Genesis 11:1

Hebrew Bible

1 The whole earth had a common language and a common vocabulary. 2 When the people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. 3 Then they said to one another, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” (They had brick instead of stone and tar instead of mortar.)

Jubilees 10:22


21 And they built it: forty and three years [1645-1688 A.M.] were they building it; its breadth was 203 bricks, and the height (of a brick) was the third of one; its height amounted to 5433 cubits and 2 palms, and (the extent of one wall was) thirteen stades (and of the other thirty stades). 22 And the Lord our God said unto us: 'Behold, they are one people, and (this) they begin to do, and now nothing will be withholden from them. Go to, let us go down and confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech, and they may be dispersed into cities and nations, and one purpose will no longer abide with them till the day of judgment.' 23 And the Lord descended, and we descended with him to see the city and the tower which the children of men had built.

Philo On the Confusion of Tongues 15


15 We say then that by the expression, that "all the earth had but one pronunciation and one language," is intimated a symphony of great and unspeakable evils, which cities have inflicted upon cities, nations upon nations, and countries upon countries, and through which men not only wrong one another, but also behave with impiety towards God, and yet these things are the iniquities if many; but let us consider the ineffable multitude of evils which proceed from each individual man, and especially when he is under the influence of that ill-timed, and inharmonious, and unmusical agreement.

 Notes and References

"... Both Jubilees and Philo of Alexandria maintain that the fact that the serpent in the Garden of Eden spoke to Eve was not the result of diabolical ventriloquism (as many other interpreters maintained), but simply a reflection of the fact that snakes used to be able to talk (Jubilees 3:28, On the Creation of the World 156). Both the Jubilees and Philo of Alexandria explain the word “Eden” in “Garden of Eden” not as a place name but as a garden “of delight” (Jubilees 2:7, Allegorical Interpretation, 1:45). Both know that, when the Book of Genesis says that the earth was “of one language and single words” (Genesis 11:1), the latter phrase refers to the humans’ evil plans (Jubilees 10:22; On the Confusion of Tongues 15, 83), and that in the resultant divine summons “Let us go down” (Genesis 11:7), God was speaking to His angels (Jubilees 10:22-23, On the Confusion of Tongues 174). Both relate that Abraham was a trained astronomer and that it was his knowledge of this subject that helped him to understand that there is only one God (Jubilees 12:16-18; On Abraham 71). Both conclude that Lot was saved not for his own sake, but only because of his connection to Abraham (Jubilees 16:7-8; Questions and Solutions in Genesis 4:54). Both maintain that Isaac blessed Jacob instead of Esau because God intervened to have him do so (Jubilees 26:18, Questions and Solutions in Genesis 4:196) ..."

Kugel, James L. A Walk through Jubilees: Studies in the Book of Jubilees and the World of Its Creation (p. 403) Brill, 2012

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