Dr. Elaine Phillip, Old Testament History, Lit., and Theology, Lecture 5
                                      © 2011, by Dr. Elaine Phillips and Ted Hildebrandt

A. Preliminary Matters

            Well good morning to you. If you’re wondering why on earth I’m sort of looking at you and smiling it’s because I’m giving myself a test to see how many names I know. I’m still getting about a probably 60% which is a D in my book. So if you think I don’t know your name please make sure I do by the time we get to the end of this week or next week. A couple of announcements up here as you can see. Kerry’s review, Matt’s review--take advantage of them. Matt’s will start for the first time tonight and Kerry, you’ve already had one right? Okay good. Let me also apologize because I’m supposed to be over in the chapel by 10 o’clock this morning so for me to get there and get packed up and so forth we’ll stop at about 10 minutes of 10. So that gives you an extra 40 minutes to just go have a nice cup of coffee and you should be wide awake for chapel. I hope you’ll be praying for me. My voice still isn’t in great shape but, Lord willing, we’ll  make it through that. And then the third thing up here - as with the last open forum so also with this one; they’re are entirely voluntary or optional, but if you’ve got questions that we’re just not having time to deal with in class (and I realize this is a survey so we go fast), I’ll be in the Martha Lewis room on Wednesday evening 7:30 until 8:15--this is a come and go thing. So if you can’t be there for the whole time, that’s fine. But just to have some forum within which to deal with your questions. So I think with that I’m going to try an experiment which is actually to teach you to sing this morning. But I’m going to turn the microphone off and Ted you can just excise this part from the video tape!  Is that fair? Because I might sound horrible and you might not know the right notes especially if the words don’t come up. 
            Now I promise you that’s going to sound at least from my side a little better when I can sing, to say nothing of talking. Did you get it? Thanks Kerry. That was wonderful back there. Did you get it? Do you want to try singing it? Please drown me out as fast as you possibly can. Here we go: [Singing]
            And it goes faster than that and has drums and you know cymbals and things when you really do it right. You can drum on your seat in front of you. We’re going to do it once more. Of course the main point is not to forget the meaning behind this but it is kind of fun to learn to sing in Hebrew, don’t you think? Let’s try it once more and that will be just about it. [Singing]
            And that is probably all I better do for a while. Let’s take some time to pray together as we start and then we’ll get onto the business for the day.
            Gracious heavenly Father we are so thankful for your loving-kindness, your covenant loyal love to us, for your faithfulness. We’re thankful to be able to get up this morning to have health and so many things that you shower so richly upon us. And so we offer you our thanks. We pray that your Spirit would be working through us and in us. This day by your word teach us we pray that we might better be servants in your kingdom. We ask these things in Christ’s name with thanksgiving. Amen.

B. Review of Previous Material
           
Well we’re going to do a little review among other things. Questions from last time? Any questions? I know we did a lot of things and I’m sure that there are lots of questions but anything that you can think of that’s burning through the end of Genesis chapter 4 that we didn’t address. Tim. [Student Question]. Good question. And of course, you know related directly to that is what I usually hear and what I was expecting:  Where did Cain get his wife? So two things to say and maybe there’s a lot more to deal with here but at least two things to say. The first thing you can think of is Adam and Eve are having lots and lots of children. God has told them to be fruitful and multiply. Maybe that’s what we’re talking about. I think, however, that there’s another way to look at it, and again this is going to trample on some thoughts and feelings and I don’t mean to do that, but my suggestion would be that when you look at the fossil record, there is a long history of human-looking creatures -  you know, creatures that seem to be on two feet and perfectly capable of engaging in some kind of hostility or other. It’s into one particular line of those in Genesis 2 that God has breathed his Spirit and Adam is the result of that. Adam is in the image of God but that doesn’t rule out necessarily (and again I’m going to end up saying that I don’t know!) that maybe some of these other creatures are going to be capable of taking him on. Again I realize that probably raises more questions than it answers but those are the two main ways of solving this. We do have a very clear indication at the end of Genesis 4 that we have other things that are human on the scene. So thank you, good question.
            Anything else before we move on? I got a couple more review questions for you. Here’s the first one: what’s an adumbration? You can wake up in the middle of the night and you’re going to be able to say this. An adumbration is… [tell me your name again? Lynn? Thanks. Student answer] Yes, foreshadowing, something that looks ahead to an event that’s going to happen later on.  Sometimes later on in the First Testament; maybe all the way into the life ministry of Jesus as well.
            Another question for us. Which of the following does not appear in the narrative of Genesis 3 as an expression of mercy on the part of God? Here’s the first option: providing covering of skins for them which is both protective and symbolic of God’s keeping them in the family. Second option: Promising redemption by means of the serpent’s seed being struck or stricken. Third option: banishing them from the garden so they couldn’t eat from the tree of life and live as sinful creatures. Fourth option: All the above are evident in the narrative of Genesis 3. What’s your answer? Nick, is that a hand up? [student answer] You’ll say number three. Okay. Anybody else? [student answers] The second one. Okay… we got a vote for two, we got a vote for three. Trevor. [student answers] The fourth one. And the answer is… the fourth one. Right. Because remember that God has specifically said in the curse pronounced against the serpent that the seed of the woman is going to indeed crush the seed of the serpent, so that’s going to be clearly within this whole thing of mercy. The third one: Banished from the garden and not being able to live forever live as sinful creatures is truly indicative of God’s mercy. Forever increasing sin on the part of the increasingly decrepit human kind is not a nice prospect. So at any rate, let’s suggest that all are evident there.

C. Notes on Genealogies
            I promised that we would pick up with just a couple of notes and comments with regard to Old Testament genealogies. You read them in chapter 5; you also read them in chapter 11. And so here are just some suggestions on purposes and then observations about genealogies as well. God’s people in the past are not a nameless mass. Already, even in these early chapters of humankind, God shows his concern for people. They are a named people; names are awfully important. We’re going to see that through the entirety of the Old Testament and already here -- names and relationships. There are going to be relationships established among these descendants as well.  Further, individuals are indeed valuable in God’s eyes; that’s going to be an important thing to keep in mind, too, so hang on to that. We have another forthcoming point. (Here’s why I quizzed us on “adumbrations” a moment a go.) There is this marvelous promise with regard to our place in God’s family. With regard to the fact that we still are inheritors, remember that figure of the garments being placed on Adam and Eve, indicative that they are his children in spite of their sin? Well, likewise there is that wonderful figure of being written in to the Book of Life and so the suggestion is that even as these genealogies are being written, and names are being named, the importance of individuals in God’s eyes is being stressed. We also have an adumbration of God’s people being written in the Book of Life which is a wonderful promise.  And then, of course, it’s going to set the stage so that the people like Noah don’t just drop out of the sky and people like Abraham have a heritage. Those are going to be important things. Keep in mind, of course, that these are not intended to be comprehensive.  For example, if you read Matthew 1, there is a genealogy there but it is not comprehensive. There are some names that are missing from that geneaology, too. So these genealogies are not intended to give us a sequential, chronological added up kind of idea.

            And then the other thing we want to make a note of and you probably notice this as you were reading these sections. The ages in Genesis 5 are approximately… how many years, how many hundreds of years, do most of these guys live? As mentioned in Genesis 5. Chelsea. [student answers] Yes, somewhere in the 900s. Now who’s the exception? It’s a fascinating exception. His name starts with e. Enoch. Right. Enoch who only lives, interestingly enough, a symbolic 365 years. Enoch who walked with God and was not, which raises all sorts of interesting questions as far as what that means and why God took him so early. At any rate, all the rest of them, by and large, are living into their 900s in Genesis 5. That’s not going to be the case by the time we get to Genesis 11. They’re having children earlier and also they don’t live nearly as long. So keep that in mind. There are a number of suggested reasons as to why that might be, by the way. And I’ll just pose one for you; I’m sure that there are others that are equally valid. But the suggestion possibly is that over the millennia (and we don’t know how many are incorporated in these genealogies), there are the cumulative effects of sin on the physical body; mutations, and so forth and so on, disease being more and more able to access and affect the human body and that may be one of the reasons why the age decreases a little bit or significantly by the time we get to the end of Genesis 11.

D. Circumstances Prompting the Flood (Genesis 6)
            Okay, we’re going to move along onto the thing that most of you probably have the most questions on because I heard some already last time; that is this fascinating scene at the beginning of Genesis 6. Let me read it for you and then let’s talk about it a little bit. “
When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful.” Now I’m going to change just a little bit because the NIV says that “they married any of them.”  A more literal rendition is that “they took as women” or “they took as wives” - the same Hebrew word can be translated “women” or “wives.”  So the point is that the sons of God are taking them. Got that? Any that they chose.  “Then the LORD God said, ‘My Spirit will not contend with Adam forever (he’s mortal); his days will be a hundred and twenty years.’” Verse four: “The Nephilim were on the earth in those days and also afterward when the sons of God went to the daughters of men and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.”
            What are your questions? What’s going on? Who are the sons of God? That’s generally the one that surfaces right away. And of course, I think if you’ve downloaded the lecture you might have some ideas.  There are three main ways for thinking about the identity of these “sons of God” who go take daughters of men. The first suggestion is that they may be the godly line of Seth. In Genesis 5, we read about the descendants of Seth and there are some important connections that are being made in terms of those names. If you look at those names, there are some interesting comparisons between those names and the line of Cain in Genesis 4. Some people suggest that this line of descendants from Seth, chapter 5, are the “sons of god.” At the beginning of chapter 5, it says he’s made in the image of God, but now they’re going and taking daughters of Cain in that whole line and this bring these two lines together. That’s one way of looking at it.
            The second way of looking at it is this (and you’ll see very clearly where I come down by the time we’re done with this):  as you read in other places in Scripture and notably Job 38:7, which uses the term “sons of God” in parallel with morning stars singing together, the “sons of God” are clearly representative of angelic creatures. And by the way, to even take it a little bit further, in Job 1 we learn that the sons of God are coming right into the presence of God and Satan’s with them and, of course, God and Satan have this exchange about the character Job. “Sons of God” is used in that context as well. So you’ve got those two things. You’ve also got 2 Peter 2:4 which talks about sons of God being held in judgment. So basically the idea here is that something absolutely unthinkable is occurring; fallen angelic creatures (whenever they may have fallen and we don’t know when but angelic creatures who have stood up on their hind legs and defied God) are now involved in an attempt to invade God’s creation and thwart God’s plan for redemption by doing something as odious and as heinous as this. And interestingly enough when you read a fair number of Jewish literature pieces from the time between the close of the First Testament and the beginning of the New Testament (notably related to Enoch, but there are other texts as well), they very clearly read it this way. And it may be that the New Testament is kind of picking up on that, especially with reference to what 2 Peter has to say. So you’ve got in this case something that is just unthinkable as I have said - introducing heinous evil and we’ll talk about the nature of that evil in a moment.
            The third way of interpreting this has kind of come up in the last 20-30 years or so with a little more force. There’s a sociological emphasis in terms of peoples’ reading of Scripture. And so those who are doing this are saying this is a myth or a legend if you will. They are not taking it as having historical value. It’s a myth or a legend. And basically this is referring to the fact that there are boundaries, sociological boundaries, being crossed - royal lines being intermarrying with commoners. And we say “great, no problem.”  Back then, that was something that you just didn’t do
            So those are three possible ways of reading it. I think it helps us a little bit as we try to plumb this, to explore the expression “Nephilim.” Now I’m not sure what translation you’re reading. The NIV kind of leaves it as “Nephilim”--it simply transliterates the Hebrew word. This is the Hebrew word. Some translations use the expression or the word “giants.” The Hebrew word “Nephilim” probably is related to the verb “naphal” which simply means “to fall.” So therefore, we’re going to try to figure out what are we talking about when we’re talking about fallen ones. Are they, as I put up here, morally fallen?  In other words, does this fit our interpretation that says angelic creatures who have gone totally astray and now are intent on leading humankind away from God’s redemptive plan? Are they morally fallen? Are they fallen from heaven - kind of even picking up on that more? Or remember what it says as we read on in this text. There is lots and lots of violence here. Verse 11: “the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and full of violence” and so some people read these Nephilim as being large creatures who are oppressively violent. Now how do we know they’re giants? It doesn’t say so here, does it?  No. “Heroes of old, men of renown.” How do we know they’re giants? A few translations actually go that route. Now there’s a fascinating reference in Numbers 13. You can look at it later. We’ll look at it in about 3, well 4, weeks. In Numbers 13, where the spies have been sent by Moses to explore the land and they go and they see a wonderful land, but what do they see? They see the descendants of the Anakim who are related to the Nephilim. And all these spies feel like grasshoppers in their presence. In other words, they’re huge! They’re frighteningly huge. So we know that we’re talking about some great kinds of creatures here.
            Well, as I suggest, whatever this is (and I think you probably gather that I tend towards the second of the explanations) -  whatever this is, whatever means Satan is using, it’s clearly an attempt to again derail or sidetrack God’s redemptive plan. You’ve got a godly line of Seth but now things are going to happen that are completely awry and we have a terrible situation on the earth. Notice that it says, verse 5, “the Lord saw how great human wickedness was on the earth. Every inclination of the thoughts of his heart [Adam’s heart, human kind’s heart] was only evil all the time.”  Horrible evil.
            Let me make one other comment in that regard. When you look at verse 11 and following, “the earth was corrupt full of violence. God saw how corrupt the earth had become.” Hebrew word there, take my word for it and then take Hebrew and then you can test me out and make sure this is right, the Hebrew word there is exactly the same as the Hebrew word in verse 17 when God says “I am going to bring flood waters on the earth to” –your NIV says “to destroy” but it’s exactly the same Hebrew word. In other words, it’s measure for measure justice. Humankind has corrupted the earth and therefore God is going to corrupt the whole situation. Measure for measure. Measure for measure. The same word is indicating that. Well what do we have?

E. Noah’s Preparations

 Noah’s told to build an ark; I’m not going to say a whole lot about this. We’ll talk about the Gilgamesh epic in a minute but the thing I’d like you to just note is another Hebrew word. Isn’t it great? You get to learn a little bit of Hebrew here. This Hebrew word is tevah that’s the word that’s translated “ark.” This craft, this boat--I want you to hang onto that word. Put it somewhere where you’re going to be able to drag it back out again because we’re going to need it again and make a very interesting comparison and I’m going to leave you in the dark now in terms of what the comparison is going to be. But just hang on to it. In about 3 weeks we’ll get there, 4 weeks. Okay?
            Noah makes a tevah and in it he puts two of every kind of animal and seven of those who are clean. I don’t know how many species he got on the ark. You can just guess as you wish. The thing that we want to keep in mind is that this is a preservative measure. He’s preserving the major animal classes. Why the seven? Two of everything but now seven of clean? Notice that he knows something about clean and unclean animals. God seems to have instructed him on this. Or you can say later editors are reading it back in. But already even Cain and Abel know something about sacrifices. So I’m willing to say that God instructed him. Why seven? Lucky. [student answers] Possibly something symbolic about God. True. Anything else? If it’s clean animals? Becca. [student answers] Yes, very possibly this is in order to keep on some sort of a sacrificial process going. Noah is a righteous person; we learn that earlier on in the chapter so perhaps this is what’s happening here. They’re going to be used as sacrificial animals. Clearly, or I should say pretty clearly, they were not used for eating. How do we know that? Is it Rebecca again? Kate? Go ahead. [student answers] Yes. It’s in chapter nine that the Lord says “and I give you animals,” basically living creatures, “to eat” and therefore the fear and the dread of Adam falls on those creatures. So you’re absolutely right. It appears that they are not eating them prior to that time. So we probably do need to be thinking in the terms of sacrifices which could go right along with the symbolic import of what Lucky was saying as well.

F. The Extent of the Flood
            Just a couple points that I want to make in this regard: this is always a bit of a challenging one. We can get pretty fairly clear understanding in terms of the time. We know that it rained for 40 days and 40 nights and of course if you’ve been reading your Scriptures carefully you’re well aware that the use of 40 is symbolic. It’s going to show up over and over and over again. But it rains for that extent. Therefore, utter destruction. And then, of course, the flood waters are there for 150 days and then it’s after about a year that they recede. So the time extent is not a challenge so much. Again we can map that out from the Scriptures pretty well.
            In terms of geographic extent or geographical range, we run into little more problem. First of all we don’t know when this happened -  how far back it was. It does say it covered all the mountains. It does say it covered all the earth. Now, please don’t say I’m a heretic as I say my next sentence. As you read the rest of the Scriptures, “all” sometimes means all in a particular location, not everything everywhere. And there are other references to that if you’re interested. The end of Genesis does this with the Joseph narrative in regard to the famine [it says “all” the earth].  You see it in Samuel as well. So maybe we’re talking here about all the habitable land in the Mediterranean basin. Maybe. Part of the problem is (and again I can only speculate at this point; I don’t know all the answers to all the questions) that as you look at your geological time frame as it’s stacked up in sediment, we don’t have evidence for a flood that is universal, comprehensive at the same time throughout the whole of the earth. You simply have evidence of lots of things happening and you have narratives from various cultures that talk about disastrous floods. But geologically, at least yet, we haven’t found that. So maybe (and again I’m only “maybeing” here and please don’t think of me as somebody going way far away from Scripture); maybe as it uses the term “all,” it is  simply referring to some place that is the habitable land. Another thing to throw in here is how long ago this happened and issues such as continental drift which is a very real issue as well.  Maybe this is way, way, way back; we just don’t know the time frame.

G. Question about Nephilim
            Yes, Caitlyn. [student question] That’s another great question that I don’t have an answer to. The question, in case you didn’t’ hear it over there, is how do you have descendants of the Nephilim, Numbers chapter 13 living there in Canaan and Nephilim, and Nephilim as a known concept, if everything gets destroyed?  I don’t know and can only make a suggestion -  two suggestions. One is that they have a corporate memory of Nephilim even though the Nephilim aren’t there; the Anakim are--that’s one possibility. Perhaps when people encountered these gigantic creatures that were in Canaan (they are called the Anakim or the Anakites and were related to the Nephilim), maybe when these folks, these spies, went there and saw these Anakim, somewhere behind that is an epic memory of Nephilim - of huge gigantic fallen creatures. That’s a possibility.  The second possibility (and again take or leave these and chew on it yourself and go look up commentaries):  depending on the nature of the Nephilim, maybe somehow they managed to avoid the flood. “Heroes of old, men of renown,” who knows what kind of capacities that might have meant. Or if you don’t like that, I don’t like this third one but I have to put it out there. It’s myth. And remember our definition of myth – a story that’s not factually accurate but has some truth component built into it. I’m not going the third direction but I honestly don’t know the answer to the question.

H. Aftermath of the Flood
            The next thing we need to say in regard to this narrative, once it’s over and done with (the end of chapter eight), is that Noah built an altar to the Lord and sacrificed burnt offerings on it. And the Lord says in response to it “Never again will I curse the ground because of adam [humans].”  And interestingly enough it is in this context that the term berit which is the Hebrew word for “covenant” is first used. Now we’ve already had a very clear declaration in chapter three of God’s promise that the woman’s seed is going to crush the serpent’s seed. That’s a promise. But it’s here in this post-flood narrative that we first have the use of the term berit or “covenant.”

I.  Gilgamesh Epic
            I’m hoping that you’ve read the eleventh tablet, which is the flood narrative in this larger narrative of the Gilgamesh epic. Fascinating stuff. Explore it a little bit. When I ask you a question on your exam about who’s the hero of the flood thing, don’t say Gilgamesh. It’s Utnapishtim. He’s the counterpart to Noah here. Just a couple things that I want to say in regard to this. Yes, there are interesting parallels. This is one of the epics that indicates to us that there are cultures that do indeed have significant flood narratives, but having said that, did you notice anything different between the Gilgamesh account, in other words Utnapishtim’s story, and Noah’s story? There are at least two distinctive differences; there are others as well. Sarah. [student answers]. Yes. You know there are some communication behind the walls there in terms of how this all happens, but there’s some manipulation going on as well. Good, what else? Do you notice the shape of the ark that Utnapishtim builds? What is it? It’s a cube, isn’t it? Start and think about a cube being out in rough waters.  It’s rolling around like crazy. It’s not working out at all. It’s not a sea-worthy vessel so you can just see in its design it’s not very good whereas Noah’s ark at least has some capacity to float and actually preserve its people. Third thing, I said two, let’s go for three. Do you notice that God commands Noah to save creatures? He’s saving creatures. What is Utnapishtim very careful to take with him on the ark? Yes, valuable things like silver and gold etc., etc. I mean this is a very self-serving kind of preservation on the part of Utnapishtim. Quite different from the things that Noah will do. Again, there are other things that we want to think of in terms of comparison and contrasts but we need to be moving along.

J. Noah’s Sons
            Since we’re going to be stopping in about seven minutes or so, at the end of chapter nine, we do have reference to the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And of course, then we’re going to have later on, particularly in the table of nations, where these characters live. Territorial affinities are going to show up here as well. But we also have the incident with Ham. I want to just read this and make a couple of comments on this. If you’ve been reading this, you are thinking this is one of those challenging issues. Verse 20 of chapter 9, “Noah, a man of the soil, proceeded to plant a vineyard.  When he drank some its wine he became drunk and he lay uncovered inside his tent.” Verse 22. “Ham, the father of Canaan, saw his father’s nakedness.” Now what does that mean? Well let’s go on. “He told his two brothers outside. Shem and Japheth took…”   Interestingly enough, the Hebrew says “the garment,” not just “a garment” - something specific about it.  “…and laid it across their shoulders. They walked in backwards and covered their father’s nakedness.” Their faces were turned the other way so they wouldn’t see him. “When Noah awoke up from his wine and saw what his youngest son had done he said, ‘curse be Ham.’”  What does it say? Is he cursing Ham? No, he’s cursing Canaan, isn’t he?  One of the sons of Ham. But then in contrast, he blesses both Shem and Japheth. So what’s going on here? When is the last time you had a sermon on this passage? Probably not too recently, right? This is one of those texts that folks don’t on preach on too often.
            Let me make a couple of comments and then maybe a couple of interpretive suggestions, again for you to think about further. Interestingly enough, the expression “see the nakedness of” is used ten times and a lot of those show up in Leviticus--“uncovering the nakedness of” and it has to do with something unseemly.  Now, how we interpret that is our next step.  At least knowing what the text is saying, it has something to do with something that’s unseemly. Not all of these instances, by the way, refer to something that is sexually wrong.  The same idea, “seeing the nakedness,” shows up in Genesis when Joseph accuses his brothers who are coming down to Egypt. He accuses them of being spies and says “you want to see the nakedness of the land.” Spies are doing that kind of thing. Two possibilities that I’ll pose for you: the first one is probably the least ugly and that is, it simply refers to seeing the nakedness of his father which is, in that culture of honor and shame, a very shameful thing.  It’s just very shameful. It’s one possibility. And again it does recognize that we’re dealing with a culture that has a much greater stress on honor as opposed to shame. His two sons are doing the honorable thing. The question is what has Ham done?
            And here is the second suggestion.  It doesn’t knit everything together as carefully as we might like it, but the suggestion here is that maybe what Ham has done is to engage in some kind of aberrant sexual activity against his father.   “Seeing the nakedness” is uncovering the nakedness which is the expression that is used also in Leviticus [ch 18] when God repeatedly says “don’t uncover the nakedness of … of…” listing all these patterns that they’re not supposed to engage in in terms of aberrant sexual behavior. If that’s true, that might explain why the curse comes on Canaan here. Canaan’s going to be the group of people that the Israelites will encounter once they go into take the land. What God says about the Canaanites is they have polluted the land. They’ve polluted the land and he says it in the context of Leviticus where we have those various aberrant behaviors described. I’m going to say more about that when we get into the time of the conquest and some of those unseemly things. That’s one suggestion. And there are a lot more. Believe me, there is a lot more that I should probably be saying about that. But guess what; we need to keep moving.

K. Dispersion of People and Tower of Babel
            Chapter 10, the descendants inhabit the earth - this spreading out - and then we need to move on to what we have in chapter 11 with our famous tower at Babel. “The whole world,” verse 1, had one “lip” (technically) “and several words.” That’s a literal translation. They had one way of common speaking. But of course what they decide to do is build this tower. How many of you know about ziggurats from your ancient Near Eastern History classes? Okay, Katie tells us something about ziggurats. [student answers]Yes. These were multi-leveled, stepped structures that almost had a pyramid shape, sometimes upwards of 7 to 10 levels, sometimes 100 feet for each level with ramps going up them.  Presumably the priests met with the gods at the top.  Now this is an artistic representation. The next thing we have here is a ziggurat that has been excavated and reconstructed to a degree which is dated approximately 2100 B.C. which I’ll suggest is at least somewhere in the ballpark with Abraham, with our father Abraham. And you’ll notice the extensive ramp getting up there. Now clearly the problems here are, as I indicated to you earlier, a sense of pride and self-sufficiency on the part of the people mingled with, interestingly enough, fear.  Both motives are going on there when you read this text:  “Let us make ourselves a city with a tower that reaches the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves.” That’s the pride thing. “And not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”  That’s fear. Let’s hang together and stick around here and have our gods be met up at the top. And so God will indeed address this by scattering them--kind of a measure for measure response. They don’t want to be scattered and he scatters them. At the same time he will confuse their languages as well.  I’m going to say more about that later on too, not today.
            One last thing we’re going to do today and that is talk about setting the stage for Abraham himself. When we get to the genealogy in chapter 11, verses 26 and 27 say “after Terah had lived 70 years,” he’s the father of not just one person.  Now there are three and three very important people: Abram, Nahor, and Haran. And of course, Abram is going to be our focus. Notice that we got the line of Shem noted twice in this whole system of genealogies. That’s going to say something about its importance. Okay, and on that happy note, we’re going to stop for today. We’ll pick up our whole business with geography, I think that was the last thing I need to say. We’ll start geography next time, Wednesday, Lord willing. I’m going to have move a little bit more quickly since usually I allow an hour and a half for that, we’ll have one hour. But we’ll see what we can do. Have a great day.

 

                Transcribed by Jessica Rengulbai
                Rough edited by Ted Hildebrandt
                Final edit by Dr. Elaine Phillips