What is the age of accountability for gentiles? From what age are they subject to punishment for their sins? Please list sources.

4 Answers 4


The Rambam (MT Melachim 9:10) writes:

וְכֵן חַיָּב עַל אֵבֶר מִן הַחַי וְעַל בָּשָׂר מִן הַחַי בְּכָל שֶׁהוּא. שֶׁלֹּא נִתְּנוּ הַשִּׁעוּרִין אֶלָּא לְיִשְׂרָאֵל בִּלְבַד.

He is liable for punishment for eating any amount of the limb of a living animal or the flesh from a living animal. For measures and sizes were given for Israel only.

The Radvaz (ad. loc.) interprets the Rambam to be saying that non Jews don't have any שיעורים, halachic measurements. He says the Rambam's source is that שיעורים are a הלכה למשה מסיני, handed down from Moshe to us (Eruvin 4a). That means they weren't given for non Jews.

The Chasam Sofer (YD #317) connects this understanding of the Rambam with the Rosh, who says in a Responsum (Klal #16) that the age of adulthood being 12/13 is included in שיעורים, which are הלכה למשה מסיני. The Chasam Sofer concludes then that these ages only apply to Jews, and that non Jews have no specific שיעורים for adulthood.

He therefore says that it depends on their level of intellectual development. When they're intelligent enough to be responsible, they are.

ואמנם ב"נ דלא ניתנה להם שיעורי' כל ששכלו שלם כראוי

Note that the Rambam is specifically referring to the שיעורים of food. It's not impossible that he was only referring to that, and didn't mean no שיעורים exist for non Jews.

Also the Pri Megadim (YD 62 MZ 1) points out that Tosafos in Chullin 33a ד"ה אחד say that non Jews are only liable if they eat an olive's worth of forbidden food. We see they do have שיעורים. However, he explains their dispute with the Rambam to be specifically about food. So either they both agree no שיעורים by everything else (like the Chasam Sofer assumes), or yes שיעורים by everything else, and presumably adulthood begins at 12/13.


Rabbi Moshe Weiner, in his book "The Divine Code", Part 1 Chapter 4:4 he wrote:

"A Gentile is not obligated in precepts of the Noachide Code or their liability until he is knowledgeable and responsible for his action. This age is 13 full years for a male, and 12 full years for a female (provided that they have produced two pubic hairs). Some opinions say that even a minor who is knowledgeable prior to this age is responsible. One who is not knowledgeable, such as a deaf-mute, one who is mentally incompetent, or a minor, is exempt from any liability. "

There is a note inserted also at the bottom of the page which says: " There is a debate between later Rabbinic authorities regarding a set age for legal majority of Gentiles, or if there is no set age and it depends on the individual's mental maturity. From Rashi on Tractate Nazir 29b, the age of majority is a natural phenomena and not a decree of Torah Law, so there should be no difference between the age of majority for Jews and Gentiles."

P.S: I noticed that 3 times it is written " majority" instead of "maturity". I don't know if it is a printing mistake or what.


The Rambam in Hilchos Melachim 10:2 writes that a gentile minor ,deaf-mute ,and fool is never given punishment for they are not bound to any commandments. There is a discussion whether parents have to train their children before they come of age. So the age of commandments starts at age 13 for boys and 12 for girls regardless of Jew or non-Jew.

  • I remember that Rambam explicitly says that once he understands the idea of money (5-6) he can be killed for stealing.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 22:29
  • I am unsure if you downvoted or not,but I have an explicit source and you are going on yoyr memory and to my knowledge after looking through the Rambam I do not see such a source.
    – sam
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 22:40
  • 1
    Sorry, how did you connect קטן with 13? "So the age of commandments starts at age 13" - whose words are they?
    – Al Berko
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 22:43
  • 1
    Those words are mine,the word so is a preface to my understanding. The Rambam is saying that a minor isnt commanded in mitzvos. If you have a source saying otherwise then great,but the terms the Rambam is using of katan, cheresh,and shoteh seems to imply the regular usage of katan .
    – sam
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 22:49
  • 1
    You're not really proving that they're a קטן until 12/13. How else did you want the Rambam to refer to a non Jewish child? Make up a word that doesn't refer to a Jew until 12/13?
    – robev
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 3:41

I remember that Rambam says explicitly (I will look for the source) that the difference between us and gentiles that we have measures, such as a cut-out age of 13, and value (Perutah for example) and they don't.

So once a Non Jewish kid understands the subject he becomes liable, for example, once he understands the idea of money (5-6) he can be killed for stealing.

Here from Yeshiva's site:

"כל נושא השיעורים, גיל חינוך מגיל 9, בר מצוה בגיל 13 ובת מצוה בגיל 12. הרא"ש אומר בתשובותיו שכל שיעורים הללו כלולים במאמר חז"ל: "שיעורים הלכה למשה מסיני". זה בקשר ליהודים. אך הרמב"ם בהלכות מלכים כותב ששיעורים לא נאמרו לבן נח, כלומר, הגיל בו גוי יהיה אחראי למעשיו יהיה הגיל בו הפרלמנט שלהם יחליט.

Here's from the Hidabroot site:

דברי המשנה במסכת אבות (פרק ה' משנה כא) בן שלוש עשרה למצוות, נאמרו דוקא לגבי ישראל, אולם גוי מתחייב במצוות כל שהגיע לכלל דעת, למרות שטרם מלאו לו י"ג שנים.

מקורות: שו"ת חתם סופר (חלק יורה דעה סימן שיז), והובא בפתחי תשובה יורה דעה (סימן שכ סק"ד), שו"ת מהר"י אסאד (חלק יורה דעה סימן א) ושו"ת שואל ומשיב תניינא חלק א' (סימן יד) ומנחת חינוך (מצוה קצ אות ח). אמנם יש לציין לספר חמדת ישראל (להגרמ"ד פלאצקי זצ"ל, עמוד קג) שסובר, שגם בן נח מתחייב במצוות רק מגיל י"ג שנים, ע"ש. וע"ע בספר שערי הלכה ומנהג חלק אורח חיים חלק ב' (סימן רצז).

  • I see our answers overlap, and we posted them within 10 seconds of each other...hmmm
    – robev
    Commented Aug 22, 2018 at 22:50
  • The Rambam doesn't mention that Jews don't have 13, nor is their not having perutah relevant, as that is because of what the gemarra says: that they're particular about even less than a perutah
    – robev
    Commented Aug 23, 2018 at 3:44

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .