23 September 2014

The Malbim on the Dor Haflagah

28 Elul 5774

[Our grateful thanks to Yehudu Yerushalmi for bringing this up and to Dassie for locating it and translating it for all of the readers. May Hashem bring you and yours along with all Bnei Yisrael into the geulah shleimah in 5775!]

Guest post by Dassie...  

Part 1 -- Malbim Translation

With your permission, I took the liberty of translating the Malbim on Dor Haflagah myself. I skipped grammatical discussion as indicated by ellipses.

For clarity, I sometimes use the original Hebrew with an English translation next to it.

I don't have a scanner or else I'd post the Hebrew, too.

Yehudi Yerushalmi was absolutely right about this Malbim describing our times. His explanation shows clearly why a One World Order is so evil and actually AGAINST Hashem's Will.

Some of it was hard to translate because of the nuances of Hebrew as opposed to English and the Malbim's personal style, but I did give it my best effort.

"And all the land was one language and of common purpose [devarim achadim]...."

The event of Dor Haflagah/the Generation of Dispersion occurred in the days of Peleg who was born 101 years after the Mabul. And Noach and his sons certainly had only one language. And they had few "devarim." Sometimes, "devarim" means "diburim/words" and sometimes it means "inyanim/matters"….From the days of Noach until the Dispersion, family life was serene and secure and their needs and assets weren't such a big deal, and their dealings and responsibilities were few and the same, common....And Chazal states that what Dor Haflagah did wasn't clarified. We only understand what their sin was via inferences from their story.

"It was at the time of their journey from the east...."

Then it occurred to the new generation to leave the previous path and family life, which was included in "their journey from the east" – from their previous customary behavior. And Chazal said from the beginning of the world "and they found a plain" – they wanted to settle and establish a large kingdom and live the life of politicians with a king at their head who rules with vast governance. According to Chazal, Nimrod was their main adviser and he caused them to rebel against Hashem.

"And they said to one another, 'Come, let us make bricks'...."

The new innovations began with them building walled homes instead of being tent-dwellers, as they had until then. And they chanced upon earth that was suitable for bricks and also for building material, enabling them to erect buildings easily and with minimal toil. And that in itself was against the Divine Will; He wanted people to fill up the land as was written: "And you shall make the ark with compartments." [Beresheit 6:14]

And then they got the idea to build a large city and to establish a mighty kingdom. And within that kingdom, to build a tower that would reach the heavens – for by then, they'd forgotten Hashem. And they started to believe that their abundance descended from the heavenly fools and they wanted to erect a tall tower to set up idol worship – as if their abundance would descend via the tower from the astrological constellations. Chazal writes that it was a denial of the Supreme Divinity. And they wanted the talismans and the worship they concocted for themselves to include every person, as we see when 200 years later, Hashem was already forgotten from among them. And Avraham, who denied all the idol worship, was thrown into the fiery furnace. And if Hashem hadn't dispersed them at that time when there was no hope, when they said, "let us make a name for ourselves" – meaning that every person will be bent under their authority and forced to believe in their beliefs – in doing this, they denied Hashem and would basically say, "Not Him."

Malbim Translation--Part 2

"And Hashem descended to look at the city...."

Meaning that He saw the outcome that resulted from the whole initiative, from the whole matter of the city to their political assembly; the increase of violence, banditry, theft, and murder among the people; and how both malice and the government of notoriously mighty officials grew more powerful. With the tower incident, they meant to oppose the mighty tower of Hashem's Name. They made a tower for themselves in the name of alien worship as is hinted in "and let us make for ourselves a name." And Hashem saw that they would ultimately corrupt every human being.

"And Hashem said...."

Hashem wanted to stop them from removing the idea of the power Hashem in three ways:

1) They shouldn't be united in their behavior, like two separate nations (as I [the Malbim himself] define "Am/Nation" – meaning, particular customs and a particular ruler). 

Previously, they were "one nation."

2) Nations are separated by language in order to make a division between them. Previously, they had "one language for all."

3) If they still hadn't started their actions when all beginnings are difficult, as indicated in "this they began to do" – meaning that they were already busy with building "and now, it should not be withheld from them?" Indicating that Hashem put a restraint on them.... "He initiated and plotted" is based upon a profound idea of great depth, in that sometimes an issue is too lofty and out of reach. He said that He won't withhold.... that He won't hold the matter out of their reach and they won't accomplish everything they desire.

And therefore, "Let us descend...."

We won't wait until they corrupt every person; we will make a division now between them by differentiating their language....and this is for the general good because a gathering of evil-doers is bad for them and bad for the world. Because they split up and dispersed throughout the entire land, their heresy didn't spread to all the nations. Shem and Ever and other special individuals found refuge in Eretz Yisrael as Nimrod's reign didn't reach that area. In that area, there was a kohen l'Kel Elyon/priest to Hashem Above, Avraham called out in the Name of Hashem publicly, and many people learned from Avraham even as the Dispersion was messing up everyone's language. Even the idol worshiping nations split ways and as it says "chose for himself new gods." And in this way, they admitted that there is a God of gods, a First Cause, and a Kel Elyon.


  1. Thanks to Yehudi Yerushalmi & Dassie. Important for today as history is repeating itself; there are many who are aware of this but most are clueless - that's why history is vital and for us Jews, the past, present and future are all in a way: one. Shem and his son, Ever headed the yeshivah where our Patriarchs learned. Also, read where Shem was MalchiTzedek, the High Priest to the One on High. Wishing all of you and klal Yisrael a Shanah Tovah - ktivah v'chatimah tova!

  2. Sorry about the delay, I've sent Devash images of the Kli Yakar and the Alshich HaKadosh on the Dor HaHaflagah.