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Genesis 11 --- Sunday 03APR11

  • 1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.

Noah's descendants might have wanted "distance" from each other at first, but they all spoke the same language.

  • 2-4 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. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. 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.

And one day at a family reunion in Iraq they had a change of heart and decided to band together, because they knew they would be invincible if they were united.

  • 5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.

The omniscient, omnipresent God had to come "down" from heaven to see what was going on.

  • 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.

So Yahweh came down from heaven to see what was going on, and it actually seemed to worry him, because if they could do this mighty work, then "nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do." This was the same thing that bothered Yahweh about Adam and Eve having access to the Tree of Life in their awakened state. They would be godlike, in that they would be free of restraint. Yet there is something inside each of us that yearns to be free of restraint.

  • 7-9 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 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.

Apparently it suits Yahweh to see humanity disunited, mutually unintelligible, fearful of one another, and therefore always at war, shackling us with the restraints of one man restraining another. A humanity that is united by a common tongue, a common set of laws, a common belief does not suit him at all. So once again, just as he scattered Adam and Eve from paradise, and scattered Cain from the agricultural profession, now he scatters all of humanity from our brief flirtation with world government and begins the dreary cycle of human history that we all know too well. But in the end, all he achieved by this was a short respite. English is the universal language. The scientific method works inexorably to standardize belief. Only instead of a Tower of Babel, we have a Network of Babel spanning the globe.

  • 2,607 B.C.E Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood

This creates a small kink in my timeline because Noah was exactly 500 when he begat Shem, and the flood was when he was exactly 600, which makes Shem 100 at the time of the flood. At the time when he begat Arphaxad, "two years after the flood" Shem would have been 102 years old. For the purposes of chronology, I use the ages, and the auxiliary information like the two years I discard if it introduces an error to the math.

  • 2,507 B.C.E.And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah...
  • 2,472 B.C.E.And Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber...
  • 2,442 B.C.E.And Eber lived four and thirty years, and begat Peleg...
  • 2,408 B.C.E.And Peleg lived thirty years, and begat Reu...
  • 2,378 B.C.E.And Reu lived two and thirty years, and begat Serug...
  • 2,346 B.C.E.And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor...
  • 2,316 B.C.E.And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah...
  • 2,287 B.C.E.And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran
  • 31-32 And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.

Haran is on the road from Damascus where it forks to go to either Ninevah or Ur. Today the town is found inside the border of Turkey. In the Islamic tradition, Terah's occupation was idolmaker, and Abraham was instinctively repulsed by the attempts of his father to represent gods by carven images and sell them. Perhaps he already had befriended Yahweh at this time. Yet it seems possible that Abraham's loyalty to his father overrode the call of Yahweh in Genesis 12 to journey to Canaan as long as Terah lived. The journey was not made until Terah died and was buried.

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