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Explaining Noahide Identity
(11-18-2012, 03:56 AM)amenyahu Wrote: My basic understanding is that a Noahide [person] is a non-Jew, a gentile. That's it. There are righteous noahides and unrighteous ones.

Some people have tried to force this generic definition for the modern word "Noahide", but it seems that it's not a useful definition at all. If that is going to be the definition in reference to a person, then there is no justification for the existence of the word in that context. One would just use "Non-Jew" or "Gentile".

(11-18-2012, 03:56 AM)amenyahu Wrote: I understand this from the phrase "seven mitzvos were commanded upon the children of Noah" which I understand to mean all non-Jews.

That is a translated quotation from Mishneh Torah, which is a book of Torah Law complied by Rambam (1135–1204 C.E.) In that context, "children of Noah" ("b'nei Noach" in Hebrew) means all the [Non-Jewish] descendents of Noah; i.e. all Non-Jews.

(11-18-2012, 03:56 AM)amenyahu Wrote: He had an understanding of Noahide that I had heard of: that a Noahide is someone who actually keeps the 7 laws. Thus his idea of building Noahide communities is to build communities from only people who keep the seven laws of Noah. I'm guessing that he also includes in this a belief in the G-d of Israel.

That is correct, because the accurate name for this code of conduct as it originated in Biblical Hebrew is "Sheva Mitzvot", which means "Seven COMMANDMENTS". One can only keep a Commandment on the basis that it was imposed by a Commander, and that is the One True G-d, the G-d of Israel. Therefore belief in the G-d of Israel is the very foundation of the "Seven Commandments for the Children of Noah".

(11-18-2012, 03:56 AM)amenyahu Wrote: He said that there is a distinction between bnei Noah [in literal translation, this is Hebrew for "children of Noah"] and "Noahide" where bnei Noah are literally all of Noah's descendants apart from Israel, whereas a Noahide is someone who keeps the 7 commandments because God commanded them at Sinai.

There is an additional distinction which must be recognized, as it is an important point in the classical Torah teachings (in Hebrew) on this subject:

(a) A (Gentile) person could limit himself to observing what he thinks of on a basic level as "Seven Commandments" that were given to Noah, and disregard (G-d forbid) the fact that G-d commanded these with detailed requirements at Mount Sinai, for all Non-Jews eternally, through Moses as preserved in the Oral Torah. In the Torah teachings, if a person disregards the Seven Commandments from Mount Sinai, but he observes 7 general rules as he thinks they were given by G-d to Noah, he is not on the level of being "pious", but he has removed himself from the acts that are capital sins for Gentiles. Unfortunately there have been efforts to make factions along these lines in the modern Noahide movement.

(b) A (Gentile) person who learns and observes the details of these 7 Commandments because G-d commanded them at Mount Sinai for eternity, through Moses as part of the Torah, is additionally identified as being a truly "pious" person (a "chasid", or "hasid" if you prefer, in Hebrew). This is the level of faith and observance for which a Gentile receives the main spiritual reward.

In communications on this subject, one sometimes needs to differentiate between the categories of (a) and (b) above, in which case a more descriptive term than just "Noahide" is needed. So for example, I may use "faithful Noahide" for someone on the level of a Gentile "chasid" as defined above in (b).

[Note: A Gentile who formally agrees that he will not transgress the "7 Commandments for the Children of Noah" is permitted within Torah Law to become a citizen in the Holy Land. During a time when the 50-year Yovel/Jubilee cycles are being observed there (when all Jews are settled in their 12 tribal territories), the title he is given is a "Ger Toshav" in Hebrew (a "Resident Gentile"), and some extra rights are extended to him.]

(11-18-2012, 03:56 AM)amenyahu Wrote: I think of what I've read of Rambam and the little bits of knowledge I have of the Talmud (referenced in books about the seven commandments) and this word "noahide" on this person's understanding seems modern and novel and not the same as the term bnei Noah (descendants of Noah).

Correct. In the most widely accepted modern usage, it connotes an actual category of Torah-based religious faith for Gentiles, and within this there is a range of levels..

(11-18-2012, 03:56 AM)amenyahu Wrote: Are there any authoritative traditional sources that use bnei noah in a way that coincides with the modern usage of the word "noahide" that this person gave me? Is it really modern as I think, or is it just my limited knowledge coming into play again? Is there a difference between bnei Noah and Noahide? Could you help me and clarify things please?

- Most of the traditional sources use "bnei Noach" ("descendants of Noah") in a broad generic sense for Gentiles. It is always important to understand the context in which it's being used!
- Note that "bnei Noach" is plural, and "Noahide" is singular".
- "Noahide" really is a modern term, which has become popularized (despite its non-standard usage) through the outreach that is bringing increasing numbers of Gentiles toward true faith in the One True G-d, observance of the "Seven Commandments for the Children of Noah", and pious observance of the extended "Noahide Code" which is taught in the Oral Torah (see the book "The Divine Code" by Rabbi Moshe Weiner). This is clearly a sign that we are getting close to the Messianic Era, when the prophetic promises of universal obedience to G-d, and deeper knowledge and awareness of G-d, will be fulfilled.

Note: During the Second Temple era, the large numbers of Gentiles in the Roman Empire who followed a Torah-based monotheistic religious faith, and formed many local communities based on this, were called "Yirei Shamayim" ("Heaven Fearers"):

Messages In This Thread
Explaining Noahide Identity - by ProudNoachide - 07-06-2007, 12:34 AM
RE: explaining identity - by Director Michael - 07-10-2007, 01:21 PM
RE: Explaining Identity - by aegd - 09-29-2009, 01:00 PM
RE: Explaining Identity - by Director Michael - 09-29-2009, 01:38 PM
What is a "Noahide"? - by amenyahu - 11-18-2012, 03:56 AM
RE: What is a "Noahide"? - by Director Michael - 11-20-2012, 08:39 PM

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