Zusammenfassung / Summary
The motif of divine retribution to the third and fourth generation occurs four times in the Bible, exclusively in the Pentateuch: in the motivation of the Decalogue’s principal commandment (Exod 20:5; Deut 5:9) and in the formula of grace (Exod 34:7; Num 14:18). Despite its prominence, the idea has no clear counterpart in the narratives of the Pentateuch. This article examines the role that the idea may have played in the etiology of the Babylonian exile and its duration. Against the background of an explication of the polyvalent term “generation,” together with a reconstruction of the sequence of generations in the Babylonian exile and an analysis of the literary and historical contexts of the motif, the article suggests that the idea of transgenerational divine retribution may have originated in the Neo-Assyrian period. At the same time, it is argued that it gained prominence only through its application to the etiology of the Babylonian exile, which lasted to the third and fourth generation.