Abrahamic Community (1)
Introductory Material to the Abrahamic Community
It's crucially important for us to remember that the biblical record is not written for Abraham, the patriarchs or the generation of Israelites who died before this record was put together.
It was written for those generations who lived after the events recorded. It was written, in part, so that those generations would remember and be shaped by the (record of the) events. The readers were one with the people who experienced the foundational events. They needed to know their roots and what it meant to be and remain 'Abraham's children' throughout the changing generations.
The human rebellion against God which began in the garden continued to spread throughout the world (Genesis 3--6) and came to perhaps its most crass expression in Genesis 11 where the scattered and wandering nations asserted themselves as creators and self-providers.
They said to each other, "Come let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, "Come , let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth." ' (11:3-5)
The landless/wandering state was a mark of God's judgment on rebellious Man (see Brueggemann and others on the 'land' theme in the OT) . In this text we hear humans assert that they will create for themselves a centre, they will build a city for themselves and they will make a name for themselves. In this we hear the Serpent's description of what Adam and Eve would have become if they would eat of the tree of knowledge.
This rebellion is carefully spelled out in light of the goodness of God as expressed in Genesis 9:1-2,6-7. These verses and chapter 10 (which shows God's blessing works/empowers) echo the Gen 1 texts which speak of humans in God's image, blessing/fruitfulness and sovereignty over the earth and animals. We have another record of the 'Fall' which is more developed and shows the open arrogance and rebellion more clearly than the one recorded in Genesis 3.
Nevertheless, the scattering was not only a punishment, it was a severe mercy which prevented a massive and united move against God that would have had even worse social/spiritual consequences had it succeeded as planned (11:6). Instead of utterly destroying them (as he had done in the flood), he scattered them. It's clear from the narrative which follows this incident that they later established their own distinct centers of power and developed their own home and foreign policies.
©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.
Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.