"O L-RD, Who are my power and my strength and my refuge in the day of trouble, to You nations will come from the ends of the earth and say, 'Only lies have our fathers handed down to us, emptiness in which there is nothing of any avail! Can a man make gods for himself, and they are no gods? 'Therefore, behold I let them know; at this time I will let them know My power and My might, and they shall know that My Name is the L-RD".
Jeremiah 16:19-21

Noahide The First Covenant – Torah of Eden

May 13, 2011

in Christianity:,Idolatry,Judaism vs. Christianity,Noahide - The Ancient Path

Alan W. Cecil

There is a question in the world about the value of being a Gentile. Does Gd care about the non-Jewish world? Many people have felt that their status makes them worth only of “the crumbs from the table.” This misunderstanding has caused many to try to find an identity, a label, to give them a feeling of purpose. What is the role of the nations of Man?

The first covenant was not at Sinai, nor with Abraham, nor with Noah….the first covenant was in the Garden of Eden between Gd and the first Man—Adam. As with other covenants, this one had conditions. Gd gave Adam dominion of the earth and placed him in the Garden. In the Garden he was given all the trees for food, except the tree in the midst of the Garden.

Seven flaws came into Creation when Chava (Eve) and Adam ate from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, according to the teachings of the Ari z’l (Rabbi Yitzchak Luria). Fixing these flaws necessitated the Seven Universal Laws:

1. Do not worship idols. (Genesis 3:5)

2. Do not commit blasphemy. (Genesis 3:1)

3. Do not steal. (Genesis 3:6)

4. Do not murder. (Genesis 4:8)

5. Do not commit sexual immorality. (Genesis 6:1-4)

6. Establish courts of justice. (Genesis 6:5-7)

7. Do not eat the flesh of a living animal. (Genesis 9:3-4)

How do we understand this? First, let us look at how the flaw came into Creation.

Now the serpent was more cunning than any animal of the field that Gd had made, and it said to the woman: “Even if Gd had said so, are you really not to eat from all the trees of the garden?”

And the woman said to the serpent: “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but regarding the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden Gd said: ‘You shall not eat from it and not touch it, lest you will die.’”

Thereupon the serpent said to the woman: “You will not die so soon. Gd knows quite well that on the day you will eat from it your eyes will be opened and you will be like Gd, knowing what is good and what is evil.”

When the woman saw that the tree was good for food and tempting to the sight and that the tree was a delight to contemplate, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some of it to her husband, and he ate.

Genesis 3:1-6

According to Midrash, the serpent coveted the wife of Adam, which was a forbidden relationship—adultery. Thus, although very subtly suggested, the flaw of forbidden sexual relationship came into the world, whose repair required the law against various forms of forbidden sexual relationships.

The serpent spoke against Gd, saying He did not want Adam and Chava to eat the fruit because of jealousy for His position, that if they shared His knowledge of good and evil, they would be like Him. This evil speech, to which Chava listened, brought the blasphemy into the world.

Connected to blasphemy is idolatry. Chava’s desire to be like Gd is a basic attitude that leads to idolatry. She contemplated the words of the serpent and doubted the words of Gd. She accepted a hope of being able to ascend to the level of Gd. Her view of herself brought idolatry into the world.

Chava had been told that all the trees were theirs to eat, except the tree in the midst of the Garden. Here two things occurred. First, was obviously theft; the second, a bit less obvious, was eating something forbidden. Two laws are connected to the act itself: theft and eating the limb of a living animal.

Once she and Adam disobeyed Gd’s one commandment to them and ate of the tree, death, indeed, did come into the world, suddenly making violent taking of life possible. Later, they would experience this sorrow firsthand. The possibility of murder came into the world.

Chava’s desire to know good and evil was granted….Adam’s eyes opened. With this responsibility came the command to establish courts of justice. Adam was the world’s first human judge. He had been given discernment of one thing from another, in order to name the animals. Following the expulsion from the Garden, he had to use this understanding, along with his new knowledge of good and evil, to judge the actions of Mankind. For instance, after Lamech, accidentally killed his forefather, Cain, his wives left him (Genesis 4:19-24). Midrash says they went to Adam to decide their case, for he was the judge of their generations.

Adam and his children were given dominion of the earth. This means a special role in the physical realm, one possible only for Mankind, created in the image of Gd. Man is responsible for the flaws in Creation, but also responsible for the repair—known in Hebrew as “tikkun olam” (repair of the world). The tools for this tikkun are the Seven Universal Laws. Through them Mankind are able to become partners with Gd in bringing the world back to the perfection He intended. This is our responsibility, our challenge, as well as, our gift.

Law was written in the days of Creation, as Gd established the Seven Universal Laws in the world. The Ari z”l tells us that they are the foundation of the Torah. With the sin of eating from the forbidden tree, the laws came to fix the flaws in Creation, which can be seen in a negative sense. However, Law was written into nature in the days of Creation itself, which is the positive side. Adam named the animals. Gd created life. Each creature had its role, its space, all that it needed. Each creature was to procreate with its own. Creation was in harmony, praising the Creator.

The Universal Laws are the foundation of Torah, given as spiritual portals. The Torah from Sinai is the detailing out of these topic headings. We can see how the various laws of the Torah fit into these categories.

We have many laws that define idolatry. Also under this category are the positive commandments of the priestly rituals, as well as personal responsibilities of worship. Honoring Gd through Shabbat and festival days are connected to this topic. All these laws come through the portal of the law against idolatry.

The Commandment against taking the Name of Gd in vain encompasses speech and action—such as saying a prayer one does not mean or breaking a vow or oath. Speaking against Gd in some way, as in idolatrous ideas, falls into this category, as well. All these laws come through the portal of the law against blasphemy.

Theft is a capital crime in the Ten Commandments, while not so in other places in Torah. The difference is the former refers to the theft of human beings—kidnapping. Theft of property is punished through reparation, meticulously explained through many chapters. All these laws come through the portal of the law against theft.

Murder is a capital offense. Yet the Torah does not condemn one guilty of manslaughter, but rather provides cities of refuge. All these definitive laws come through the portal of the law against shedding the blood of man.

Sexual immorality is defined by precisely detailing forbidden relationships. These acts are called “dehumanizing” and “abominable.” We are told that the Canaanite nations were “spewed out of the Land” for committing them (Leviticus 20:8-24). While the punishment for these acts may not be immediate outside the Land of Israel, the nations were still culpable. We can know from this that ALL people are forbidden to behave in that manner, and all such laws of the Torah come through the portal of the law against sexual immorality.

Eating the limb of a living animal is the category of kashrut—laws on forbidden and permitted foods. Through this portal Gd brought the people of Israel into a narrower definition. After the Flood, the people of the nations were given all animals as food, but were warned not to eat blood—or the limb of a living animal (Genesis 9:3-4). All people, therefore, are bound to a type of kashrut. The list of animals permitted and forbidden for Israel was an extension of this Universal Law.

From the time of Adam, Gd wanted Man to embrace justice. The Torah is the wisdom of the Heavenly Courts for human judges, without which each man would be doing what was “good in his own eyes.” This has led to chaos in the world. All the laws concerning justice come through the portal of the law to set courts of justice in the world.

The heritage of Law dates from the common beginning of all Mankind. While many of the details are not related directly in the Written Torah we can understand that there had to be Law in the world. At the time of the Flood, we read in Genesis 6 that violence—lawlessness—filled the earth, and Gd regretted having created Mankind. If Gd is just—which we know He is—He could not have condemned all humanity for “lawlessness” if there had been no “law.” Just from this, we can know there had to have been law in the world. The Sages tell us that this Law came from the very beginning, with Adam. He passed it on to his children and grandchildren. He was the first judge and the first priest, teaching the subsequent generations to revere Gd and obey His Universal Law. This priesthood was passed down to his son Seth, then to Methuselah, then to Noah, then to Shem (who was known as Melchizedek), then to Abraham, then to Isaac, then to Jacob. The Laws for all Mankind were the foundation for the Torah of Israel.

Bnai Noah (Children of Noah) is the Hebrew term for this universal observance, because the seventy root nations of Mankind descended from Noah’s sons. Noah brought down the dedication of worship he had learned from his fathers and passed it to his sons. His was the first olah offering—complete burnt sacrifice—described in the Torah. This shows his surrender to Gd’s will in his life that is the legacy of all people. As we look back, we can realize that the universal beginning did not end with the giving of the Torah, that all Mankind can claim that heritage of Adam and Noah that defined the “order of Melchizedek.” Thus, the Sage of the Jewish People say a Ben Noah who cleaves to the Seven Universal Laws of Noah is on the level of the high priest of Israel.


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