The following is part I of an exegesis on Genesis 11:1-8; observations and inductive questions. This work will seek to examine the larger story at work here within the story of the Tower fo Babel. Observing text, subsequent to prayer, is critical; first, and foremost to everything we do when we approach the Bible and attempt to understand what God is revealing to us. I'm not sure at this point how many parts this exegesis will be broken into, so keep looking every couple of days. And please, feel free to comment below with not only critique, but also supporting literature to help me further engage in this research!
Observations & Inductive Questions
Definitional: What was the language? Can we define it to be Hebrew, or is that a mere assumption?
Rational: Why does the author say that the whole world was ruled by one language, and also identify a common speech? How are these different?
Implicational: What are the theological implications in an ensconced, singular language; as a nation?
2. Shinar is settled to the east. (11:2) We could easily identify Shinar on ancient maps, but what land did these settlers migrate from, in order to settle here?
Definitional: Define what the land to the west was?
Rational: Why do these people move, to the east? Can the words in v. 1 support the single land mass theory; PANGEA?
Who: Were these people nomads, or, did they reject a former governing body?
When: When did this move occur?
3. The land is full of materials for building bricks. (11:3)
Definitional: Can we define from the text provided where the new land settled was located?
Cultural: Was this land settled from an economic development standpoint? Or, were the materials present, and their subsequent, use a mere by-product? In other words: did the land of Shinar offer more than stone materials?
Implicational: What are the implications in making choices based on internal desires?
4. Bricks are used instead of stones, which could infer they sought total independence from God or other nations. (11:3c)
Definitional: Define why they make their own bricks rather than use the materials already provided, by the earth?
Rational: What was their theology? Could we infer that they were not monotheistic? Could we infer they were atheistic?
Implicational: What are the implications in not relying on God for our needs, instead, seeking man-made results through man-made means?
5. This nation wanted to build a great city and tower, one that reached the heavens. (11:4b)
Definitional: Define why they wanted to build such a great city. Define the heavens they sought to reach. Can we?
Rational: Why did they want the tower to reach the heavens? Does this, perhaps, infer a theology propelling their actions?
Implications: What are the implications in trying to see God?
6. This nation wanted to make a name for themselves (11:4b) in order to boast of their accomplishments. Again, this could infer their need for total independence.
Definitional: Can we define their ultimate motives here? Can we infer their motives were more theological, or political?
Who: Who was in charge? Was this nation a kingdom ruled by a king; monarchy; parliament; democracy?
Culture: What was the culture and society like? What can we infer from the text?
7. The LORD came down to see what was being built (11:5). He was concerned though, knowing their motives were wrongly placed.
Rational: Why does this infer the Lord did not know what was happening? Can we infer He was informed by another heavenly being, yet he wanted to see for Himself?
Who: Who else might have been in the storyline?
8. As one nation building this great and mighty city, God acknowledges that they would be capable of anything they attempted. (11:6)
Definition: What is the point of acknowledging the consistent language again?
Rational: Why does the Lord seem so bothered by the fact that they speak the same language? Is this indicative of the abilities of this nation to control the lives of the people?
Cultural implications: What are the implications in such a controlling society?
9. God speaks to someone or something else (11:7) as a means of helping Him. Yet, He has already come down, and He speaks of going “down” again.
Definitional: Define “let us” as used by God in v. 7a. Can we infer this was the work of the Holy Trinity?
Rational: Why does the Lord seek the help of another? Is He not capable of doing this Himself?
Cultural: Can we infer this (go down, v. 7b) is supportive of the levels of heaven theory?
10. In a brilliant move, God scatters the land which is the exact thing this nation was building to prevent from happening. (11:8)
Definitional: What is the intent of God’s action here?
Rational: Why does the Lord scatter the people across the earth, rather than wipe them out? Can we infer this is again an attempt to show humanity that God will offer redemption through various means? Can we infer this is a precursor to more of what God is going to do; i.e., Jonah goes to Ninevah?
Implictional: What are the implications in underestimating the Lord’s ability; His sovereignty?