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The beginning of the covenant; Faith vs. Faithlessness

Genesis 11 - Is the story of Babel true?

Postby Choley » Sun Sep 02, 2018 6:08 pm

Do you believe the story of babel is true and people actual tried to construct a ladder to reach god. When he saw this happening he spread them out and changed their languages.
Choley
 

Re: Genesis 11 - Is the story of Babel true?

Postby jimwalton » Sun Sep 02, 2018 6:08 pm

Yeah, it's true. The context of Genesis 1-11 as a whole is to show the need for the covenant. Humanity is incapable of staying on the path of recognizing truth and worshipping the true God. The only path to reclaim humanity is for God to reveal himself over and over. This story show how necessary a program of revelation has become.

v. 1: "The world had a common speech." The reference is to the world of the Mesopotamian region. The Hebrew word translated "world" is *eretz*, and can also mean "land." (Genesis 10.5, 20, 31 already admit to different languages in the world.) In other words, they had the collective power to band together and seek significance apart from God, much the same as in the Garden of Eden passage. They were in rebellion as a united front. A Sumerian epic ("Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta") tells the same tale, speaking of a time when there was only harmony among the people: "The whole universe in unison spoke to Enlil in one tongue."

v. 2: "As man moved eastward." "East" for the ancients always meant "the land of the gods." They settled in Shinar. History records for us a migration into the region of southern Mesopotamia in the 4th millennium. This particular story is set in about 2100 BC, a period known as the Uruk phase that history tells us was just as the Bible describes it. It was a period of architectural and cultural advances, as well as the significant development of urban culture in the region, just as the Bible says. Again, we are speaking of a regional people group moving eastward, not global population movements.

v. 2 "in Shinar." The Sumerians (Tigris-Euphrates riven basin) are an identifiable entity from approximately 3000-2000 BC. (Northern Shinar had not been settled before 5000 BC, and urbanism started in about 3500 BC.)

v. 3 tells of their construction techniques, and history confirms the accuracy. Mudbricks are first found in about 8-9th millennium BC. The practice was to use stone for foundations and kiln-baked mud bricks for the superstructure. This practice started towards the end of the 4th millennium. Bitumen tar was used for mortar, just as the Bible says. These building techniques were not used in Palestine, but only Mesopotamia, and they weren't used for common buildings (too expensive), but only for public and cultic buildings, just as the Bible says.

v. 4. They were constructing a ziggurat. Many have been found in the area dating to that era. The information is historically correct.

The sin was not building a cohesive civilizations, technological competence, or human progress. The sin was "so that we may make a name for ourselves." It is more to the point to think of them as desiring to make a name for themselves instead of making a name for God. This tower was connected to a temple, as such towers always were, and temples were designed to honor a deity. Their motivation was not to honor God but to bring prosperity and honor to themselves.

v. 4 "and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth." God had told people to fill the earth, to enjoy all of what the planet had to offer, and to make the whole world sacred space. Their clumping together (to NOT be scattered over the face of the whole earth) to make a name for themselves was an act of rebellion against God. God scattered them later not because he did not want them to be together, but because their united efforts were causing mischief (like separating children who misbehave).

v. 5. The whole point of building a ziggurat was so that God would come down and dwell with them. The irony here is that the REAL God came down and was not pleased with what he saw, because they were in rebellion against him, not because they were building cities, using technology, cooperating, or experiencing human progress, but because they were trying to manipulate God to be what they wanted him to be rather than subscribing to the revelation of what God truly was.

v. 6. The problem with their unity, urbanization, and project is that they were using it for blasphemy and apostasy. The problem is deity falsely construed, not technological progress, understanding each other, cohesive societies, and human progress. You've misunderstood the entire story and come to an illegitimate conclusion based on false facts and distorted interpretations.

v. 7. Confusing their language would bring an end to the cooperative effort that led to this building project. His remedial action didn't eliminate the problem (which continued in the Mesopotamian religious system), but it certainly registered God's displeasure with their distortion of who He was and how He works, and it paved the way for His decision to work through one nation and one language group (ch. 12 and following).

v. 8. Their offense is a religious system in which the gods are made to be like humans (like accusing God of jerking people around). People were trying to bring God down to the level of fallen humanity. We must all be careful not to reduce God to being like humans with problems.

The scattering accords perfectly with what we know from history. At this time in history the united cultures of the Sumerians are invaded by the Babylonians (who spoke Semitic, not Sumerian) who dispersed the populations, effecting a disintegration of their society, a loss of their identity as a people, and mixing of languages.
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Re: Genesis 11 - Is the story of Babel true?

Postby Lucky » Sat Sep 08, 2018 9:29 am

> This story show how necessary a program of revelation has become.

Enlighten me. What is the program of revelation that you have?
Lucky
 

Re: Genesis 11 - Is the story of Babel true?

Postby jimwalton » Sat Sep 08, 2018 9:29 am

The prime offense of the people of this story was in trying to reestablish God’s presence with flawed motives (His presence that had been lost at the Garden of Eden, Gn. 3). In the rhetorical strategy of Gn. 1-11, Adam and Eve lost access to the presence of God by presuming to make themselves the center of order and wisdom. In Gen. 4 the sacrifices and even calling on the name of the Lord didn’t reestablish divine presence. Here the builders of the tower take initiative to reinitiate sacred space through the abiding presence of God as represented in the tower (the ziggurat), but they do it through (1) encroachment on divine prerogatives (putting themselves in the place of God), (2) violation of boundaries between divine and human identities, and (3) the encroachment of disorder on the ordered realm the worldview of the ancient world was all about order, disorder, and nonorder). The Babel project, motivated by the Great Symbiosis (the gods give to us as we give to the gods), represented disorder in the divine and human interrelationships and resulted in God’s interruption of order by the confusion of languages.

The tower builders conceived of sacred space as focused on themselves—a repetition of the Garden of Eden scenario—thus forming an inclusio to Gn. 1-11. The motivation of the building project was for order determined by them and built around them.

The tower building account has introduced another theological problem that has to be resolved. The first was sin and the loss of access to sacred space (Gn. 3). Before those problems can be resolved, God must reveal His nature and institute relationship so sacred space can be reestablished on a proper basis.

God's initiative—His program of revelation—is going to reestablish his presence not on the strength of their unity (the Tower of Babel) but in the midst of their diversity (Acts 2); not through the Great Symbiosis but through the covenant (Gn. 12 and following). Genesis 11 is a failed human initiative to reestablish God’s presence; Genesis 12 is God’s initiative that will lead to relationship in his presence and sacred space.

Genesis 3-11 are the story of what the world looks like under the law of sin and death, and the judgment of God on it. God put in development a plan—a program of revelation—to restore what was marred.

God continued his program of revelation by showing that he was as faithful to the covenant curses and penalties as he was to the covenant benefits and blessings. The purpose of Genesis 1-11 was to show the need for the covenant. The only path to reclaim humanity is for God to reveal himself anew. The first step on the path to reclamation and redemption is revelation. The Tower of Babel shows how necessary a program of revelation has become.
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Re: Genesis 11 - Is the story of Babel true?

Postby Lucky » Sun Sep 09, 2018 2:40 pm

So when you said "has become" you meant to say "had become"?
Lucky
 

Re: Genesis 11 - Is the story of Babel true?

Postby jimwalton » Fri Sep 28, 2018 11:07 pm

Yes, sorry for the typo.


Last bumped by Anonymous on Fri Sep 28, 2018 11:07 pm.
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