derive this commandment. The singular tense Elokim is one of the Divine Names for the One God. According to, "But the same word is used in the non-holy plural sense to refer to physical or conceptual idolatries (other “gods”), as in the verse “You shall not have the gods of others in My presence.” (Exodus 20:3). Therefore, Genesis 2:16 implies that people are permitted to serve only Elokim, "...the One Who commands mankind..." but no idols.

2. Do Not Blaspheme God


According to Leviticus 24:15, "And to the children of Israel, you shall speak, saying: Any man who blasphemes his God shall bear his sin." The Hebrew for "any man" is written "ish ish," which literally means "a man, a man." The Oral Law explains that such textual anomalies indicate an embedded message, in this case the reference to any man, i.e., whether Jew or Gentile.

Further, Leviticus 24:10-16 indicates that violating this commandment is a capital offense. The root prohibition is found in Exodus 22:27.

3. Do Not Murder


The Torah says, "Whoever sheds the blood of man through man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God He made man." (Genesis 9:6)

The word "whoever" indicates both Jews and Gentiles.

This prohibition also seems pretty clear from Genesis 4:8-13 that Cain committed a sin by murdering Abel although God had not yet explicitly or implicitly stated that it was prohibited. God only pronounces the prohibition five chapters later after Noah and his family left the ark.

4. Do Not Engage in Sexual Immorality


The Torah says, Therefore, a man shall leave his father and his mother, and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh (Genesis 2:24).

The verse above covers five of the six sexual unions forbidden by God to Gentiles, as follows:
  1. Therefore, a man shall leave his father: the prohibition against union with his father’s wife. 
  2. ...and his mother the prohibition against union with his mother.
  3. ...and cleave to his wife: the prohibition against union with another man's wife.
  4. ...and they shall become one flesh: the prohibition against union with another man, or with an animal.
The sixth prohibited sexual union for a Gentile is to have relations with his maternal sister according to Genesis 20:12: And also, indeed, she is my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother, and she became my wife.

According to, "Note that Abraham said this to appease Abimelech. It was actually only figuratively true in his case, since Sarah was the daughter of Abraham’s brother. They had the same paternal grandfather, whom people often referred to as “father”.) It was also universally accepted that father-daughter relations would be prohibited, as evidenced by the disgrace of Lot after he had relations with his two daughters, following G-d’s destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 19:29-36, and Rashi’s explanation of Genesis 20:1). Relations between females are likewise an abomination to G-d. This is one of the subjects of the verse Leviticus 18:3, which speaks against the immoral practices of the ancient Egyptians and Canaanites, and which Leviticus 18:30 refers to as “abominable traditions.” About these the Midrash specifies: 'A man would marry a man, a woman would marry a woman, and a woman would be married to two men.'"

Genesis 34:7 may also be a reference to this. Rashi explains that verse as follows: and such ought not to be done-: to violate virgins, for the nations (the general population) had refrained from illicit relationships because of the Flood. — [from Gen. Rabbah 80:7]

5. Do Not Steal


According to, "The prohibition of theft is contained within the permission which God granted to Adam and Hava (Eve) in Genesis 2:16 to eat from the trees of the garden. This implies that if the permission had not been granted, they would have been forbidden to do so, since the property did not belong to them. This Noahide commandment is cited explicitly by Abraham in Genesis 21:25: And Abraham contended with Abimelech about the well of water that the servants of Abimelech had forcibly seized.

This and other related sins are also referenced in Rashi's commentary on Genesis 6:11was corrupt: Heb. וַתִּשָּׁחֵת is an expression of immorality and idolatry. (other editions add: immorality, “for all flesh had corrupted (הִשְׁחִית) its way,” and idolatry), as in (Deut. 4:16): “Lest you deal corruptly (תַּשְׁחִיתוּן).” - [Sanh. 56b, 57a]

...and the earth became full of robbery: Heb. חָמָס, robbery. (other editions add: as it is said (Jonah 3:8): “and of the dishonest gain (הֶחָמָס) which is in their hands.”) - [Sanh. 108a]

Rashi's commentary on Genesis 13:7 also mentions theft: And there was a quarrel: Since Lot’s herdsmen were wicked, and they pastured their animals in fields belonging to others, Abram’s herdsmen rebuked them for committing robbery, but they responded, “The land was given to Abram, who has no heir; so Lot will inherit him, and therefore this is not robbery.” But Scripture states: “And the Canaanites and the Perizzites were then dwelling in the land,” and Abram had not yet been awarded its possession. [from Gen. Rabbah 41:5]

6. Do Not Eat The Limb of a Living Animal


Before leaving the Ark, Noah and his family were permitted only to consume plant life and vegetation; once leaving, God permitted them to consume meat, and hence added the commandment in Genesis 9:4: But, flesh with its soul, its blood, you shall not eat.

7. Establish Courts of Justice


The Torah says, "Whoever sheds the blood of man through man shall his blood be shed, for in the image of God He made man." (Genesis 9:6) This commandment is the obligation to judge and penalize a murderer.

According to, "This is explained as follows by the Talmudic Sages: “Whoever sheds the blood of man” (referring to the murderer), 'among man' (i.e., he is to be prosecuted in a court by a man who is qualified to testify as a witness), “his blood shall be shed” (if convicted, he is liable to capital punishment by the court). The Noahide Code commanded through Moses at Mount Sinai specifies that Gentiles are similarly obligated to bring transgressors of the other Noahide commandments to justice in a court of law."

References to the Oral Law in Other Parts of the Tanakh
Interestingly enough, the Written Torah includes references to the oral details pertaining to the following:


Steven Morgan said...

Very informative! Thank you and hatzlacha rabba! Sholom (Steven) Morgan

HashemIsBeautiful said...

Thank you, Sholom, and you as well!

Hrvatski Noahid said...

You wrote the Noahide laws were not revealed publicly all in one place and time. It seems they were. It is explained in Tractate Sanhedrin 56b that all of the Noahide Commandments can be exegetically derived from Genesis 2:16, "And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, ...," which was stated to Adam in the Garden of Eden on the day of his creation.

HashemIsBeautiful said...

I see, thanks for pointing that out. I'll have to look at that "inside," as is said. If all seven Noachide laws are derived from Genesis 2:16, what is the function of the other derivative verses, such as Genesis 2:24 and 9:6?

I'm going to leave this error in the text of this blog so that people can cross reference your comment.

Hrvatski Noahid said...

Good question. I think Genesis 2:16 is the general source of the 7 commandments, while other verses are the sources of their specific details. As you mentioned, Genesis 2:24 covers five of the six sexual unions forbidden by God to Gentiles. Likewise, Genesis 9:4 teaches that the prohibition against eating flesh taken from a living animal applies only to domesticated mammals, wild mammals, and birds. These are all the animals for which there is a Torah-law distinction between their flesh and their blood.

HashemIsBeautiful said...

I see. I will definitely have to take a look at that inside and will post on it if I find the answer.