The word chamas (חמס), ‘violence,’ appears a number of times in the Bible. It is used as a general term for violence, and in particular is also used as a term for robbery. The Bible tells us that it was chamas that almost led to the destruction of the city of Nineveh in the time of Yona (Jonah 3:8), and that Hashem brought the flood in the time of Noach because of chamas (Genesis 6:11). In fact, it was the chamas of the generation of the flood that sealed their fate, even though they were also guilty of sexual immorality and idolatry. Rabbi Samson Raphael Hirsch explains that this is because chamas refers to petty injustice and underhanded dealings which are not punishable in court. This is even worse than overt sin and immorality, as it corrodes the entire social framework of society.
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