For an explanation of the methodology of this series, see the introduction.

"Now the earth was corrupt before G‑d, and the earth became full of robbery" (Gen. 6:11).

Peshat (basic meaning):

Rashi: was corrupt [in Hebrew, 'vatishacheit']. [This] is an expression of immorality and idolatry as in : "Lest you deal corruptly" [in Hebrew, 'pen tashchitun'] (Deut. 4:16) and the earth became full of robbery.

'chamas' means robbery [in Hebrew, 'gezel'], (other editions add: as it is said: and of the dishonest gain ('chamas') which is in their hands. (Jonah 3:8))

Siftei Chachamim: (a commentary that explains Rashi) "Gezel" does not [only] mean forcing someone to sell his property and paying for it. It means injustice in general, not just robbery.

Remez (hinted meaning): The people were punished with boiling waters.

Baal HaTurim: 'chamas' has a gematria of 108 which is equal to that of "the waters of Noah" [in Hebrew, 'mei noach']. (Isaiah 54:9) Thus they were punished measure for measure. The gematria of 'chamas' is also equal to that of Purgatory, which teaches that the people were punished with boiling waters. [According to the Talmud, G‑d boiled the Flood's waters in the fires of Purgatory. (Yerushalmi, Sanhedrin 10:3)] The Baal HaTurim finds in the gematria of 'chamas' an allusion to both the waters of the flood and the fires of Geheinom.

Derash: (interpretive meaning)

Targum Yonatan: And the earth was filled with violence and frauds.
Ohr HaChayim: Why did the Torah switch to the use of the Name Elokim the attribute of Justice, whereas in an earlier verse (Ibid. 6:5), G‑d's attribute of Mercy is used? What do the words 'lifnei/before ha-Elokim' add to our understanding? We must understand the passage according to Pirkei Avot (4:11) that every time a person violates a commandment he acquires an accuser for himself. This "accuser" is a destructive angel.
G‑d keeps the accuser in check as long as our sins are minor. When it says "Now the earth was corrupt before G‑d" [in Hebrew, 'vatishacheit ha-Eretz lifnei ha-Elokim'] it means that before G‑d had completed judging everyone individually, the collective total of the destructive powers created by man's sins already dominated the earth. Corruption penetrated the earth itself.

The reason why the Torah says, "the land became full" here is to tell us that corruption penetrated the earth itself. Alternatively, "Now the earth was corrupt before G‑d, and the earth became full of robbery," refers to actual deeds which caused the earth to be full of destructive agents all called hamas (! – Ed.) ...When the Torah uses the word Ha-Elokim to describe G‑d, it is to give notice that the attribute of Mercy itself had turned into one demanding that justice be done.

Sod: (esoteric, mystical meaning)
And the earth was corrupted before Elokim" (Gen. 6:11)

Zohar Noah 60: Rabbi Yehuda asked: If it says "And the earth was corrupted," why "before Elokim"? It is because they performed their sins openly, in front of everyone's eyes. And that is why the verse states, "before Elokim."
Rabbi Yosi said: I believe the opposite. "And the earth was corrupted before Elokim" means that they did not sin openly. They sinned only before Elokim and not before Man. But eventually, they also sinned openly. As it is written: "And the earth was filled with violence" (Gen. 6:11), which indicates that there was not a place on earth that did not witness their sins. Therefore, the verse declares that they sinned in two ways.

Who is worse, the burglar or the strong-arm robber?

BeRahamim LeHayyim: Quick Jewish Law Quiz: Who is worse, the burglar or the strong-arm robber? In the American Legal Code, we tend to punish the confrontational robber worse, perhaps because of the direct violent act. (Note that we say "tend" because there are aggravating and mitigation circumstances.)

Jewish Law, however, looks at the acts from the G‑d's eye point of view. The burglar is the worst. Why? He only fears man—which is why he breaks in at night—and he forgets that there is always a watchful eye on all we do. He therefore sins more severely. Do we only behave properly when in public view? Like saying blessings or fulfilling Jewish law just so others can think of us as chasid/pious. Few of us sin openly in front of our respective communities. If we did, we'd be shunned.

But when we are "alone," by our own selves.....?!

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