There are three parts to Genesis 11: The tower of Babel, descendants from Shem to Abraham, and the story of the ancestors of Israel. The latter two sections focus on ancestry and lineage, so I am going to focus on the tower of Babel.
The footnotes for this story say that it illustrates the growing wickedness of human beings, and that is expressed with their growing pride in their achievements that don’t include God. What was this wicked achievement of humanity? Humans came together to build a city with a tower in the middle. They do this for the stated purpose of having a place to call home, so that they don’t have to be scattered all over the earth. How does God respond?
If now, while they are one people and all have the same language, they have started to do this, nothing they presume to do will be out of their reach. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language so that no one will understand the speech of another. So the lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. (Genesis 11:6-8)
Humanity begins to show the first signs of architecture, an expression of the intelligence that God instilled in them, and he punishes it. God honestly wants man to do nothing but worship him with everything that man does. And when humans do not do what he wants, which is by extension an expression of how man was created, God gets angry.
What I really get out of this though, is that God wants man to remain ignorant. Not only does he trash humanities first attempt to come together, God outright expresses his worry over what humans will be able to achieve when they come together. Something I can only see as a positive, God explicitly deters. I do not understand the behavior of this god, he creates an amazing creature that can think for itself, but does not want it to flourish and achieve it’s potential.
Lessons I learned:
- Humans can achieve anything they set out to.
- God wants humans to remain ignorant, and unable to come together to learn from each other.