Parashat Noach: The Rainbow and the Noachide Laws

After the flood, G-d established a covenant with Noach, his descendants  , and with every living thing, saying “Never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of the flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth”. And G-d said ……….My rainbow in the cloud shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth”.


The new human race could be fruitful and multiply if they accepted the seven basic laws found in the interpretations of Bereishit 9, verses 1-7 prohibiting murder, idolatry, theft, incest, meat cut from a living animal, and blasphemy, and requiring the establishment of courts of justice. Nechama Leibowitz wrote that Noach, a man righteous and whole hearted, merited receiving this promise in the form of a covenant that humankind should never again be wiped out by a flood.(1)  Both justice and mercy, fear and love are contained  in this covenant, following the statement of these laws and marked by the rainbow. As R’ Jonathan Sacks wrote this week, “ no group can survive in the long run without justice and forgiveness”.(2)


Rabbi Boaz Kelly is the chairman of the worldwide committee of the 7 Noachide commandments(3). He has publicised them in Israel where a commitment to them has been signed by the Druze leaders Sheik Tarif in 2004 and the mayor of the predominantly Druze city of Shfaram in the Galil . The document contains the principle that the Noachide laws guide humanity to make a better world. The Druze revere Jethro, Moshe’s father in law and Jethro’s tomb in Tiberias is one of their holiest sites.


(1)   Nechama Leibowitz Studies in Bereishit 85-88

(2)   R’ Jonathan Sacks.  Covenant and Conversations. 

(3)   Wikipedia The Noachide Laws


For an earlier Ozi Zion item on Druze, see here. 

Also, for a fascinating article on Rainbows, including the physics (the picture above also includes a secondary rainbow, with the darker Alexander band between the two bows), literature and art,  see Wikipedia.  It is of interest that Jimmy Wales, founder of Wikipedia is currently attending a conference in Israel, entitled Facing Tomorrow 

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