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The Theological Concept of YHWH’s Punitive Justice in the Hebrew Bible: Historical Development in the Context of the Judean Community in the Persian Period

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Throughout the Hebrew Bible, the issue of the relationship between individual and community, and guilt and punishment arising therefrom is one of the most important topics. The texts upon which this paper is based present sections touching upon the question of sin and its consequences for the righteous, as well as for the wicked. This analysis positions that inquiry, based upon the focus in Gen 18, within the larger context arising from the ancient Israelite tradition. Gen 18:22b-33a mirrors the idea that God tolerates or forgives the guilt of a community because of the righteous individuals within that community. The concept of YHWH’s punitive justice in the Hebrew Bible indicates historical progress which reflects the socio-economic as well as demographic context. After exhaustive analysis of Gen 18:22b-33a, the author opines that the logical implication can be drawn that the historical situation of the Judean community in Persian era Palestine required protection of the righteous, not punishment of the sinner.

Affiliations: 1: International Christian University Mitaka, Tokyo


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