The name YHWH is associated with mercy whereas the name Elokim is associated with justice (Refer to Rashi on Devarim 3:24 quoting the Sifrei here).

I noticed that the name of YHWH is used exclusively in the story of destroying Sodom, no name of Elohim (Genesis.19.1-20).

Why the holy name of mercy is used exclusively in this devastating story?

  • 1
    – Joel K
    Commented Nov 24, 2020 at 10:38
  • @JoelK "שֶׁנֶאֱמַר וַיַּרְא ה' כִּי רַבָּה רָעַת הָאָדָם, וַיֹּאמֶר ה' אֶמְחֶה, (ברא' ו') וְהוּא שֵׁם מִדַּת רַחֲמִים: is totally illogical to me: I'd say exactly the opposite YHWH saw and then He turned Elohim. How does exterminating life is mercy? Same here in Sodom.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Nov 24, 2020 at 19:02
  • @AlBerko does this answer? judaism.stackexchange.com/questions/115574/…. Maybe because He saved Lot. Maybe because by destroying them He was ensuring they will get atonement. Maybe because He destroyed them, He saved everyone else from their evil...
    – Rabbi Kaii
    Commented Mar 30, 2023 at 11:49

2 Answers 2


The people of Sodom were extremely wicked; notable for their complete disdain of kindness and their immense cruelty. Abraham argues as it were with God, until eventually it becomes evident that there are not even 10 righteous people living there! If we assume that the most righteous people in the whole city were Lot and his family, then if anything it was a tremendous act of compassion on the world at large and for the victims of Sodom’s cruel tortures for the Sodomim to be destroyed. As for the exact details of the evils of Sodom these can be found in the medrush. Also see the third Rashi on Genesis which sheds light onto the difference between Elokim and the Tetragrammaton. Description of Sodom, with sources

  • Welcome to MiYodeya and thanks for this answer. Since MY is different from other sites you might be used to, see here for a guide which might help understand the site. Great to have you learn with us!
    – mbloch
    Commented Jul 9, 2023 at 3:05
  • I suppose i should add more precise sources for my answers. Commented Jul 9, 2023 at 3:10
  • Yes this would be great, especially since some/many of the users of the site are less versed in sources than you - many answerers use Sefaria to link to specific sources
    – mbloch
    Commented Jul 9, 2023 at 3:10

Perhaps to show that god was trying to be compassionate: He was willing to listen to all of Avraham's pleas. God was looking for an excuse to spare the cities.

The verse specifically says that God only left Abraham after he finished his pleas. If God's attributes of judgment would have prevailed, perhaps He would have not have been inclined to hear out Avraham's arguments. And Lot would have been collateral damage as well.

  • 1
    If you read the negotiation carefully (and interpreters also) you might notice that God didn't try to spare Sodom but praise Abraham's merit as the one being merciful.
    – Al Berko
    Commented Nov 24, 2020 at 19:04

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