chapter  4
13 Pages

Shem

The temptation of sedentarization

The nobility of the task is all the more emphasized by the fact that it is led out by the sons of Shem, the line that Noah blessed as bearing the name of God. The tower of Babel is the work of godly men. The unity of the sons of Shem, then, is profoundly problematic. It is not the unity intuited by Rashi of peace and fraternity, but rather resembles more closely the unity of the totalitarian economy. The sons of Shem migrate eastward, as the Midrash intuits, they distance themselves further from the "Ancient of the world". The exile of the sons of Shem may become intelligible only against the backdrop of the unethical dwelling of the Babelians. According to LaCocque, the act of de-centering is essential to the formation of a self which has matured to the state of awareness of another beyond its own scope and powers.