I’m an Italian son of Noah.

If I understand correctly, the Noahide Laws certainly command the following four prohibitions on sexual conduct for the Gentiles:

  • Adultery
  • Incest
  • Homosexual intercourse between males
  • Zooerasty

These prohibitions are contended in chapter 18 of Leviticus, and the Jewish tradition, save for my error, holds that they are part of the precepts given by the Creator to Noah because HaShem says in verses 24-28 of the aforementioned chapter:

You shall not defile yourselves by any of these things, for the nations, whom I am sending away from before you, have defiled themselves with all these things.And the land became defiled, and I visited its sin upon it, and the land vomited out its inhabitants.But as for you, you shall observe My statutes and My ordinances, and you shall not do like any of these abominations neither the native, nor the stranger who sojourns among you.For the people of the land who preceded you, did all of these abominations, and the land became defiled.And let the land not vomit you out for having defiled it, as it vomited out the nation that preceded you.

If I understand correctly, the logical reasoning applied by the Masters of Israel is that if HaShem condemns the Canaanite nations, belonging to the Gentility, for practicing these behaviors, He had evidently already forbidden them in the Noahide Alliance, otherwise such populations would not have been responsible for any transgression ("Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege").

Here are my doubts:

  • Is the lesbian sexual intercourse allowed to Gentiles women? For Jewish women the prohibition is deduced from the commandment not to follow the customs of Egypt (Leviticus 18: 3; see also Mishneh Torah -Issurei Biah 21.8), but it seems difficult to think that this prohibition is universal, because it can not be known by the Gentiles from the analysis of the written Torah, but only through the exact knowledge of how the oral Torah interprets precisely the textual step "customs of Egypt";

  • Is it correct to say that rape (including that vomiting conduct that responds to the name of pedophilia) falls within the noahide prohibition of theft?

Another aspect on which I would like a clarification concerns the conduct of the Gentile husband to his Gentile wife. I explain it better.

If a married man goes to bed with an unmarried woman, he does not commit adultery; if the man is a Gentile, the prohibition of Deuteronomy 23,18, limited to the Israelites, can not be applied to him; now, in the Italian legal system, as I believe in that of many other countries, the spouses are bound to the duty of mutual fidelity (article 143 of the Italian Civil Code). When a man and a woman get married in Italy, and this even in cases where this happens before a religious authority such as a rabbi or a Christian priest, marriage can produce legal effects for the Italian State only if the spouses declare to having acknowledged the rights and duties provided for them by Italian Law, then also the aforementioned provision on the duty of mutual fidelity.

The nohahide prohibition of theft includes, if I have understood well, also the contractual fraud; now, marriage in Italian law is not properly a contract, but it is in any case a legal transaction, so I hypothesize that the aforesaid prohibition of contractual fraud can also be applied by analogy to marriage. If the wife allows her husband to go to bed with an unmarried woman, I do not believe there are problems on the level of the Noahide Laws; but what happens if this consent is missing, and this is if the husband has a sexual intercourse with an unmarried woman without the consent of his wife? Does not violate the prohibition of theft for having committed a fraud of a contractual nature?

To be clear, I consider morally reprehensible the conduct of a husband who betrays his wife even in the absence of adultery, but is it an illicit conduct according to the Noahides Laws, in the presence of a mutual fidelity obligation established by the Law of the State?

Excuse me for the length of the question, but the issue is very complex for a son of Noah like me.

  • 2
    "Nullum crimen, nulla poena sine lege" While it's probably true that nulla poena sine lege, it's not necessarily the case that there can't be crime at least in a certain sense. It could be there are extra-legal ethical values which even Noahides are expected to uphold outside of a formal legislation.
    – Double AA
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 16:11
  • @DoubleAA - Of course, but the Latin expression I mentioned refers to legal, non-moral norms. The violation of the law is if there is a law ... here we speak of the Law promulgated by the Supreme Legislator, which is HaShem
    – Amos74
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 16:23
  • 1
    It seems you are still learning how to format questions so they look nice - I tried to edit and make it look better - see before / after and maybe use some of these tricks going forward. You can always rollback if you don't like it (click on edited top left of your name - then rollback to the version you like)
    – mbloch
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 16:25
  • @mbloch -You are right; in general I am rather "poor" in terms of technology ...
    – Amos74
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 16:40

1 Answer 1


Hello and welcome to our site. This would best be broken into multiple individual questions.

For details on Noahide laws, it's best to find a personal rabbi; additionally, consider a book like Rabbi Aaron Lichtenstein's Seven Laws of Noah on the details of the laws.

The basic starting point is Maimonides' Ch. 9, Laws of Kings:

ז [ה] שש עריות אסורות על בני נוח--האם, ואשת האב, ואשת איש, ואחותו מאימו, וזכור, ובהמה: שנאמר "על כן, יעזוב איש, את אביו" (בראשית ב,כד), זו אשת אביו; "ואת אימו" (שם), כמשמעה; "ודבק באשתו" (שם), ולא באשת חברו; "ודבק באשתו", לא בזכור; "והיו לבשר אחד" (שם), להוציא בהמה חיה ועוף שאין הוא והם בשר אחד; ונאמר "אחותי בת אבי היא--אך, לא בת אימי; ותהי לי, לאישה" (בראשית כ,יב).


יג [ט] בן נוח חייב על הגזל, בין שגזל גוי בין שגזל ישראל. ואחד הגוזל, או הגונב ממון, או גונב נפש, או הכובש שכר שכיר וכיוצא בו--אפילו פועל שאכל שלא בשעת מלאכה--...

There are six types of forbidden relations for a Noachide: a mother, stepmother, a woman married to someone else, a maternal sister, a male, and an animal. ...

A Nochaide is liable for theft from anyone, Jew or not. This applies whether he robbed without the victim's knowledge [e.g. pickpocketing] or with it [e.g. holding him up at gunpoint]; it includes kidnapping, not paying a worker's wage, or even for a crop worker to eat of the crops when he's not on the job [and thus entitled to].

So to answer your questions:

A.) Female-female relations appear to not be on the list. (Though if I recall correctly, Rabbi Lichteinstein's book may discuss other opinions.)

B.) You are correct that rape is included in "theft"; the commentaries on Genesis Ch. 34 address this, as Shechem is a non-Jew who commits rape there and is punished for it -- the Bible says and such a thing would not be done!.

C.) A man cheating on his wife with a non-married woman: Noachide law (like Judaism until a thousand years ago) never banned a man from having more than one wife; and Maimonides opens his Laws of Marriage by saying explicitly that prostitution was allowed before the Jews received the Torah, i.e. it's not prohibited by Noachide law; he never there discusses whether the customer was married. So to say that cheating on one's wife by having a girlfriend on the side is all-out "theft" because of their contractual agreement is ... probably too far a stretch. Maimonides' examples were all monetary losses. It's disgusting behavior, and Noachide societies can and should enact all sorts of laws to keep society from falling apart, so by all means punish the fellow; but it would be hard to say it's punishable as "theft." (Though if he now owes her money because he cheated on her, to not pay that money would be theft.)

  • 2
    It is misleading to say that Genesis addresses it. Genesis shows that there is arguable justification in punishing someone who kidnaps and rapes. וכן לא יעשה is the given justification. It doesn't say what the specific problem was.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 14:45
  • 1
    @mevaqesh fair enough; IIRC the commentaries there do, though.
    – Shalom
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 14:58
  • 1
    I am not sure that the commentaries mean that rape itself is theft, as opposed to the kidnapping. See Hilkhot Melakhim 9:9.
    – mevaqesh
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 15:32
  • Everything you wrote is true. Agreed. What you didn't write, is that all those are single opinions, and I don't think it is wise to present it as an agreed Halakha. BTW, Shchem and the whole town was took revenge from, not judged in court (see Ohr Hachaim), which questions the legitimacy of the cleansing according to Noachide Laws.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Dec 20, 2017 at 18:11
  • For greater elaboration of the Rambam, see R' Meir Don Plotzky (Kli Chemdah)'s commentary on the Rambam, known as Chemdat Yisrael: hebrewbooks.org/rambam.aspx?mfid=24590&rid=14990
    – MDjava
    Commented Dec 21, 2017 at 5:02

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