We have two types of Arayos: Consanguinity (blood relationships, like mother or sister) and Affinity (blood relationships, like in-laws).

Consanguinity Arayos were forbidden for gentiles also (See Rambam Melachim), but affinity Arayos were not, but "they sanctioned that alone" (Rashi elsewhere in Bereshis).

Seemingly, Nissuin (or Znus or rape) alone does not forbid Kurvoys (see Pilegesh). Only Kiddushin does. But Kiddushin started only after Matan Torah (see Rambam Ishus 1).

So were the Affinity Arayos forbidden prior to Matan Torah?


1 Answer 1


The Ramban (to Yevamos 98a) holds that Noahides have no prohibition of relationships with relatives who are not blood relatives. He brings a proof to this from the fact that Yehuda absolved Tamar upon discovering her identity, and she was not put to death for violating the prohibition of Father-in-Law/daughter-in-law. Yibbum, he writes, was a minhag, and therefore Yehuda did not remain with Tamar, but there was no mitzvah which could have overridden the prohibition if it would have existed. (The Ramban to Bereishis 38:2 explains that there is some mystical benefit that is inherent in Yibbum, and therefore the wise men of the ages practiced Yibbum even though there was no formalized Mitzvah.)

The Rashba (same place) on the other hand, holds that this is not a proof, and writes that even if Noahides had a prohibition to relatives through marriage, the mitzvah of Yibbum would have overridden it. The Rashba explains that before Matan Torah, Yibbum extended to all relatives, and that Mitzvah overrode the any prohibition which existed for them. However, they only had the prohibition to blood relatives, and not to relatives through marriage.

I can't find the text of the Ramban online, but here is the pertinent section of Rashba:

ותדע לך שהרי יהודה אמר על כלתו צדקה ממני, ואלו היתה אסורה לו משום כלה, אכתי חייבת מיתה היא משום ערוה לכולי עלמא, דהא בית דין של ישראל ממיתין עליה, אלא ודאי עריות דאישות דקרובים לית להו. ומיהו אין תמר ראיה דמותרת היתה לו ליהודה דבר תורה משום יבמה, דקודם התורה היה יבום מותר בקרובין, אלא שרצה יהודה לנהוג בה כדרך שצותה התורה באחים, לא באב שהאח עיקר, ובקי היה בענינו. ויורה על זה בועז כנ"ל. והא דתניא כל ערוה שבית דין של ישראל ממיתין עליה בן נח מוזהר עליה לאו בעריות דאישות קא מיירי אלא בעריות דשאר

According to both Ramban and Rashba, bnei noach do not have arayos caused through marriage, and this began only with Matan Torah.

(Mostly copied from here.)

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