• Gabbai

Noach – Shoulder to Shoulder

After the flood civilization slowly built itself up. Generations passed and the land again became inhabited. Everyone was fairly closely related to each other, which doesn’t always make for good neighbors. Nevertheless, there is no indication of conflict in the generations following the great deluge. In fact the opposite appears to be the case.

The generation of the great division happened many years after the flood, in the 20th century, according to the Biblical accounting of years. This would have happened when Abraham was yet a young man.

Chapter 11 of Genesis begins by stating that the whole earth was of one language and of common purpose. At that time there was a revolutionary discovery in the building industry. No longer was it necessary to find and haul stones with which to build walls. Bricks could be manufactured and hardened in furnaces and mortar was also prepared. The people said, “Come, let us build a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed across the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:4)

This is the famous Tower of Babel, the attempt to reach the heavens and wrest power from God. This passage is interpreted in our tradition as a rebellion against God. The people took the fight to the heavens. They were no longer satisfied with dominating the earth, they also wished to rule the heavens. To this end they built a tower ‘with its top in the heavens,’ a challenge to God’s dominion of the heavenly regions.

The Torah’s narrative expresses God’s interest in this project. He went down to see what they were doing. The