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'?
(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”?
*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?
(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.