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Is Having Children Obligatory?

For October 27, 2022

Genesis 9:9

וַאֲנִ֕י הִנְנִ֥י מֵקִ֛ים אֶת־בְּרִיתִ֖י אִתְּכֶ֑ם וְאֶֽת־זַרְעֲכֶ֖ם אַֽחֲרֵיכֶֽם׃

“I now establish My covenant with you and your offspring to come"

Propagation was forbidden in the ark.

This is taught, among other things, from Genesis 7:7 where is written: "And Noah…and his sons: The men separately and the women separately, because they were prohibited from engaging in marital relations since the world was steeped in pain"

With Noah and his wife leaving the ark (Genesis 8:16), it is again permitted, and a commandment, to repopulate the earth. (Genesis 9:1)

Noah was afraid of repopulating the world. After all, what good would that do if there was a possibility that everyone would have to die again.


ואני הנני

AND I BEHOLD I — “I am in agreement with you”; G-d said this because Noah feared to fulfil the duty of propagating the species until the Holy One, blessed be He, promised him that he would not again destroy the world and this promise G-d made (Midrash Tanchuma, Noach 11). Ultimately He said to him, “If you are still anxious I am willing to give to My promise the permanence and strength of a covenant and I will give you a sign.”

It is a covenant of two sides. Noah promises to populate the world and G-d promises not to destroy the world again by a flood. That is, when Noah will do his part to populate the earth, God will fulfil His part of the promise and ensure that life on earth will not be drastically disrupted again. One can trust G-d to fulfil His promises and assurances, unlike man, as noted by Bileam in Numbers 23, 19.(Radak)

Note that the commandment to Adam and Eve and to Noah to be fruitful was not repeated to the Noahides after Sinai.

Therefore, this commandment does not apply to today's Noahides. It does to Jews. Noahides do have the commandment of yishuv haaretz, i.e. the commandment to establish and civilise the world.

Jewish men are commanded to produce at least 1 daughter and 1 son.

Noahide men and women are supposed to start a family in the hope and expectation of having children.

G-d, for His part, keeps Himself to the covenant given to Noah, after all, we can admire the rainbow on a regular basis, let us, for our part, establish families so as to make the world a habitable and civilised place. An inhabited world with people who recognise G-d as King and are grateful for the good He wishes to give us, and gives us daily.

Brought By Angelique Sijbolts


Angelique Sijbolts is one of the main writers for the Noahide Academy. She has been an observant Noahide for many years. She studies Torah with Rabbi Perets every week. Angelique invests much of her time in editing video-lectures for the Rabbis of the Academy and contributes in administrating the Academy's website in English and Dutch. She lives in the north of the Netherlands. Married and mother of two sons. She works as a teacher in a school with students with special needs. And is a Hebrew Teacher for the levels beginners and intermediate. She likes to walk, to read and play the piano.



Chabadapp: chumash with Rashi


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