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Categories of Forbidden Partners

Updated: Jan 16

Daily Study of the Noahide Code of Laws

By Sarah Bakker

The Divine Code for January 5, 2023

Today: Pages 400 - 402

Part 1:1

Six sexual acts are forbidden to gentiles as capital sins, and an adult who participates willingly in any of these is liable:

(a) intercourse between a male and his father's present or former wife who is not his mother;

(b) intercourse between a male and his mother;

(c) intercourse between a male and a female who is another man's wife (i.e., adultery with a married woman);

(d) intercourse between a male and another male;

(e) bestial intercourse in which a male person is the active partner and any other species of creature (male or female) is the passive partner or in which any person (male or female) is the passive partner and a mammal is the active partner;

(f) intercourse between a male and his sister from his mother (i.e., his full sister or his maternal half-sister).

The five prohibitions (a) - (e) above can be learned from a single verse, ''Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and cling to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.''


(a) ''a man shall leave his father'' refers to his father's wife, according to the Oral Tradition;

(b) ''and his mother'' refers to the simple meaning;

(c) ''and cling to his wife,'' but not the wife of another man;

(d) ''to his wife'' (b'ishto in Hebrew, which is feminine), but not to another male;

(e) ''and they shall become one flesh,'' specifying human partners (for a man and woman combine as one flesh in a conceived child); this excludes relations with domestic animals, wild animals, birds, etc., with which humans cannot conceive and become ''one flesh.''

(f) it is also written, ''... she is my sister, the daughter of my father, but not the daughter of my mother, and so she became my wife;'' this statement by Abraham teaches that the Noahide Code forbids relations with a sister or half- sister from the same mother, and permits marriage with a half-sister from the same father.

Although all the above forbidden relations that are referred to in the cited verse, ''Therefore a man shall leave his father ...,'' are mentioned there in reference to ''a man,'' the same prohibitions apply to woman as well, as the verse concludes, ''and they shall become one flesh,'' in which woman are included.

Therefore, a Gentile woman is forbidden to have relations with: her stepson (even after she is widowed or divorced from his father); her son; any man other than her husband if she is married; an animal; or her full brother or her half-brother from her mother. The same precepts apply to these forbidden relations for a woman as for a man.

By Sarah Bakker

Reading schedule of the Divine Code

Yesterday's Study Topic: (4) in Lev.18:24... - ...and holiness.

Tomorrow's Study Topic: 1:2 - 1:5

Curious about the whole page? You can read it in The Divine Code.

Sources: The Divine Code (4th edition) by Rabbi Moshe Weiner


Sarah Bakker is a blog writer and illustrator for the Noahide Academy. After a difficult time, she found Judaism. She has been a Noahide for many years and uses her experiences and knowledge combined with her creative talents to help others.

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