Ash The Rabbi: Does the Torah endorse mass destruction of sinful cities?

Do the narratives of communal punishment in the Torah represent a norm, or are these stories the exceptions to the rule?

May 11, 2017 19:14
4 minute read.
The statue of the Maharal in Prague

The Statue of the Maharal in Prague. (photo credit: WIKIMEDIA)


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In our previous columns, we noted how the Bible regularly condemns notions of collective punishment. Yet this sentiment seems to be contradicted in two Biblical passages – one, regarding the city of Shechem and the other a so-called “wayward city.”

In the first incident, Levi and Simeon killed the men of Shechem after its leaders violated their sister Dinah. Jacob criticized his sons for endangering their ability to live in tranquility amongst other Canaanites. The brothers responded, “Should our sister be treated like a whore?”


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