Chapter IV: The Reaction to Sense Living
Genesis 11 Spiritually Interpreted
Gen. 11:1-9. And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Come, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, Come, let us build us a city, and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven, and let us make us a name; lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. And Jehovah came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And Jehovah said, Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is what they begin to do: and now nothing will be withholden from them, which they purpose to do. Come, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So Jehovah scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off building the city. Therefore was the name of it called Babel; because Jehovah did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did Jehovah scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
Here is related the building by the descendents of Noah of a city and a tower that was to reach to heaven.
"And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech," which indicates that there was unity in the interchange of intelligence and purpose but that it was based on materiality: "And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar." They built the city and the tower; but Jehovah confounded their language and they were scattered abroad "upon the face of all the earth."
According to Ferrar Fenton's translation of the Bible in modern English, the word Jehovah should be translated "chief." The chief was the priest or ruling religious power. So it was not Jehovah who confused the tongues of the people but their religious leaders. This is true today.
Interpreted in individual consciousness, it is not Spirit that leads man astray but man's interpretation of the message of Spirit as molded by man's mentality. In other words, it was the Adversary or personal ego of the people that asserted its disintegrating nature and destroyed the work of their hands.
The name Babel means "confusion." Babel represents the mental chaos that is the result of thinking from a wholly material standpoint.
What does the building of the tower of Babel and the scattering of its people symbolize?
Whether the story of the building of Babel and the scattering of its people be history or allegory matters little; it illustrates the ephemeral character of man's work exemplified times beyond number in the buried cities of the past. Not only cities but great nations have occupied large areas of this earth, only to be swept away.
This universal scattering of the nations that bravely set out to build cities and civilizations planned to reach to heaven and endure forever, should make thinking
persons pause and inquire the cause of such stupendous failure. The fact is that the foundations of their cities were material instead of spiritual; there was an excess of "stone, and slime."
However every great nation has claimed God as its originator and often its temporal heads as ruling by divine right. As long as these nations had faith in this divine source they prospered, but when the personal element began to assert itself, decline set in, the nation collapsed, and its people scattered.
This is not only the history of cities and nations but also of numerous colonies of Utopian pattern for the betterment of men. Their plans are perfect and appear to be based on laws that will work toward universal happiness and prosperity. But they fail because their leader is some human being, and there is often some other human being in the colony who is ambitious to rule. Politics and party strife then enter and break down the unity that is so necessary to the success of any enterprise.
History shows that often just preceding a great national collapse dictators or "chiefs" assume the power personally to make and enforce the laws for the people. This condition repeats itself in world affairs and presages a breakdown of man-made civilization. The towers of Babel totter and philosophic onlookers foretell a lapse of the human family into primitive savagery.
That the principles on which the governments of the world are based are inadequate to meet the needs of a world nation is patent to anyone who studies the economic and moral status of various countries. God created all men of one blood, according to the Scriptures, and that universal bond of humanity is asserting
itself in the tremendous increase in facilities for intercourse among men of every country. The struggle for separate national existence must be broken down, and a new and larger understanding of race solidarity established.
We see that history is repeating itself on a larger scale than ever before and is again ready to scatter the inhabitants of Babel who have attempted to build to heaven without God. After the breaking up of the present materially founded governments, the spiritually wise will get together and form a federation based on the principles laid down by Jesus Christ, and we shall then enter into that universal peace and security called the millennium. "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world for a testimony unto all the nations; and then shall the end come." The prophecies of Jesus, as set forth symbolically in Matthew 24, undoubtedly point to their fulfillment at this time, and the "tribulations" there recited are upon us. But we need not be fearful or troubled if we are depending on God to take care of us. "The race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong," "but he that endureth to the end, the same shall be saved" (Matt. 24:11-12).
Gen. 11:10-32. These are the generations of Shem. Shem was a hundred years old, and begat Arpachshad two years after the flood: and Shem lived after he begat Arpachshad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters. And Arpachshad lived five and thirty years, and begat Shelah: and Arpachshad lived after he begat Shelah four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters. And Shelah lived thirty years, and begat Eber: and Shelah lived after he begat Eber four hundred
and three years, and begat sons and daughters. And Eber lived four and thirty years, and begat Peleg: and Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters.
(For interpretation of the foregoing names see comment on Genesis 10.)
And Peleg lived thirty years, and begat Reu: and Peleg lived after he begat Reu two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters.
And Reu lived two and thirty years, and begat Serug: and Reu lived after he begat Serug two hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters.
And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor: and Serug lived after he begat Nahor two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.
And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah: and Nahor lived after he begat Terah a hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters.
And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
Now these are the generations of Terah. Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot. And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees. And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram's wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah. And Sarai was barren; she had no child. And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his son's son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.
The name Reu means "leading to pasture," "shepherd," "friend." Reu represents the co-operative feeling, the feeling of friendship, evolving in the individual consciousness into a sense of loving, active, responsibility for the welfare of others.
The name Serug means "interwoven," "tendril," "strength." Serug represents the budding, sprouting, and development of spiritual "seed" or Truth ideas deep down in the subconsciousness by way of preparation for the saving work in the body. In the Serug phase of man's unfoldment the work is done mostly in secret, with now and then just a ray of light breaking through to consciousness.
The name Nahor signifies "angry," "passionate," "piercing," "slaying." Nahor denotes the piercing and breaking up of the sense consciousness hitherto unpenetrated by Truth so that the way may be opened for a new line of thought activity (Abram). This activity may be more of the subconscious than of the conscious mind. Much turmoil often accompanies this inner first breaking up of lesser ideals because of the efforts of the outer, limited, emotional self ("angry," "passionate").
The name Haran means "strong," "mountaineer," "exalted." Haran symbolizes an exalted state of mind, wherein Truth is lifted up in consciousness and the individual is strengthened in his determination to go on toward fuller spiritual enlightenment and upliftment.
The name Ur (of the Chaldees) signifies "light."
"Orient," "brightness or brilliance," "fire or blaze." Ur therefore symbolizes the activity of the understanding or intelligence in man; the inner spiritual part of man's being, whence true light shines forth into the entire consciousness.
The name Milcah means "queen," "rule," "counsel." Milcah symbolizes the soul in the act of expressing dominion, wisdom, good judgment.
The name Iscah signifies "who looks upon," "scans abroad," "discerns." Iscah represents the soul in the act of being attentive to the things of Spirit.
Preceding Entry: Mysteries of Genesis 91-108: Genesis 10 Mysteries of Genesis
Following Entry: Mysteries of Genesis 115-118: Chapter V: The Initial Step Toward Redemption