0

וַיֹּאמֶר ה' הֵן עַם אֶחָד וְשָׂפָה אַחַת לְכֻלָּם וְזֶה הַחִלָּם לַעֲשׂוֹת
וְעַתָּה לֹא־יִבָּצֵר מֵהֶם כֹּל אֲשֶׁר יָזְמוּ לַעֲשׂוֹת׃

and the LORD said, “If, as one people with one language for all, this is how they have begun to act, then nothing that they may propose to do will be out of their reach. (Gen 11.6)

What did He mean by that? Was the Tower of Babel idea feasible? What else the Man could theoretically do?

  • English is the most influential language on earth atm. When everyone speaks one language, we went to the moon. A study has shown that the Tower of Babel could theoretically reach the hight or more as described in the Bible. Having multiple language dismissed the achievements of man up to that point. – Jonathan Nov 4 at 16:06
  • Why are you translating כל אשר יזמו לעשות as what "they may propose to do" instead of what they have plotted to do? – Rish Nov 4 at 20:20
0

It seems like the consensus among various commentators is that this Passuk isn't understood to mean that Hashem is saying that the people will have have some physical power that enables them to literally accomplish anything they attempt to do. Rather, this statement is meant to reflect a mindset and potential results that come about due to having a shared language.

The commentator who most explicily explains in this manner is the Ibn Ezra, who writes:

וזה הטעם אם אעזבם יחשבו שיוכלו לעשות כל חפצם

Loosely translated as if humanity was left to their own devices, they will believe (emphasis mine) that they could do whatever their heart desires.

Sforno says a similar idea, that the Passuk is expalining how humanity will respond to uniformaity in language. Quoted in full below, the gist of the idea is that the uniformaity in language will be a strong obstacle in preventing humanity from believing in the single all-powerful G-d:

ועתה לא יבצר מהם אם כן אין מונע להם מהשלים כונתם ותהיה אותה עו''ג אשר יבחרו כללית לכל מין האדם ולא יפנה אחד מהם לדעת את הבורא ית' ולהבין כי יוצר הכל הוא. והפוך זה יקרה כשתהיה מחלוקת בענין האלהות כי כל אחד יחשוב שיש אלהי האלהים שכל האלוהות מסכימי' לדעתו ובו ישלם סדרם וסדר המציאו' כאמרו כי ממזרח שמש ועד מבואו גדול שמו בגוים:

ועתה לא יבצר מהם, in view of these circumstances, if left alone, they would complete what they have set out to do, so that this form of idolatry they have agreed on would henceforth be something embraced by all of mankind. Not a single one of them would turn to the Creator of the universe and realise that He, and He alone, is the Creator of the entire universe. On the other hand, the opposite will occur if discord will break out among them regarding the supremacy of any of the deities versus the competing ones. In such a scenario, every nation would believe that there is one deity that is superior to all the various national deities, whose concern is only with the particular nation worshipping that deity. All the minor deities would have to subordinate themselves to the power of that super-deity. The prophet Maleachi 1,11 expresses this in the following words: ”for from where the sun rises to where it sets, My name is honoured among the nations;” כי ממזרח שמש ועד מבואו גדול שמי בגוים.

Lastly, Rashi explains this as a sort of rhetorical question being asked by G-d. G-d seems to be saying that it would be unnacceptable for humanity to be allowed to continue on its' current path without any intervention.

לא יבצר מהם וגו' לעשות. בִּתְמִיהָ. יִבָּצֵר לְשׁוֹן מְנִיעָה, כְתַרְגּוּמוֹ; וְדוֹמֶה לוֹ יִבְצֹר רוּחַ נְגִידִים (תה' ע"ו):

לא יבצר מהם וגו' לעשות This is a question (although the ה which introduces an interrogative sentence is absent): SHALL THEY NOT BE RESTRAINED FROM DOING WHAT THEY IMAGINE TO DO? The word יבצר means “restraining”, as the Targum understands it; a similar instance is, (Psalms 76:13) “He restrains (יבצור) the spirit of princes”.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .