Can Gentiles do idolatry in case they are compelled by someone or a law of the land? And if so, if he doesn't, would that be seen by God as suicide or a good thing for not surrendering to idolatry? I've read in several places that Gentiles can practice passive idolatry and cited the case of Naaman, is this a peaceful point in Judaism or is there a division? And the question of not complying with the law of the land that happened to honor an idol, when he resisted and ended up dying, would he be committing suicide or disobeying the law of the land in which they say he has to obey?

1 Answer 1


H. Melakhim 10:2

בן נח שאנסו אנס לעבור על אחת ממצותיו, מותר לו לעבור, אפילו נאנס לעבוד ע"ז עובד, לפי שאינן מצווין על קדוש השם

A Noahide who is forced by another person to violate one of his commandments is permitted to transgress. Even if he is forced to worship false gods, he may worship them. For Noahides are not commanded to sanctify God's name.

  • So it's not just for idolatry, can all bnei noach commandments be ignored if the risk of life exists upon you? And is complying with the law of the land more important than not breaking Noahide laws? Now a Jew says he has to obey the laws of the land if they are not against the Torah, what makes the law of the land more important than keeping the 7 commandments of bnei noach? Wouldn't that be normalizing barbarism? I'm confused now.
    – Thales
    Nov 1, 2022 at 1:14
  • @Thales "keeping the law of the land" is not more important than not breaking Noahide laws. "Not being killed" is. There is a difference.
    – Esther
    Nov 1, 2022 at 1:57
  • But with regard to the Jews there are three prohibitions even at the cost of death, idolatry, murder and forbidden intercourse. Is there not this binding of any commandment with regard to the Gentiles? Is everything allowed if your life is in danger? And the question of non-compliance, for example, do they force the person to kill another or you will die, if you do not comply, the person will be committing suicide since by the celestial court he could violate to save himself? How would that person be seen? A suicide or a martyr?
    – Thales
    Nov 1, 2022 at 10:49
  • @Thales THAT is an excellent question addressed by many commentaries. Even if Noahides aren't expected to give up their lives to avoid idolatry, they may not be allowed to murder to save themselves. There's a lot of discussion/debate about it -- ask it as a separate question, it is well-scoped! For instance, some (Gur Aryeh) say that the 400 men Esau has rounded up to go attack Jacob actually were only there because Esau threatened their families unless they'd go fight.
    – Shalom
    Nov 1, 2022 at 11:27
  • How would you ask this question separately? Is there anything else to analyze? What if moderation classifies it as a question that already has an answer that is mine?
    – Thales
    Nov 1, 2022 at 12:08

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