The Story of Phaleg

From Eliphas Levi's Livre des Splendeurs (1894)

When all men were gathered together on the plain of Sennar, under the reign of Nimrod, there was a great architect named Phaleg. He was the son of Eber, father of the Hebrews, and to protect mankind from a new flood, he drew the plan of a tower. The first section of the tower was to be round, having twelve doors and seventy-two pillars. The second was to be square with nine storeys, the third, a triangular spiral with forty-two turns. The fourth was to be cylindrical with seventy-two storeys. Seven staircases joined each of the storeys to the others. The doors of each storey were to be opened and closed by means of mechanisms whose functioning was to be guarded as a hierarchic secret. All inhabitants of the tower were to have equal civil rights, for those at the top could not live without the assistance of those at the bottom, and those below could not protect themselves from surprise attack without the vigilance of those above. Such was the plan of Phaleg. But the workers were disloyal to the great architect. Secrets from above were revealed to those who worked below, the doors would no longer close, some tried to barricade them, others forced an entry in order to regain the safety of the heights. And in addition, all wished to work as they liked, without consulting the plans of Phaleg. Confusion sprang up in their language as it did in their work, and part of the tower collapsed while the rest remained unfinished, for the workers refused to aid one another. And confusion reigned in their language for there was no more unity in their thought. Phaleg then understood that he had hoped for too much from men in thinking they would understand one another. But these men transferred the fault to him and denounced him to Nimrod. Nimrod condemned him to death. Phaleg disappeared and it was not known what happened to him. Nimrod believed he had had him killed and he erected an idol to which he gave the name Phaleg and which gave out oracls in favour of Nimrod's tyranny. But in reality Phaleg had fled into the desert. He made a trip round the known world as expiation for the too generous error he had committed. And everywhere he stopped, he built a triangular tabernacle. One of these monuments was rediscovered in Prussia in 553 in the digs of a salt mine. Fifteen cubits below ground level a triangular building was found; inside it there was a white marble column on whose base the entire story was written in Hebrew. Beside this column a tombstone was discovered, covered with dust, but under which lay an agate panel bearing the following epitaph: > //Here lie the ashes of our G\ A\  of the Tower of Babel...// > > Adonai has forgiven him the sins of men, for he loved them. > > In humiliation he died for them, and thus he has paid for the magnificence of the idols of Nimrod.


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