Must the Goyim be circumcised according to the custom of the Torah to be saved?
Shim'on said: Men, our brothers, you know that from the first days from my
mouth, Eloah chose that the Goyim should hear the Word of the Good News and
Trust. And Eloah, who knows what is in hearts, gave testimony concerning them,
and gave to them the Ruach HaKodesh as [he did] to us. And he made no
distinction between them and us, because he purified their hearts by trust. And
now, why do you
tempt Eloah so that you place a yoke upon the necks of the talmidim, which
neither our fathers, nor we, were able to bear? But by the favor of our Adon
Yeshua the Messiah, we believe to have Life, like them.
Paul and Bar Nabba, recounted everything that Eloah had done by their hands:
signs, and mighty deeds, among the Goyim.
Ya'akov said, Men, our brothers: hear me. Shim'on recounted to you how Eloah
began to choose, from the Goyim, a people for His Name. And to this the words of
the prophets agree, like that which is written: After these things I will return
and set up the tabernacle of David which has fallen, and I will rebuild that
which has fallen of it and I will raise it up, So that the remnant of men might
seek YHWH, and, all the Goyim, on whom My Name is called, says YHWH who made all
these things. The works of Eloah are known from old. (Amos 9:11-12)
Because of this I say, They should not trouble those, who from the Goyim, have
turned toward Eloah. But let it be sent to them, that they should separate
[themselves] from the uncleanness of that which is sacrificed [to idols], and
from sexual immorality, and from that which is strangled, from blood. And that
what is undesirable to yourself, you do not do to others.> For Moshe, from the
first generations, had proclaimers in every city; in the synagogues, who read
him on every Sabbath.
And they wrote a letter by their hands [saying] thus:
The emissaries, and elders, and brothers, to those who are in Antioch, and in
Syria, and in Cilicia; brothers who are from the Goyim: shalom.
It has been heard by us, that men from us, have gone out: and, disturbed you
with words and have upset your nefeshot, while saying that you must be
and observe the Torah, which we did not command them.
Because of this, all of us while gathered together purposed, and chose men and
sent to you with our beloved Paul and Bar Nabba,
Men who have committed themselves, on behalf of the Name of our Adon Yeshua the
Messiah. And we have sent with them Y'hudah, and Sila, who will tell you these
[things] by speech.
It is the will of the Ruach HaKodesh and also of us that a greater
burden should not be placed on you, outside of those things that are
necessary. That you should abstain from:
1. That which is sacrificed to idols,
2. And from blood
3. And from that which is strangled
4. And from sexual immorality.
<5. And that what is undesirable to yourself, you do not do to others.>
That as you keep yourself from these, you will do well.
Be steadfast in our Adon.
(Acts 15:1-29) <> portion found only in the Western text type.
How are we to understand "Goyim" here?
Here the reference is to the Ger Toshav, a repentant Gentile.
And who is a Ger Toshav?
Rabbi Meir says:
"Any [Gentile] who takes upon himself in the presence of three haberim not to
worship idols." (b.Avodah Zarah 64b)
The Pharisaic Sages declare:
"Any [Gentile] who takes upon himself the seven precepts which the sons of Noah
undertook; and still others maintain: These do not come within the category of a
Ger Toshav; but who is a Ger Toshav? A proselyte who eats of animals not
ritually slaughtered, i.e., he took upon himself to observe all the precepts
mentioned in the Torah apart from the prohibition of [eating the flesh of]
animals not ritually slaughtered. We may leave such a man alone with wine, but
we may not deposit wine in his charge even in a city where the majority of
residents are Israelites. We may, however, leave him alone with wine even in a
city where the majority of residents are heathens; and his oil is like his
wine.' How can it enter your mind to say that his oil is like his wine; can oil
become nesek! [The wording must be amended to] his wine is like his oil, but in
every other respect he is like a heathen." (b.Avodah Zarah 64b)
Rabban Simeon says:
"His wine is yen nesek. Another version [of Rabban Simeon's statement] is: `It
is allowed to be drunk [by Israelites].' At all events it teaches that `in every
other respect he is like a heathen.' For what practical purpose [is this
mentioned]? Is it not that he can annul an idol in the same manner as an
idolater?" (b.Avodah Zarah 64b)
R. Nahman b. Isaac said:
"No; it is in connection with his power to transfer or renounce ownership; as it
has been taught: An apostate Israelite who publicly observes the Sabbath may
renounce his ownership, but if he does not observe the Sabbath publicly he may
not renounce his ownership because [the Rabbis] said: An Israelite may transfer
or renounce his ownership, whereas with a heathen this can only be done by
renting [his property]. In what way? — [One Israelite] can say to [another
Israelite], `My ownership is acquired by you; my ownership is renounced in your
favour,' and the latter has thereby acquired [the property] without the
necessity of a formal assignment. (b.Avodah Zarah 64b)
The International Nazarene Beit Din Says:
"Any from the Goyim who takes upon himself the seven precepts of Noach."
What is signified by the phrase "a greater burden should not be placed
upon you"? Why not simply "no other burden should be placed upon you"?
It is because the pronouncement (of Acts 15) only outlined the greatest limits
the obligations of a Gentile, but it was not intended as an exhaustive
list. Else why not include that they must abstain from murder? Was
this ruling permitting Gentiles to murder? May it never be. Instead
we are to understand this ruling as an abbreviation of the obligations
Gentiles have under the Noachide Covenant as Sons of Noah.
The Pharisaic Rabbis taught:
"Seven precepts were the sons of Noah commanded:
justice; to bless the name, idolatry; adultery; bloodshed; robbery; and eating
flesh cut from a living animal." (b.Sanhedrin 56b)
R. Hanania b. Gamaliel said:
"Also not to partake of the blood drawn from a living animal.
R. Hidka added emasculation.
R. Simeon added sorcery.
R. Jose said:
"The heathens were prohibited everything that is mentioned in the section on
sorcery. viz., There shall not be found among you any one, that maketh his son
or daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer
of times, or an
enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a
wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto
the Lord: and because of these abominations the Lord thy God doth drive them
[sc. the heathens in Canaan] out from before thee. Now, [the Almighty] does not
punish without first prohibiting.
R. Eleazar added the forbidden mixture [in plants and animals]: now, they are
permitted to wear garments of mixed fabrics [of wool and linen] and sow diverse
seeds together; they are forbidden only to hybridize heterogeneous animals and
graft trees of different
kinds." (b.Sanhedrin 56b)
The International Nazarene Beit Din Says:
These are the Seven Precepts of Noah:
1. Justice – That which is hateful to yourself, do not do to others.
2. Blessing the Name
3. Against Idolatry – This law is clarified so as to even exclude
partaking of that which is sacrificed [to idols].
4. Against Sexual Immorality
5. Against Shedding Blood (murder)
6. Against Theft
7. Against Eating the Limb of a Living Animal and eating Blood
Whence do we know the seven precepts of Noah? —
R. Johanan answered: The Scripture says: `And the Adonai YHWH commanded the man
saying, of every tree of the garden thou may freely eat.' (Gen. 2:16)
And [He] commanded, refers to [the observance of] justice, and thus it is
written, `For I know him, that he will command his children and his household
after him, and they shall keep the way of the Lord, to do justice and
Adonai-is [a prohibition against] blasphemy, and thus it is written, and he that
blasphemeth the name of YHWH, he shall surely be put to death.(Lev. 24:16)
YHWH-is [an injunction against] idolatry, and thus it is written, Thou shall
have no other gods before Me. (Ex. 20:3) The man-refers to bloodshed [murder],
and thus it is written, Whoso sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed.
(Gen. 9:6) `Saying'-refers to adultery, and thus it is written, They say, If a
man put away his wife, and she go from him, and became another man's.(Jer. 3:1)
Of every tree of the garden-but not of robbery. You maye freely eat-but not
flesh cut from a living animal.
When R. Isaac came, he taught a reversed interpretation. And He commanded-refers
to idolatry; ELOHIM to social law. Now `ELOHIM' may rightly refer to social
laws, as it is written, And the master of the house shall be brought unto elohim
[i.e., the judges]. (Ex. 22:7) But how can `and He commanded' connote a
prohibition of idolatry? —
R. Hisda and R. Isaac b. Abdimi-one cited the verse, They have turned aside
quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten
calf, etc.(Ex. 32:8) And the other cited, Ephraim is oppressed and broken in
judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment.(Hosea 5:11) Wherein
do they differ? — In respect of a heathen who made an idol but did not worship
it: On the view [that the prohibition of idolatry is derived from] they have
made them a molten calf, guilt is incurred as soon as the idol is made [even
before it is worshipped]; but according to the opinion that it is from, because
he willingly walked after the commandment, there is no liability until the
heathen actually follows and worships it.
Raba objected: Does any scholar maintain that a heathen is liable to punishment
for making an idol even if he did not worship it? Surely it has been taught:
With respect to idolatry, such acts for which a Jewish Court decrees sentence of
death [on Jewish delinquents] are forbidden to the heathen; but those for which
a Jewish Court inflicts no capital penalty on Jewish delinquents are not
forbidden to him. Now what does this exclude? Presumably the case of a heathen
who made an idol without worshipping it? R. Papa answered: No. It excludes the
embracing and kissing of idols. Of which idols do you say this? Is it of those
whose normal worship is in this manner; but in that case he is surely liable to
death? — Hence it excludes the embracing and kissing of idols which are not
usually worshipped thus.
`Justice.' Were then the children of Noah bidden to observe these? 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
Justice ,the Sabbath, and honoring one's parents; `Justice,' for it is written,
There [sc. at Marah] he made for them a statute and a MISHPAT (judgment) (Ex.
15:25); `the Sabbath and honoring one's parents'. for it is written, As the YHWH
your Elohim commanded you! (Deut. 5:16) —
R. Nahman replied in the name of Rabbah b. Abbuha: The addition at Marah was
only in respect of an assembly, witnesses, and formal admonition. If so, why
say `to which were added Justice'? —
But Raba replied thus: The addition was only in respect of the laws of fines.
(Deut. 22:19,29) But even so, should it not have been said, `additions were made
in Justice'? —
But R. Aha b. Jacob answered thus: The Baraita informs us that they were
commanded to set up law courts in every district and town. But were not the sons
of Noah likewise commanded to do this? Surely it has been taught: Just as the
Israelites were ordered to set up law courts in every district and town, so were
the sons of Noah likewise enjoined to set up law courts in every district and
But Raba answered thus: The author of this Baraita [which states that Justice
were added at Marah] is a Tanna of the School of Manasseh, who omitted Justice
and blasphemy [from the list of Noachian precepts] and substituted emasculation
and the forbidden mixture [in plants, ploughing. etc.]. For a Tanna of the
School of Manasseh taught: The sons of Noah were given seven precepts. viz.,
[prohibition of] idolatry, adultery, murder, robbery, flesh cut from a living
animal, emasculation and forbidden mixtures.
R. Judah said: Adam was prohibited idolatry only, for it is written, And the
Adonai YHWH commanded Adam.
R. Judah b. Batyra maintained: He was forbidden blasphemy too. Some add Justice.
With whom does the following statement of Rab Judah in the name of Rab agree:
viz., [Elohim said to Adam,] I am Elohim, do not curse Me; l am Elohim, do not
exchange Me for another; I am Elohim, let My fear be upon you? — This agrees
with the last mentioned [who adds Justice to the list].
Now, what is the standpoint of the Tanna of the School of Manasseh? If he
interprets the verse, And Adonai YHWH commanded etc. [as interpreted above], he
should include these two [Justice and blasphemy] also, and if he does not,
whence does he derive the prohibition of the rest? — In truth, he does not
accept the interpretation of the verse, `And the Adonai YHWH commanded etc., but
maintains that each of these [which he includes] is separately stated: Idolatry
and adultery for it is written, The earth also was corrupt before Elohim (Gen.
6:2); and a Tanna of the School of R. Ishmael taught: Wherever corruption is
mentioned, it must refer to immorality and idolatry.
`Immorality.' as it is written, for all flesh had corrupted his way upon the
earth. (Prov. 30:19) `Idolatry,' for it is written, Lest ye corrupt yourselves
and make you a graven image, etc. (Deut. 4:16) And the other teacher [who
deduces this from the verse, and Adonai YHWH commanded etc.]? He maintains that
this verse [sc. the earth also etc.] merely describes their way of living.
`Bloodshed', as it is written, Whoso sheddeth man's blood, etc.(Gen. 9:6) And
the other? — This verse [he will maintain] merely teaches the manner of
Theft, for it is written, As the wild herbs have I given you all things; upon
which R. Levi commented: as the wild herbs, but not as the cultivated herbs. And
the other? — He will hold that this verse is written to permit animal flesh,
[but not to prohibit robbery].
Flesh cut from the living animal, as it is written, But flesh with the life
thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. (Gen. 9:4) And the other?
— He may hold that this verse teaches that flesh cut from live reptiles is
Emasculation, for it is written, Bring forth abundantly in the earth, and
multiply therein. And the other? — He may regard this merely as a blessing.
Forbidden mixture, as it is said, Of fowls after their kind. (Gen. 6:20) And the
other? — He will maintain that this was merely for the sake of mating.
Zakan Ingalls said:
"Noach and his sons knew the difference between clean and unclean animals. Since
only one male and one female of each unclean animal were in the Ark (Gen. 7:2),
if we hold that Genesis 9:2 would have allowed Noach and his sons to eat unclean
meat, then eating one of the unclean animals destroys that animal type forever
and negates YHWH's own purpose in preserving that animal type from the flood.
Further, if Adam is made in the image of Elohim (Genesis 1:27, 9:6, Ya'aqov
3:9), Noach's offering of only clean animals (Genesis 8:20) indicates that only
clean animals should be on the tables of a Noachide."
But the International Nazarene Beit Din said:
"In the days of Noach the clean animals were those suitable for offering to YHWH, for at the time YHWH referred to these as "clean" and "unclean" (Gen. 7:2; 8:20) only vegetable matter was kosher (Gen. 1:29) and only after this time did any animals at all become kosher (Gen. 9:3).
The International Nazarene Beit Din Says:
"From where do we derive the Seven precepts of Noach"?
Justice – For we read "Whoso sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed…"
Blessing the Name- For the serpent blasphemed YHWH by questioning his word when
he said "has Elohim said…?" (Gen. 3:1) Also we read "Whoso sheds man's blood, by
man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of Elohim, made He man." (Gen.
9:6) murder is forbidden because it destroys an Image of Elohim.
Idolatry- For we read in the Torah that man sought to make himself Elohim when
the Serpent told him "you shall be as Elohim, knowing good and evil." (Gen. 3:5)
Sexual Immorality – For we read that man was to be joined "male and female"
that the woman was told "your desire shall be to your husband" (Gen. 3:16) and
that man's sexual relations were to be fruitful and result in reproduction as we
read "be fruitful and multiply" (Gen. 9:1,7). Moreover we read of the fallen
angels who came to man, "the sons of Elohim saw the daughters of men, that they
were fair. And they took them wives, whomsoever they chose…. the sons of Elohim
came in unto the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. …And YHWH saw
that the wickedness of man was great in the earth,…" (Gen. 6:1-5).
Against Shedding of Blood. – For we read that YHWH judged Cain for killing Able
(Gen. 4) also we read "Whoso sheds man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed:
for in the image of Elohim, made He man." (Gen. 9:6)
Against Theft – For we read in the Torah "But of the tree of the knowledge of
good and evil, you shall not eat of it." (Gen. 2:17) and again we read "And when
the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the
eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of the
fruit thereof and did eat. And she gave also unto her husband with her, and he
did eat. (Gen. 3:6) thus man's first sin was an act of theft.
Against Eating the Limb of a Living Animal and eating Blood – For we read "Every
moving thing that lives shall be for food for you; as the green herb have I
you all. Only flesh with the life thereof--which is the blood thereof--shall you
not eat." (Gen. 9:3-4)
How are we to understand "you will do well"?
Our sages presupposed that these Gentiles would be going to synagogue
on Sabbath and learning the Torah of Moses (Acts 15:21). The Ger Toshav, by
definition, dwells among us, thus they are attending Synagogue and learning the
Torah on the Sabbath. The issue
before the Beit Din was only whether or not Gentiles need to be
circumcised to be saved, not whether they should eventually be
circumcised. Yeshua commissioned his Talmidim as follows:
Go you therefore, and teach all the Goyim,
and immerse them in the name of the Father,
and the Son, and the Ruach HaKodesh.
and teach them to observe all that I have commanded you,
and here I am with you all the days, to the end of the world.
Yehsua was instructing his Jewish Talmidim to make converts of the
goyim and to teach the goyim to observe all that Yeshua had commanded
his Jewish talmidim to observe. Our sage Yochanan writes to us
concerning Messiah "He who says, I am in him, out to conduct himself
according to his conduct." (1Jn. 2:6) that is, as a Jew, not as a
The Noachide covenant is a betrothal to YHWH as the Mosaic Covenant is
a marriage to YHWH. A betrothal by definition is a prelude to a