16 May 2014

Every Jot and Tittle: Genesis

In the Every Jot and Tittle project, I am listing all of the Bible's commandments from Genesis to Revelation, in accordance with Jesus's words in Matthew 5:18-19. I have no idea how many commandments I'll find, but Jewish tradition claims there are 613.
Although Genesis is a part of the Torah, it doesn't contain many commandments. Here are the ones that I could find.

  1. Be fruitful and multiply.
  2. God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply. Genesis 1:28a, 9:1, 9:7, 35:11
    This command is given repeatedly by God, and although it may have been meant only for the particular people that God was talking to at the time (Adam and Eve, Noah and his shipmates, and Jacob), many Bible believers consider it a direct command to all humankind. So, for the sake of completeness, I'll include it on the list.

  3. Subdue the earth and have dominion over every living thing.
  4. Replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth. Genesis 1:28b
    the fear of you and the dread of you shall be upon every beast of the earth, and upon every fowl of the air, upon all that moveth upon the earth, and upon all the fishes of the sea; into your hand are they delivered. Genesis 9:2

  5. Don't eat blood.
  6. But flesh with the life thereof, which is the blood thereof, shall ye not eat. Genesis 9:4
    It shall be a perpetual statute for your generations throughout all your dwellings, that ye eat neither fat nor blood. Leviticus 3:17
    Ye shall eat no manner of blood, whether it be of fowl or of beast, in any of your dwellings. Whatsoever soul it be that eateth any manner of blood, even that soul shall be cut off from his people. Leviticus 7:26-27
    And whatsoever man there be of the house of Israel, or of the strangers that sojourn among you, that eateth any manner of blood; I will even set my face against that soul that eateth blood, and will cut him off from among his people. ... No soul of you shall eat blood, neither shall any stranger that sojourneth among you eat blood. ... Ye shall eat the blood of no manner of flesh: for the life of all flesh is the blood thereof: whosoever eateth it shall be cut off. Leviticus 17:10-14
    Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood. Leviticus 19:26

    Ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water. Deuteronomy 12:16

    Thou shalt not eat the blood thereof; thou shalt pour it upon the ground as water. Deuteronomy 15:23

    But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. ... For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood.... Acts 15:20, 28-29
    This commandment is presented several times in the Bible, but first in Genesis 9:4. In my official "Jot and Tittle" list, I will assign the commandment number according to its first occurrence. The other passages will then be listed in biblical order.

    This commandment is included in Maimonides' list as #192, but it refers only to Leviticus 3:17. No mention is made of Genesis 9:4

    Muslims and Jews require the blood to be drained when animals are slaughtered for meat to be considered halal or kosher. It is one of the few things that they seem to agree on.

    Most Christians ignore God's first commandment, with the Jehovah's Witnesses being a notable exception. They believe it refers to human blood, and therefore prohibits blood transfusions. (They completely ignore the part about eating fat in Leviticus 3:17.)

    Although abstaining from blood is mentioned in Acts 15, it is unclear what is being condemned -- participating in pagan sacrifices, eating blood, or both. It is included here for completeness' sake.

  7. Whoever kills another person must be killed.
  8. Whoso sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed: for in the image of God made he man. Genesis 9:6
    He that smiteth a man, so that he die, shall be surely put to death. Exodus 21:12
    If a man come presumptuously upon his neighbour, to slay him with guile; thou shalt take him from mine altar, that he may die. Exodus 21:14

    He that killeth any man shall surely be put to death. Leviticus 24:17

    He that killeth a man, he shall be put to death. Leviticus 24:21b

    Whoso killeth any person, the murderer shall be put to death by the mouth of witnesses: but one witness shall not testify against any person to cause him to die. Numbers 35:30
    This commandment seems clear enough. Murders must be executed. But if so, then why wasn't the first murderer executed? God went out of his way to protect Cain from execution by putting some sort of mark on him, so that his parents (the only other people alive at the time) wouldn't kill him. God also said that whoever killed the first killer would be killed seven times over, setting a somewhat dubious precedent for future murder prosecutions. (Genesis 4:8-15)

  9. Baby boys must be circumcised eight days after their birth.
  10. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed. He that is born in thy house, and he that is bought with thy money, must needs be circumcised: and my covenant shall be in your flesh for an everlasting covenant. And the uncircumcised man child whose flesh of his foreskin is not circumcised, that soul shall be cut off from his people; he hath broken my covenant. Genesis 17:10-14
    And in the eighth day the flesh of his foreskin shall be circumcised. Leviticus 12:3
    Male circumcision is God's "everlasting covenant." Even Jesus was circumcised when he was eight days old (Luke 2:21). But some passages in the New Testament claim that God's everlasting covenant is no longer required. See Is circumcision necessary?


JT said...

After mentioning that Jehovah's witnesses forbid blood transfusions you add the parenthetical comment: “They are completely okay with eating rare non-human meat.”

That's not really a contradiction on their part. Although the red juices that are found in rare meat are popularly referred to as blood, they aren't blood. The red color is a protein called myoglobin.

Steve Wells said...

Good point, JT. I've removed the comment about rare meat.
Thanks for the correction.

noodleki said...

You forgot not partaking of the 'sinew that jumped', due to Jacob's unfortunate wrestling boutwith YAHWAY.

noodleki said...

There's also 'be fruitful and multiply' at the beginning.

You might want to check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sefer_ha-Chinuch
- a Jewish medieval work that categorizes the commandments in order of their apearance in scriptures.

Steve Wells said...


Yeah, I thought about including the "be fruitful and multiply" command, but I decided not to, since it seemed to be a command for Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28, to Noah and his shipmates in Genesis 9:1, and Jacob in Genesis 35:11. It doesn't look like a general commandment to me.

The bit about the sinew from Jacob's wrestling match with God might be considered a commandment, I suppose. But it seems more like an explanation for Jewish dietary customs, rather than laws. But it's far from clear to me.

Steve Wells said...


I've decided to include the "Be fruitful and multiply" commandment, along with God's command to Adam and Noah about having dominion over the earth and every living thing. It isn't clear (to me, anyway) that God is talking generally in these commands, but that's the way many Christians and Jews interpret it.

I've also taken your advice and checked the Jewish lists, which has resulted in the addition of another couple dozen commandments that I'd missed. (The numbering is a bit screwed up now, but the list is more complete.) Thanks for your suggestions!