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History of Noahides
07-25-2007, 12:43 PM (This post was last modified: 04-24-2012 04:35 PM by Director Michael.)
Post: #1
Historical Ger Toshav & Heaven Fearers
Director Michael Wrote:
Donny Wrote:Someone asked: Could somebody be really righteous and not accept or believe in Torah? ... Doesn't a person have to believe in Torah to accept the 7 Noahide Laws?

...Higher than this is righteous in piety (a "chassid," doing more than is required by the letter of the law). These are the Chassidei Umos Ha'olom, the Pious of the Nations. This is a Gentile who accepts and fulfills the Noahide Laws because the Holy One, blessed is He, commanded them in the Torah, through Moses. Through this connection to the Torah (the "Torah of Moses," which is the "Tree of Life") the Gentile merits a share in the World to Come...

The Rambam wrote about righteous gentiles in his Mishneh Torah. And other rabbis hundreds of years ago also mentioned Chassidei Umos Ha'olom in their writings (in the book "Lesson in Tanya" it says that the first Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote about Chassidei Umos Ha'Olom in his commentary on the Jewish prayer book). But back then, there was no Noahide movement and Jews were not allowed to teach the 7 mitzvos of Noah to non-Jews. My question is, were there any Chassidei Umos Ha'olom before the Lubavitcher Rebbe started the modern Noahide movement? There seems to have been (for example, from what the first Lubavitcher Rebbe wrote in his commentary on the Jewish prayer book), but it's hard to understand, because the formal Noahide laws could not really have been taught until recent times. So I am perplexed.
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07-28-2007, 02:22 AM (This post was last modified: 04-24-2012 04:37 PM by Director Michael.)
Post: #2
RE: Historical Ger Toshav & Heaven Fearers
The obligation of Gentiles to observe the Seven Noahide Commandments, the details of these commandments, and the praises of Chassidei Umos Ha'Olom who connected with G-d's Will, have always been part of the Written and Oral Torah. Throughout history, Gentiles who had the opportunity to learn, or just hear about, the Hebrew Bible have had Noahide role models to follow, such as Noach, Shem, Eliezer, Yisro/Jethro, Rachav/Rahab, Naaman and Iyov/Job (although Yisro and Rahab eventually decided to convert).

The institution of Ger Toshav, observant Noahides who lived as legally protected citizens in the Holy Land, was active as long as the conditions for this were in place (as long as the 12 Tribes were settled in their areas, up until the exile of the Ten Lost Tribes by the Nebuchadnezzar).

Historically it is known that there were large numbers of Gentiles in the Roman Empire who lived as Chassidei Umos Ha'Olom, up until they were repressed by the idolatrous government after the destruction of the Second Temple.

Many aspects of the Torah's Noahide Commandments were discussed by the Jewish sages as recorded in the Talmud, and practical details of these commandments were included in the codification of the Oral Torah by Rambam (Maimonides) in the Mishneh Torah.

We know of individual cases in Talmudic times, extending up through the past several hundred years, of Righteous Gentiles who followed the One G-d of Israel and came to Rabbis for spiritual advice and direction. The term "Noahide" was coined by a Rabbi in France in the late 1800's, and the Noahide path began to be publicised in the early 1900's in Europe. However this was interrupted by WWI and WWII.
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07-28-2007, 02:47 AM (This post was last modified: 04-24-2012 04:37 PM by Director Michael.)
Post: #3
RE: Historical Ger Toshav & Heaven Fearers
Director Michael Wrote:Historically it is known that there were large numbers of Gentiles in the Roman Empire who lived as Chassidei Umos Ha'Olom, up until they were repressed by the idolatrous government after the destruction of the Second Temple.

Thanks a lot for this answer!
Is the source for this in the Talmud? In the Midrash?

Director Michael Wrote:We know of individual cases in Talmudic times,

I should have added this question to my previous post...but could you give us an example from the Talmud of a Chassid Umos Ha'olam who Noahides could use as a role model?
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07-29-2007, 05:39 PM (This post was last modified: 07-30-2011 06:17 AM by Director Michael.)
Post: #4
RE: Differences between Righteous Gentile and Noahide Chassid
Mike Wrote:
Director Michael Wrote:Historically it is known that there were large numbers of Gentiles in the Roman Empire who lived as Chassidei Umos Ha'Olom, up until they were repressed by the idolatrous government after the destruction of the Second Temple.

Thanks a lot for this answer!
Is the source for this in the Talmud? In the Midrash?

The Talmud and Midrash use the term "yirei shamayim" (Heaven Fearers) for these Chassidei Umos Ha'Olom, but not much information is given about their numbers or their geographics. Instead, these Jewish sources focus on describing their great merit, and some noteworthy individuals are mentioned.

It is virtually impossible to find any unbiased resources on this subject outside of the Talmud and Midrash, because these "G-d fearing" Gentiles became the prime targets for the missionizing activities of Paul and his followers, and they are almost always referred to in that slanted context. The best historical sources are in the writings of Josephus:

Josephus, The Jewish War 2.454.
Josephus, The Jewish War 2.463.
Josephus, The Jewish War 7.45.
Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 14.110.
Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.41.
Josephus, Against Apion 1.166–167.
Josephus, Against Apion 2.282.

Mike Wrote:
Director Michael Wrote:We know of individual cases in Talmudic times,

I should have added this question to my previous post...but could you give us an example from the Talmud of a Chassid Umos Ha'olam who Noahides could use as a role model?

The Midrash Genesis Rabbah states that some of the cities around the Mediterranean Sea which were deserving of extermination were saved by the merit of producing even just one "Heaven Fearing" Gentile per year.

There is a famous story in the Talmud about a Noahide in Israel during the Second Temple period, who exemplified the ideal of honoring parents. Dama the gem merchant passed up the opportunity to earn a fortune, when it would have required that he compromise in his respect for his father. As a message to all mankind, G-d rewarded Dama in a miraculous way. This story is the subject of a wonderful children's book:

http://asknoah.org/books/the-key-under-the-pillow

Here is another interesting point of history. The sage Shimon Ha'Tzaddik was the High Priest during the years that Alexander the Great was conquering much of Europe, Asia and Africa. After Shimon Ha'Tzaddik died, there was brief struggle between his two sons for the postion of High Priest. The son that Shimon Ha'Tzaddik preferred, Chonyo, ended up fleeing temporarily to Egypt, and Shimon Ha'Tzaddik's brother became the High Priest. While Chonyo was in Egypt, he began teaching many Egyptians about monotheism and the One True G-d (Noahidism). He built an altar there, and taught these Egyptians how to bring sacrifices to G-d (but Chonyo himself did not sacrifice there, since Jews are not allowed to bring sacrifices outside of the Temple in Jerusalem). Eventually he returned to Jerusalem and became the next High Priest, after his uncle.
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07-30-2007, 12:21 PM (This post was last modified: 04-24-2012 04:38 PM by Director Michael.)
Post: #5
RE: Historical Ger Toshav & Heaven Fearers
Director Michael Wrote:Josephus, The Jewish War 2.454.
Josephus, The Jewish War 2.463.
Josephus, The Jewish War 7.45.
Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 14.110.
Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.41.
Josephus, Against Apion 1.166–167.
Josephus, Against Apion 2.282.

Thanks so much for this answer and for all your research!

When you say 2.454 or 7.45, is this the chapter and page or does it mean something else? And which edition of these books should I use so that the places you give will be the right ones?
Thanks!
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07-31-2007, 10:00 AM (This post was last modified: 04-24-2012 04:38 PM by Director Michael.)
Post: #6
RE: Historical Ger Toshav & Heaven Fearers
The works by Josephus are referenced as

[Title] [Book#.Paragraph#]

The works of Josephus are available in English translation from Harvard University Press:

http://www.hup.harvard.edu/catalog/L186.html

Another site has a partial translation of the works of Josephus, and some of these references can be found there. However, the site does not work well for navigation. Here is one that I found:

http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/pte...;loc=14.92

Flavius Josephus, Antiquities of the Jews (ed. William Whiston, A.M.)

14.110 (Book 14, Paragraph 110) [Capital letters added here for emphasis]

"There were four classes of men among those of Cyrene; that of citizens, that of husbandmen, the third of strangers, and the fourth of Jews. Now these Jews are already gotten into ALL CITIES; and it is hard to find a place in the habitable earth that hath not admitted this tribe of men, and is not possessed by them; and it hath come to pass that Egypt and Cyrene, as having the same governors, and a great number of other nations, IMITATE THEIR WAY OF LIVING, and maintain great bodies of these Jews in a peculiar manner, and grow up to greater prosperity with them, and make use of the SAME LAWS with that nation also...."
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12-24-2008, 12:57 PM (This post was last modified: 01-09-2011 06:55 PM by Director Michael.)
Post: #7
RE: Noahides
Noahides have been around for a very long time!

The first observers of G-d's universal commandments were Adam and Hava (Eve). Between their creation and the great flood, people increasingly abandoned the six commandments that were given to Adam and Hava and their descendents, but there were righteous individuals over the course of those generations who did keep the commandments. After the flood, G-d renewed those commandments with Noah and his family, and added a seventh. This is why they are called the "Seven Commandments for the Children of Noah," or the Seven Noahide Commandments.

Noah's son Shem maintained a house of learning where he taught the Seven Commandments, and he was joined in this effort by his righteous descendent Eber. Although people in general again were abandoning the commandments as the generations passed, and almost everyone turned to idolatry, eventually Abraham and his wife Sarah arose as a light to the nations, teaching vast numbers of people about the Noahide Commandments, and especially to worship only the One True G-d, Who created everything in the spiritual heavens and the physicial universe. Although the influence of the following Patriarchs, Isaac and Jacob, was not so far-reaching to the nations of the world, from that point on the Hebrew Bible includes mention of a number of notable Righteous Gentiles who observed the Noahide Code.

As detailed in the thread http://www.asknoah.org/forums/showthread...d=8&page=1 :
historically it is known that there were large numbers of Gentiles in the Roman Empire who lived as Righteous Gentiles, up until they were repressed by the idolatrous Roman government after the destruction of the Second Temple. We know of individual cases in Talmudic times, extending up through the past several hundred years, of Righteous Gentiles who worshiped only the One True G-d. The term "Noahide" was used by a Rabbi in France in the late 1800's, and the Noahide path began to be publicised in the early 1900's in Europe. However this was interrupted by WWI and WWII.

After a world-wide Noahide movement was launched by the Lubavitcher Rebbe beginning in the 1980's, the number of Gentile individuals, families and communities who are turning to the Noahide faith has been constanly increasing.
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02-10-2010, 08:48 PM
Post: #8
RE: History of Noahides
Hi,
I wanted to know about the History of Noahides but I can not find it.
I want to say thanks to you for sharing the history of Noahides.
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02-22-2010, 04:46 PM (This post was last modified: 11-20-2012 10:35 AM by Rabbi Moshe Weiner.)
Post: #9
RE: History of Noahides
Chukjones: even i have not complete idea regarding that, but i read somewhere that Noahidism is a monotheistic ideology based on the Seven Laws of Noah. According to Torah, non-Jews are not obligated to convert to Judaism, but they are required to observe the Seven Laws of Noah. Those who subscribe to the observance of such commandments and their supporting organizations are referred Children of Noah or Noahides.
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08-07-2015, 04:41 PM (This post was last modified: 08-07-2015 04:42 PM by Director Michael.)
Post: #10
RE: History of Noahides
B"H. History of the Roman Emperor Julian, his religious tolerance, his special relationship with his Jewish subjects, and his failed directive for the Jews to build a Third Holy Temple:

Quoted from http://www.lchaimweekly.org/lchaim/5775/...m#caption9

It Once Happened

In the year 361 of the Common Era, 293 years after the destruction of the Second Holy Temple, a new leader of the Roman Empire ascended the throne. Julian would be Caesar for only two years, but his short reign would be distinguished by an unusually friendly relationship with the Jewish people. In fact, Julian was responsible for initiating an abortive attempt to rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem. We are aware of these events thanks to a Greek historian who recorded them for posterity some 80 years after they occurred.

Julian was a nephew of Constantine the Great.. When Constantine died, his three sons fought over who would take his place. Almost all the members of the royal family were murdered, with the exception of Julian. After traveling to Athens and studying philosophy, he became disaffected with Chr'stianity and reverted to the ancient idolatry of the Romans.[1]

Julian went on to become a celebrated military leader, enjoying many victories over the warring Germanic tribes. When the then-reigning Emperor decided to exile him to the Far East, his troops rebelled and established him as the new Caesar. One year later, he declared full religious freedom for all citizens of the Empire.[2] In truth, he was far more benevolent toward his Jewish subjects than to his Chr'stian ones. In an official letter addressed to the "Jewish communities" of the realm, he wrote that he was henceforth exempting the Jews from the special tax that had been levied against them, and declared himself a long-time defender of the Jewish people.

In the same letter he blamed his uncle, the late Emperor Constantine, and his uncle's cohorts, whom he termed "barbarians," for the state-sponsored and institutionalized discrimination against the Jews. At the end of the letter he reassured everyone that he had personally had them killed, and advised the Jews to forget about them and relegate their nefarious deeds to history. Julian also promised that after the war with the Persians ended he would rebuild the holy city of Jerusalem, "which for so many years you have longed to see inhabited; indeed, I will help you inhabit it."

In general, however, the Jews were unimpressed by Julian's professions of fellowship. They knew that they were not sincere, and were actually motivated by selfish political ambitions. Nor did they consider him a new "Cyrus," who had been sent by Divine Providence to bring their exile to an end and rebuild the Holy Temple in Jerusalem.

In fact, the Greek historian who chronicled this episode wrote that Julian's "friendship" with the Jews was largely the result of his hatred for the Chr'stians. Moreover, he hoped that they would ultimately follow his example and assimilate into the dominant Roman culture.

At one point, Julian summoned the Jewish elders and asked them why they were not keeping the Torah's laws with regard to the sacrifices. The elders explained that after the Holy Temple was destroyed bringing sacrifices was forbidden, as doing so depends on having a standing Temple with priests to serve in it.

To demonstrate his serious intentions, Julian then ordered that the Jews be given a considerable stipend from the royal treasury, so they could begin to take the first steps toward reconstruction. According to the historian, the Jews actually started recruiting artisans and laborers. Their first task, however, was to clear the Temple area from the filth and debris that had accumulated over the centuries. Women, too, joined in the work, while others contributed their jewelry. After the ground was cleared they were ready to lay the foundation stone, but an extremely powerful earthquake intervened. Huge boulders flew in all directions, and the earth split in many places. A number of Jewish workers were injured, houses came tumbling down, and many residents of the city lost their lives in the disaster.

When the dust settled, the laborers returned to their tasks. Some assumed they were still obligated to carry out the Emperor's orders, while other truly wished to continue. In any event, they refused to recognize the Divine Providence that was obviously against rebuilding the Temple at that time.

And then, as if to further indicate G-d's displeasure, a huge fire broke out at the construction site and many more workers were killed. At that point everyone agreed that the time had not yet arrived to build the Temple, and the project was halted.

A personal friend of his, Ammianus Marcellinus, wrote this about the effort: Julian thought to rebuild at an extravagant expense the proud Temple once at Jerusalem, and committed this task to Alypius of Antioch. Alypius set vigorously to work, and was seconded by the governor of the province; when fearful balls of fire, breaking out near the foundations, continued their attacks, till the workmen, after repeated scorchings, could approach no more: and he gave up the attempt.

Although there is no way to verify all the details in the Greek historian's account, it is undisputed that the Emperor Julian fell in battle against the Persians in 363, effectively putting an end to his plans.

Footnotes inserted by Ask Noah:

[1] Actually, Julian professed to worship only one of the pagan gods, which was Helios the sun god. It is theorized that he couched a commitment to actual monotheism in the guise of promoting only one pagan deity, in order to avoid being attacked by the ruling class of polytheistic Romans.

[2] Notably, Julian extended religious freedom and protection to the significant population in the Roman Empire of Gentile "Heaven Fearers" - adherents to or sympathizers of Torah-based faith in the G-d of Israel. The Gentile "Heaven Fearers" were the object of derision by the ruling pagan Romans before and after Julian's short reign.
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