Reason for destroying the tower of babel

As an ESL teacher, I find Gen 11: 1-9 interesting. It seems to make God sound afraid, which, of course, isn’t possible. Why would God worry about man being able to plan anything and nothing being impossible for him? What could He be thinking about? What would the city plan that would be threatening to God? I teach an intro ESL class and it is definitely slow going but that makes the relationships we establish through the struggle to communicate that much more satisfying. Just curious tx Kathleen

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@plantaseed Great question :slight_smile: I think the answer involves understanding the context of the tower of Babel and why the builders chose to build it. Let us keep in mind:

  • God had just had to send the flood because of the wickedness of mankind
  • God had commanded people to spread throughout the earth, but the builders of Babel chose to defy that command and to unite in the building of a city
  • the city was likely founded either on idolatrous worship or on the pride of mankind

While it is understandable that people would unite to build a city out of fear of the unknown, what do we think would be the end result of a united mankind pursuing power? Would such a city result in humility, righteousness and justice, or would it result in pride, moral corruption and injustice? Would it lead men closer to God and one another or would it lead to greater alienation from God and one another?

I found the following article an interesting read. It suggested that the series of events in Genesis demonstrated to us, the reader, the inability of man apart from God to live righteously. It was an interesting read.

Hope those thoughts are helpful :slight_smile:

Quotes from Article

Kass, Leon R. “What’s Wrong With Babel?.” The American Scholar (1989): 41-60.

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While God’s words may sound like fear, they are probably meant to be read sardonically. To paraphrase N.T. Wright, what He basically says is: “Oh, what’s this? The people are building a tower to Heaven? How cute. What will they think of next?” The fact that God has to come down from Heaven to see what they’re doing only emphasizes how small this “great work” of theirs really is.

As for why God disrupted the project, His whole purpose for making humanity in the first place was that they fill the earth and rule it as His image-bearers, or representatives (Genesis 1:28, 9:1). It’s clear from the text that they had other plans in mind, namely to stay united in one place and glorify themselves rather than God. Dividing the people by confusing their language was His way of forcing them to do what they had shown themselves unwilling to do of their own accord.

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Sean- so part of the distinction is the motivation behind their actions- thinking they would be strong in and of themselves without God. And Micah, your last 2 sentence are succinct. The subtlety of God’s wit is also something I frequently miss. Thank you both for helping me understand ~Kathleen

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