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Aubrey Portwood

Study: Jesus & the Noahide Laws

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I am writing this on Enethrie first, just to see how I feel about it. I usually put my religious writing on Trees & Bread. Also note that this is a ‘study,’ which means it is just collecting and making sense of information. In Theepignosi, the main approach to God is through Truth, and so the matters of religious truth are of concern for someone like me…

Is it ironic that I am learning more about what Jesus was doing by looking into Jewish law? I read that Jacob Emden said that Jesus was converting Gentiles (people outside of the Jewish nation). This made a lot of sense to me. Gentiles, according to Jewish law, have only to obey the Noahide laws. I am very familiar with the laws of Noah, I’ve crossed them before- and I am crossing them yet again. These laws were given to Noah and his descendants (essentially everyone in the world). Later, Moses would give similar laws with other laws amended to them. The original Noahide laws were:

  1. Prohibition of Idolatry: You shall not have any idols before God.
  2. Prohibition of Murder: You shall not murder. (Genesis 9:6)
  3. Prohibition of Theft: You shall not steal.
  4. Prohibition of Sexual immorality: You shall not commit any of a series of sexual prohibitions.
  5. Prohibition of Blasphemy: You shall not blaspheme God’s name.
  6. Dietary Law: Do not eat flesh taken from an animal while it is still alive. (Genesis 9:4, as interpreted in the Talmud (Sanhedrin 59a)
  7. Requirement to have just Laws

I have always been fascinated by the idea that Jews were supposed to respect and treat Gentiles equally who obeyed these laws. Even Gentiles who studied Torah were even to be considered like priests!

Mar the son of Rabana15 thereupon said: ‘It only means that even were they to keep the seven commandments [which had first been accepted but subsequently rejected by them] they would receive no reward.’ Would they not? But it has been taught:16 ‘R. Meir used to say, Whence can we learn that even where a Gentile occupies himself with the study of the Torah he equals [in status] the High Priest? We find it stated: … which if a man do he shall live in them;17 it does not say “priests, Levites and Israelites”, but “a man“, which shows that even if a Gentile occupies himself with the study of the Torah he equals [in status] the High Priest.’ — I mean [in saying that they would receive no reward] that they will receive reward not like those who having been enjoined perform commandments, but like those who not having been enjoined perform good deeds: for R. Hanina has stated:18 Greater is the reward of those who having been enjoined do good deeds than of those who not having been enjoined [but merely out of free will] do good deeds.19Babylonian Talmud

Again, it is fascinating to me that the original law of  man (Adam) was amended to when it was given to the Jews by Moses.  These laws were apparently given to Adam and Eve, the first humans. (Now, by first humans, that could be interpreted as first humans to obey these laws. I am currently do not stand behind the fact that these were the first two humans.) But non the less, the laws given to the Jews were later laws with amendments, oral law, and laws of ritual, punishment, etc.

Surely it has been taught: The Israelites were given ten precepts at Marah, seven of which had already been accepted by the children of Noah, to which were added at Marah social laws, the Sabbath, and honouring one’s parents; ‘Social laws,’ for it is written, There [sc. at Marah] he made for them a statute and an ordinance;18 ‘the Sabbath and honouring one’s parents’. for it is written, As the Lord thy God commanded thee!19Ibid.

I always thought that maybe the laws given to the Jews did not supersede the laws of Noah. It is written that, “Joshua read aloud all the words of the law, including the blessings and the curses, just as they are written in the law scroll.” Here the law scroll (the Torah) is referred to as words of “blessings and curses.” I have always wondered what those curses may be. Could they be the additional law given to them beyond the original law of Adam and Eve and of Noah? (Note that Adam and Eve, according to Rabbinic interpretation, did not have the law of establishing laws.)

I am a Gentile, in a Jewish sense, I stand on the grounds that I am a Gentile. And, therefore, I have to abide by the Noahide laws in order to be considered a friend to them. As I read more and more about these laws, and the concept of being a Gentile, I started to think more and more of Jesus and his ministry. Jesus preached many anti-Jewish things, as well as Jewish things too. But, was he teaching this to the Jews or to Gentiles? Or, was what he preached directed to both? Was Jesus’ purpose to convert Gentiles (then idolaters) to a single God and the Noahide laws in order to be considered in the world to come? Did he consider the Noahide law more powerful than the Jewish laws? Could Jesus accomplish more by getting Gentiles (which covered the rest of the world) to obey Noahide laws than to get Jews to obey Jewish laws?

And no one pours new wine into old wineskins. 142 If he does, the new wine will burst the skins and will be spilled, and the skins will be destroyed. 5:38 Instead new wine must be poured into new wineskins. 143 5:39 144 No 145 one after drinking old wine wants the new, for he says, ‘The old is good enough.’” 146 – Luke 5

Is Jesus referring to the old laws as the Noahide laws and the new to the Jewish laws? Is the old law good enough? If Jesus was a believing Jew, and wasn’t trying to abolish the Jewish law, then it would make sense to me that he was trying to uphold both. There seems to not be just one law in Torah, but many. One for the Jews who were taken out of Egypt, and another preceding that one given to Adam, Eve, Abraham, Issac, Ishmael, Rebbeccah, and all the people (essentially everyone, the whole world) who predated Moses’s revelation including Noah.

This is clearly a biblical approach. But, it is interesting information- and helps explain what people like Jesus and Moses might have been doing. In fact (and I just realized it….) Moses was commanded to come up with laws, for the 7th Noahide law is to come up with just laws. Maybe the extra laws (added to the Noahide laws) given to the Jews were the very commandment to come up with laws. Did God give Moses the Noahide laws, and then Moses came up with just laws for the Jewish people because God commanded it to him in the 7th law?

I look at what Jesus was doing (and his followers) and something along these lines makes more sense to me. If Jesus was a Jew, and most uphold that he was, this also makes more sense. But, again, this is just a biblical approach to studying the Jewish/Christian conflict or consolidation.