Genesis 11:3

Hebrew Bible

1 The whole earth had a common language and a common vocabulary. 2 When the people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. 3 Then they said to one another, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” (They had brick instead of stone and tar instead of mortar.) 4 Then they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens so that we may make a name for ourselves. Otherwise we will be scattered across the face of the entire earth.” 5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the people had started building.

Exodus 5:7

Hebrew Bible

5 Pharaoh was thinking, “The people of the land are now many, and you are giving them rest from their labor.” 6 That same day Pharaoh commanded the slave masters and foremen who were over the people: 7You must no longer give straw to the people for making bricks as before. Let them go and collect straw for themselves. 8 But you must require of them the same quota of bricks that they were making before. Do not reduce it, for they are slackers. That is why they are crying, ‘Let us go sacrifice to our God.’ 9 Make the work harder for the men so they will keep at it and pay no attention to lying words!”

 Notes and References

"... An indicator of literary analogy is the repetition of rarely used words and phrases in the context of parallel motifs. In this case, we see a shared use of the word for building bricks connecting the Babel narrative with the Exodus narrative. It is essential to note that the verb ןבל ‘to make bricks’ and the plural noun םיִנֵבְל ‘bricks’ are used together only in these two places in the Torah (Genesis 11:3; Exodus 5:7), and in both places refer to building projects that are antithetical to the purposes of God for his people. Just prior to Abram’s exodus from Egypt (Genesis 12:10–13:4), the Babel narrative describes the building of a city of bricks (םיִנֵבְל, Genesis 11:3). God, however, thwarts this building project by scattering its builders over the face of the whole land: ץֶראָָה־לָכ יֵנְפּ־לַע םָשִּׁמ םָתֹא הָוהְי ץֶפָיַּו (Genesis 11:8). Likewise, just prior to Israel’s exodus from Egypt and return to the Promised Land, the Israelites build cities of bricks (םיִנֵבְל) for Pharaoh (Exodus 5:7). This building project, however, is thwarted (Exodus 5:14-19) when the Israelites are compelled to scatter over all the land: ץֶפָיַּו םָעָה םִיָרְצִמ ץֶרֶא־לָכְבּ (Exodus 5:12). The nearly identical wording of Exodus 5:12 and Genesis 11:8 in a matrix of parallel motifs suggest the presence of an intentional analogy ..."

Postell, Seth D. Abram As Israel, Israel As Abram Literary Analogy As Macro-Structural Strategy In The Torah (pp. 161-182) Tyndale Bulletin 67.2, 2016

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