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    Where was Abraham? – No’ach

    Tower of Babel, by Pieter Brueghel, 1563

    Tower of Babel, by Pieter Brueghel, 1563

    When the Tower of Babel story took place, where was Abraham?

    You probably think I have made a mistake. Aren’t we talking about an earlier age? What does Abraham have to do with the story? He gets his own section of the Torah soon enough. Why introduce him now?

    Rashi assures us that he was already around. Indeed he was 48, old enough to know his own mind. Says Rashi, “At the time of the building of the tower, Abraham our Father was 48, and we do not find that he took part in their project”.

    In the Midrash there is a discussion about his age when he came to believe in God. One view says that he was only 3; another says 48 (B’reshit Rabbah 64:4).

    If we stay with the second view, there must be a connection between the two events.

    It could be that when he saw the tower-builders trying to storm the heavens he realised how impudent human egotism can be and that whatever heights human beings can reach, they can never be God.

    Even if there is some validity to the theory that he was only an infant when he discovered God, let us remember the story in the Midrash that he worked out that high and great as the heavenly bodies are, their Maker is greater and higher still.

    Abraham gets his own page or pages in the Bible soon enough, but if we read the narrative properly it is evident that he is part of his own pre-history.

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