Thursday, July 15, 2010

Genesis: Chapters 11-12

Of all the stories in the Bible, I think the story of the Tower of Babel is most clearly allegorical. I don't know how tall a tower we would have to literally build to make God nervous, but if the Burj Dubai in Dubai doesn't do it at 2,717 ft, I don't know what will. It's clearly just a "Mommy why do different people speak different languages" story.

So, let's look at it allegorically. Everyone speaks one language, and everyone is working together towards the common goal of greatness. God observes that when they all work as one, they are UNSTOPPABLE. So, God creates language to always separate us by misunderstanding and bias. He wants us to not get along.

Guys! When we fight wars, GOD WINS.

When I was younger, I always wondered why people didn't infer from this story that learning second languages is against God's will; mostly this thought came to me as a fond fantasy in the middle of Spanish class.

More begatting. Best name: Arphaxad, Shem's son.

Next, the adventures of Abram, later Abraham, his wife Sarai, and his nephew Lot. God promises to make Abram the father of a great nation, so Abram adventures for a bit, visiting all the places his progeny will SURELY eventually rule.

Things get exponentially sketchy in Egypt, as Abram is worried that Sarai is too sexy and the Pharaoh will kill him and claim Sarai for his own. His plan is to pretend they are brother and sister! This plan never made sense in my children's bible, because it glossed over the part where ABRAM GETS A TON OF GIFTS AND SLAVES IN RETURN FOR LETTING PHARAOH BONE HIS SISTER-WIFE. Super uncool!

This pisses God off, so he curses the already-famine-ridden Egypt with plagues. Thus begins two recurring themes in the early Bible: famines and plagues in Egypt, and God lacking an iota of perspective re: who is morally responsible for what. The rest of the story is predictably awkward; Pharaoh is presumably upset at the assumption he goes around killing everyone with mildly attractive wives (He's not DAVID, we're not AT that bit yet), and pointedly asks Abram and Sarai to leave. Does Abram take his gifts and slaves with him? Who can say!


  1. There's no "GOD" in teamwork!

    "Arphaxad" is a great name. I'm going to name all of my kids Arphaxad. I'm going to buy a cat and name it Arphaxad. It's going to have kittens, and THEY'RE going to be named Arphaxad.

    Also, Abram is a sketcho!

  2. "I will say my wife is my sister, because in Egypt, people can't be married to their sisters"

    Read a book, Abram!

  3. I love growing up and reading the REAL versions of the stories you read when you were a kid! Man, I was shocked about some of those Greek myths.

  4. It's fun when certain things make it into the Bible, like the Tower of Babel story. It's like, can we really believe God is omnipotent if he feels threatened by some mopes creating a tower to touch the heavens? It's like the time the first men went west to conquer heaven in Lord of the Rings. They had a fighting chance but things didn't work out!