#27: Collective Punishment — Divine Morality and Human Justice

In this far-reaching episode, we discuss the idea of collective punishment in the Hebrew Bible, the problems it poses in the context of divine morality, and its (strict) limits in human justice. We explore the stories of Sodom and the Concubine of Gibeah, the statute of the “Rejected City” of Deuteronomy, and how the approach toward collective punishment changed in the course of biblical prophecy.

In this episode, we discuss:

  1. What are the differences between the “status” of collective punishment and intergenerational punishment in the Hebrew Bible?
  2. What assumptions underlie Abraham’s dialogue with God preceding the destruction of Sodom?
  3. What “rules” of collective punishment are underscored by the story of Sodom, the Concubine of Gibeah, and the statute of the “Rejected City”?
  4. What does the Concubine of Gibeah story tell us about collective punishment?
  5. How did the attitude of prophecy toward collective punishment shift, and why?
  6. What is the connection between collective consequences and collective punishment?