Genesis 9:6 reads (JPS, 1985, emphasis mine):

שֹׁפֵךְ֙ דַּ֣ם הָֽאָדָ֔ם בָּֽאָדָ֖ם דָּמ֣וֹ יִשָּׁפֵ֑ךְ כִּ֚י בְּצֶ֣לֶם אֱלֹהִ֔ים עָשָׂ֖ה אֶת־הָאָדָֽם׃

Whoever sheds the blood of man,

By man shall his blood be shed;

For in His image

Did God make man.

I have heard it claimed that the phrase "blood of man, By man" (emphasized in bold above) can be translated, "blood of man in man," referencing the bloodshed of a person inside another person (i.e., the unborn). With this in mind, is Noah told in Genesis 9:6 that abortion is murder?

  • this is a reference to Sanhedrin 57b referenced in the Torah Temimah sefaria.org/…
    – rosends
    Jun 16, 2022 at 13:28
  • The Editor, see the second answer in the question @Deuteronomy linked.
    – Harel13
    Jun 16, 2022 at 14:51
  • The phrase, “דם האדם באדם” refers to the aspect of blood as it relates to Adam HaRishon specifically. So the proper translation in English would be, “A spiller of blood of Adam HaRishon, as it pertains to Adam HaRishon, will spill his (own) blood. Because G-d made Adam HaRishon in regard to Tzelem (this term is referring to adult female, which pertains specifically to the name צלם). Jun 16, 2022 at 15:40
  • And just to emphasize, the phrase, “will spill his(own) blood” is referring to the blood of the one who spills blood. This is communicating the he is killing himself, even though he might think he is killing someone else. This is because the souls of all mankind are rooted in the inclusive soul of Adam HaRishon. Jun 16, 2022 at 15:57
  • The word "murder" doesn't appear in the verse. Whatever it prohibits doesn't seem to be murder.
    – Double AA
    Jun 16, 2022 at 23:09

1 Answer 1


It seems that your reading of this is correct that it refers to abortion according to the Talmud Sanhedrin 57b. Translation provided by sefaria:

"It is stated in that book of Aggadot that the Sages said in the name of Rabbi Yishmael: A descendant of Noah is executed even for killing fetuses. The Gemara asks: What is the reason for the opinion of Rabbi Yishmael? The Gemara answers: It is derived from that which is written: “One who sheds the blood of a person, by a person [ba’adam] his blood shall be shed” (Genesis 9:6). The word ba’adam literally means: In a person, and is interpreted homiletically: What is a person that is in a person? You must say: This is a fetus that is in its mother’s womb. Accordingly, a descendant of Noah is liable for killing a fetus."

  • However ... in what circumstances? "These [various rabbinic] views imply that the prohibition for gentiles to abort a fetus does not begin until, respectively, the 8th, 13th, or 22nd to 23rd week of gestation." Rabbi Wieder's excellent treatment here: jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/…
    – Shalom
    Jun 16, 2022 at 23:06

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