Essay on The Holy Bible - Comparing Identity in the Tower of Babel and Creation Stories

1261 Words3 Pages

Identity in the Tower of Babel and Creation Stories

God recognizes that human beings are not specifically good the moment He creates them; for unlike His other creations, He does not pronounce them as such. But also unlike His other creations, they are the only ones created like something else, like God, in His image. If they are truly to exist and be good, they must become separate from God, as the other creations are separate and categorized. It takes some human action to get them out of the Garden of Eden--specifically, the woman and the man eating the fruit. Unfortunately, they can't do everything on their own. They need some interference from God, namely the flood, to distance themselves further from Him and to separate them individually, from each other. Though the people in the Babel story do not exercise it very well, the ability to name, to define, to separate, and to classify seems like a prodigious power, and even a privilege.

To become fully human men must distinguish themselves from God. When God sends the flood. He separates Himself from them by putting the world into their hands, as if to say, "There you go, you're grown up now, you take care of it." The gift of the Earth should be God's last active attempt at separation; from then on the humans should try to separate themselves from Him on their own. But like birds kicked out of the nest who try to climb back up the tree, they try to build the tower to heaven; and once again, God must intervene by creating even greater difference. This time He confuses their languages so they are not only different from God but also different from each other.

Both God and mortals understand the tremendous power of language and of naming. For example, at one point ". ....

... middle of paper ... He changes their languages first, and they scatter themselves once they realize they can't understand one another. The former interpretation is probably more accurate, but both show how distance, both physical and figurative, creates difference. And in this case it is a difference that makes teamwork, and the tower which would bridge the gap between earth and heaven, as well as the gap between man and God, impossible. Therefore, by being different from each other, the scattered people of Babel grow even more different from God. Despite the problems that arise from difference (namely conflict), it is necessary for humans to be distinct from one another because they need to obtain identity, both as a race of beings and as individuals, separate and different not only from God, but from one another.

Work Cited

1 The Holy Bible, Authorized (King James) Version.

Open Document