Download Babels Tower Translated: Genesis 11 and Ancient Jewish by Phillip Michael Sherman PDF

By Phillip Michael Sherman

Historical Jewish Interpreters learn and rewrote the biblical narrative of the Tower of Babel to deal with numerous demanding situations to the id of 'Israel' within the moment Temple and early rabbinic classes.

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Additional info for Babels Tower Translated: Genesis 11 and Ancient Jewish Interpretation (Biblical Interpretation)

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On source-critical grounds Speiser dates the narrative to the Yahwist, which he saw as a 10th century bce author. His own suggestion is that the ancient Israelite storyteller had a literary, rather than an actual, model for the Tower of Babel. The Enumah Elish is the literary model in question. The Babylonian text references a ziggurat names Esagil. Speiser explains that “it so happens that the Sumerian name Esagil means literally ‘the structure with up-raised head’. … It is to this phrase, in a well-known canonical composition, transmitted directly or indirectly, that the biblical phrase ‘with its top (literally head) in the sky’ obviously harkens back” (Speiser, Genesis, 75–76).

What is less clear is the meaning of his description of the situation. ”57 Yahweh moves beyond linguistic designation of the people. ” For Yahweh, however, this group represents a political collective. 58 There is a shift from linguistic unity to national unity; or, rather, the two are equated. Linguisitic unity equals national unity. This absolute unity of the people is highlighted by the use of the word ‫ְלֻכָלּם‬. As already noted, this new political 57 Westermann, Genesis, 551. One possible approach is to read this narrative as the origin of political philosophy in the Hebrew Bible.

Returning to the confines of the story itself (without reference to Abraham or name-making elsewhere in the Hebrew Bible) the desire to “make a name” is at best a neutral objective. The narrator 46 I do not mean to prejudice the discussion by asserting that the desire to make a name is a positive motivation for the builders. I only mean to point to the fact that the builders are trying to acquire something with this motivation, not avoid something. In this regard, the desire to make a name should be seen as a positive motivation.

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