The Torah and Gentiles

The Torah was not “invented” at Mt. Sinai. Since it reflects the character of God, it was woven into the fabric of the universe at Creation. And, it is not just for the Jewish people. Not only are there seven principles, sometimes referred to as the “Noahide Commandments,” that all nations are obligated to observe—throughout Jewish history, there have been Gentiles with a heart for God who have attached themselves to Israel and observed the Commandments given to them as well. This is attested to by the Rabbis in (among other places):

Sifre Deuteronomy, #343; Yalkut Shemoni, Berakhah, #9511

“At His right hand was a fiery law unto them” (Deut. 33:2). The verse asserts that words of Torah are likened to fire. As fire was given from heaven, so were words of Torah given from heaven. (Israel were told, “Ye yourselves have seen that I talked with you from heaven” [Exod. 20:22].) Even as fire is life for the world, so words of Torah are life for the world. Fire: close up to it, one is scorched; away from it, one is chilled; near but not too near, one enjoys it. So are words of Torah: as long as a man labors in them, they are life for him; but when he separates himself from them, they slay him. Even as fire is made use of in this world and in the world-to-come, so words of Torah are made use of in this world and in the world-to-come. Even as fire when used leaves a mark on a man’s body, so words of Torah when used leave a mark on the body. Fire: they who work with it are readily distinguishable from other mortals. So, too—by their walk, by their speech, by their garments in the marketplace—disciples of the wise are just as readily distinguishable.

1 Sifre Deuteronomy and Yalkut Shimoni are Midrashim (sing. Midrash)—from the Hebrew, “investigation, interpretation, or exposition.” Most Midrashim are continuous exegetical commentaries on books of the Hebrew Bible.

Sifre Deuteronomy, #306; Yalkut Shemoni, Haazinu, #942

“My doctrine shall drop as the rain” (Deut. 32:2). Even as rain gives life to the world, so words of Torah give life to the world. But while some people in the world rejoice in rain, others are grieved by it. Thus he whose pit or vat is full of wine, or his threshing-floor full of grain is distressed by rain. Is the same true of words of Torah? [No indeed], for Scripture goes on to say, “My speech shall distill as the dew” (Deut. 32:2). As all people in the world—all—rejoice in dew, so all people in the world, in all of it, rejoice in words of Torah.

“As showers upon the tender grass” (Deut. 32:2)—as showers coming down upon blades of grass raise them up and make them grow, so words of Torah raise up those who study them and make them grow. “And droplets upon the herb” (ibid.)—as the droplets that come down upon herbs refresh them and make them beautiful, so words of Torah refresh those who study them and make them beautiful.

This perspective is obviously based, in part, on the words of the Prophet Isaiah:

2In the last days the mountain of the Lord's temple will be established as chief among the mountains … and all nations (gôyim [gentiles]) will stream to it. 3Many peoples will come and say, “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob. He will teach us his ways so that we may walk in his paths.” The law will go out from Zion … 4He will judge between the nations … They will beat their swords into plowshares … (Isa 2:2-4).

7On this mountain he will destroy the shroud that enfolds all peoples, the sheet that covers all nations (gôyim); 8he will swallow up death forever … (he) will wipe away the tears from all faces … 9In that day they will say, “Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us” (Isa 25:7-9).

And, on the words of Yeshua too:

18Then Yeshua came to (his disciples) and said, “… 19go and make disciples of all nations20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (Mat 28:18-19).

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