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Genesis 11:4

Genesis 11:4
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Genesis 11:4, “…let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”

Here are the roots of Babylon—the “world-spirit” that will oppose YHWH and His people until the end of history. Notice what is at the heart of the spirit of Babel: a desire to put humans in the place of God: “let us make a name for ourselves.” Rather than functioning as the images of God whose role is to fill the created universe with a witness to His Name, the spirit of Babel seeks to make for themselves a name.

Of course, we are familiar with YHWH’s response: He comes down, confuses the languages, scatters the people and puts an end to the tower built for their name. But it seems to me that this is only part of His response. The second—and full—response comes in v.10, where we read: “These are the generations of Shem…”

Here we find a list of the offspring of Shem. Now, the location of this list should make us take note because “Shem” is the Hebrew word for Name, the same word as we saw in v.4 when rebellious humanity wanted to make for themselves a name, a “shem.” The list of the descendants of Shem (Name) concludes with Abram, the man through whom YHWH will make a NAME for Himself by raising up the people of Israel through whose offspring He will bring The Offspring—the incarnate Word, His own Name in the flesh, the Beloved Son—into history so that, at the Name of Jesus every knee will bow in heaven and on earth and under the earth and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is YHWH to the glory of God the Father (Phil.2:9-11).

It is absolutely fitting, then, that the line of Shem / Name should follow the destruction of the Tower of Babel at which humanity sought to build for themselves a shem / name. Shem and His descendants are YHWH’s tower—a tower built not in brick and mortar but with flesh and blood, a tower of faithful servants that finally narrows to a single individual, THE Faithful Servant, Jesus Christ who—upon the cross-crowned pinnacle of this tower—heals the wounds of the fall, gathers scattered humanity to Himself, and so definitively proclaims the Name of YHWH as the Name above every Name.