as it is written: “And the earth was corrupt before God” (Genesis 6:11), presumably referring to a transgression, and the school of Rabbi Yishmael taught: Anywhere that the term corruption is stated, it is referring to nothing other than a matter of licentiousness and idol worship. The Gemara cites proofs for this claim: Corruption refers to a matter of licentiousness, as it is stated: “For all flesh had corrupted their way upon the earth” (Genesis 6:12); the word “way” alludes to sexual intercourse. And corruption also refers to idol worship, as it is written: “Lest you deal corruptly, and make you a graven image” (Deuteronomy 4:16).
The Gemara asks: And how do the other tanna’im, who do not derive from the verse “And the earth was corrupt before God” that the descendants of Noah are prohibited from engaging in idol worship and forbidden sexual relations, interpret this verse? The Gemara answers: In their opinion, the verse merely exposes the behavior of the generation of Noah.
According to the school of Menashe, the prohibition of bloodshed for the descendants of Noah is stated separately in the Torah, as it is written: “One who sheds the blood of man, by man his blood shall be shed” (Genesis 9:6). The Gemara asks: And how do the other tanna’im interpret this verse? The Gemara answers: In their opinion, the verse reveals the type of death penalty administered to the descendants of Noah, but it is not the source for the prohibition of bloodshed.
The prohibition of robbery is stated, according to the school of Menashe, as it is written: “Every moving thing that is alive shall be for food for you; like the green herbs I have given you all” (Genesis 9:3). And Rabbi Levi says: Like the green herbs that sprout all over by themselves and are ownerless, and not like the vegetation of a garden, which belongs to the garden’s owner alone. This indicates that robbery is prohibited. The Gemara asks: And how do the other tanna’im interpret this verse? The Gemara answers: In their opinion, that verse comes to permit the consumption of meat.
The prohibition against eating a limb from a living animal is stated in the Torah, as it is written: “Only flesh with its life, which is its blood, you shall not eat” (Genesis 9:4), i.e., it is prohibited to eat flesh while the animal that it comes from is still alive. And how do the other tanna’im interpret this verse? In their opinion, that verse comes to permit eating a limb from living creeping animals; this prohibition does not apply to creeping animals (see 59b).
The prohibition of castration that applies to the descendants of Noah is stated, as it is written: “And you be fruitful and multiply, swarm in the earth and multiply in it” (Genesis 9:7), indicating that nothing may be done to prevent reproduction. And the other tanna’im hold that this verse is written merely as a blessing, not as a mitzva.
The prohibition of diverse kinds that applies to the descendants of Noah is stated, as it is written: “Of the fowl after their kind and of the cattle after their kind, of every creeping thing of the ground after its kind” (Genesis 6:20), indicating that each species must be kept separate, and that crossbreeding is prohibited. And according to the other tanna’im, that verse does not indicate a mitzva; rather, the reason for keeping the species separate in Noah’s Ark was merely for the sake of companionship, as animals are most comfortable in the company of other members of their own species.
Rav Yosef says: They say in the study hall that a descendant of Noah is executed for transgressing three mitzvot, which are represented by the letters gimmel, shin, reish in a mnemonic device: For forbidden sexual relations, for bloodshed, and for blessing, i.e., cursing, the name of God.
Rav Sheshet objects to this statement: Granted, a descendant of Noah is executed for bloodshed, as it is written: “One who sheds the blood of man, by man his blood shall be shed” (Genesis 9:6). But with regard to those other prohibitions, from where do the Sages derive that a descendant of Noah who transgresses them is executed?
If they derive it from the punishment for bloodshed by means of an analogy, then descendants of Noah should be executed even if they transgressed any of the other Noahide mitzvot. If they are executed because they are included in the term “anyone” and similarly, the term “no one” stated with regard to these two prohibitions, as it is stated with regard to cursing the name of God: “Anyone who curses his God shall bear his sin” (Leviticus 24:15), and it is stated with regard to forbidden sexual relations: “No one shall approach any that is near of kin to him, to uncover their nakedness” (Leviticus 18:6), then gentiles should be executed for idol worship too, as they are included in the term “anyone” stated in that context (see Leviticus 20:2).
Rather, Rav Sheshet says that Rav Yosef’s version should be rejected, and that this is what they say in the study hall: A descendant of Noah is executed for transgressing four mitzvot; the three that were listed, and idol worship.
The Gemara asks: And is a descendant of Noah executed for idol worship? But isn’t it taught in a baraita: With regard to idol worship, matters for which a Jewish court executes the transgressor are prohibited to a descendant of Noah. The Gemara infers: Yes, there is a prohibition for a descendant of Noah, but there is no death penalty. Rav Naḥman bar Yitzḥak says: Their prohibition is their death penalty. Since the only punishment mentioned in the Torah for transgressing a Noahide mitzva is execution, any descendant of Noah who transgresses is liable to be executed.
Rav Huna, Rav Yehuda, and all of the other students of Rav say: A descendant of Noah is executed for transgressing any of the seven Noahide mitzvot; the Merciful One revealed this punishment with regard to one mitzva, the prohibition of bloodshed, and the same is true with regard to all of them.
The Gemara asks: But is a descendant of Noah executed for robbery? But isn’t it taught in a baraita: With regard to the following types of robbery: One who steals or robs, and likewise one who engages in intercourse with a married beautiful woman who was taken as a prisoner of war, and likewise all actions similar to these, if they are done by a gentile to another gentile, or by a gentile to a Jew, the action is prohibited; but if a Jew does so to a gentile, it is permitted? The Gemara explains the question: And if it is so that a gentile is liable to be executed for robbery, and it is not merely prohibited to him, let the baraita teach that he is liable to be executed.
The Gemara answers: Because the tanna wanted to teach in the latter clause that if a Jew does so to a gentile, it is permitted, he taught in the former clause that if a gentile does one of these, it is prohibited. If the baraita were to state that if a gentile does so, he is liable, it would have to state that if a Jew does so to a gentile, he is exempt, because this is the opposite of liable. That would indicate that it is actually prohibited for a Jew to do so to a gentile, and that he is merely exempt from liability, which is not the case. Therefore, the word prohibited is used with regard to a gentile. Therefore, this does not prove that a gentile is exempt from capital punishment.
The Gemara challenges: But wherever there is liability for capital punishment, this tanna teaches it; as it is taught in the first clause: With regard to bloodshed, if a gentile murders another gentile, or a gentile murders a Jew, he is liable. If a Jew murders a gentile, he is exempt. Evidently, the term liable is used in the baraita.
The Gemara answers: There, in that case, how should the tanna teach it? Should he teach it using the terms prohibited and permitted, indicating that a Jew may kill a gentile ab initio? But isn’t it taught in a baraita that with regard to a gentile, and likewise with regard to Jewish shepherds of small livestock, who were typically robbers, one may not raise them out of a pit into which they fell, and one may not lower them into a pit? In other words, one may not rescue them from danger, but neither may one kill them ab initio. With regard to robbery, the term permitted is relevant, as it is permitted for a Jew to rob a gentile.
The Gemara returns to discuss the details of the prohibition of robbery mentioned in the baraita, which included actions similar to it. The Gemara asks: With regard to robbery, to what actions similar to it is the baraita referring? Rav Aḥa bar Ya’akov says: It is necessary only to teach the halakha of a laborer working in a vineyard who eats from the fruit of the vineyard; his action is similar to robbery, and it is prohibited for a gentile to do so.
The Gemara asks: When does this laborer in a vineyard eat from the fruit? If he does so at the time of the completion of the work, i.e., while he is harvesting the fruit, it is permitted for him to do so, just as a Jew working for another Jew is allowed to do so. If it is not at the time of the completion of its work, eating the fruit is full-fledged robbery, and there is no novel element to this case.
Rather, Rav Pappa says that the mention in the baraita of actions similar to robbery is necessary only to teach the halakha of one who robs another of less than the value of one peruta. The Gemara asks: If so, why does the baraita state that it is prohibited for a gentile to do so to a Jew? Isn’t a Jew apt to forgive such a tiny debt? Why is this considered robbery? The Gemara answers: Although afterward the owner forgives him, does he not incur distress at the time of the robbery? Consequently, at the time of the robbery the robber commits a transgression and is liable to be punished for it.
The Gemara challenges: If the mention of actions similar to robbery is referring to the robbery of less than the value of one peruta, what is the novel element in the case of a gentile who robs a gentile? Since they are not apt to grant forgiveness, robbing a gentile of even a minuscule amount is considered full-fledged robbery, and not merely similar to robbery.
Rather, Rav Aḥa, son of Rav Ika, says that there is a different explanation: It is necessary only to teach the halakha of one who withholds the wages of a hired laborer; for a gentile to do so to another gentile and for a gentile to do so to a Jew is prohibited, but for a Jew to do so to a gentile is permitted. This case is less obvious than other types of robbery, as instead of taking an item from the victim, the robber withholds money that is due to the victim.
The Gemara clarifies further: What is the action that is similar to engaging in intercourse with a beautiful woman who is a prisoner of war, to which the baraita is referring? When Rav Dimi came from Eretz Yisrael to Babylonia, he said that Rabbi Elazar says that Rabbi Ḥanina says: In the case of a descendant of Noah who designated a maidservant as a mate for his slave, and then he himself engaged in intercourse with her, he is executed on her account. Although the maidservant is his property and is not the slave’s full-fledged wife, nevertheless, he is guilty of adultery.
The Gemara comments: The baraita does not teach that a descendant of Noah is liable for actions similar to bloodshed. Abaye says: If you find a baraita that teaches this, it is in accordance with the opinion of Rabbi Yonatan ben Shaul. As it is taught in a baraita that Rabbi Yonatan ben Shaul says: If a person pursues another to kill him, and the one being pursued can save himself by injuring one of the limbs of the pursuer, but he does not save himself in this manner and instead kills the pursuer,