Earlier today, I had an idea: What if the Biblical Tower of Babel story wasn’t about humans at all, but was speaking about something entirely different? What would it take to unearth the true story of the Tower of Babel?
I let my mind wander, began to write and – 45 minutes later – had created an entire world of characters and personalities out of my imagination. The following is a work in progress but has the makings of a great short story or children’s fable.
Check out the video below, and feel free to skip to 2:12 if you’d like to jump right in:
For those of you who are visual learners or would like to read the text alongside the audio, here you go!
The True Story of The Tower of Babel (Working Title)
Citizens of the new world, you may think that you know your Bible, but I regret to inform you that you have been seriously duped. Today, when you peek inside the waiting covers of this book, you will unfold the true story of the Tower of Babel. Many believe that in ancient times humanity – speaking one language – unified and came together in the land of Shinar. Through this unification, these diverse peoples recognized that they could achieve any objective – even to reach heaven itself. According to the story that you know, the creator struck them down, scattered the peoples across the lands and decreed that each would speak in a language that the others could not possibly understand.
Elements of the story speak truth, but the players themselves are all wrong. For if God decreed that humans would speak foreign tongues and wished for us not to communicate, do you think that the peoples of the world would be speaking to one another today? Foolishness, child! Foolishness, I tell you.
Once upon a time, there existed a world in which all living beings came together in the land of Shinar. The rams, goats, sheep, birds, insects, humans and all the creatures of the land recognized that each had a divine spark within them. These gorgeous and varied beings realized what tremendous potential they had and what power they would wield if they only united. Eloku, the chief ram, gathered all the leaders together and shared with them his blue print. By harnessing the skills of each species that wandered the earth, they could construct a tower that would reach the heavens and rival the works of the Creator herself.
Not a soul could contain his or her brimming excitement and the work ethic that the earth witnessed that day was never to be matched again. Small chicks gathered straw and passed it onto the squirrels. The squirrels mixed the straw with crushed acorns and twigs, and delivered the fibrous concoction to the pigs. The pigs hardly noticed the delivery for they were so busy rolling around in the mud, busily developing the twigs, straw and mud into precious adobe. The humans grabbed the adobe by the handful, fashioning bricks that screamed of perfection before handing them off to the oh-so-dextrous goats. And the goats artfully layed the bricks one atop another as Eloku looked on with pride and approval.
Minutes and hours passed with no sign of slowing pace, and soon the tower was so tall that not even the youngest and brightest of the owls could see its’ top from the earth’s floor. As the sun set that day, Eloku drew from his cloak a prized family heirloom – his great grandfather’s horns, the family shofar. With the sounding of the shofar, Eloku pronounced the day a victory for all ramkind.
“Ram-kind?! What do you mean ram-kind?!” Shouts erupted from the pigs’ section.
“We’ve been working all day in back-breaking labor, rolling in the mud to create adobe for this tower. How can you say ram-kind?!”
Poor Eloku tried to explain. It was a linguistic slip, a turn of phrase. Of course he meant all of earth-kind, all living beings – including rams and their counterparts the sheep, including the pigs, the birds, the squirrels, the humans.
But it was too late. The birds started chiming in. “Do you think that it’s easy for us to fly around all day? Do you know how many times we’ve dutifully flapped our wings today to bring you straw?”
The accusations and fighting continued, each argument escalating the stakes until the humans piped in. “We’ve been doing most of the work today, deigning to work alongside a bunch of animals. That’s what you all are. Animals!”
“What did you call us?” The crowd turned and the chaos ensued.
In the brawl and violence that followed, bricks toppled, adobe flew and most of the structure was knocked down. The creatures could be heard muttering “I swear I will never work with those type again.”
The creator looked down at her world with sadness. Such hope, such unity and it was all destroyed in a moment because the creatures didn’t judge Eloku for the good, didn’t see each other with kindness. She took a deep breath in and held it. With her exhalation, she decreed that the creatures of the earth would no longer speak to one another with ease, and no longer partner with one another only to abuse the friendship.
The Creator determined that each being would speak in a language that the others could not possibly understand… unless and until the beings chose to. Until there came a time when the creatures ceased to blame one another and the humans ceased to view all those around them as animals, unworthy of partnership or respect.
So when you read your Bible and walk your earth and come upon the story of The Tower of Babel, think of Eloku and know that you now understand why birds chirp, cows moo, sheep bray and humans talk.
That’s all. Special thanks to Yair for helping me record the story and for encouraging me to share it. I hope that you enjoyed! 🙂
posted by ayo