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Beginnings in Genesis – The Blessing of Scattering

May 16, 2008

….from there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth
gen 11:9

The unusual outcome of the story of Babel is that the scattering of God comes as a blessing not a curse. At least, that is what I want to argue. It is a mercy of God and the motif of scattering forms a bridge from the flood story.

The sons of Noah who came out of the ark were Shem, Ham and Japheth. (Ham was the father of Canaan.) These were the three sons of Noah, and from them came the people who were scattered over the earth.
Genesis 9:18

Arvadites, Zemarites and Hamathites. Later the Canaanite clans scattered
Genesis 10:18

These are the clans of Noah’s sons, according to their lines of descent, within their nations. From these the nations spread out over the earth after the flood.
Genesis 10:32

These verses are fulfillments of the divine command given in 1:28 ‘God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”‘ and renewed again twice after the flood:.
Genesis 9:1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.

As for you, be fruitful and increase in number; multiply on the earth and increase upon it.”
Genesis 9:7

God’s will for his creation is diversity, both in the animal and plant life but also among human beings. He gives us this diversity to celebrate not to destroy. Here in the story of Babel we get a good basis for reflection on issues like racism and sectarianism. Even materialism and the globalisation of culture. Whenever we mistrust every Moslem because of 9/11 or Al Queda; whenever we mistrust every Catholic because of the actions of the IRA; or every Englishman, for a whole host of reasons, we are surrendering to the spirit of Babel. Whenever we smother our own identity in order to be accepted; whenever we believe the wearing of labels offers us a name or offers us belonging, we are surrendering to Babel.

Be scattered.

Embrace diversity.

From → Genesis

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