Noachian Precepts

Noachian Precepts (שבע מצות בני נח), a name for the seven precepts which the rabbins allege (Talmud, Sanhedrin, 59 a) God gave to the sons of Noah (q.v.). The Noachian Precepts set forth the natural rights of mankind, the observation of which alone was sufficient to save them. These precepts are:

1. De Judiciis. Obedience is due to judges, magistrates, and princes.

2. De cultu extraneo. — The worship of false gods, superstition, and sacrilege are unlawful.

3. De maledictione nominis sanctissimi. — As also cursing the name of God, blasphemy, and perjury.

4. De revelatione turpitudinum. — Likewise all incestuous copulation, as sodomy, bestiality, incest, etc.

5. De sanguinis effusione. — Also the effusion of the blood of all sorts of animals. Murder, wounds, and mutilation.

6. De rapina. — Likewise theft, fraud, and lying.

7. De membro animalis viventis. — The parts of animals still alive are not to be eaten, as was practiced by some pagans.

Some rabbins add to these the following precepts:

1. The prohibition of drawing out the blood of a living animal in order to drink it.

2. The prohibition of mutilating animals.

3. The prohibition of magic and sorcery.

4. The prohibition of coupling together animals of a different species, and of grafting trees.

This is what is found in authors concerning this matter; but what inclines us to doubt the antiquity of these precepts is that no mention is made of them in Scripture, or in Josephus or Philo, and that none of the ancient fathers knew any of them. The Hebrews would not suffer any stranger to dwell in their country unless he would conform to the Noachian precepts. The foreigners who accepted and submitted to these conditions were denominated the Proselytes of the Gate (גרי שער), in contradistinction to the Proselytes of Righteousness (צדק גרי), who entered into the community of Hebrew citizens by the solemn ceremonies of circumcision (מילה), baptism (טבילה), and a sacrifice (קרבן). Comp. Talmiud, Sanhedrin, 56 a; Rashi on Aboda Sara, 51 a; Maimonides, Iad Ha- Chezaka, Hilchoth Melachim, 9:1; Molaul, Israelite Indeed, p. 56; Buxtorf, Lexicon Talmudicum et Rabbinicum, s.v. גֵר; Prideaux, Connectioa of the O. and N.T. 2:263 (Wheeler's ed. Lond. 1863); Kalisch, Historical and Critical Commentary on Genesis, p. 218; the same, On Exodus, p. 433; Lange, Commentary on Genesis, p. 331 (T. Lewis's transl.); Theologisches Universal-Lexikon, s.v. Noachische Gebote; Schenkel, Bibel-Lexikon, s.v. Noah, 4:341; Hamburger, Real- Encyklopadie fur Bibel u. Talmud, 1:797 sq. (Breslau, 1870).

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