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What are Noahide Laws? Does anybody out there know?

// Author: Melinda Cerisano // 0 Comments

When Noah docked after the flood he was given rules to live by from God.  This covenant included the animals. God included the animals every mention of the details of this covenant (Genesis 9 ;1-7 and 9:8-17). The covenant given to Noah is also significant because it is a critical component of what became known as the Noahide Laws. The first six laws were mentioned earlier in Genesis, but in chapter 9, the law of capital punishment and the law against tearing the limb of an animal and refraining from the eating of its blood were added. The Noahide Laws were critically important at this time. They precede the Ten Commandments.

The story of Noah, as narrated by Moses, is a preliminary story in the history of mankind. Therefore, at this point in the biblical story, all human beings are under the laws of Noah. The Encyclopedia Britannica defines the Noahide Laws as “a Jewish Talmudic designation for seven biblical laws given to Adam and to Noah before the revelation to Moses on Mount Sinai and consequently binding on all mankind.”

David Novak, in his book Jewish-Christian Dialogue, describes the Noahide Laws:

The first explicit presentation of the Noahide Laws is in the Tosefta, a work commonly believed to have been edited in the late second century of the Common Era.

There we read: “Seven commandments were the sons of Noah commanded:

(1) concerning adjudication,

(2) and concerning idolatry,

(3) and concerning blasphemy,

(4) and concerning sexual immorality,

(5) and concerning bloodshed,

(6) and concerning robbery,

(7) and concerning a limb torn from a living animal.”

The Tosefta is a compilation of the Oral Law of Judaism. Over time, the seven laws have appeared with minor variations in wording through many sources. The Noahide Laws have maintained a prominent place through the passing centuries, especially in the Jewish tradition, where they are held in the highest regard. The seventh law, tearing a limb before killing it, or eating of an animal’s blood, known as “strangulation,” extends to the restriction of cruelty to animals. The foundation verse for the prohibition of cruelty and consuming an animal’s blood is Genesis 9:4. Many Jewish documents, such as the Encyclopedia Judaica, go into great depth about cruelty to animals and the punishment that will ensue. Many Jews are vegetarian because of a mandate in the Torah to not cause any suffering to an animal: tsa’ar ba’alei chayim. The verse in Deuteronomy 25:4 that states that an ox may not be muzzled while he is plowing is an example and the foundation verse for this doctrine. To this day, due to these same laws, Jews are not permitted to hunt or consume an animal’s blood. It is against their religion, said simply.

Why is this significant to the argument of whether animals go to heaven or not? I am pointing out that animals were important to God in that day. They were not made for us to do as we like!  Watch in the next weeks blog what happens to a Roman Centurion who is following these laws…It will unveil an different take on the story in the book of Acts about the first non-jew (Gentile) to receive the holy spirit… and it will put an end to the assumption that we can do with the animals as we like…to be continued.

Bottom line, as complicated as this seems, after all, it took a whole book to explain it…if God included animals in all of his complicated covenants with mankind, why would he then “vote them off the island” in eternity.  To think that he would is in my opinion, a human centered view. Would the clay tell the potter what to do?

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