Rabbi Dr. Zvi Aviner
Ó copyrights 2022
THEFT- 2/The Tower of Babel
Our world is increasingly more controlled
by large corporations whose budget and power
surpass most countries combined.
Nationality is also losing ground nowadays and we find ourselves
living in one large village, driven by economy and consumerism
that embrace different producers from the
four corners of the world.
Many of those giant international corporations
operate in obscurity, their leadership is wrapped by thick
layer of hierarchy hidden from the public eye and scrutiny.
For instance, many Americans would be surprised to know that
the modest looking UPS Company, controls fleet of airplanes,
ships and other modes of transportation,
as well as giant electronic plants and insurance companies
and other manufacturing plants whose budget is beyond imagination.
Most of these giant corporations run efficiently by
elaborate AI technology and super computers.
In fact, the decision making is gradually removed
from humans CEO and is given into the hands of
those machines who are capable of gathering
information and process huge amount of data
better than any human being.
The new game in the market is all about information and data.
So much, that the expert talk about a new ‘religion,’ Dataism,
A new god. Whoever controls Data, controls the world.
Since the amount of information gathered today is becoming so large,
Mankind would not be able to live long without
Information machines capable of processing that data
and convert it to action.
Dataism also means that the information machines
know everything about ourselves, more than we know
Those AI and quantum computers would decide how
we should keep our health, what surgery one should undergo,
whom we should date and marry, whom we should vote
into office, what to eat and how to live.
Our species, the expert say, the old Homo Sapience,
is about to be replaced by a new hybrid of Man and machines,
by either extending our limbs or minds and by electronic chips
that can process information and perform tasks more efficiently
and more successfully than the individual human of our day.
That process of taking over, the expect say,
is inevitable and it would arrive whether we like it or not.
And worse than all, they say, is the fact that the
old fashion religions and morality like that of the Bible,
would lose its meaning in the new world and
is destined to disappear.
Hence, they say, let’s embrace ourselves to the new world of Dataism,
where the art of gathering and processing
Information and communication reigns supreme,
where our individualism has lost its meaning.
Well, despite of what the expert say,
it seems that Moses does have a direct message for us
as we face the new reality of Dataism.
Moses does admit that such an outcome is possible and inevitable,
even welcomed, yet we can face it and win it
provided we adhere to basic principle of the Torah.
That message is given to us via the story of
King Nimrod and his Tower of Babylon.
Let’s read it together and analyze the main points of the story
2. King Nimrod’s Story
The story begins with the new society formed after the Flood.
As we’ve already learned in our last class, the new society
comprised of the Seventy Nations of Noah’s Descendants.
They spread all over Earth, settled it, spoke one language,
had one faith and shared a common goal:
to produce, own, trade and prosper in peace.
In short, the dream of the United Nation came true.
The Children of Ham ruling Earth
Among the Seventy new nations, one is distinguished as it says:
“And the sons of Ham were
Kush, Egypt, Put and Canaan,
And Kush begot Nimrod…” (Genesis 10: 6)
Ham’s descendants were the first to rule Earth.
Their list includes Kush, Egypt and Put,
all fathers of mighty nations and great civilizations
that covered a large portion of Central Asia,
the Middle East and North and central Africa.
Ham’s firstborn son, Kush, was the first leader
of Noah’s Seventy Families of Nations.
He is described as a righteous man, wise and respected by all.
His name is still preserved in the “Mountains of Kush”
around the Caspian Sea. The Torah then marks that he was
King Nimrod’s father, a great merit.
On Nimrod it says:
“And Kush begot Nimrod.
He began to be a mighty one in the Earth.
He was a mighty hunter before YHVH.
Therefore they say: Like Nimrod,
the Mighty Hunter before YHVH.
And the beginning of Nimrod Kingdom was
Babel, Erek and Acad and Calneh in the Land of Shinaar…” (Genesis 10:8-9)
You need to have good ears to read the verses right,
since they describe the unbelievable ascent of Nimrod to power.
Step 1: Nimrod, who ruled over himself
The name Nimrod means in Hebrew “Let us rebel.”
This led to several legends about Nimrod:
The Torah introduces Nimrod as a “mighty man.”
Inferring that not only he was physically strong,
A beautiful young man, probably with black or brown skin,
but also, as the Rabbis said:
“Who is mighty? Whoever controls himself.”
Hence Nimrod was spiritually strong,
who controlled HIMSELF before he controlled others.
Hence, although his desires called him to rebel,
like any teenager, he withstood the pressure
and in contrast to his peers, he did not indulge himself
in wine, drugs or sex.
He had learned from Noah, to TALK TO YOUR HEART (see our Rainbow class.)
Step 2: Nimrod: Let us Rebel Against Hunters
The verse then adds that he was
“a Hunter before YHVH.”
How could anyone be a hunter before YHVH, who hates
those who hunt animals for sport?
Legend says: Nimrod hunted animals by his mouth,
by speaking to them softly and taking care of their needs.
By this, he became a favorite of Noah and Naama,
who had taken care of animals during the Flood.
Soon they saw Nimrod riding on eagle’s wings,
or riding over fearful lion.
He called the animals, saying:
Let us rebel against these hunters!
Another interpretation is that Nimrod learned to
hunt people’s heart by listening and caring.
How did that happen? Here is the story
Step 3: Nimrod: Let’s Rebel Against your father!
The question is:
how did Nimrod become such a successful king?
The story goes like that: when Nimrod was still young,
his father Kush was haunted by a fearful dream about him.
that repeated night after night. In that dream
he saw Nimrod ascending on the throne,
and people present their petitions to him.
They speak out, yet to Nimrod they sound like barking.
And when he answers them, they perceive his speech as barking.
Then the people are fed up and they topple Nimrod from his throne.
Poor King Kush wok up after such bad dreams sweating and trembling.
And since the dream kept coming back, he consulted Noah.
Noah then said to Kush that Heavens warn him about his son.
“The young man is not yet prepared for his office,” Noah said,
“Send him over to all the nations to become familiar with their wishes!”
Kush smiled, and sent young Nimrod to rotate between the
Seventy Noahide Nations. Before departing, Kush said to his son:
“Be careful, my son, since I know that each leader of the Seventy Nations
will accept you and host you well, showing you his own
little world. Yet, I know, they might inspire you to rebel against me,
for their won benefit. But you. Should never forget that your are my son.
And when you come back, I shall make you my heir!”
And so it was that young Nimrod rotated between the Seventy Noahide Nations,
learning their unique problems and aspirations first hand.
And when their leaders said to him “Let us rebel!” he resisted the temptations
And remained loyal to his father. And when he finally returned home,
King Kush took off his crown and placed it on Nimrod’s head, making him
The new king of all the Noahide Nations.
So successful was Nimrod as a King Who Consult, a melch,
so attentive he was to the people’s petitions and aspirations
that he became extremely popular.
Moreover, each nations perceived Nimrod as one of theirown.
That is why the verse says that,
“And the beginning of his Kingdom was Babel
and Erek and Acad and Calneh in the Land of Shinaar (Genesis 10: 10)
At the beginning he started as a king of his own tribe,
but soon his reign was accepted all over earth
without lifting a sward!
Step 4: FROM DEMOCRACY TO TYRANNY
The impact of the new brick technology
King Nimrod could have remained a benevolent, ‘democratic’ ruler forever,
had not a new technology of making bricks changed his society forever;
as it is said:
“And it came to pass as they journeyed from the east
that they found a plain in the land of Shinaar
and they dwelled there. And they said to one another come,
let’s make bricks and burn for a fire
and the brick served them as stone
and the mortar served them as clay…” (Genesis 11: 1-3)
We know today very well how a new technology
can turn society upside down.
The new technology of making strong bricks
prompted new building projects all over the kingdom,
first by building new strong homes, l then city walls thentowers.
Archeology findings confirm the massive build up that took place
first in Mesopotamia then in Egypt, between 3,000 – 2500 BC
These massive projects were done not by slaves
but rather by free young farmers who left their farms
to join the new building-projects in the cities.
These young volunteers spent several months each year on the projects,
enjoying good food, good company and entertainment
that they could never had back at home.
Moreover, they were thrilled to participate in a project
bigger than their own family farms.
At the projects, they met other young people
from all over the country or the world
and exchange with them ideas,
and share with them the same experience.
On the project they developed the first time in their lives
the sense of belonging to a LARGE ORGANIZATION,
more powerful than their own farms.
Scholars say that these building projects
served to consolidate nations and social structure.
Moreover, the workers loved to join the projects
and were proud to take part in them.
KING NIMROD, the master of listening to the human heart,
took a note of
Seeing Earth from above
“And they said: Come! Let us build for ourselves
A city and a tower whose top shall reach the sky
And let us make a name for ourselves
Lest we be scattered all over the face of the whole Earth.” (Genesis 11:4)
The verse describes the workers’ words inspired by the projects.
They wanted to see Earth from above.
Somme say that those worlds were inspired by Nimrod
who had seen Earth while riding on eagle’s wings.
Now, as a (demagogic) King, he wished everyone to have
A similar experience. Hence, he told his workers,
Let’s build that tall Tower so that you too will
See what I have seen!
Let’s make a name for ourselves!
The young builders soon discovered that on the project
they could make a name for themselves, becoming officers,
climbing up the ladder of society.
On the project they could climb up in rank, fame, titles, honor,
something they could not have back on the farms.
King Nimrod saw that and took advantage of it.
He provided the workers with increasingly larger
building projects, finally arriving at the idea of
the Babylonian Towe
“Let us make a name for ourselves…
Like in any large organization, even today,
the building-project required specialization.
One worker excelled in making bricks,
the other in climbing on a scaffold
and another in cooking and so on.
Becoming a ‘specialist’ made one proud;
and adding a title to one’s name increased his social status.
The thrill of hierarchy
The Tower introduced a new social hierarchy:
simple workers, managers, supervisors
and those who supervised the supervisors.
King Nimrod set at its pinnacle, automatically.
He had all the information about the Tower in his hands.
Some workers arose in the hierarchy
while others remained at the bottom.
Yet, to their merit, brotherhood prevailed.
They were united in pursuing the goal of the Tower:
Raising it to the sky.
“Let us make a name for ourselves a name.”
A name on the bricks
King Nimrod allowed the workers to “make a name for themselves”
by engraving it on a brick, on a corridor, on an entire floor or a whole wing.
This established the builder’s fame for generations.
How big was the Tower?
“Let us build a tower whose head is in the sky…”
We do not know the real size of the Tower.
Tradition says that it was PLALNED as a 27×27 square miles base,
reaching 27 miles height. It seems an exaggeration,
but the Tower was certainly an enormous undertaking
on a scale unknown to Mankind before or after.
It required thousands and thousands of workers
and would have taken hundreds of years to accomplish.
Successive waves of workers came and gone.
Generation passed and the Tower was still being built.
A whole new culture developed around it.
Songs were composed to its glory
and stories of heroism were told from fathers to sons.
Industry around the Tower
We can imagine the great impact the Tower had on the economy.
The workers needed to ORGANIZE food,
clothing, shelter and services, even entertainment on a large scale.
The evidence for that is seen in the archeological diggings
around the Egyptian Pyramids.
The Tower of Babel, like the Egyptian Pyramids,
prompted entire industries around it.
This created wealth and a power,
especially for those who set at the top, like King Nimrod.
Nimrod the godlike tyrant
Gradually, even unintentionally, King Nimrod’s status became divine.
His skill as communicator exceled as the Tower grew taller and taller.
He controlled the knowledge of the building,
whereas the workers complied with its regulations.
Holding that knowledge, that Information,
secured Nimrod’s status.
To the workers at the bottom of the hierarchy
Nimrod seemed unreachable,
concealed by an army of experts and subordinates.
His words became the law.
No one challenged his authority,
because everyone enjoyed the economic boom,
being and proud to belong to the important, national endeavor.
All seemed that all went well for Nimrod, till it says:
5: YHVH response to the Tower
“And YHVH came down to see the city and the Tower
which the Children of Adam were building.” (Genesis 11:5)
YHVH and Her Court came down
The phrase “And YHVH…” infers ‘YHVH and Her Court’ (Rashi.)
YHVH came down to assess the project and judge it
FROM HER PERSPECTIVES.
Note that it was not ELKM, but rather YHVH
who came down! They all abided by the Laws,
even by the Laws of ELKM,
Yet YHVH came down!
Hence something ‘evil’ took place at the Tower Project,
something so bad that enraged YHVH.
So bad, that She ‘came down’ to see this by Herself ,
see if that evil did really take place!
What could this evil be?
Tradition says that as the project advanced,
It became increasingly more HEARTLESS and MERCILESS.
As the Tower went upwards, the accidents became more frequent
and disastrous. Workers were injured or killed on a daily basis.
The Tower itself toppled .at least hree times,
once down to its basement (Midrash.)
causing terrible death and injuries.
Amazingly, that new reality of accidents
only brought about anew war-like mentality and vocabulary.
The workers told each other: ‘Let us conquer that floor!’
or ‘let’s overcome nature!’
Hence Nimrod’s name assumed a new meaning of
“Let us rebel”…against nature.
This military frame of mind elevated Nimrod’s status to the sky.
5: Nimrod, let’s rebel against the Merciful YHVH!
As one point, human life became so dispensable
that the organization became superior to the individual life.
When a worker fell to the ground holding a brick,
his fellowmen lamented the lost brick
rather than their fellowman. (Midrash.)
This indifference to the human life
turned into cruelty, in the name of the project;
a thing that enraged YHVH.
Henceforth Nimrod’s name assumed a new meaning of
“Let us rebel against YHVH.”
Moreover, as the Tower got taller,
so did Nimrod’s ego become bigger.
The old democratic ruler was replaced by an arrogant dictator
that saw himself as a deity.
YHVH hated this as it says that
“YHVH and an arrogant person can’t dwell in the same room,”
as we’ve learned.
6: The Heavenly Court’s Decision
“And YHVH said:
Behold, the people is one,
and they have all one language,
And now nothing will be withheld from them to do
That which they have schemed to do. (Genesis 11: 6)
It is so remarkable that the Torah agrees
that Mankind CAN achieve any goal
by being heartless and merciless!
YHVH “admits” here that any
selfish, indifferent and Heartless human organization
CAN achieve its financial or political goals, even reach the sky.
YHVH is saying that
a project that is not based on MERCY and COMPASSION
Can indeed be very successful and reach its financial and social goals,
by being ruthless and following the law of the Jungle.
A modern corporation, that is heartless and merciless, can
overcome any obstacle and reach supremacy in the market,
making its shareholders rich and successful.
But if its success is based or sorrow and suffering of people
who are fired and thrown away with heartless decisions,
it would inflame the rage of the Merciful Attribute YHVH,
causing Her to come down with Her Court to judge us.
7: How did YHVH destroyed Nimrod?
“And YHVH said, come, let’s go down,
and there confound their language
that they may not understand one another speech…”
YHVH did not end Nimrod power
by overturning the Tower or by showering on it
brimstones and fire, as She would later do the Sodom.
Instead, YHVH addressed the core of Nimrod’s power,
meaning: His skills as a listener and a communicator,
his ability to acquire and process information and deliver
his decisions down the pipelines of communications.
It happened this way:
YHVH corrupted their language so that
one asked for a hammer and get waters instead.
Or one would ask water and receive wood, and so forth.
The workers were confused.
And when they complained to Nimrod,
he couldn’t comprehend their words.
And when he answered them,
they could not comprehend him.
Hence – King Kush’s fearful dream came true.
THE WORLD AFTER THE TOWER
As the workers abandoned the Tower, it fell.
Nimrod himself was lost in the fields, unable to speak to anyone.
But the memories of King Nimrod and his enormous Tower did survive.
People understood now the power of large organization.
The lust to make oneself a name, a title and fame, only increased.
People tried to emulate him.
After Nimrod, others tyrants came and built their own cities and towers.
They tried to preserve the social pyramidal structure of the Tower,
with few royalties at the top ruling over masses of workers at the bottom.
But whereas Nimrod’s Tower was based on voluntary work,
the new tyrants based their power on the sword.
At first, the scholars, say, the royalties oppressed their own poor.
The new cities were based on local oppression.
Soon the rulers discovered the new way to accumulate wealth:
invade other cities and grab their people to forced work
Empires were soon born and consolidated by ORGANIZED THEFT.
Large armies roamed the Earth, attacking cities and grabbing territories,
subduing their citizen to pay heavy taxes
and taken to enforced slavery.
A new economy came to Earth:
based on taxes and SLAVERY.
This is the world into which Abraham was born
ten generations after the Flood.
Karen Armstrong’s description in her book: “Fields of Blood,” 2014
THEFT in society
“The world’s first civilization was the federation of city-states in Mesopotamia. This fertile land was first settled in massive way around 4500 BCE. The settlers dig irrigation canals and ditches between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers and used bricks for their homes, city walls and towers.
The first ruler who built a wall around the city to defend it from strong looters was Gilgamesh, the king of the Uruk, at 2750 BCE. He was an oppressive, cruel tyrant whose people complained bitterly about his unscrupulous exploitation of them. He forced the peasants of the city and their young men to work in the fields and build the wall. The society composed of many poor, spoiled peasants who worked for the few privileged ones, who took most of the agricultural products for themselves. This rigid social hierarchy is symbolized by the ziggurats, the giant stepped temples-towers that “reached the sky” where the workers remained locked at the bottom and the exalted aristocrats set at the apex (like Nimrod.)
“Gilgamesh also commissioned an army to invade other cities for the loot. He died in such a raid. His religion supported the oppressive hierarchy (in which “minor gods” worked the fields for the benefits of the “superior gods”.) Gilgamesh’ model of society was based on INTERNAL THEFT as well as EXTERNAL one.
THEFT by War
“Gilgamesh’s wall is a good evidence of WARS between CITY-STATES for ORGANIZED THEFT. From him onwards in history, raiding other cities became the “only noble way to acquire scares resources. War became a noble occupation of the aristocrats, justified by morality and religion. The quickest way to accumulate wealth was to invade other cities or nations, grab their territories and abduct their peoples for manual hard work.’ Forced Slavery was instituted.”
Having started in Mesopotamia, this new life style spread all over the inhabitant land. In 1900 BCE, when Abraham was born, large Empires were consolidated for performing ORGANIZED THEFT in a large, efficient way. This became Abraham’s main struggle, as we’ll see.
Karen Amstrong writes:
“The Aryans discovered that the easiest way to replace lost animals was to steal the cattle of a nearby village…
“Aryans saw warfare superior to the tedious life in the cities…
“The Aryan religion gave supreme sanction to what was essentially ORGENIZED VIOLENCE and THEFT. Their mythology said that all cattle, the measure of wealth in those days, belonged to the Aryans and that others have no right to those resources…
“Like Gilgamesh, the Aryans would always seek honor, glory, prestige and fame in battle…
“The Aryan rituals and mythology glorified ORGANIZED THEFT and VIOLENCE…”