Development of Nations (Bible)

The Rise of Nations in the Bible


Symbols have multiple meanings. The Book of Genesis is symbolic of the history of the Nation of Israel. It is also points to something greater than the Nation of Israel. The Book of Genesis is symbolic of how ancient empires came to be.

The expulsion of Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden is symbolic of the first hunter and gatherer societies. One of the textual key points that illustrates the expulsion of the garden as the beginning of all hunter and gather societies appeared when Cain begged God to be merciful. God was merciful with Cain and no one killed him. The fact that no one killed him once he left his families territory points to existence of other hunter and gatherer societies.

In chapter four of the Book of Genesis we find Cain building a city. Hunter and gatherer societies did not build cities. It is safe to assume that Cain was not the first person to build a city in the ancient world.
By the time the writer reached the narratives about Joseph, Egypt was an established kingdom. More importantly Egypt was engaged in trade with other nations. “The saw a caravan of Ishmaelites coming down from Gilead, with their camels carrying gum, balm, and resin, on their way to carry it down to Egypt.” The Midianites were also mentioned in this narrative.

The Canaanites as well as other tribes/nations were also mentioned in the Book of Genesis, “And the territory of the Canaanites extended from Sidon, in the direction of Gerar, as far as Gaza, and in the direction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha.” Additionally,  “On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying, “To your descendants I give this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the river Euphrates, the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.”

The Book of Genesis is symbolic of the very beginning of human civilization. The writers of the text used key families in the Israelite history to symbolize their world population. The Book of Genesis is a myth of creation not only of the first humans and their descendants but it is also a myth of the creation of the systems of power that were in place in the ancient period. 

1 Genesis 37. 25 (New Revised Standard Version)2 37. 28, 36 (NRSV)3 10.19