Parshah Thoughts – Noach

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In Parshah Noach, we read:

Now the earth was corrupt before God, and the earth became full of violence.

Bereishit (Genesis) 6:11

Many translations render this as “…and the earth became full of robbery.” But, the Hebrew uses the word חָמָֽס (Hamas / violence), not “robbery”.

Why the odd translation? This primarily comes from Rashi, who comments on the verse: “Robbery” (1)Rashi on Bereishit 6:11 – https://www.sefaria.org/Rashi_on_Genesis.6.11?lang=bi.

So, what’s bothering Rashi? The text singles out “violence” as the cause of the flood – or, at the very least, the final straw that sealed that generation’s fate (2)See the discussion in the Talmud Bavli, Sanhedrin 108a – https://www.sefaria.org/Sanhedrin.108a?lang=bi. And, the sages teach us the principle that “there is no punishment without there first being a warning.”

But, where in the 7 Laws is there a warning against “violence”? We have a clear prohibition against murder – but that doesn’t preclude merely injuring another person.

And, I believe that’s the question Rashi is answering here – “Robbery.”

We can learn from this 2 things:

  1. Violence is robbery.
    Injuring another person is forbidden under the Noahide prohibition against robbery.
    .
  2. Robbery is violence.
    All acts of robbery are inherently acts of violence against another. Or, they at least contain the threat of such violence.

Footnotes   [ + ]

1. Rashi on Bereishit 6:11 – https://www.sefaria.org/Rashi_on_Genesis.6.11?lang=bi
2. See the discussion in the Talmud Bavli, Sanhedrin 108a – https://www.sefaria.org/Sanhedrin.108a?lang=bi
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About Author

Jacob Scharff has been a Torah-observant Noahide for more than 20 years, has taught numerous Torah classes, and recently received a Haskamah from one of his main teachers. He has been learning the Seven Laws directly from the Jewish sources, particularly the Mishneh Torah, under the guidance of his teachers for the last decade. He currently lives in Minneapolis, MN, USA, with his lovely wife, where he spends his time playing with computers, studying Torah and doing Mitswoth.

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