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OF THE BUILDING OF THE TOWER AND THE DIVISION OF TONGUES5.
WHEN Reu was born in the days of Peleg, the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japhet, together with Arphaxar and their children, were gathered together in Shinar. And they took counsel together, saying, 'Come, let us build for ourselves a high tower, the top of which shall be in the heavens, lest a flood come again upon us, and destroy us from off the face of the earth.' And they began to make bricks and to build, until (the tower) was reared a great height from the ground. Then they determined to build seventy-two other towers around it, and to set up a chief over each tower to govern those who were under his authority. God saw the weariness of their oppression and the hardness of their toil, and in His mercy had compassion upon them; for the higher they went, the more severe became their labour, and their pain went on increasing, by reason of the violence of the winds and storms and the heat of the p. 42 luminaries and the necessity of carrying up everything they needed. And God said, 'Come, let us go down and divide the tongues there.' The expression 'Come, let us,' resembles 'Come, let us make man in our image and in our likeness,' and refers to the persons of the adorable Trinity. While they were tormenting themselves with that vain labour, their language was suddenly confounded so as to become seventy-two languages, and they understood not each other's speech, and were scattered throughout the whole world, and built cities, every man with his fellow who spoke the same language. From Adam to the building of the tower, there was only one language, and that was Syriac. Some have said that it was Hebrew; but the Hebrews were not called by this name until after Abraham had crossed the river Euphrates and dwelt in Harrân; and from his crossing they were called Hebrews. It was grievous to Peleg that the tongues were confounded (or, that God had confounded the tongues of mankind) in his days, and he died; and his sons Serug and Nahor buried him in the town of Pâlgîn, which he built after his name.
4 In the Oxford MS. chap. xxvii.
5 Gen. xi.