On Christmas Day 2010, I was preparing to undergo major surgery on my heart in 7 days time. Due to severe spinal injuries received a few years previously there would be significant impact on my spine. Consequently there was a real chance my central nervous system would be compromised and I could be left partially paralysed. Whilst the heart surgeon operated, also present via video link were both my spinal and neuro consultants.
The countdown to surgery became very important to me, after all, it was more than likely I would be bidding farewell to a life of relative normality and my future was daunting. If I was to survive the surgery as well as the the months of recovery, it was imperative I kept my spirit strong. I was single-minded in my resolve. To that end, I tried to empty myself of life’s complications as well as the bags and baggage of ego and conceit. Amongst other soul searching and cleansing, I tried to look at life more simply.
Hence my exploration of the Noahide Laws.
The Noahide Laws
I’m not one for organised religion and I have serious issues with a God who behaves like a petulant teenager on a good day. But I also recognise the need for humanity to be organised and as such, the Noahide Commandments are the simplest and most straightforward guide I have yet to find for arranging the principles by which a society might thrive.
Most people have heard of the so-called ‘Ten Commandments’, but what most people don’t know is that ‘Ten Commandments’ is a mistranslation. In the original Hebrew, ‘Aseret HaDibrot’ correctly translates as ‘Ten Statements’, and it was ten statements that Moses brought down from Mount Sinai, carved on two stone tablets. According to Jewish tradition (which comes from the Divine revelation to Moses at Mount Sinai), the Torah of Moses contains 613 commandments for the Jewish people and 7 commandments for everyone else. One of the commandments given to the Jewish people was to be ‘a light unto the (non-Jewish) nations’, and as part of fulfilling this task they have preserved in the Talmud the ‘Universal Code of Seven Noachide Commandments’.
Noachides (descendants of Noah) are righteous gentiles who observe the seven universal commandments.
The biblical covenant of Noah (symbolised by the rainbow) is a Divine promise to never again destroy humanity. The Jewish tradition informs us that in return for this promise, all humanity must observe the seven Noachide commandments.