Mi Yodeya is a question and answer site for those who base their lives on Jewish law and tradition and anyone interested in learning more. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

What was so especially "wicked" about Niniveh that Jonah would have to go there?

Were they wicked in that they worshiped different god(s)? This is pretty much what every other country did.

Were they wicked in that they had high crime and murder rates?

Were they wicked in that they instituted high taxes?

Actually I am looking for how Niniveh was "different". For example, violent people, as we know, are common in all societies. So I wonder if they were unusually violent (i.e., if that was the issue).

What was it that set them apart in their wickedness?

share|improve this question
Why high taxes? – Charles Koppelman Dec 27 '12 at 20:42
high (income) taxes are evil for it punish people for being productive. Ask Milton Friedman (a jew). I suppose they probably have sword free zone that allow psychos to kill children and give their government justification for even more restrictions on right to bear arms. However, I want to keep the question serious. – Jim Thio Dec 27 '12 at 22:03
I highly doubt that Milton Friedman actually uses the word "evil" and even more highly doubt that he was basing anything on Jewish sources. Karl Marx and Emma Goldman were also Jews. – Charles Koppelman Dec 27 '12 at 22:10
Actually I am looking for cases where Niniveh is "different". Violent, as we know are common in all societies. So I wonder if they are unusually violent (have higher homicide rate), and that sort of thing. Tax is robbery. Not recognizing tax as robbery means God (in Judaism) himself recognize government and their rights to tax hapless peasants, which is another issue I want to know my self. – Jim Thio Dec 28 '12 at 4:33
You're welcome to ask :) – Charles Koppelman Dec 28 '12 at 5:40
up vote 7 down vote accepted

Jonah 3:8 - see Radak - says that the sin of Ninvei was Chamas - translated by many as robbery. We see similarly in Braishis 6:11 (or with English) by the Great Flood by Noach which came upon the world for that reason.

There are others that translate Chamas differently. However it was Chamas that was the reason why Hashem was ready to destroy Ninvai.

share|improve this answer
Where does Radak say that Chamas means robbery? It means 'violence' or something along those lines. See for example its usage in Genesis 16:5 – Double AA Dec 27 '12 at 16:01
@DoubleAA, I seem to recall that a lot of verbal commentary (as in pulpit speeches) assume it means robbery as well. There must be a source somewhere that serves as the basis for this assumption. – Seth J Dec 27 '12 at 16:03
Also, worth noting that Radak says Chamas was the biggest sin, not the only sin. – Double AA Dec 27 '12 at 16:07
ותאמר שרי אל אברם חמסי עליך וגו' (טז, ה) היאך נופל כאן לשון חמס שעניינו גזילה, ומה ענין זה לכעסה על אברהם, וכמו"כ יש להבין הלא היא עצמה נתנה את הגר לאברהם ומה תביעה יש לה עליו. אכן באמת יש להבין עצם הדבר שנעשה כך ותקל גבירתה בעיניה, וע"י מה נעשתה קלה בעיניה והרי ולד שפחה כמותה, ואדרבה גם ולדה עבד לשרה והיאך נקלה כבודה בעיני הגר, אלא סבורה היתה הגר כהנך דעות בפוסקים (יו"ד קס"ז ס"ט) דישראל שבא על שפחתו או קדשה הולד בן חורין דאמרינן מסתמא שחררה, ונקל כבוד גבירתה כי סברה שבת חורין היא דשחררה אברהם. – Gershon Gold Dec 27 '12 at 16:55
FTR, I'm not supporting any position. I was merely stating for @DoubleAA's sake that Gershon's interpretation isn't new. I've heard it before. I've also heard other explanations. It means violence, in today's Hebrew. I've also heard it means violent corruption (like extortion, violently forced sexual corruption, and all kinds of immoral activities that can fall under that umbrella). – Seth J Dec 28 '12 at 5:21

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.