The Story Of The Tower Of Babel In Genesis 11 Of The Hebrew Bible

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The story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11 of the Hebrew Bible is a brief but complex moment within the larger story of human development throughout the book of Genesis. At first reading the story appears entirely pessimistic in nature, but through close reading of the text, the nature of the story begins to change. In this essay, I argue that humankind’s creation of the Tower of Babel was motivated more so through an unconscious desire to be closer to God, who had become physically absent from people and the Earth since the flood in Genesis 7, rather than being motivated by hubris and self-glorification. Furthermore, I argue that God’s subsequent scattering of humanity across the Earth with different languages was not a punishment against …show more content…
People migrated to the land of Shinar and decide to build a city and a tower so to “make a name for [them]selves (Genesis 11:4)”: this verse is all that is known from the text concerning humankind’s motivations and intentions in creating their settlement. This statement does not define what this ‘name’ for themselves really represents, or where their desire to create it was emanating from. Although the way in which God acted after seeing what they were doing implies that He thought it a sinful act, the term ‘sin’ is never used in His dialogue (Genesis 11: 6-9), and nowhere does the text state that humans created the city and the tower as a showy reminder of how great they were as humans. Indeed, because there is no clear definition of the true intentions behind creating the city and tower of Babel, I would argue that the creation of the two may not have necessarily been a sinful, self-serving act. Their intentions could very well have been to “create a name for themselves”, producing a “name” that was God-centric and that reflected their devotion to honoring and praising Him. Certainly it would be difficult to imagine a civilization who had been experiencing God for some time, as is described in the Bible, to leave Him out of their plans in establishing a new city. It is easy to assume that people were acting selfishly in establishing their name, as even God seems to do so, but without textual evidence to prove it as such there is much room for interpretation. It seems most logical to me that even if people did have their own interests in mind when constructing their new city and tower, it was only minimally compared to their interest in creating an establishment in which they could continue to praise and appease God. Their construction of a tower, rather than any other sort of decorative monument, seems

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