Are there any authentic Jewish sources that claim that the Tower of Babel was a spaceship? I remember as a child being told by somebody that Rav Eibishitz had written something to this effect.

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    This, to the uninitiated, would sound like a very very strange question. Can you explain the premise in the question?
    – WAF
    Jan 20 '17 at 10:43
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    This would be a very cool concept...If it had any stance within traditional sources. But I don't think they had rocket technology back in those days... ;)
    – ezra
    Jan 20 '17 at 13:22
  • FYI There are science fiction stories that say that the destruction of S'dom and Amorah was a nuclear fuel dump explosion at an alien landing site, or an atomic bomb explosion, or fuel-air bombs like the ones used in the shock and awe attacks of the Iraq war. (:-) Jan 20 '17 at 13:47
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    I remember as a child being told by somebody that Rav Eibishitz had written something to this effect.
    – Mark A.
    Jan 20 '17 at 13:48
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    @MarkA. I edited your comment into the question. When people ask for clarifications/improvements, please edit so that all the info is together in the question. Thanks. Jan 20 '17 at 18:18

See here for a full explanation of Rav Yonasan Eibeshitz's idea of the generation attempting to build a tower so high it would reach beyond the gravitational pull of the Earth. Then, they planned to have a boat-like vessel atop the tower to be carried up from the Earth's winds to the moon, where they would no longer need to fear torrential rain. (Rav

enter image description here

  • This seems to be describing a Space Elevator more than a spaceship, but good find. Oct 19 '17 at 17:08
  • The way I understood it was that it was a very high launching pad.
    – robev
    Oct 19 '17 at 17:11
  • @robev which is exactly what a Space Elevator is - a very high launching pad whose top is already moving at orbital velocity. Feb 20 '18 at 14:41

I've heard people reference Sanhedrin 106b when mentioning it, although there doesn't seem to be any link between the two.

א"ר ארבע מאה בעיי' בעו דואג ואחיתופל במגדל הפורח באויר

Rav said, 'Doeg and Achitophel asked four hundred questions about a tower that floats in the air'

Rashi gives a number of explanations, among them:

במגדל הפורח באויר - לעשות כישוף להעמיד מגדל באויר

About a tower that floats in the air - to perform kishuf to make a tower float in the air.

I suspect that this was the source of the idea.

  • Migdal throughout mishnayos and talmud means a type of a box. Along with a shida and a teiva.
    – user6591
    Jan 20 '17 at 18:24
  • This doesn't seem to be referring to the Tower of Babel, as you mentioned.
    – ezra
    Jan 20 '17 at 21:09
  • @ezra That's right. But I have heard people quote it when mentioning that the tower of Bavel was a rocket.
    – Y K
    Jan 21 '17 at 17:05

Since rocket ships are a modern invention, the concept of "building up to heaven" or "being able to go to heaven" is a spiritual or theoretical idea. It is like "aron haporeich ba-avir" (a flying box) in the talmud. As a result, the meforshim do not deal with this on the level of a rocket ship.

a tower whose top shall reach unto heaven

is an expression of rebellion against Hashem, not a physical statement.

Rav Hirsch points out in Noach 11:4 that it means for the glorification of the leader and it is something that will be recognized by everyone and forever. It will be a process that will involve the entire society for generations. This is like the pyramids of Egypt (or the ziggurats of Bavel or the cathedrals of Europe).

The full quote is too long to put here so I have just summarized it.

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