This is coming out of the biblical order in my journey through the Bible’s emphasis on social justice. The initial reason was that I only encountered this understanding of the story of The Tower of Babel recently, after my posts on the Exodus were already starting to publish, at the True City 2014 conference in Hamilton. However, even though it is the last story of the Bible’s “pre-history,” there is plenty of reason to believe that this story was written much later, during the time of the Babylonian Empire. In any case, I’m releasing it now while it is still fresh in my mind.
There are usually two lessons drawn from the story. Some see it as a criticism of the pride of the people, showing off that they can build such a big tower that God can come down to them. Others see it in terms of the violation of the command to spread out and multiply as they instead opted to settle in comfort. There is probably some truth to these as well. I’m not dismissing those, just suggesting that there might be something bigger we usually completely miss: a radically anti-Empire message.