23 December 2010

Towering Babel

This is probably my favorite Bible story, from Genesis 11:1-9

1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. 4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children built. 6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

I'd like to spend some time on this but my first impressions of this have always been, 1) There is an "us" here as the Lord says "let us go down..." and 2) the Lord, per usual, is a real "jerk" in human terms.

So, I always get this image of the bully in the sandbox kicking over the castle that other kids made together. But here it's like a bully gang that goes down and tramples the punk mortals.

I know there's a lot of history and myth packed into this story and the Wikipedia does a nice job of dealing with what this might represent but I still think it deserves to be read first as a testament to the kind of "lord" that some folks choose to believe is out there running the show.

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