Reading Genesis Politically: An Introduction to Mosaic Political Philosophy

By Martin Sicker | Go to book overview

Chapter 7

Society Astray: The Tower of Babel

As a preamble to the narrative of the rebirth of civilization and the course of its political and moral history, the biblical author directs our attention once again to the origin of mankind, as we know it.

9:18. And the sons of Noah, that went forth from the ark, were Shem, and Ham, and Japheth; and Ham is the father of Canaan. 9:19. These three were the sons of Noah, and of these was the whole world overspread.

It is here reaffirmed that the entire population of the biblical world derived from Noah and his wife through their three sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. It was only they who went forth from the ark, and only of these was the whole earth overspread. The crucial implication of this is that because of their common patrilineal and matrilineal descent, Noah bears legitimate patriarchal authority over all mankind, placing an enormous burden of moral responsibility upon him and his three immediate descendants for the civilization that was to emerge from their efforts. There is also an assumption implicit in this statement regarding great differences between the three brothers that might account for the substantial differences among their descendants. However, it is the moral distinction between them that is of primary concern to the biblical author. He implicitly calls our attention to this

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Reading Genesis Politically: An Introduction to Mosaic Political Philosophy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Introduction ix
  • Chapter 1 - The Emergence of Man 1
  • Chapter 2 - Man Against God: the Myth of the Primal Sin 25
  • Chapter 3 - Man Against Man: Cain and Abel 43
  • Chapter 4 - Man Against Society: the Generation of the Flood 63
  • Chapter 5 - Cleaning the Slate: the Deluge 81
  • Chapter 6 - Beginning Anew 101
  • Notes 117
  • Chapter 7 - Society Astray: the Tower of Babel 119
  • Chapter 8 - Another Beginning 139
  • Bibliography 145
  • Index 151
  • About the Author 153
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