Genesis - the Beginning of SymbolsEdit
It is important to understand when reading any text, whether the Bible or other literature that uses symbolic language, that such language needs a concrete anchor for the metaphors. Without those concrete anchors, the metaphors can have any meaning and therefore no meaning at all. For example: The rain fell, a thick curtain that blocked our view of the mountain vista. Without understanding what a curtain is, the metaphor makes no sense.
Genesis is the concrete anchor, the foundation on which all symbolism is built. It is the account of literal Creation of the whole Universe. Moses uses that foundation throughout the rest of the Pentateuch. From there, the prophets build on that. Then the New Testament is built on the Old in terms of symbolism.
Gen 1:14-19 - And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days and years: and let them be for lights in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth: and it was so. And God made the two great lights; the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: he made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of heaven to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night, and to divide the light from the darkness: and God saw that it was good. And there was evening and there was morning, a fourth day.
Here God speaks of the sun and moon and the stars in heaven. The sun and moon are spoken of as rulers and so from the very first time we see these concepts they are associated with authority. It sets the stage for apocalyptic language throughout the rest of the Bible.
And he dreamed yet another dream, and told it his brethren, and said, Behold, I have dreamed a dream more; and, behold, the sun and the moon and the eleven stars made obeisance to me. And he told it to his father, and to his brethren: and his father rebuked him, and said unto him, What is this dream that thou hast dreamed? Shall I and thy mother and thy brethren indeed come to bow down ourselves to thee to the earth?
Here Joseph has a dream of the sun, moon, and eleven stars making obeisance to him (acknowledging his authority over them). His father recognizes the dream to be a reference to him (the sun), his mother (the moon), and his brothers (11 stars). This was the patriarch, the father of the twelve patriarchs, the man named Israel. He is the sun because his authority is supreme over those in the event the dream portrays. Joseph's mother is pictured as the moon. She is second in authority over him, the "lesser light" next to the sun, her husband. Then the eleven sons, the heads of their own burgeoning families (70 members of the house of Jacob eventually entered Egypt with Jacob).
This dream is not literal. It is a vision with symbols. Those symbols distinctly are interpreted as people who were rulers in their way over the people in question. They are implicitly the emblems in "heaven", the place of authority and they rule over the emblem of the earth, the people subject to them (the rest of the family and servants).
Genesis 11:1 - And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
Moses uses figurative language to refer to the people here. Certainly he is not saying that the whole planet of dirt, magma, water, and air is speaking. This is a common metaphor throughout the book of Genesis.
We will see this more and more as we continue through the Bible on our foundation building journey.
In Truth and Love.