Friday, October 5, 2012

Comparing the Seven Noahide Laws of Judaism with the Judeo/Christian Ten Commandments

Our Rabbis taught: 'Seven precepts were the sons of Noah commanded: social laws (to Establish Courts of justice), to refrain from Blasphemy, Idolatry; Adultery, bloodshed (Murder), robbery (Theft), and eating flesh cut from a living animal (Animal Cruelty).'

- Babylonian Talmud, Sanhedrin 56a


In most quarters of Christianity, the Seven Laws of Noah as described by the Talmud and other Jewish religious texts have not been seen as much of a problem when it comes to their own faith. This is not, as some overly suspicious critics might claim, because they haven't been studied closely enough by Christian scholars, for they indeed have been, more than once. In fact, they have been examined, on and off again, by the religious authorities of Christianity for many centuries now and they have all come to the same general conclusion. That conclusion is that Judaism's Seven Noahide Laws are basically compatible with the main tenets of Christianity, most especially the Old Testament's 10 Commandments which has been an essential aspect of Christian faith since the earliest days of the Church. The specific reasons why the 7 Laws of Noah may be seen as compatible with the Judeo/Christian 10 Ten Commandments have been briefly outlined below in the following manner:

+ Although the exact ordering of the Seven Laws of Noah differs somewhat depending upon the source, one of the more popular modern lists reads as follows: Do not commit Idolatry (1), Blasphemy (2), Sexual Perversion (3), Murder (4), Theft (5), or Animal Cruelty (6), and to Establish Courts to enforce these laws (7).
+ Judaism believes all of mankind, which includes all Gentiles (non-Jews), are required to obey the 7 Laws of Noah, while nearly every major form of Christianity believes Christians are bound by the 10 Commandments given to Moses by the LORD atop Mt. Sinai.
+ In recent decades, some Christians (nearly all of them American Protestant) have become much more inclined to include the 7 Laws of Noah in their form of Christianity and have even began to promote both the study of, and obedience towards, them among fellow Christians.
+ One of the major reasons why Christianity holds the 10 Commandments in such high esteem is that they were mentioned in particular by Jesus Christ in the Gospels. They include the following:

The Judeo/Christian Ten Commandments

I. YHVH is the LORD your God. You will have no other gods but Him.  
II. You will not use the name of the LORD in vain.  
III. You will honor the Sabbath day.  
IV. You will honor your father and your mother.  
V. You will not kill.  
VI. You will not commit adultery.
VII. You will not steal.  
VIII. You will not lie.  
IX. You will not envy another man's wife
X. You will not envy another man's property.


+ At a minimum, the 10 Commandments does, in fact, include at least 5 out of the 7 Laws of Noah. At least 2 of them happen to be nearly the exact same and even use the same wording.
+ The other 3 Commandments are specific aspects of the more generalized Noahide Laws which, by definition, must include the narrowly defined Commandments with which they are equated.
+ These 5 'equalities' between the 10 Commandments and the 7 Noahide Laws can be seen in the following manner in the table below:

5 Equalities between 7 Laws and 10 Commandments
1st Noahide Law (No Idolatry) = 1st Commandment (One God)
2nd Noahide Law (No Blasphemy) = 2nd Commandment (LORD's Name in vain)
3rd Noahide Law (No Sexual Perversion) = 6th Commandment (No Adultery)
4th Noahide Law (No Murder) = 5th Commandment (No Murder)
5th Noahide Law (No Theft) = 7th Commandment (No Theft)

+ This shows that the 3rd, 4th, 8th, 9th and 10th Commandments (honoring the Sabbath and one's parents, lying- bearing false witness, envy of another's spouse, and envy of another's property) have not been included in the 7 Laws of Noah in the 'literal' sense. However, a careful, patient examination of the Noahide laws indicates there is good reason to believe they can and should be included indirectly through inference.
+ Disobedience to the 3rd Commandment impelling Christians to honor the Sabbath day could rightfully be seen as either outright Blasphemy and/or Idolatry and thus a violation of either the 1st or 2nd Law of Noah or both simultaneously.
+ The breaking of the 4th Commandment to honor one's father and mother could be considered a lesser form of Blasphemy and thus a violation of the 2nd Law of Noah.
+ The breaking of the 8th Commandment to not bear false witness against your neighbor (lying) could also be seen as a form of Blasphemy and therefore another type of violation of the 2nd Law of Noah.
+ The breaking of the 9th Commandment to not envy another man's wife could be construed as a minor form of sexual perversion which is prohibited by the 3rd Law of Noah.
- The breaking of the 10th Commandment to not envy another's property could be seen as a subtle form of idolatry and therefore prohibited by the 1st Law of Noah.
+ Thus, a more thorough and comprehensive examination of the actual meaning underlying the 7 Laws of Noah indicates that all 10 Commandments are either explicitly or implicitly included in the more generalized 7 Noahide Laws. This can be seen in a simplified format by the comparison chart seen below:

Commandment = Noahide Law indirectly including Commandment
III. You will honor the Sabbath day. = 1) You will not commit Idolatry, 2) You will not commit Blasphemy.  
IV. You will honor your father and your mother. 2) You will not commit Blasphemy.
VIII. You will not lie. = 2) You will not commit Blasphemy.
IX. You will not envy another man's wife. = 3) You will not commit Sexual Perversion.
X. You wull not envy another man's property. = 1) You will not commit Idolatry.

+ This leaves the 6th and 7th Laws of Noah (prohibiting animal cruelty and for establishing courts of justice) which do not appear to be included in the 10 Commandments.
+ In terms of the 6th Law of Noah (You will not commit Animal Cruelty), this is dealt with directly in the Book of Acts when the Council of Jerusalem issued a ruling mentioning Animal Cruelty in the following manner: 'It is my judgment, therefore, that we should not make it difficult for the Gentiles who are turning to God. Instead we should write to them, telling them to abstain from food polluted by idols, from sexual immorality, FROM THE MEAT OF STRANGLED ANIMALS and from blood.' (Book of Acts 15:19-20)
+ Finally, when it comes to the 7th Law of Noah (You will establish Courts to enforce these Laws), it could be said that Jesus was already under the assumption that courts would, in fact, be established for this very purpose for He uses the word 'court' specifically in Matthew 5:21- 'Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the COURT,' as well as Matthew 5:22 and 5:25.

In conclusion, there appears to be more than enough basic proof, both Scriptural and otherwise, that there is indeed a general compatibility between Judaism's 7 Laws of Noah and the Judeo/Christian 10 Commandments. At least 5 out of 10 Commandments are quite literally included in the 7 Noahide Laws, while disobedience to the other 5 Commandments may quite easily be seen as differing forms of Idolatry, Blasphemy, or Sexual Perversion and therefore also prohibited by the 7 Laws of Noah. At the same time, the 6th and 7th Laws of Noah not directly included in the 10 Commandments are at least mentioned in certain passages of the New Testament, thus making them an assumed portion of Christianity's overall ethical and moral laws, rules, and traditions. In the end, Christians should have little to fear when it comes to obeying Judaism's 7 Laws of Noah, unless of course they also fear obedience to the laws of Christianity itself, of which there seems to be little to no difference when examined carefully enough. Does this mean Christians should now look to the 7 Laws of Noah instead of the 10 Commandments? Of course not, mainly because Jesus Christ mentions the 10 Commandments specifically in the Gospels, but also because obedience to the 10 Commandments mentioned in both the Old and New Testament may indeed be considered obedience to the 7 Noahide Laws as well.

In Judaism, the Seven Laws of Noah (Hebrew: שבע מצוות בני נח‎ Sheva mitzvot B'nei Noach) form the major part of the Noachide Laws, or Noahide Code. This code is a set of moral imperatives that, according to the Talmud, were given by God as a binding set of laws for the "children of Noah" - that is, all of humankind. According to religious Judaism, any non-Jew who adheres to these laws is regarded as a righteous gentile, and is assured of a place in the World to Come (Olam Haba), the final reward of the righteous. Adherents are often called "B'nei Noach" (Children of Noah) or "Noahides" and may often network in Jewish synagogues.

- Noahide Laws, Wikipedia

May the LORD God bless you in the name of St. Judas Maccabaeus.

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