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Image of the Non-Jew in JudaismA Historical and Constructive Study of the Noahide Laws$
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David Novak

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781906764074

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906764074.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 20 September 2021

The Law of Homicide

The Law of Homicide

(p.97) Chapter Five The Law of Homicide
Image of the Non-Jew in Judaism

David Novak

Liverpool University Press

This chapter argues that the law prohibiting murder is the Noahide commandment most immediately and rationally evident. The rabbis considered its prohibition from two distinct points of view, the theological and the political. In theological terms, murder is the intentional taking of another human life, a life created in the image of God. In political terms, murder wrecks social life. Regarding murder at the individual level, the rabbis differentiated criteria for the punishment of Jews and gentiles. For Jews who commit murder, the death penalty is employed only under the strict standard of “hatra'ah,” or forewarning. Such a dispensation was not available to non-Jews. The law of homicide also deals with the morally knotty issue of abortion. Rabbinic Judaism permitted abortion only when the mother's life was in danger, but for Noahides, abortion was proscribed in every case.

Keywords:   law of homicide, murder, Noahide commandment, Rabbinic Judaism, Jews, gentiles, death penalty, hatra'ah, non-Jews, abortion

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