Exegesis Paper On Chapter 11 Of The Book Of Genesis Essay Examples
The first nine verses of Genesis Ch. 11 stress on the division between men born of God and men born of men. This difference becomes obvious in the process of multiplication. Ch. 11 focuses in vs. 1-9 on men’s descendants spreading in Babel, where they undertake the so far unheard of task to construct an extraordinarily high tower (vs. 1-4). However, God disapproves of their plan and hinders the execution by creating a language barrier and thereof a great confusion among them to make them disperse (vs. 5-9) (Wesley). The sons of God are presented apart from this misfortunate group of people. When tracing the bloodline of the sons of God, the Bible confirms that Abraham is in their lineage (vs. 10-26).
In details, the chapter starts with the statement that all sons of men have a common language, which gives them the unique opportunity to communicate with each other and make plans unhindered (vs. 1) (Wesley). They find a piece of land that is suitable for everybody to settle (vs. 2). The new land is flat, which means that they have no materials to build their desired city. This causes them to invent new materials, like bricks, to help the construction (vs. 3). Not only that, but they decide to gain additional prominence by building this city. They want to resist living apart from each other and agree to complete a very bold project, which would strengthen the bond among them resulting in a unique kingdom (Wesley).
Even though they prove to be brilliant undertakers, their sinful nature inherited by their father Adams, is something that God strongly dislikes. He comes down to see how they live and disapproves of their lifestyle. Apparently, there is something different in their way of living that distinguishes them from the sons of God (vs. 5). God does not like their strong sense of unity in the midst of all their wickedness. He takes away the most important tool that allows them to be one – this is the common language they use. The commentator says God does that, because He is concerned that if the sons of men continue their projects, they will leave no space for the sons of God to exist and to fulfill the will of God (vs. 6) (Wesley).
In the text containing vs. 10-26 the reader received information about the genealogy leading to Abraham who sets the foundation of Jewish traditions and beliefs. It refers directly to the family of Jesus Christ, mentioned in chapters of the New Testament – for example in the Gospel of Mathew (ch. 1) (Henry). Jesus Christ is revealed as a descendent of Abraham. However, the only substantial information about the men in Abraham’s family tree contains reference to their names and how many years they have lived.
As the commentator says, “the Holy Ghost” seems “to hasten through them to the story of Abram” (Henry). We do not know any details about what they have accomplished in their lives, what kind of characters they have developed, what special occurrences have affected them or if they have had any particular relationship to God, the Creator. Unfortunately, says the commentator, we cannot know more than what geographical places they have occupied approximately (Henry).
Reading vs. 10-26, we cannot fail but notice that the further away from Adam the genealogy moves, the shorter the lives of the “patriarchs” become. After each three generations, the life duration shrinks dramatically. Shem lives 600 years, but this cannot be compared to the life span of those living before the flood. The three men following him in the lineage of Abram live about 500 years. The three men that come after them do not survive longer than 300 years. Those who are born after them never live longer than 200 years (with the exception of one man named Terah) (Henry).
This is a very sad record and realization, and the commentator explains that, because of the sinful and corrupt nature of fallen humanity, life expectancy become sshorter and shorter over the generations “for the elect’s sake” (Henry). There is only one virtuous man mentioned, Eber, graced with an exceptionally long life after the flood. The Hebrews nation stems directly from him (Henry).
In the last part of the chapter (vs. 27-32) the focus is more on Abram and his part of the family (Barnes). His oldest brother Haran dies in the presence of their father Terah and the commentator believes that Haran has been the oldest son of Terah. The Bible mentions the land of Abram’s birth, Ur, and describes it as belonging to tribes related to Abram. A migration follows, in which a part of Abram’s family accompanies him, this including his father Terah. The Bible also stresses on the fact that Abram’s wife Sarah is barren. The family must have come to realize this misfortune probably before the migration takes place (Barnes).
After losing his first son, Terah get less attached to his birth land and more attached to his younger son Abram. When the latter receives the calling of his life, Terah is 200 years old and Abram is 70. The commentator also estimates that “the promise to Abram was four hundred and thirty years before the exodus of the children of Israel out of Egypt” (Barnes). One of the reasons for the migration of Abram is that the inhabitants of Ur have “fallen into polytheism” and have started to forget who the real God is and how to worship Him (Barnes). Terah probably desires to keep his connection to Abram for this reason. However, he dies 5 years after the migration process starts, at the age of 205, when Abram is 75 years old. The commentator points that the lineage of Abram is one of patriarchs, where fatherhood and sonship have a strong bond, unlike Nimrod, where his authority is based on dictatorship (Barnes).
In terms of other related events, another Bible commentator mentions that at the time of “confusion of tongues” during the construction of Tower of Babel, Abram must have been 43 years of age, while at the time when fire falls and annihilates Sodom, Abram must have been 99 years old (Geneva). Consequently, Sodom is “destroyed 52 years after the confusion of tongues” (Geneva).
It is interesting to observe that the figure of Abram stands out in the middle of many important events in a short historical period. Even though other figures, like dictators and construction project initiators, are mentioned, God looks down on them and destroys their plans, their cities and their lifestyles. In the case of Abram, God reveals Himself to this man and encourages him to follow his calling. Even though Abram is not the central figure of this chapter for the most part, gradually the focus turns on him and on his family. Abram is strongly integrated within a certain family tradition of beliefs and honoring God. Apparently, God’s plan is to work not only with individuals, but also with their whole families.
The sons of men worship other gods, but God disapproves of them and rejects them. However, like in the case of Abram, God prepares the lineage of the sons of God for the coming of the Savior of the world, Jesus Christ. God’s plan is not ultimately to revenge for the sins of men by punishing and destroying them; much rather He loves his children, protects them and leads them to better places. We see that Abram was in no way an outcast from his family; quite on the contrary – he was a beloved son, whom his aging father did not want to let go on his own, but decided to accompany as far as his last strength would allow. In the same way, God’s love is present in the lineage of those who follow Him and worship Him in the right way.
Naturally, sin exists, spreads like a plague among sons of men and affects the longevity of even the sons of God, as shown in the reduction of the life-span of the direct predecessors of Abram. In spite of that fact, God sustains the ‘seed’ of Abram to be prevailing, even though he is getting relatively old and remains childless. Abram’s father is 130 years old when he is born. But Abram is struggling with his advancing age in terms of conceiving a son at the age of 100. The miraculous birth of his son, born of an apparently barren, also aging woman, testifies for the strength of God and His prevision, to the fulfillment of His plan. This chapter is full of contrasts, but this helps to clarify God’s position on long life opposed to sin.
According to God’s plan, it is not the building of worldly ambitious projects that will last forever, but the seed of God is promised to prevail, despite some controversial circumstances. God looks from above and sees those, who make plans and try to bond, to fulfill their desires, to rule the world and to have a good life while forgetting the real Him and ignoring the necessity to worship Him. From the very beginning they are doomed to destruction, because for God there are two types of men – those who obey Him and love Him, and those who live in sin. This chapter is a wonderful illustration of God’s mercy and love towards His children.
Albert Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible. “Genesis 11.” StudyLight.org. Web. 31 Jan. 2015.
Geneva Study Bible. “Genesis 11.” BibleStudyTools. Web. 31 Jan. 2015.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary. “Genesis. Chapter 11. Verses 10-26.” Biblegateway. Web. 31.
Wesley's Explanatory Notes. “The Book of Genesis, Chapter 11.” Bible Study Tools. Web.
31. Jan. 2015.
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