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Introduction

Toledoth V (Genesis 11:10-26)

Toledoth VI (Genesis 11:27)

It would be impossible to exaggerate the importance of this chapter, since it recounts the Second Hardening of mankind, in which, on the plains of Shinar there flowered the second general rebellion of humanity against the Creator. The same pattern is evident in both. In the first, it began with a single act of disobedience; but it eventually resulted in the total corruption of Adam's race, the First Judicial Hardening of humanity, followed by the judgment of God upon their gross wickedness and the destruction of the whole antediluvian world in the waters of the Deluge.

In this second instance, it also began with the shameful wickedness of Canaan: but the eventual exaltation of man against his God became general in the events associated with the Tower of Babel and once more became so serious that the situation demanded God's direct interference with it. This came immediately in the form of the confusion of tongues and the introduction of the device of the Chosen People, through whom God would yet provide a Saviour and Redeemer for men. Therein lies the significance of the presentation of the family line of Shem, the Messianic line, here recorded in close connection with the events of Babel, and which stand here as an explanatory introduction to the call of Abraham.

The story is basically the same in both cases: "man's defiance of God."[1] The setting, however, is different. The first Fall occurred among the flowers and fruits of Eden; the second one came in the bricks and asphalt of the city. Therefore, we see nothing less in this event than the Second Judicial Hardening of Adam's race, the first resulting in the Flood, this one resulting in the call of Abraham and the commissioning of a "Chosen People," by means of whom God's purpose of Redemption would still be achieved.

Speiser described the account here as "authentic beyond all expectation,"[2] and Neff spoke of it as having, "the utmost significance."[3] The extremely abbreviated nature of the sacred record here, however, has obscured the importance of it for some.

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