towerGenesis 6:9−11:32

D’var Torah By: David Segal for

The world’s first “skyscraper” was built after the great Flood. All of humanity, unified by a single language, decided to build “a tower that reaches the sky” (Genesis 11:4), known today as the Tower of Babel. I’ve always taken this story as an act of defiance and hubris; God reacted by dispersing the people and confusing their speech.

A midrash depicts the height of the people’s arrogance: ” ‘Come,’ they said, ‘let us make a tower, place an image on its top, and put a sword in its hand, and it will seem that it is waging war against [God]’ ” (B’reishit Rabbah 38:6). If there was any ambiguity in the Torah, the midrash has removed it. These people were asking for God’s retaliation!