The Unethical Life? #3 Punishment and Crime?
1 א
(טז) וַיָּקֻ֤מוּ מִשָּׁם֙ הָֽאֲנָשִׁ֔ים וַיַּשְׁקִ֖פוּ עַל־פְּנֵ֣י סְדֹ֑ם וְאַ֨בְרָהָ֔ם הֹלֵ֥ךְ עִמָּ֖ם לְשַׁלְּחָֽם׃ (יז) וַֽיי אָמָ֑ר הַֽמְכַסֶּ֤ה אֲנִי֙ מֵֽאַבְרָהָ֔ם אֲשֶׁ֖ר אֲנִ֥י עֹשֶֽׂה׃ (יח) וְאַ֨בְרָהָ֔ם הָי֧וֹ יִֽהְיֶ֛ה לְג֥וֹי גָּד֖וֹל וְעָצ֑וּם וְנִ֨בְרְכוּ ב֔וֹ כֹּ֖ל גּוֹיֵ֥י הָאָֽרֶץ׃ (יט) כִּ֣י יְדַעְתִּ֗יו לְמַעַן֩ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יְצַוֶּ֜ה אֶת־בָּנָ֤יו וְאֶת־בֵּיתוֹ֙ אַחֲרָ֔יו וְשָֽׁמְרוּ֙ דֶּ֣רֶךְ יי לַעֲשׂ֥וֹת צְדָקָ֖ה וּמִשְׁפָּ֑ט לְמַ֗עַן הָבִ֤יא יי עַל־אַבְרָהָ֔ם אֵ֥ת אֲשֶׁר־דִּבֶּ֖ר עָלָֽיו׃ (כ) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יי זַעֲקַ֛ת סְדֹ֥ם וַעֲמֹרָ֖ה כִּי־רָ֑בָּה וְחַ֨טָּאתָ֔ם כִּ֥י כָבְדָ֖ה מְאֹֽד׃ (כא) אֵֽרֲדָה־נָּ֣א וְאֶרְאֶ֔ה הַכְּצַעֲקָתָ֛הּ הַבָּ֥אָה אֵלַ֖י עָשׂ֣וּ ׀ כָּלָ֑ה וְאִם־לֹ֖א אֵדָֽעָה׃ (כב) וַיִּפְנ֤וּ מִשָּׁם֙ הָֽאֲנָשִׁ֔ים וַיֵּלְכ֖וּ סְדֹ֑מָה וְאַ֨בְרָהָ֔ם עוֹדֶ֥נּוּ עֹמֵ֖ד לִפְנֵ֥י יי (כג) וַיִּגַּ֥שׁ אַבְרָהָ֖ם וַיֹּאמַ֑ר הַאַ֣ף תִּסְפֶּ֔ה צַדִּ֖יק עִם־רָשָֽׁע׃ (כד) אוּלַ֥י יֵ֛שׁ חֲמִשִּׁ֥ים צַדִּיקִ֖ם בְּת֣וֹךְ הָעִ֑יר הַאַ֤ף תִּסְפֶּה֙ וְלֹא־תִשָּׂ֣א לַמָּק֔וֹם לְמַ֛עַן חֲמִשִּׁ֥ים הַצַּדִּיקִ֖ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר בְּקִרְבָּֽהּ׃ (כה) חָלִ֨לָה לְּךָ֜ מֵעֲשֹׂ֣ת ׀ כַּדָּבָ֣ר הַזֶּ֗ה לְהָמִ֤ית צַדִּיק֙ עִם־רָשָׁ֔ע וְהָיָ֥ה כַצַּדִּ֖יק כָּרָשָׁ֑ע חָלִ֣לָה לָּ֔ךְ הֲשֹׁפֵט֙ כָּל־הָאָ֔רֶץ לֹ֥א יַעֲשֶׂ֖ה מִשְׁפָּֽט׃ (כו) וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יי אִם־אֶמְצָ֥א בִסְדֹ֛ם חֲמִשִּׁ֥ים צַדִּיקִ֖ם בְּת֣וֹךְ הָעִ֑יר וְנָשָׂ֥אתִי לְכָל־הַמָּק֖וֹם בַּעֲבוּרָֽם׃ (כז) וַיַּ֥עַן אַבְרָהָ֖ם וַיֹּאמַ֑ר הִנֵּה־נָ֤א הוֹאַ֙לְתִּי֙ לְדַבֵּ֣ר אֶל־אדושם וְאָנֹכִ֖י עָפָ֥ר וָאֵֽפֶר׃ (כח) א֠וּלַי יַחְסְר֞וּן חֲמִשִּׁ֤ים הַצַּדִּיקִם֙ חֲמִשָּׁ֔ה הֲתַשְׁחִ֥ית בַּחֲמִשָּׁ֖ה אֶת־כָּל־הָעִ֑יר וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ לֹ֣א אַשְׁחִ֔ית אִם־אֶמְצָ֣א שָׁ֔ם אַרְבָּעִ֖ים וַחֲמִשָּֽׁה׃ (כט) וַיֹּ֨סֶף ע֜וֹד לְדַבֵּ֤ר אֵלָיו֙ וַיֹּאמַ֔ר אוּלַ֛י יִמָּצְא֥וּן שָׁ֖ם אַרְבָּעִ֑ים וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ לֹ֣א אֶֽעֱשֶׂ֔ה בַּעֲב֖וּר הָאַרְבָּעִֽים׃ (ל) וַ֠יֹּאמֶר אַל־נָ֞א יִ֤חַר לַֽאדושם וַאֲדַבֵּ֔רָה אוּלַ֛י יִמָּצְא֥וּן שָׁ֖ם שְׁלֹשִׁ֑ים וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ לֹ֣א אֶֽעֱשֶׂ֔ה אִם־אֶמְצָ֥א שָׁ֖ם שְׁלֹשִֽׁים׃ (לא) וַיֹּ֗אמֶר הִנֵּֽה־נָ֤א הוֹאַ֙לְתִּי֙ לְדַבֵּ֣ר אֶל־אדושם אוּלַ֛י יִמָּצְא֥וּן שָׁ֖ם עֶשְׂרִ֑ים וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ לֹ֣א אַשְׁחִ֔ית בַּעֲב֖וּר הָֽעֶשְׂרִֽים׃ (לב) וַ֠יֹּאמֶר אַל־נָ֞א יִ֤חַר לַֽאדושם וַאֲדַבְּרָ֣ה אַךְ־הַפַּ֔עַם אוּלַ֛י יִמָּצְא֥וּן שָׁ֖ם עֲשָׂרָ֑ה וַיֹּ֙אמֶר֙ לֹ֣א אַשְׁחִ֔ית בַּעֲב֖וּר הָעֲשָׂרָֽה׃ (לג) וַיֵּ֣לֶךְ יי כַּאֲשֶׁ֣ר כִּלָּ֔ה לְדַבֵּ֖ר אֶל־אַבְרָהָ֑ם וְאַבְרָהָ֖ם שָׁ֥ב לִמְקֹמֽוֹ׃
(16) The men set out from there and looked down toward Sodom, Abraham walking with them to see them off. (17) Now the LORD had said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, (18) since Abraham is to become a great and populous nation and all the nations of the earth are to bless themselves by him? (19) For I have singled him out, that he may instruct his children and his posterity to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is just and right, in order that the LORD may bring about for Abraham what He has promised him.” (20) Then the LORD said, “The outrage of Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave! (21) I will go down to see whether they have acted altogether according to the outcry that has reached Me; if not, I will take note.” (22) The men went on from there to Sodom, while Abraham remained standing before the LORD. (23) Abraham came forward and said, “Will You sweep away the innocent along with the guilty? (24) What if there should be fifty innocent within the city; will You then wipe out the place and not forgive it for the sake of the innocent fifty who are in it? (25) Far be it from You to do such a thing, to bring death upon the innocent as well as the guilty, so that innocent and guilty fare alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” (26) And the LORD answered, “If I find within the city of Sodom fifty innocent ones, I will forgive the whole place for their sake.” (27) Abraham spoke up, saying, “Here I venture to speak to my Lord, I who am but dust and ashes: (28) What if the fifty innocent should lack five? Will You destroy the whole city for want of the five?” And He answered, “I will not destroy if I find forty-five there.” (29) But he spoke to Him again, and said, “What if forty should be found there?” And He answered, “I will not do it, for the sake of the forty.” (30) And he said, “Let not my Lord be angry if I go on: What if thirty should be found there?” And He answered, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.” (31) And he said, “I venture again to speak to my Lord: What if twenty should be found there?” And He answered, “I will not destroy, for the sake of the twenty.” (32) And he said, “Let not my Lord be angry if I speak but this last time: What if ten should be found there?” And He answered, “I will not destroy, for the sake of the ten.” (33) When the LORD had finished speaking to Abraham, He departed; and Abraham returned to his place.
2 ב
(כג) הַשֶּׁ֖מֶשׁ יָצָ֣א עַל־הָאָ֑רֶץ וְל֖וֹט בָּ֥א צֹֽעֲרָה׃ (כד) וַֽיי הִמְטִ֧יר עַל־סְדֹ֛ם וְעַל־עֲמֹרָ֖ה גָּפְרִ֣ית וָאֵ֑שׁ מֵאֵ֥ת יי מִן־הַשָּׁמָֽיִם׃ (כה) וַֽיַּהֲפֹךְ֙ אֶת־הֶעָרִ֣ים הָאֵ֔ל וְאֵ֖ת כָּל־הַכִּכָּ֑ר וְאֵת֙ כָּל־יֹשְׁבֵ֣י הֶעָרִ֔ים וְצֶ֖מַח הָאֲדָמָֽה׃ (כו) וַתַּבֵּ֥ט אִשְׁתּ֖וֹ מֵאַחֲרָ֑יו וַתְּהִ֖י נְצִ֥יב מֶֽלַח׃ (כז) וַיַּשְׁכֵּ֥ם אַבְרָהָ֖ם בַּבֹּ֑קֶר אֶל־הַ֨מָּק֔וֹם אֲשֶׁר־עָ֥מַד שָׁ֖ם אֶת־פְּנֵ֥י יי (כח) וַיַּשְׁקֵ֗ף עַל־פְּנֵ֤י סְדֹם֙ וַעֲמֹרָ֔ה וְעַֽל־כָּל־פְּנֵ֖י אֶ֣רֶץ הַכִּכָּ֑ר וַיַּ֗רְא וְהִנֵּ֤ה עָלָה֙ קִיטֹ֣ר הָאָ֔רֶץ כְּקִיטֹ֖ר הַכִּבְשָֽׁן׃ (כט) וַיְהִ֗י בְּשַׁחֵ֤ת אֱלֹקִים֙ אֶת־עָרֵ֣י הַכִּכָּ֔ר וַיִּזְכֹּ֥ר אֱלֹקִ֖ים אֶת־אַבְרָהָ֑ם וַיְשַׁלַּ֤ח אֶת־לוֹט֙ מִתּ֣וֹךְ הַהֲפֵכָ֔ה בַּהֲפֹךְ֙ אֶת־הֶ֣עָרִ֔ים אֲשֶׁר־יָשַׁ֥ב בָּהֵ֖ן לֽוֹט׃
(23) As the sun rose upon the earth and Lot entered Zoar, (24) the LORD rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah sulfurous fire from the LORD out of heaven. (25) He annihilated those cities and the entire Plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities and the vegetation of the ground. (26) Lot’s wife looked back, and she thereupon turned into a pillar of salt. (27) Next morning, Abraham hurried to the place where he had stood before the LORD, (28) and, looking down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and all the land of the Plain, he saw the smoke of the land rising like the smoke of a kiln. (29) Thus it was that, when God destroyed the cities of the Plain and annihilated the cities where Lot dwelt, God was mindful of Abraham and removed Lot from the midst of the upheaval.
3 ג

Burton Visotzky The Genesis of Justice (1996) Three Rivers Press

*Why didn't Abraham bargain God down to one righteous person to save the city?

*Did Abraham demand from God out of pure self-interest?

*Is the whole argument a 'charade'?

*'I presume to speak'...Shouldn't it be that God wants justice? Demands justice?

*If God can protect those who are 'less than ethical', God can equally well destroy the righteous!

*Another point of view: God shows faith in humanity by allowing the argument to happen - though 'disappointed' when there are not 10 righteous people.

*If justice is absolute, then how can anyone 'bargain' for justice? Is the interest of the 'client' 'above the dictates of pure justice'?

4 ד
(א) חלילה לך חוּלִין הוּא לָךְ, יֹאמְרוּ כַךְ הוּא אוּמָנוּתוֹ, שׁוֹטֵף הֵכֹּל, צֵדִּיקִים וּרְשָׁעִים כַּךְ עָשִׂיתָ לְדוֹר הַמַּבּוּל וּלְדוֹר הַפְלָגָה: (ב) כדבר הזה לֹא הוּא וְלֹא כַיוֹצֵא בוֹ: (ג) חלילה לך לָעוֹלָם הַבָּא: (ד) השופט כל הארץ נָקוּד בַּחֲטַף פַּתַח ה"א שֶׁל הֲשׁוֹפֵט, לְשׁוֹן תְּמִיָה וְכִי מִי שֶׁהוּא שׁוֹפֵט לֹא יַעֲשֶׂה מִשְׁפַּט אֱמֶת:

(1) חלילה לך FAR BE IT FROM THEE — It is a profanation (חולין) of Yourself. People will say, “That is what He usually busies Himself with: He destroys every one, righteous and wicked alike” —and thus did You indeed do to the generation of the Flood and to that of the dispersal of nations (Midrash Tanchuma, Vayera 8). (2) כדבר הזה ANYTHING LIKE THIS THING — neither this nor anything like it (Genesis Rabbah 49:10). (3) חלילה לך IT IS UNWORTHY OF THEE —in the world to come. (4) השופט כל הארץ SHALL NOT THE JUDGE OF ALL THE EARTH [DO JUSTICE]? — The 'ה of השופט is punctuated with Chataph Patach because the words express a question: “Should not He who is Judge practice true justice”?

5 ה

*What defines righteousness? How would God evaluate the qualities of the citizens of Sodom?

*Are we meant to pursue justice so that we survive or so that we remake the fabric of society? Is Abraham interested in his nephew's and his survival or in creating a new world? Maybe both?

7 ז

(א) והיה כצדיק כרשע מעותד למקרה אם יקרה שימצא איזה צדיק בתוך הרשעים: (ב) השופט כל הארץ כי בהיותך שופט כל הארץ אם תדין את כלה אחרי הרוב תשחית אותה לעולם בלי ספק כי רוב בני אדם רשעים:

(1) והיה כצדיק כרשע, subject to chance, being in the wrong place at the wrong time. (2) השופט כל הארץ, seeing that You are the judge of the whole earth, if You will judge people based on the conduct of the majority You would eventually be forced to destroy mankind, seeing that most people everywhere are wicked.