We get ‘back to God’, as it were, in Chapter 15. Most of this chapter is a conversation between God and Abram, though it’s definitely more one-sided: the first sentence of this chapter describes how the “word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision” (1). While the disembodied voice isn’t new, this is the first time I can remember that the word “vision” being used to describe encounters with God. Case in point: there’s none of this with Adam and Eve — God just starts talking to them.
Depending on your previous beliefs, the explanation for this could range from “merely a translation issue” to “proof that religion is just people on drugs making stuff up.” Either way, the nature of this visitation shows that God seems increasingly mystical and abstract, as if he’s distancing himself from this own creation. Perhaps he’s discovering he can be more effective as a ‘mysterious power’ than a human-like entity, like when he caused those plagues in Egypt.
So begins the saga of Abram, the next big-hitter name in this book of all books. God tells Abram to “get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee” (12:1). This three-fold separation of Abram rhetorically singles him out for greatness as the chosen one, a parallel to Noah. Abram ‘hero’s journey’ is as old as storytelling itself, so we also know, at best, he will struggle greatly; at worst, it won’t end well.
Genesis 11 introduces the story of the Tower of Babel, the mythos behind the world’s many languages. While I am familiar with this story, as a secular person and 90’s kid, I must admit that I also associate this phrase with the Tower of Babble, the desert hideout in Carmen Sandiego Word Detective. (Wow, now I know why I grew up to be an English teacher. I identified parts of speech for fun.)
As an English teacher, I also know that failure and/or inability to communicate is one of the most frustrating aspects of life. So what exactly did humanity do to warrant this scattering of a previously monolingual culture? Continue reading
This chapter includes another classic story: Cain and Abel. Cain’s story not only parallels his own parents’ casting out of Eden, but begins the solidification of God’s teachings, besides “do what I say or else.” At the same time, though, this chapter introduces how God’s teachings could be manipulated to serve one’s own selfish interests—a warning, perhaps.