Was God testing Abraham's compassion?


In Genesis 18:16-33 (biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Genesis%2018:16-33), God told Abraham of his intention to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah as punishment for their wickedness.

Then this happens:

"Then Abraham approached him and said: “Will you sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 What if there are fifty righteous people in the city? Will you really sweep it away and not spare[c] the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people in it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing—to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike. Far be it from you! Will not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

God actually agrees to spare both cities if only fifty good people are in the city, and Abraham is able to talk him down until God agrees to spare both cities if he finds only TEN good people among two cities which probably held hundreds of people.

Now most Catholic Theologians agree that God is all-knowing and all-good. Meaning he won’t change his mind because he can never be wrong. So why then would he seemingly go from “I shall destroy both cities” to “If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake."?

I think that God was really just testing Abraham’s compassion, to see if the progenitor for His Chosen People had enough compassion to plead on behalf of those who frankly didn’t deserve it. That Abraham plead for the two cities suggests

If Abraham had asked "What if only one can be found there?”, then Sodom and Gomorrah might have survived.

What do you think? Do you think God was testing Abraham’s compassion? Did God really change his mind? Did something else happen?


Well, God destroyed S&G so Abraham’s intercession was not ultimately successful.

Yes, I am more familiar with the Jewish commentaries which discuss these abstract ideas about God and whether he changes his mind. It seems like God gives Abraham some slack, but God already knows the answer.

There’s a lot more speculation about what the sins of S&G were that drew this devastating punishment. Was it mistreatment of visitors? was it to do with the sexual assault on them? Was it their general godlessness?

I’m not up to my top game in discussing scripture anymore, so I am a bit confused by your question. I think it was the other way around, that Abraham was testing God’s compassion, if anything. I can’t draw the conclusion that God was changing his mind.

(In Judaism, there’s a lot of open-mindedness and open-endedness about questions and people’s answers. What Jewish scholars do is look at the question your way, whether God was testing Abraham’s compassion, and then they look at it my way, that it was the other way around. Whether there is a definite and convincing answer, they keep all the opinions and mull these things over, again and again, “squeezing” the questions for all they can derive. Sometimes the prevailing opinion tips one way, and then a couple centuries later it tips another way. So, relish the discussion, first, and then be thankful if it later reveals some insight to you. Be disposed to change YOUR mind when seeking the truth.)

this is one example, Moses is another example of people who are arguing with God. Prayer itself is a kind of holy arguing with God, do this, save me, etc.


I don’t think that it was so much a test of compassion but allow for intercession–something that we find repeatedly in Scriptures.

God knows the outcome of the quest… though, Abraham would have been quite aware of the improbabilities since he lowered the number to its least possible digit.

Does God changes His Mind? It is impossible to tell, though Scriptures states that He is not a man to change His mind:

19 God is not a man, that he should lie, nor as the son of man, that he should be changed. Hath he said then, and will he not do? hath he spoken, and will he not fulfill? (Numbers 23:19)

Yet, He can permit us to believe otherwise in order to exact His Plan:

9 And again the Lord said to Moses: See that this people is stiffnecked: 10 Let me alone, that my wrath may be kindled against them, and that I may destroy them, and I will make of thee a great nation. 11 But Moses besought the Lord his God, saying: Why, O Lord, is thy indignation kindled against thy people, whom thou hast brought out of the land of Egypt, with great power, and with a mighty hand? 12 Let not the Egyptians say, I beseech thee: He craftily brought them out, that he might kill them in the mountains, and destroy them from the earth: let thy anger cease, and be appeased upon the wickedness of thy people. 13 Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, thy servants, to whom thou sworest by thy own self, saying: I will multiply your seed as the stars of heaven: and this whole land that I have spoken of, I will give to you seed, and you shall possess it for ever. 14 And the Lord was appeased from doing the evil which he had spoken against his people. (Exodus 32:9-14)

So, is Moses wiser than Yahweh God, or did God thought out loud in order to prompt Moses to intercede for His people?

Maran atha!



I’m not saying that I think God changed his mind; I’m saying he only told Abraham about his plans for Sodom and Gomorrah in the first place to see if Abraham had enough compassion to plead on behalf of the guilty.

What I think happened is that no matter what number Abraham asked to place the mercy threshold at God would have been willing to agree … but God knew beforehand that Abraham would stop at ten people instead of thinking to ask "What if only one can be found there?”(thereby meaning there wouldn’t be enough good Sodom-Inhabitants, meaning the two cities would be wiped out).

Now Sodom and Gomorrah fell anyway, but it still matters whether Abraham’s attitude is “please don’t kill the innocent alongside the guilty” or “serves them right! Kill 'em all! I hope it hurts!”. It matters because God wouldn’t want Abraham to be hard of heart.


Every day the good and innocent are killed alongside the evil and guilty.



…the truth is that even in spite of the righteous’ intercession the wicked refuse to turn from their ways and accept God and His Way; I suspect, that that is also the reason why people refuse to seek the Church and her Teachings since it will bring them to the Word of God–there’s this ole saying “I rather reign in Hell than serve in Heaven.” Yet, these people that think in this fashion refuse to understand that we will serve not reign either in Heaven or Hell!

I understand your concerns; we find this out when his nephew is attacked and Abraham comes to his rescue–his heart is not tinted!

Maran atha!



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