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History of Noahides
Mike Wrote:
Director Michael Wrote:Historically it is known that there were large numbers of Gentiles in the Roman Empire who lived as Chassidei Umos Ha'Olom, up until they were repressed by the idolatrous government after the destruction of the Second Temple.

Thanks a lot for this answer!
Is the source for this in the Talmud? In the Midrash?

The Talmud and Midrash use the term "yirei shamayim" (Heaven Fearers) for these Chassidei Umos Ha'Olom, but not much information is given about their numbers or their geographics. Instead, these Jewish sources focus on describing their great merit, and some noteworthy individuals are mentioned.

It is  virtually impossible to find any unbiased resources on this subject outside of the Talmud and Midrash, because these "G-d fearing" Gentiles became the prime targets for the missionizing activities of Paul and his followers, and they are almost always referred to in that slanted context. The best historical sources are in the writings of Josephus:

Josephus, The Jewish War 2.454.
Josephus, The Jewish War 2.463.
Josephus, The Jewish War 7.45.
Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 14.110.
Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 20.41.
Josephus, Against Apion 1.166–167.
Josephus, Against Apion 2.282.

Mike Wrote:
Director Michael Wrote:We know of individual cases in Talmudic times,

I should have added this question to my previous post...but could you give us an example from the Talmud of a Chassid Umos Ha'olam who Noahides could use as a role model?

The Midrash Genesis Rabbah states that some of the cities around the Mediterranean Sea which were deserving of extermination were saved by the merit of producing even just one "Heaven Fearing" Gentile per year.

There is a famous story in the Talmud about a Noahide in Israel during the Second Temple period, who exemplified the ideal of honoring parents. Dama the gem merchant passed up the opportunity to earn a fortune, when it would have required that he compromise in his respect for his father. As a message to all mankind, G-d rewarded Dama in a miraculous way. This story is the subject of a wonderful children's book:

Here is another interesting point of history. The sage Shimon Ha'Tzaddik was the High Priest during the years that Alexander the Great was conquering much of Europe, Asia and Africa. After Shimon Ha'Tzaddik died, there was brief struggle between his two sons for the position of High Priest. The son that Shimon Ha'Tzaddik preferred, Chonyo, ended up fleeing temporarily to Egypt, and Shimon Ha'Tzaddik's brother became the High Priest. While Chonyo was in Egypt, he began teaching many Egyptians about monotheism and the One True G-d (Noahidism). He built an altar there, and taught these Egyptians how to bring sacrifices to G-d (but Chonyo himself did not sacrifice there, since Jews are not allowed to bring sacrifices outside of the Temple in Jerusalem). Eventually he returned to Jerusalem and became the next High Priest, after his uncle.

Messages In This Thread
Historical Ger Toshav & Heaven Fearers - by Mike - 07-25-2007, 12:43 PM
RE: History of Noahides - by Director Michael - 08-07-2015, 04:41 PM
RE: Differences between Righteous Gentile and Noahide Chassid - by Director Michael - 07-29-2007, 05:39 PM

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