Abraham’s intercession for the people of Sodom (Genesis 18:23-33) must rank as one of the more enigmatic passages in Scripture. The people of Sodom were the epitome of cruelty and wickedness while Abraham was kind and righteous. Why would he pray for the preservation of such wickedness?
Our sages compounded the enigma when they taught that God chose Abraham precisely because of this prayer. The rabbis expounded on Psalm 45:8. “You love righteousness and hate wickedness; therefore has God, your God, anointed you with oil of joy from among your peers.” The Sages of Israel read these words as if God were addressing Abraham; “You have loved to justify my creations and you have hated to render them guilty it is for this reason that from all the generations since Noah that I chose to speak to you.” According to this reading, it was Abraham’s prayer on behalf of the Sodomites that set him apart from his peers.
The Torah itself leads us in the direction of this rabbinic teaching. The Torah introduces Abraham’s intercession for the people of Sodom with a reminder of the fact that Abraham was chosen by God (Genesis 18:17-19). The Torah is telling us that God’s blessing to Abraham is somehow related to the episode of Abraham praying on behalf of the wicked. How are these two concepts related to each other? And why did Abraham pray for the preservation of these cruel and unrighteous people?
It is clear and obvious that Abraham was not looking forward to the perpetuation of Sodom’s evil way of life. If Abraham was praying for the survival of the people of Sodom then he must have been thinking of their repentance. When Abraham appeals to God to spare Sodom for the sake of ten righteous people Abraham is arguing that these ten righteous people will eventually turn Sodom around. Abraham’s prayer is a belief in the power of good to prevail over evil. And Abraham’s prayer reflects a deep faith in the essential goodness of man that was created in God’s image.
This is not to say that Abraham was naïve. This is not to say that Abraham did not appreciate the depth of the Sodomite evil. The Torah teaches us that Abraham could not even tolerate possessing a shoelace from Sodom (Genesis 14:22,23). Abraham’s righteous soul recoiled from the wickedness of the Sodomites but this did not prevent Abraham from seeing them as God’s creations.
When Abraham saw the wickedness of the people of Sodom he saw people who were not being true to themselves. Since these people were God’s creations Abraham believed that God’s goodness must be an inherent part of them. And if they are exposed to ten righteous people then there is hope for their return to God.
Abraham’s belief in the inherent goodness of God’s creations and his belief that righteousness will ultimately prevail over evil is what made him the father of God’s chosen nation. God’s plan for His nation is that they carry the torch of righteousness through the corridors of history and in this way, bring the hearts of men back to God. When God was looking for a man to father this nation He was looking for someone who believed in His plan. And it was Abraham’s prayer on behalf of the people of Sodom that showed God that this was His man.
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Yisroel C. Blumenthal
This is the polar opposite of the Christian belief that we are all filthy sinners. Thanks for an inspiring article!
The NT never teaches that “Just jews are sinners”. The bible on the whole does however teach that all of mankind are sinners before God. Thats Jew and gentile.
Im sure you would agree that point?!
But sticking to the post here though. Im more that sure that Abraham wasnt interceding for the whole of sodom. The Lord God made it very clear to Abraham that sodoms fate was clear and certain. As fsr as God was concerned, sodom was already destroyed, Punisnment was set in stone. Abraham was yes concerned, but only for his nephew Lot and his family. Lots family totalled ten people. Abraham stopped interceding when he reached that figure.
Abrahams plea to the Lord was acknowledged, but not directly answered. Lot was saved because of the intercession, because Abraham is referred to as being Gods friend.
The Lord God of Isreal is a just God and sovereign ruler. He punishes sin and sinners who refuses to repent.
Right, Paul, I know the NT teaches that we all (not just Jews but everyone) are miserable sinners. That idea is not found in the Hebrew Bible.
A liar is someone who lies habitually, but an honest man is someone who lies occasionally; no none never lies. And then there are all the people in between. So too, a sinner is someone who sins habitually, while a righteous man sins occasionally.
The Torah believes there are sinners who sin by choice and righteous people who are righteous by choice. We are not born automatically sinners. We are born innocent, a clean slate.
Your interpretation of the story of Sodom is at odds with the simple account in the Torah. Abraham clearly asked God to spare the entire city for the sake of ten righteous men.
You’re making up interpretations for passages that don’t quite fit with your theology.
Your reasoning is consumeown and back to front, and im not sure where to begin.
1. How can a honest person be labeled a honest person, even though they lie, “be it OCCASIONALLY”?? Where do you draw the line on occasionally and habitually. Once a day, once week, once a month??? When does a murderer become habitual from occasionally?
Your statement is weak and ridiculous. I would love to see a text that states a man who lies, be it once in a while, is labelled honest.
2. Gen chap 18: 22. Will you consume the righteous with the wicked?
Abraham has no reason to intercede for the totalaty of sodom, why would he? His only reason for the pleading is for lot and his family.
When God passes His judgement it is irreversible. V 16-21. Its very obvious that the text states this, its also no coincidence that the intercession stops at ten people. Its also very clear that ten people were saved and sodom was destroyed. If Abrahams intercession was for Sodom as a whole, then Abraham failed.
Sorry the word consumeown doesnt exist! !
Yes, so what did you mean to write? Just curious.
According to Chazal, Dina is right. Abraham was seeking at least a number of 10 for a minyan. It was beyond just his own personal family interest.
Paul, are you serious? Do you know any human being who has NEVER lied? According to your definition of honesty, there is no such thing as an honest person. Did you ever consider that?
Are you putting lying up there with murder? Are these two sins equal in your eyes? Everyone has lied at least once in their lives. Can you say with a straight face that everyone has murdered at least once in their lives? Again, are you serious?
Nevertheless, you ask a fair question about where to draw the line. I can’t give you numbers. A liar lies often. An honest person lies seldom. A person with common sense can tell the difference.
Yes, obviously Abraham failed to save Sodom. That is correct. But God said He would save the entire city if Abraham could find at least ten righteous men. You think Abraham cared only about his own kin? You’re forcing interpretations here.
I was trying to say, upside down and back to front!!
This tablet is a pain sometimes, one slight touch and your text jumps into a previous written line.
Anyway, yes of course we all lie at some point, some more than others. Something we should never do. Some lie with no concience, some lie habitually, some just lie very occasionally when they feel they have to. The list is endless. But thats not my intial point and im sure that wasnt your view.
I saw your view as, its ok to lie occasionally and you can be labelled righteous, and be more righteous than others etc etc. I saw your view as its ok, for some, to lie. Anyway its not the real issue here. To be honest I’m not sure why you mentioned lying anyway? The topic was Sodom.
Moving on……… I dont see Abraham being interested for the entirety of Sodom, for the sodomites. They were sexually perverse, and in the eyes of God had passed the point of redemption and were destined for destruction. Abrahams thoughts were for his family not the sodomites. Abrahams plea is for his family not the city. He never says save the city because they should live, he is saying dont destroy the city because of my kin.
You say Abraham failed in his request. He never failed anything. He interceded on the behalf of his family just before God went forth to Sodom to do what He said He would do, and Abraham prevailed.
Yes, I hear you about the tablet, Paul. I prefer typing on a keyboard for that reason :).
I brought up liars as an analogy to sinners. If there is no such thing as a righteous person because we are all sinners, then there is no such thing as an honest person, since we are all liars (I was NOT condoning sinning or lying).
My point being: the notion that we are all sinners is ridiculous and anti-Scriptural.
I hope that clarifies.
Dina, here is an article for you on this subject.
What’s your point, Con?
Right, Paul, I know the NT teaches that we all (not just Jews but everyone) are miserable sinners.
The point is that your portrayal of Christian understanding on this topic is superficial and not necessarily correct.
Con, a lot of Christians believe this. A lot! Like, millions!
Every Christian I speak to insists that his brand of Christianity is the truth and everyone else has got it wrong. You are no exception. So forgive me for being a little cynical.
Dina, you are absolutely correct in you post.
All christians are the way you describe them, even the so called bad or wayward christians. I have found that if a person truly believes something, then it is true, at least to them. So argument or logical discussion is at best a waste of time.
So all a person can do is to state your facts and sources. Then pray to HaShem that a small light will be lit. For I believe that is what we Jews are to do.
Here is a quote from another jewish site that I find is great.
“I have lived and studied Judaism all my life. I have also spent many years studying the christian bible. I have spent years discussing Judaism and christianity with my christian friends. (To be clear on this, some were Catholic, some were Protestants of various types, especially Baptist.) I have also spent years of my life debating, arguing, and generally wasting my time with christians. I know what they have to say, I know why they say it, and most of the time I know what they are going to say before they say it. My faith is based on a deep study of Torah and Judaism, and quite a detailed exposure to christianity. My faith is not blind at all. But I no longer see any point in debating, especially with people who aren’t open to listening to me at all. One-sided “discussions” are at best a waste of time.”
Remember what Devarim – Deuteronomy 13:1-9 says, if they don’t listen, brush them off.
Your interpretation fails for several reasons
First – who told you that Lot’s family had ten people?
Second – why didn’t Abraham pray that God should save the righteous alone as He did in the time of Noah? Why is God’s response to Abraham “I will forgive the entire place for their (the righteous) sake”? (Genesis 18:26) (- the Hebrew word that the KJV translates as “spare” is the same as the one used in Isaiah 53:4)
And finally – according to your theology the entire conversation between God and Abraham is nonsensical – what are they talking about 50 righteous people, 45 righteous people – according to you there is no such thing as a righteous person.
Paul – you have been evasive in the past – don’t come back to comment on this blog unless you attempt to answer these questions or admit your mistake
Lots two sons.
Lots two married daughter’s.
Lots two son inlaws.
Lots two virgin single daughters.
2. The difference between Noah and Abraham is quite obvious. When God told Noah that the flood was coming, it was to destroy ALL living flesh. If only Noah was saved me and you would not be having this conversation right now. Besides Noah was with his family, locally, as Abraham was seperated from Lot. God told Abraham that He was going over to Sodom there and then, as with Noah the judgement was 120 yrs away, anyway as stated God needed Noahs wife, there sons and wifes to pro create mankind, unlike Sodom, as the punishment was to eradicate the problem locally, and to show Abraham and his decendants what God thinks about sexual immorality. Plus there is nothing in the texts that states Noahs family should have died.
If you read Genesis Noah is never recorded as spoken until after the flood. There are no records of any intercessory prayers.
Gods does state “IF”I find 50,45,30 etc. The IF is pivotal. He didnt find any as we know because Sodom met its fate according to The God of Israels sovereignty over sin.
The reason for Gods actions are not because of general sin, it was because of specific sexual immoral sin.
To answer your final quedtion;
God has made it clear from v 20 His intentions. Abraham knows the fate of Sodom, he also knows his family are there. Abrahams intentions are for his family. He starts to plead with God.v 23 “will you consume the righteous with the wicked?”
To paraphrase this;
Abraham says “look God I have family there, if you find at least fifty good peole there will you please spare the city because my family are there also. Gods ok Abraham IF there is fifty righteous, then you have your way and I will repent my actions.etc etc.
We know from the text and history that none were found.
We also know that God doesnt repent.
To finish here about your comment on righteousness. If you mean that someone or some people obtain full righteousness and complete holiness, according to Gods statutes, then I would like you to show me who this is.
Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon all faild and sinned at some part of theirs lifes, as we all do.
Paul, what do you make of Genesis 6:9?
Noah here is described in two ways. He was righteous inward because of his personal relationship with God, ie salvation. And secondly, outwardly, perfect in his generations. He was not contaminated from the outside world, without blemish. So he walked with God.
But he still had the sin nature, as we see later as Noah became drunk, and later on he died.
We are all sinners.
1 kings 8 v46
Ecc 7 v20
Thanks for proving my point, Paul! The verses you cite say that even righteous men sin. Just like I was explaining to you that even honest men lie. If we are born sinners, why call Noah righteous in the first place? Also, your interpretation is not supported by the text. Once again, you are imposing on the text what isn’t there.
You answered none of my questions but I applaud you for your effort.
1 – who told you how many sons and married daughters Lot had? and why was Abraham not concerned about Lot’s son’s wives?
2 – You misunderstood my question and you ignore the text of Scripture. My point was that the text refutes your contention that Abraham was only praying for the survival of the wicked – The text explicitly refers to God forgiving the entire place for the sake of the righteous
3 – You didn’t answer the question – why is it that when Abraham mentioned 50 righteous people God didn’t tell him that there is no such thing as a righteous person. Why did Abraham think that there were righteous people in the world?
Thanks for the applause, I can hear it now!
1. Verses 8. 12. 14.
Where does it state that lot at this point, had daughters in laws?
2. Im a little confused hear, sorry. I never said Abraham was praying only for the wicked?? Am I reading this incorrectly?
3 Abrahams concern for Sodom is not in line with Gods thinking. Abraham didnt say there was fifty righteous within Sodom. He said if there is fifty? Will you consume the righteous with the wicked? Abraham is only thinking about his family. The wickedness of sodom had come before God not Abraham. Abraham, as any normal functioning human being doesnt want his blood kin dying. He is hoping that God will find some righteous for the sake of his family, but thats not the same as interceding for the whole of sodom.
You miss the point. You ask why didnt God tell Abraham that no righteous people are in sodom?
Through Abrahams pleas, 50,45,40 etc God IS telling Abraham there are none. Thats the whole point of the intercessary prayer. Its just a play on numbers to come to a truth, 50 down to 10.
This whole episodes strengthen s Abraham spiritual relationship with His creator.
The prayer is numerically specific, it shows Abrahams resolve, humility and his earnestness with persistence.
Gen 19.29 states that God remembered Abraham when He rescued Lot.
Ps You mentioned about righteousness in the world. This is about specific sexual sin that was not repented for and sodom refused to change. This is not about general, genetic sin which we all have.
Long time no post.
Rabbi B., if I may, I’d like to focus your second question to Paul on one verse in particular.
Paul;, Gen: 18:24: Pick any translation you like, but here’s the NIV:
“What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away AND NOT SPARE THE PLACE for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? (emphasis mine)”
Care to tell us how that is not Abraham praying for “the place” as a whole and not just it’s righteous members?
And as to your assertion that Abraham already knew the Sodom’s fate was sealed,that too flies in the face of the scripture. The only thing God says (out loud) to Abraham before Abraham begins his plea are verses 20 and 21 in which He says:
“20: And the LORD said: ‘Verily, the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and, verily, their sin is exceedingly grievous 21 I will go down now, and see WHETHER they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto Me; and if not, I will know.'” (emphasis mine)
Do you see the word “whether”? What does that mean? This is conveying that the fate is anything but sealed and that God is continuing to sit in judgement. That is where Abraham jumps in and – with the parameters of the judgement still less than certain – begins to make his case.
It’s really rather clear.
let us see if Paul is man enough to admit that his read on Scripture has been warped by the doctrines of men
Yes I see your point of view from the “whether” word, and yes it could read as if God is going down to see if the abominations are for real, or if judgement is in the balance.
However you will see that the absolute opposite is true to your statement and your way of reading scripture.
First you have to understand that God said ” to the end that Jehovah may bring upon Abraham that which he HAD spoken of him”. And Abraham needed to be taught “that they may keep the way of Jehovah”.
“Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great” The word CRY is zaakah, which as you know, makes a play on hebrew word righteousness, tzedakah. In its place of tzedakah, righteousness, it is zaakah, a cry, because their sin is very grievous.
V21. “I will go down now, and see, WHETHER they have done altogether ACCORDING to the CRY of it, which has come unto me and if not I will know.
When God states I WILL KNOW, its not an admission of ignorance, seeing that God is all knowing, the point is that before God commences massive judgement, every detail is scrutinised carefully and a full investigation was undertaken before His hand came down.
The very reason its written this way, I WILL KNOW, is to show critical readers of the hebrew scriptures, that the all knowing, all seeing ever present God of Israel is just and merciful when He acts againts His statutes.
So judgement was set, a full investigation was undertaken and shown to the reader,, Abraham was told about the destruction, God needed to show Abraham His Holy statutes. Abraham new the judgement was coming without God repenting. Abraham then pleaded for his family only, No righteousness could ever be found among the sodomites, sodom destroyed.
No disrespect intended, but I have neither the time nor the inclination to engage in a prolonged debate about how to reconcile God’s omniscience and human choices and free will. Its a lot bigger than reading these verses. And it has nothing to do with the ability to read a verse in its simple sense.
The simple fact remains that you are injecting God’s omniscience into a discussion about what ABRAHAM knew. You conclude that Abraham was told about a sealed fate of Sodom without a syllable of corroboration from the verses in question. You acknowledge that the verses can be read my way. which is the only way the human audience of those words could have taken them. And then you insist that Abraham understood something different leaving one to scratch their heads as to why God would have pointlessly bothered to use the word “whether” when, by your reckoning, both He AND Abraham already knew otherwise.
Oh, and your bit about the word play between “Za’akah” and “Zedakah” is especially laughable since the Hebrew word “Za’aka” begins with the Hebrew letter Zayin while “Zedaka” begins with the letter “Tzadi”, Notwithstanding their vague phonetic similarities,the two words have absolutely nothing to do with each other as anyone who actually knows Hebrew is aware. The allusion is a figment of your imagination. And this is your idea of scriptural evidence?
I leave it to the judicious reader at this point to ascertain which of us is reading the verses and which of us is reading INTO the verses.
…and you didn’t answer my other question about Gen. 18:24.
Yes I thought I had?
Abraham is hoping for fifty righteous within Sodom for his families sake. Gods says ok IF I find fifty I will save it etc etc. Its a constant numerically word play interecession starting from 50 to 10. The whole point of it is to show the reader, that God is correct about the level of numerical sinners and it shows that God Has done a intense and proper overview on sodom before judgement comes.
I am happy to leave it at that and let readers decide if you have responded to the question.
A great debate this. Ok I think probally its ran its course? However I will imput one more point.
You mention that Abraham couldnt have known what was going to happen since no syllables were spoke. What about v 17a? It openly says v17 “And God said” Its obvious that Abraham knew the city was destined for destruction since he readly uses the word destroy in v 23b?
It doesnt say where I am going, it says What I am doing. The clues are also with the two angels looking towards Sodom. Abraham walked with them until they parted company. What with this plus Gods very word’s v17 and v23 Abraham knows Sodoms judgement.
Do you actually believe arguments like the ones you are making here?
1. In verse 17 God is speaking as narrator, not to Abraham which is why he refers to Abraham in the third person. Even if here WERE addressing Abraham directly, he says nothing about a sealed fate only that He is “doing” something, which of course he is – judging Sodom.
2. There is again nothing in Abraham’s opening words in verse 23 that speaks of a sealed fate, only that their fate is in the balance which is why Abraham begins to question how God might actually execute his judgement and what room there is for leniency. Of course Abraham uses the word destroy because God made clear in .verses 20 and 21 that destruction was a POSSIBILITY. Again there is nothing connoting a sealed fate.
3. The Angels could have been headed for Sodom for any number of reasons including to execute some sort of punishment short of destruction. Your ruminations about clues are irrelevant
BTW, this isn’t as great a debate as you imagine, and your response above to my question from verse 24 is embarrassing in its non-responsiveness.
At this point I will, in fact resist the urge to respond further unless you have an actual substantive response.
By your closing statements it feels like you only feel comfortable to debate with someone if the said person readily agrees with you, or they in turn just back down from the discussion.
Also who are you to tell me if I find this debate great. You might not, thats fine. If I was wrong with my previous statements you would find it great im sure to correct my error. You are probally finding it uncomfortable.
For one God isnt speaking as a narrator as you state. God is standing right infront, physically. He is the One of the three men previously mentioned. Also the text clearly says, ” shall I hide” standing there and just contemplating a judgement does not fit the context. Why would Abraham be concerned for sodom if God was just going over to sodom just to see, and just revaluate the situation. Just being revalued wouldnt bring Abraham to a point of deep intercessory prayer.
The statement your gave on the angels are only weirdly speculative. We know for a fact that sodom was destroyed, so my comment about the angels looking towards sodom is correct. They looked, went and destroyed. Why try and say that they were probally doing something else when history and text says otherwise?
v24 Lets put it another way. If Abraham hadnt interceded, obviously the conversation would not have happened. But Would the judgement still befallen on sodom? Yes. Because the sins were still grievously bad and Gods judgement was still coming desbite any interaction from Abraham.God didnt need to leave heaven to get a closer look because his eyes were failing Him! God was quite sure about sodom. Theres no mention about God , angels Abraham or lot trying to reconcile or preach on any impending judgement to the sodomites.
The only difference here is that lot and his family were saved, not sodom, because sodom as far as God was concerned was destroyed. Abrahams requests are for family not sodomites.
By Gods grace the family were saved and Sodom justifiably destroyed.
I know there are many different Christian beliefs. Which are you? My old catholic bible in the title says , Abraham intercedes for sodom, not his family.
I will get this in quickly before im ran out of town, Normally when the going gets tough I get labled a Jew hater, this time no lable, just threats…….What ever happened to free speech???
The trouble with titles and even verses and chapters are, that they weren’t there originally when the text was written. I have as a main bible a NKJ study bible. At the bottom of the pages it gives an explanation of the texts in question. These explations can be a good guide but they also can be a problem. The authors and printers of the said editions can be pretty vague and do quite often give numeral possibilties of interpretation s. At times they are very “churchy”, they try to appease a mixed audience, and they miss the relevant Jewishness of scripture.
However the text in its context is the only truth not a title that was inputted at a later date.
Dr David L Cooper said
When the plain sense of scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense, therefore take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate context, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundemental truths indicate clearly otherwise.
Any title or publication that is historically from the RC church, in my opinion, should be avoided like the plague.
Hope this helps?
I agree in that I avoid most of the teachings of the Catholic Church, although they agree with others here on this issue. As far as the NKJ I haven’t need for that either. The last thing I need is a Christian telling me what the Torah says.
You want to know what happened to free speech. If you expect people to listen to you but you don’t have the basic courtesy to listen to them – you can’t complain.
Paul, stop acting all self-righteous. You get labeled a Jew hater when you say things like Jews deserved the Holocaust because we rejected Jesus and more and worse is coming our way if we don’t accept him pronto.
Paul, I’m not interested in your psychoanalysis of me and as for whether the debate is great, you expressed an opinion and then I expressed mine. So I’m not sure what the basis of your your umbrage is.
As for the balance of your comments, I had already conceded that even if God was addressing Abraham directly in verse 17 (he is not, because he refers to him in third person) it still says nothing about a sealed fate.
That is but one of several pointed questions I have presented based on direct evidence from these verses that I believe you continue to sidestep. You continue to confuse what God knew, and what we know after the fact, with what Abraham was in a position to know at that moment and what he was praying for. I am happy to let our readers decide based on the evidence already on the table.
This debate is decidedly NOT over. You have demonstrated too often that you comment here just to preach and that you are not open for correction. You have demonstrated only too often that Scripture is silly-putty in your mind – it says for you whatever you want it to say. (You have demonstrated this with your cherry-picking of Psalm 41)
If you want to continue commenting on this blog then explain why Abraham asks God to spare the ENTIRE city in Genesis 18:24 – according to you he should have only asked God to spare the righteous.
You could also admit that you made a mistake and that you read your own doctrines into Scripture
Or you will be permanently blocked from commenting on this blog.
Not for the effort of repeating myself, I will explain this once more. What you decide to do with this reply is very much down to The God of Israel. If He wills it then let be so. My future is in His hands not yours. Either way its a win win situation for me.
I have made it clear as far as possible than Abraham asks for the saving of Sodom for his familys sake NOT for Sodoms sake. ( Nov 14th 7.12am) The opening blog on this platform views the idea that Abraham interceded for the people of sodom, period. I reject that claim. I argue that Abrahams heart is for the intention of the saving of his family, not unrepented sexual perverted individuals who God has already judged and condemned. However Abraham still tries, This is the whole point of the intercession.
Abraham is only asking God to save the RIGHTEOUS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Abraham is pleading “Not to destroy the RIGHTEOUS with the WICKED”!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This intercession is not the same as exodus ch 32. God had no everlasting covenants with sodom.
Paul — read it again. You are wrong. Abraham is asking G-d to save EVERYONE if G-d can find 50 righteous people. Read line 24 again — and continue reading. Line 24 says: “Would You still destroy it, and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty good people inside it?” IT. Sodom. The ENTIRE CITY.
Not “my direct family.” Not even just the righteous. But “IT” — the entire city.
If you disbelieve me read line 26 where G-d says to Abraham “G-d said, ‘If I find fifty innocent people in Sodom, I will spare the entire area for their sake.'”
THE ENTIRE AREA will be saved for the sake of the righteous.
Abraham continues to negotiate with G-d to save the entire city. Read line 28. “But suppose that there are five missing from the fifty innocent? Will You destroy the entire city because of the five?’ ‘I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there,’ replied G-d.”
Abraham continues to negotiate the number of righteous “down” until he gets G-d to agree to save EVERYONE if 10 righteous people can be found among everyone.
You need to read what is actually in the passage and not what you want it to say.
Amen Zev, Amen,
As I’m sure you know, Paul believes he already responded to the Verse 24 question. The answer as I understand it goes something like this: Abraham and God both already in full knowledge that Sodom is irredeemably doomed are engaging in “numerical word play” (your words Paul) to illustrate. to us the audience, the full extent of Sodom’s sinfulness and the justness of Gods punishment, Yes, they both down to the last round of the dialogue continue to speak of terms of sparing the whole city, but even Abraham only says that rhetorically and God keeps repeating it in these same terms while sort of winking at Abraham as if to say “Yeah Sure, if I find that many I’ll spare the WHOLE CITY wink wink”. Abraham of course knows that this is all a sham and continues the dialogue only until he gets down to 10 which is the magical number of his relatives in Sodom which Paul can numerically prove by saying so and who are the only ones Abraham was ever praying for even though he never says as much, and for whom he disguises his prayers in a prayer for the whole city, which he knows already has a sealed fate which he knows even though God never said so, and despite God using the word “whether” which He used just to heighten the irony of the dialogue rather than to offer Abraham a genuine opportunity for intercessionary prayer. Abraham also knows this already because he overheard God’s aside to him in the third person in which he admitted that he is up to “something” and because the Angels had that unmistakable “we’re on our way to utterly destroy a city and don’t try to talk us out of it” look in their eyes as they headed off in the direction of Sodom. Oh, and I almost forgot, Ze’a’ka sounds like Tze’a’ka..
Reblogged this on 1000 Verses – a project of Judaism Resources.
Interesting. It never occurred to me, even as a Christian, that Abraham was only concerned for his family. Seems if that were the case he would have been asking God to spare his family, not Sodom. It also makes no sense for Abraham to start at 50 if he only cared about “10” ( did anyone ever agree on whether this number was accurate for Lot’s family?). I mean, are we really supposed to believe that Abraham was “used car” dealing? Was he trying to trick God into thinking he was showing compassion on Sodom when he really wasn’t?
I find Paul’s interpretation typical of Christians in that they always believe the worst of everyone, and have to find the “sin” in everyone. A recent fad in churches is to post a poster on the bulletiin board with a list of people God considered righteous and then list their sin next to it:
1- Moses was a murderer
2- Noah was a drunk
3- Aaron was an idol maker
and on and on.
This is supposed to make the Christian feel good about themselves while supporting the “there are no righteous people” claim. SMH
Part of the problem with Paul’s whole reading is highlighted when we ask who gets saved during the whole Sodom story, and what happens immediately after. Lot gets saved from destruction. Is Lot completely “wink wink” righteous? No! But, from his descendants spring righteous converts, and David himself.
The whole point of the story is the potential for societal repentance and growth, in spite of wickedness, even if only for the sake of a righteous remnant.
The Christian (because of his theodicy and theology) simply assumes that G-d MUST be 100% strictly just all the time. They simply can’t accept that G-d could “save” a normal everyday human being. If G-d can save and use an ordinary flawed human being, (and be pleased with a human being’s service,) then their divine Son savior becomes irrelevant.
By Irrelevance, I wish to clarify. I don’t believe that the ethical messages of Jesus will ever be irrelevant, but those ethics exist in Torah too. These ethics could be embraced by anyone of any religious or non religious background. Where I personally have an issue with Christianity is where this ethic of Jesus gets totally sidestepped and supplanted due to the unique theology.
When it is more important to Christians that I believe in the theology of a divine messiah/mediator who died for me, than to try to follow the example of Jesus, his life indeed loses profound meaning. 3 years of ministry gets totally supplanted by the divine vaccine doctrine. How can it be heresy to see Jesus as just a human rabbi, when that is how he showed up? Why is it heresy to say he is the son of Jospeh when the gospel says “as it was assumed the son of Joseph”? I once told someone, “If everyone believes in Jesus’ deity, but nobody lives his lifestyle, his coming truly had no impact, and no purpose.” The world becoming Christian or Muslim or Jewish will not fix it. We rather have to live as we are, where we are in life, but learn to live the ethic.
When a Christian says “you have no advocate without our Jesus,” I want to ask/say to them. “You say you have this unbelievable advocate who always lets you out of jail for free when you fail, but you always walk back into jail again and again. Is G-d truly going to hate those people who don’t have this advocate but stay out of jail?”
Wow!!! I should have come in sooner. I will direct this to Paul.
Paul: If you read Ezekiel 16:53-63 you will find out that in the future what Christians refer to as the millenium and we refer to it as Gan Aden restored (as Prophet Joel states) Abraham’s prayer is answered and Sodom is restored given its opportunity to live in righteousness. I know this doesn’t agree with Christian dogma (doctrine) but it certainly is in both our Scriptures. Live with it!