© 2016 by Rabbi Zvi Aviner
Torah Class THEFT-2/One Language, One Matter and One Religion
”These are the families of Noah’s children”
1: THEFT in the Ten Commandments
Let’s be reminded that when Moses says in the Ten Commandments say: “Thou Shall Not Steal,” he means:
1. Thou shall not ABDUCT people, for ransom, for slavery, or for any other reason
2. Thou shall not STEAL their money, property or identity
Noah’s generations before the Flood committed THEFT on the individual level. We remember Tubal Cain’s gangues that roamed the streets unstoppably, raping, killing and stealing under the watching sun with no shame. They robbed peoples on the streets or in their private homes.
After the Flood, however, THEFT evolved into a major endeavor done by large armies invading other people’s borders to grab territories and manpower for their growing EMPIRES. ORGENIZED THEFT became the norm business of the day, the way to get enriched and powerful.
The transition from the first peaceful society after the Flood to the chaotic society of ORGNAIZED THEFT took place in stages. According to the Torah, society first evolved into a democratic kingship of Nimrod that began the massive building of the Tower of Babel, thereby degenerating into Nimrod’s ruthless tyranny. The fall of Nimrod prompted the evolution of large EMPIRES that thrived to emulate him. Ten generations after the Flood, when Abraham was born, humanity was plagued with ORGANIZED THEFT on a scale unknown before. You can’t understand Abraham and his contribution to our faith without paying attention to the historical background of his time.
Since our society may too fall into the same trap and evolved into a huge, oppressive tyranny, it behooves us to pay the utmost attention to the story.
2: Peace of Earth
As we said last class, the first generations after the Flood was peaceful and faithful to G-d. The Torah describes it by the following few sentences:
“This is the history of the Children of Noah
And to them were sons born after the Flood… (Genesis 10:1)
These are the families of the sons of Noah after their generations in their nations
And from these were the nations divided in the Earth after the Flood. (Genesis 10: 32)
And all the Earth was of one language and of one matter…”
The Formation of the Seventy Noahide Nations
Noah lived a long time. He even met Abraham when Abraham was 58 years old (a hint: the Hebrew name Noah carries the numerical value of 58) and taught him the Seven Commandments (Midrash.) But in fact Noah was regarded by his descendants as an obsolete figure, denigrated by his drunkenness and marked by his sexual humiliation by Canaan.
The text lists seventy of his descendants, evolving into the so called “Seventy Families of Noah’s Nations.” They spread all over Earth as follows: (10:2-31)
The Children of Ham who settled in the Middle East and Africa
The Children of Yeffet who settled India, Persia and later Europe; among them the Greek and the Romans, and al Indo European nations.
The Children of Shem who settled the Middle East and the Arabia Peninsula.
Almost every nation living today can trace its origin to one or several these primordial Noah’s Families of Nations.
Their culture The verse says:
“One language”: The primordial Hebrew
“One matters” has several meanings:
(1) One BUSINESS: to Settle, farm, and produce crops and wealth
(2) One PASSION: to OWN land, territories, tangible items…
(3) One MARKET: to TRADE and spread wealth (‘Canaan’ means a trader)
(4) One PEACE: BROTHERHOOD. They recognized and respected each other borders. The ancient Noah’s Covenant of peace plays a role in several stories in the Bible. For instance: The prophet Bilaam charges Israel (at Moses’ time) with the crime of violating the Noah’s Covenant by their invasion into Canaanite’s territories.
(5) One MATTER: IDIVIDUALITY. Living on private farms developed a culture that cherished the individual and his spirit, not unlike in the wild American West.
(6) One FAITH: They adhered to Noah’s Seven Commandments.
Dream of the UN fulfilled
In short, Noah’s sons built a model society that knew no organized THEFT and no war; engaged in economy and creating wealth. It was the dream of the UN comes true!
A warning to us
We tend to think that fulfilling the dream of the UN would secure our future for eternity. Here comems the Torah and blows up that false hope. Here She STARTS with an ideal, peaceful society that had one agenda, one religion and a sense of brotherhood, and yet evolved into the greatest ruthless tyranny ever to exist: the Tyranny of King Nimrod and his Tower of Babel. Here the Torah is warning us that we should beware, since we to may fall into the same fateful trap!
3: The Angelic Choir
This peace on Earth was accompanied with Peace in Heavens. Tradition says that as the Seventy Families of Nations were formed, the Heavenly Angelic Choir was also formed.
This putative Choir comprises of Seventy Angels, each representing one family of Noah’s nations. The Choir begins its day chant at dawn when the Sun rises over the far East, exactly “9 hours” east of Mt. Moriah, or Jerusalem. The rabbis did not know that in their time, but this eastern border coincides with the edge of the Asian continent, at the Chinese Pacific shore.
As a family of Noah’s nation wake up, its Angel in the Choir chants one “holy.”
Three angels in a row chant
After three cycles (nine hours from the east) the Sun rises over Mt. Moriah and Jerusalem. At that point the Choir passes and waits for a human nation to chant from Earth “holy, holy, holy.”
There would be only one nation of Noah’s Children who would chant this “three times holy” from earth, while the rest of the Choir remains silent, listening.
Then, as the Sun continues its journey in the sky to the west, other Noahide Nations wake up and join the Choir.
Who would this one human nation of Noah’s descendants who may chant “three times holy” from Mt. Moriah?
We’ll see that as we’ll learn about Jacob and his wrestling with Esau’s Angel. The very Name ‘Israel’ means in Hebrew “The One Who Chants with El.”
Now who was King Nimrod and how did he develop his enormous tyranny? On that we’ll learn next.