*Disclaimer: In the next weeks, I begin a series covering concepts in Judaism. It is not exhaustive, but it is meant to go over in a general way what are Jewish beliefs and where they are found in the Hebrew bible (What Christians call the “Old Testament”).
These articles are for education purposes only. If you have further questions, you should ask your religious leader, or you can email me, for further information. (End of Disclaimer)*
This week we are going into what a Noahides are, and why ultimately Judaism is not a proselytizing/evangelical religion.
First, who is a Noahide?
If you are reading this article and are not Jewish, you are probably a Noahide.
Noahide is an anglicized term for the Hebrew phrase “Bnei Noach” or Children of Noah.
As we know from the story of Noah and the Ark, there were 3 sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Those three sons brought forth all of humanity.
We all are from one of the Sons of Noah.
So, in Judaism, there are 7 laws that were given to all the Children of Noah, so that they would be in alignment with G-D.
Those 7 laws are as follows:
1. No Idolatry 5. Avoid sexual immorality (Rape, Assault)
2. Avoid cursing the Name of G-D 6. Do not steal
3. Establish justice (court system) 7. Do not be cruel to an animal or eat blood
4. Do not murder
All the seven laws are found in Genesis 9:1-15 as part of the covenant of Noah.
These laws have been with humanity since the Flood. The only additions were given to Israel at Mount Sinai, when we were presented with all the 613 commandments found in the books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy).
The earliest written form of these laws, other than the citing in the Torah, is the Dead Sea Scrolls (Cave #4QMMT). Those manuscripts found in the Dead Sea (Qumran caves), were almost 250 years before the birth of Christianity as a religion.
In fact, in the Christian Scriptures the Noahide laws were laid out to the early non-Jewish followers of Christianity as a standard to those new to that religion (Acts 15:1-31).
The Noahide Laws are the minimum for any person, who is not Jewish, to live in harmony with the Creator of the Universe.
This brings us to why Jewish people don’t come knocking at your door on a Sunday, asking you to listen to them about their ‘Teacher Moses’. Jews and Judaism understand that once you as a non-Jewish person observe those seven basic commandments, you are ‘right with G-D’.
We discourage non-Jews from converting to Judaism since this would be a greater burden on folks. You would have to keep kosher, get circumcised (if you’re a male), keep the Sabbath, and the other 607 additional commandments Jews have to perform.
As long as you observe these Commandments given to Noah, you are blessed and you will live in Peace with the Almighty.
Now, you may ask: Can I keep kosher as a non-Jewish person?
You can but you’re not required to do so.
How about keeping the Sabbath?
You can but you’re not required to do so.
How about observing the Jewish holidays?
For the most part, you are allowed to do so, again you’re not required.
Can a Non-Jewish person be a part of a Jewish community?
You can, and you’re welcome to belong to a community as a ‘Ger Tsav’ or Righteous Non-Jewish person.
During the Second Temple period, so many Roman and other non-Judean people were coming to the Temple that a special section was built to accommodate this group.
It is seen by Judaism as a fulfillment of Zechariah 8:23 and 14:16-21
Zechariah 8:23 is quite to the point:
“Thus saith the LORD of hosts: In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold, out of all the languages of the nations, shall even take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying: We will go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.’ “(JPS 1917)
The hope back in the First Century CE/AD, as it is today, is that Jewish people will be a guide and teacher to the Nations.
The “Ten Men” in that verse refers to a congregation, the number 10 means a hand (of G-D), ‘Yod’ in Hebrew. Yod (pronounced: yoad) means both the number 10 and Arm or hand in Hebrew.
It is the Living G-D that moves people, not people alone.
This is why we do not go door to door trying to ‘convert’ people.
There is no need to convert anyone.
We all know what is the right thing to do, it is up to us (all people of the world) to do it.
Judaism’s purpose is to teach, and perform acts of Justice, and, promote education.
G-D does the rest.
Next week: What is Chanukah?
Dir. Rel. Ed and History