I love this strange story of the Tower of Babel. HaShem has gone to the trouble of drowning everyone but Noach and his family. Everyone who survived into the future thus must have been descendants from Noah’s family.
As everyone at this point is one of Noah’s descendants, it stands to reason that “Everyone on earth had the same language and words.” (Gen. 11:1)
With this seeming advantage, the survivors cheerfully learn how to make bricks and bitumen as mortar, and begin to build a large tower. Why? To make a name for ourselves; else we shall be scattered all over the world.” (Gen. 11:4).
This raises some questions. Why is it so important to make a name for themselves? Are they looking for someone’s approval? Will pleasing HaShem keep them from being scattered? Why are they so afraid to be scattered all over the world? Are they afraid their familial ties will be destroyed in another flood?
Here’s what is so interesting. HaShem scatters them anyway. And not only that, but he screws up their heads. They can’t understand each other anymore because they are all speaking different languages. The tower goes kaput.
What is the point of this weird fable? Why does HaShem decide to scatter these descendants of Noah? What about their behavior has offended HaShem? Have they been too arrogant? Is HaShem annoyed at their fear of being scattered? Does HaShem want them to Iive a life of more adventure? Is he intending to create multiculturalism?
If you like discussing questions like these, come join us for our new Saturday morning discussion group, which will meet every first and third Saturday of the month. The next session will be on November 7 at 10:00 AM.