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Topic: Was there a literal Tower of Babel?

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DunkingDan

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Judgment of the Rebellion at Babel, Part 1
« Reply #140 on: October 12, 2020, 05:56:09 PM »
We turn in our study of the Word of God to the eleventh chapter of Genesis and to what is one of the most well-known portions of the book of Genesis having to do with the Tower of Babel. We’ll be looking and reading these nine verses in just a moment; a few introductory thoughts first.
The book of Genesis, as you know, is the book of origins; it’s the book of beginnings. That’s actually what “genesis” means. It is an amazing revelation by God, written by the pen of Moses. And in this book of Genesis, in particular the first 11 chapters, we have a critical revelation of the origin of all things that constitute a full world view.
There is here the universe in its origin, the origin of time, action, space, matter. There is the origin of the solar system. There is the origin of the atmosphere, the origin of the hydrosphere. There is the origin of all life. There is the origin of mankind. There is the origin of marriage. There is the origin of the family. There is the origin of sin, and the origin of guilt, and the origin of redemption, and the origin of forgiveness. There is the origin of culture and civilization and animal husbandry and metallurgy and other enterprises, the origin of poetry, the origin of music. There is the origin of nations. There is the origin of languages. And all of that runs up through the eleventh chapter, so that when you arrive in chapter twelve, you have the origin of the chosen people, through whom the Word of God and the Savior of the world would come.
From chapter 12 on, through the entire Old Testament, the focus is on Israel, the chosen people of God. Everything happens in and through and around that nation.
We come into the New Testament. Israel, having failed to fulfill its responsibility to God to be the witness to the world that they were called to be, is temporarily set aside. And in the place of Israel, God establishes a new chosen people, made up of Jew and Gentile, called the church. And everything that happens in the New Testament then begins to focus in and through and around the church.
So, from chapter 12 of Genesis on, it’s God’s redemptive work in the world, through Israel, and through the church. But before you get to chapter 12, you have the origin essentially of everything else. It sets the stage for this work of redemption.
Now, the first nine verses of this chapter are obviously brief, but it is packed; it is a stuffed text. Because in these nine verses, we’re going to find that we have here the only true record of the origin of nations and the origin of languages. And nations and languages essentially came into existence by a single act of God.
We are very much aware of the fact that the world in which we live believes in evolution. They believe in the evolution of the universe. They believe in the evolution of biological life. They believe in the evolution of man. They believe in the evolution of everything else. They believe in the evolution of intellect. They believe in the evolution of sociology. They believe in the evolution of nations. They believe in the evolution of language. They believe in the evolution of everything.
And the Bible teaches the evolution of nothing. The universe created by God and everything in it in a six-day period. Nations and languages essentially established by God by one divine act. Sociologists and anthropologists and language theorists imagine a slow, long, evolutionary process socializing man and somehow evolving from grunts and chatter and chirps languages. We know better from the Word of God. We have followed the brief history of man from Adam and Eve, the first man, first woman, to Noah and the flood. When God destroyed the entire population of the world except Noah, his wife, his three sons and their three wives, which meant that after the flood drowned the Earth and completely changed its topography and its environment, from those eight people came the rest of human history.
The flood was in chapter 6 through 9. We came into chapter 10 and 11, and we, in chapter 10, began to learn about the families that came from Noah’s three sons. As we get into chapter 11, verses 10 and following – we saw that in chapter 10 – as we get into the rest of chapter 11, we’ll focus on the line that led to Abram or Abraham, because Abraham becomes the key figure in chapter 12 because it’s through him that God creates the Jewish people, the nation of Israel.
The Bible is the only accurate record of all of this. The only record for creation, the only record for the flood that is accurate. There are flood myths because all the people of the world go back to Noah, and they all at least had some connection with those survivors of the flood. And so, flood myths abound, as I showed you in our study of chapter 10. But the only accurate record for creation, from Adam to Noah, and from Noah to Abraham, is contained in Scripture. This is the precise Word of God.
Now, it is not an extensive history, as is obvious, just a few chapters. It’s not an exhaustive history. It is brief, and it is selective, but it is true and enough to make sense of the general flow and the monumental events that punctuated the life of early man from Adam to Abraham.
We’ve been pointing out, for those who haven’t been here, that a careful chronology of the book of Genesis would indicate that man was created between 6,000 and 7,000 years ago. If you follow the carefully crafted, divinely inspired genealogies of Genesis 10 and 11, that is substantiated.
So, Noah and his family come out of the ark in chapter 9, and they start to reproduce. Chapter 10 then chronicles the development of the families. Noah, as you remember, had three sons, and out of those sons came various sons and grandsons and then families and clans and people and nations.
We traced, in chapter 10, the line of Japheth, the line of Ham, the line of Shem into the nations of the Earth. And as I said, when we get into chapter 11, verse 10 and following, we’ll focus on the line of Shem that went straight to Abram, because Abram was God’s chosen man who was given the covenant that resulted in the whole plan of redemption.
Now, the first nine verses of chapter 11 are crucial because they give us the event that launched the scattering. When they came out of the ark, they were a group of eight. And they began to reproduce and reproduce. But they were still together as a family. And the question is what scattered them everywhere?
We showed in chapter 10 – if you weren’t here, you need to get the tape; it’s really a very, very fascinating and important study. And you can sort of trace your heritage through it. But what caused them to literally spread over the face of the Earth? What catalyst brought that about? And the answer to that is here in chapter 11, the first nine verses. Let’s read them. You listen as I read.
“The whole Earth used the same language and the same words. And it came about as they journeyed east that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.’ And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar.
“And they said, ‘Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole Earth.’
“And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. And the Lord said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language that they may not understand one another’s speech.’
“So, the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole Earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole Earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole Earth.”
Now, this is a very simple and straightforward explanation of how nations developed all over the world and how languages developed. God did it in one single act. It is, in a way, a profound tragedy, as humanity is separated and splintered and scattered from each other, already having rebelled from God.
And it is most likely true, and I won’t drag you through all of the process to arrive at this, but it’s most likely true that the Tower of Babel happened no more than a hundred years after the flood. No more than a hundred years after the flood.
We can identify the time – I often have commented on that – by the identification of a particular child that was born. We’ll have some comments on that a little bit later. That child was named for this great act of separation. Chapter 10, verse 25, “Two sons were born to Eber” - who gives us the name Hebrew – “the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the Earth was divided.” We can follow the genealogy and know that Peleg was born about a hundred years after the flood.
So, it isn’t a lot of time. In a hundred years, the Earth has gone away from God. In a hundred years, the population’s still one tribe, one language, one nation, one family, but hopelessly sunk already into rebellion and sin.
And so, they are in need of judgment. And that judgment is a dispersion. In the flood, it was judgment by destruction. At Babel, it is judgment by dispersion. And frankly, the world at the time of Babel was not an different than the world at the time of the flood. And God would have had every reason to drown this entire civilization, with the exception of whatever few were true to Him, but He didn’t do that. God promised that He would not destroy sinners in that fashion again. This was to be an age of grace and patience and forbearance.
And so, rather than a judgment by destruction, as at the flood, this is judgment by dispersion. He scatters them over the whole Earth and changes their language. And as I said, man was no better than in Noah’s day, but common grace prevailed, and God was patient with man as far as world destruction was concerned.
But they had already turned their backs on God. They had already gone down the path of Romans 1, and this is an act of judgment as well as an act, in some ways, of protection. And I’ll explain that in a moment.
Now, when they were scattered, the sons of Japheth went into a certain area and splintered into various people groups. The sons of Ham went into other areas and splintered into people groups, and the sons of Shem did the same.
Remember from our study of chapter 10 the sons of Japheth are indicated in verses 2 to 5. They became the Indo-European nations from Western Europe, across Russia – actually, across the Bering Strait into North America and South America. The sons of Japheth ultimately possessed most of the territory on the planet but lost their souls.
The sons of Ham, who were noted in 10:6 to 20, inhabited Africa, Asia, into the Far East, and some of them remained in the area around Canaan.
The sons of Shem, settled north and east of Canaan, included the Semitic people. And it’s from that group of people – the sons of Shem – that Abram came, and from Abram came the Jews and the nation Israel. They were the people to whom God gave the law of the prophets, the covenants, the promises, the adoptions, and Scripture, and the Messiah. It wasn’t that God had chosen them simply to be the recipient of all of that, but rather had chosen them to be the proclaimers of all of that truth to the rest of the world. They were chosen as a missionary nation. And Shem’s great-grandson Eber, as I noted, gave the name Hebrew to that chosen people.
Now, we then understand, from chapter 10, about the scattering. Chapter 11, verses 1 to 9, tells us how it happened. Chapter 10 ends with the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, by their nations, and they were all separated on the Earth after the flood. The chapter ends and says they were all separated. Chapter 11 starts and explains exactly how. That’s a very typical way in which Genesis records the divine record of history.
The structure of the text is simple – very simple. It can get complicated with the Hebrew. I won’t do that to you. The structure of the text is very simple. It’s a structure of reversal. Verses 1 to 4, man is building up what he wants. Verse 5, God steps in; and verses 6 to 8, God tears down what man has built up. It’s just the structure of reversal. Verses 1 to 4, the action of man. Verses 5 to 8, the action of God. And that’s a simple way to understand it. Verse 9 is a summary by Moses.
Now, the action of man is indicated in verse 3 with this statement. “They said to one another, ‘Come, let us.’” They repeat it again as in verse 4, “‘Come, let us.’” That was sort of the statement indicating that they were going to launch their great ambitious active rebellion. The action of God is described in verse 7, same words, only this time God says, “‘Come, let Us.’” So, you have then the action of man in verses 1 to 4, the action of God in verses 5 to 8.
The contrast in this brief text is between what man desires to achieve - directed at self-glory, self-fulfillment – and what God does to show man’s impotence and emptiness before Him. It is man at his best and his noblest, trying to achieve his greatest anti-God act, and God steps in and undoes the whole thing. Frankly, the attitude of the people at Babel is essentially the same as the attitude of the Adam and Eve in the garden. It is an attitude of rebellion; it is an attitude of wanting to live apart from God, driven by personal ambition and personal pride.
And interestingly enough, the locations are the same. Shinar, the plain in which they built Babel, was very near to the location of the garden of Eden. Both of them were in the Mesopotamian valley, the lower Euphrates valley between the Tigris and the Euphrates River. So that man, then, is twice thrown out of what was the most beautiful place on the planet. Once it was just Adam and Eve thrown out of Eden. Now it’s the whole of the population of the world thrown out of the Plain of Shinar.
Now, to sort of set it up, after the flood was over, you remember that the ark landed on – what area, the mountains of what? – Ararat, to the very north of the Mesopotamian valley. But they migrated south to that fertile area. They left the area of Ararat and went somewhat southeast to the Euphrates valley and where they wanted to settle. That’s what it indicates in verse 2, “They journeyed toward the east” - it’s actually south and east – “and they found a plain in the land of Shinar and they settled there.”
Now, God had instructed the leader of the family, Noah, in chapter 9, verse 1, “‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the Earth.’” Fill the Earth. It was a reiteration of exactly what He had said to Adam, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the Earth.” The command of God was to take people and search the planet, find all of the wonderful things that God had prepared for man and populate the planet. But that was not what man wanted to do. So, there was a defiant, rebellious disobedience at this point.
Verse 1 says, “The whole Earth used the same language and the same words.” That’s not redundant because those two are not synonymous. The same language means language. The same words means vocabulary. They not only had the same language, but they spoke with the same vocabulary. I know the English language; that’s obviously my language. I can say things in England, and South Africa, and Australia, and New Zealand, and Hong Kong, and Singapore, and India, and other places where English is spoken, that they do not clearly understand because though we have a common language, we have variations in the vocabulary. And I have said things, in some places, which have horrified audiences, and I will not even tell you the things that I said lest I embarrass myself. But in this case, you had the same language and the same vocabulary. They all spoke the same, obviously, because they spoke the language that was spoken by Noah and his family.
Now, there were then no barriers to communication. None at all. No barriers to unity. The literal Hebrew here is they had one lip and one set of words.
Now, as we will see in the last half of chapter 11, the event regarding Babel just occurred, as I said, about a hundred years after the flood. The flood is 1656 after creation, not B.C. because the numbers go the other way. About 1,656 years after creation. This is about 1,756 years after creation, marked out by the birth of Peleg, soon after the flood.
So, they were still speaking the same language. Languages hadn’t developed; they were just one people, all descendants of Noah, united around one form of language and one vocabulary. This is very beneficial. Very beneficial. They all had the same history; they all had the same freedom of communication. Nothing at all like the world in which we live, where everybody’s got a different history, and every nation’s got a different tale to tell, and people speak so many different languages.
But there was a seriously deadly and dark side to this unity. Because they were sinful, and because they were rebellious against God, and because they were proud and wicked, that unity allowed for a concentration of evil that was unacceptable to God. Power corrupts and ultimate power corrupts ultimately. One nation, all speaking the same language, all under the power of the same influence, essentially led by the same man, lacks the checks and balances against evil that help preserve man in a sinful world. Sin had a united front, united force. This is not helpful to people because it elements the constraints and the restraints that nationalities bring to bear upon human life.
Down in verse 6, you’ll see that God recognizes this. He says – it’s recorded I the middle of the verse – “This is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.” Because nobody’s going to stop them. Nobody is going to stop them. I mean part of the freedoms that we enjoy right now today, in America, are due to the fact that when Hitler wanted to rule the world, somebody stopped him. But if it was one people and one world and one leader, nobody could stop him. That’s not helpful. The checks and balances system in the world, even on a national scale, is part of a grace – a common grace that God has given to restrain unilateral evil. And since you had an evil world, they would choose an evil leader, be dominated by an evil leader, and there would be absolutely nothing to stop that wickedness.
Adolph Hitler wanted to rule the world. Obviously it would have been a disaster of all disasters. The same with any world conqueror, all of whom had evil ambition. So, people gave their lives to stop his efforts, and the efforts of Stalin and others, in order to create a measure of restraint, and justice, and freedom, and peace on the Earth.
It is true that even warring nations act as a restraint to autocratic, dominating power. And they restrained the free run of a singular evil. And so, I want to say to you one world unity is a curse. The New Agers are really into this, aren’t they? “One world, one world” – even the World Council of Churches. Coming down here tonight, I was listening to a tape that was sent to me by Ian Anderson, works with Grace to You in South Africa. It was a presentation by a black pastor down there on ecumenism. And he was talking about how massive concerted efforts are being made within Christianity, within even evangelical Christianity, to create one world church, which portends the need for one world leader over that entity. And if he’s as evil as the world he rules, then there is no checks and balance, there is no constraint or restraint.
World unity is a curse. One world ruler would be a disaster. One people only escalates the unified, intrepid force of evil. And God knows that, and so does Satan. And Satan is moving this world back to a one world – one world, one religion, with one ruler who is identified in the Bible as Antichrist. Satan wants to produce one world, one government, under one ruler – the beast of Revelation. And someday his kingdom will bring the entire world under unilateral, unlimited power and evil. Hell will belch forth the bound demons, the demons that have been in the heavens will descend upon the Earth, cast there by God Himself, and all hell will break loose. And what the New Agers are wanting to happen is exactly what Satan wants to happen. They are simply his advanced publicity team.
And Satan would want a one-world government, and then he would select the one-world leader, and he himself would rule the world through his puppet, the Antichrist. And when that happens, you read in the book of Revelation about the horrors that will occur there. And what are those horrors? Well, the prophets tell us, as well as the book of Revelation, there will be mass slaughter, mass death, people will be killing each other even in the families. All hell will break loose.
I’ve been reading – in fact, I finished reading a little book called Neighbors. It’s a secular book written by a man named Jan Gross. And it looks at a very strange anomaly for sociologists to deal with and anthropologists to deal with in the world in which we live. The explanation of the contemporary sociologists and anthropologists that man is basically good, and that when man does something really bad, it’s because he gets brainwashed. And that the only explanation for the holocaust in Germany, the only explanation for good German people massacring six million Jews is that they were under a relentless onslaught of Nazi propaganda that literally overpowered their thinking, so that eventually they were so severely brainwashed that they just went out and massacred the Jews. That has been the standard response by the evolutionary sociologist and anthropologists who believes that man is on the ascendancy, getting better and getting better, and has to explain the incredible holocaust of Germany, to say nothing of the 50 million, perhaps, that were killed by Stalin. And the explanation has always been, “Well, they were under this brainwashing for a long time, and they were so brainwashed, they couldn’t think the normal way. They were terribly victimized by this brainwashing.
And then they found this town in Poland called Jedwabne. Now, when in ‘39, when Hitler started his movement to take over the world for the Third Reich, he didn’t want to have to fight a war on the eastern border. So, he made a truce with Russia. And in order to kind of keep a buffer zone – Germany is here, Russia is here, in the middle is Poland. And so, he split Poland down the middle and annexed the eastern part of Poland to Russia, and took the western part to Germany so there would be a buffer there.
So, Jedwabne was in eastern Poland and was never occupied by any Nazis. It was never occupied by any Germans; it was occupied by Russians. Russians were trying to conquer the world as such; they weren’t interested in racial propaganda. And so, there was no propagandizing at all of the 3,000 people that lived in Jedwabne. Three thousand people, 1,600 of them were Jews. The Jews had lived in the town for 300 years. They farmed together with the folks – the Gentile people who were there. They went to school with them. They worked with them. They occasionally married them. They bought their groceries in the same place. They worked the fields together. They carried on in the same social events in the town, and they had for 300 years. There was essentially no racial attitudes there; everybody got along fine.
Well, in – it was July – it was June 22nd of 1941, and Hitler didn’t want that truce anymore because he wanted to defeat Russia. So, he swept through Poland and the truce was broken. And he took that town Jedwabne, along with Poland – all the way to the Russian border. That was on June 22, 1941. On July 10th, that’s a little over two weeks later, the Gentile townspeople massacred all 1,600 Jews in one day. Slaughtered them all. The ones they couldn’t stab with a pitchfork or behead with an ax, because they were running out of time that day, they herded into a barn, poured gasoline all over the barn, an incinerated them all.
This nagging event couldn’t be explained by the sociologists. Absolutely could not be explained by the sociologists because that town was never under any Nazi propaganda. They’d never been there. The history records indicate not one of those people was killed by a German. Not one of them was killed by a Nazi soldier. Every single one of those Jews was killed by one of his neighbors, hence the title of the book.
And the question the sociologist asked in the book, and he can’t really answer, is how in the world can people, in a two-week period, massacre their neighbors in a bloodbath? How can they do that? The answer? The Germans simply gave them permission. They said, “You could do that.” And they didn’t do it because of race; they did it because they wanted their farms and their farm implements, and their furniture, and their money, and their jewelry, and everything they possessed. That is the heart of man. No brainwashing necessary.
Romans 3, “Their feet are swift to shed blood.” All it would take to create a world in which people massacre each other is to have one government that says, “You can do that.” Just turn them loose. Jedwabne is a testimony to the wretchedness of the human heart. That’s exactly what’s going to be repeated across the face of the Earth during the reign of the Antichrist. All he has to say is, “You can do it. You can do it.”
When sinners get concentrated under one power in one place, wickedness abounds. Folks, all you have to do is just remember the greatest amount of crime and wickedness in the world occurs – where, in the countryside? where? – in the cities. And the bigger the city, the worse it is.
So, God knew what was being potentiated here. Man was evil, and his evil singularly and unilaterally, in one package would abound to such a degree that there would be no way to preserve him from self-destruction because man, by nature – Romans 3 – is swift to shed blood, just give him permission. God knew the sinfulness of the post-flood people was the same as the sinfulness of the pre-flood people.
And some missionary out there is going to say, “Yeah, but did God know that because he did that I have to learn Swahili or Russian or Ukrainian? I mean it’s a complicated deal here.”
That’s the lesser of evils. And so, God scattered these people everywhere. And as they went from a common language, they began to develop the variations that God had assigned them because He confused their speech. And you can see what would happen. The people who could communicate with each other would group together, and they would separate from the people with whom they couldn’t communicate. They didn’t even understand what was going on because here had always only been one language and one set of words.
And by the way, as we move toward Antichrist kingdom, languages are disappearing. National Reviewonline, June 20th this year, the article said, “Thousands of human languages head toward extinction. The 15 most common languages are now on the lips of over half the world’s people.” Half the world’s people speak one of 15 languages – one or more of 15 languages. “Ninety percent of humanity speaks a hundred languages.” We’re down to 6,800 languages today. Half of those are spoken by 2,500 people. Now, as I said, 90 percent of the world speaks 100 languages.
“At the current rate,” says the National Review, “linguists estimate that by the end of this century, half the present languages will be completely gone.” Here’s an interesting thing in the article, “Only 600 are being taught to children. The rest can’t survive because there’s not another generation to speak them.”
Well, I think that just kind of plays into the scene, doesn’t it? Everybody in the world is anxious to learn English. It’s sort of my guess – purely a guess that English would be the language of choice in the kingdom of Antichrist. So, God knew the potential power of evil contained in a unilateral structure.
Verse 2 – let’s go back to it a minute – “It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land if Shinar and settled there.” That’s the key; mark that – settled there. That’s exactly what God told them not to do. They said, “This is the place to build our one-world civilization. We’re not going to scatter as God said. We’re going to stay together, and we’ll have more power here.” Defiant rebellious.
Now, we don’t know how many people there were. I suppose you could do some kind of calculations if there were eight people and how many there could possibly be born within a century of time. But it certainly wouldn’t be a great number – several thousands of people. And they had decided they weren’t going to go anywhere. “We want to stay together. We like being together. We don’t want to weaken our power by dividing the talent, the resources, the people.”
Of course they had a leader – right? Sure. If you want to meet the leader, go back to chapter 10, verse 8, here was their leader. “Now Cush” – who was the son of Ham – “became the father of a man named Nimrod.” Nimrod. You remember that from our study of chapter 10. You might want to know his name means rebel. A man named Nimrod. “He became a mighty one on the Earth.” Now, here’s your leader. Out of all of those in the record there in chapter 10, he’s the only one that’s given that accolade – the mighty one in the Earth.
This was the leader. He stands out because of the importance that he plays – the role of importance that he plays in the developing nations. Further reading, “He was a mighty hunter.” And I’ll help you with the word “hunter.” It means a warrior. It doesn’t mean he was hunting animals; it means he was a killer of people, not animals. Here we have the great-grandson of Noah, grandson of righteous Ham becoming a powerful, powerful man, ruthless and deadly. And he seems to be the man who rises to the ascendency not by any political means, certainly not by any democratic means, but by the sheer power exhibited. He leads the open rebellion against God.
It is said, in verse 9, “Therefore it is said, ‘Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.’” Even God recognized this man as a great killer. He was a Hitler. He was a Stalin. He was a mass murder.
And then verse 10 says, “The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and then Erech and Accad” – from which we get the Accadian people – “and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.” There you are with Shinar and Babel.
So, Nimrod rises to lead these thousands of people who’ve come from the line of Noah and his family. And he reaches his position by wickedness, by being a tyrant, by being a killer. And he is such a killer, of course, that even God recognizes his amazing rebellious show of force.
He expands his kingdom into “Assyria, built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.” So, he’s pictured as having this great kingdom that’s sort of centered in this place called Babel, which is the capital city of this empire that he’s building in the Mesopotamian valley. All the places in verses 10 to 11 are in the Mesopotamian valley. They kind of run from north to south in that valley.
He builds a kingdom of evil, a kingdom of rebellion, idolatry, and pride, very much like the later king of Babylon by the name of Nebuchadnezzar. When you come to the king Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel chapter 1, it says, “In the third year of the reign of Jehoiakim king of Judah, Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon came to Jerusalem and besieged it. And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand” – that is Nebuchadnezzar conquered Jehoiakim; and it says – “and brought them” – the vessels of the house of the Lord – “to the land of Shinar, to the house of his god, and he brought the vessels into the treasury of his god.” So later on, the Babylonian Empire, Nebuchadnezzar, the great king in Daniel’s time, is still located in Shinar. And Babylon is just a later version of Babel, this world empire established by Nimrod, in the very same area, where the garden of Eden was created by God Himself.
Now, the human enterprise then becomes the theme. Let’s look over at chapter 11, verse 3, “And they said to one another” – an, of course, there’s agreement on everything here, because they’re all together – “They said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.’”
Mutually appealing to pride and sinfulness, they said all together, “Let’s make bricks and mortar.” “Come, let us” – it marks their human action. They are proud. They are rebellious. And they are also ingenious. There’s no comparison between mankind and any animal. The gulf is vast as that between a plant and an animal. There is no transitionary form, the gulf is too great. Man, created in the image of God, is ingenious. And sinful, proud, rebellious man finds that human ingenuity only strengthens his wickedness.
“‘Come, let us make a permanent settlement.’” There’s a lot of play on Hebrew words here that I won’t bother you with. But for you Hebrew scholars, you’ll find some fascinating things in the actual Hebrew text.
Now, there’s an abundant supply – has been through the centuries – of clay and asphalt, in the Mesopotamian valley, used as materials in ancient Babylon, for example. And so they said, “‘Let’s get this material that is readily available. We’ll make bricks; we’ll burn them thoroughly.’ And they used brick in the of stone, and they used tar for mortar.” Tar available, as I said, in asphalt and in the bricks which allowed building to occur much more readily than stone because stone is so much harder to shape.
Verse 4, “And they said, ‘Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole Earth.’”
Now, here comes the plan – three-phase plan: a city, a tower, and a name. A city, a tower, and a name. First of all, they said, “Let’s build a city.” That’s their social goal. Their social goal. The tower had to do with their religious goal, and the name had to do with their psychological goal. “Let’s build for ourselves a city” – not for God, not for the glory of God, not for the honor of God, but for ourselves. This is the first city of man, if you will, after the flood. The city by man, of man, for man, without God.
This also drives my thinking immediately to the fourth chapter of Daniel, where Nebuchadnezzar looks out over Babylon. He’s walking on the roof of his royal palace in Babylon – Daniel 4:30 – “‘Is this not Babylon the great, which I myself have built as a royal residence by the might of my power and for the glory of my majesty?’”
It’s the same thing, “Let’s build for ourselves a city, and we’ll have one people and one ruler.” And they are doing it for evil motives, nothing to do with God. And as I’ve been saying to you, the power of evil is greater when it’s concentrated. The power of evil is greater when it’s unhindered and unrestrained and there’s no checks and balances. You get a group of people together in one place like that, and evil abounds. That’s why people move to the suburbs, even in modern times, to escape the overwhelming force of evil that occurs in many cities. Apparently they had highly developed architecture skills, building construction skills. They wanted to build a city where they could live together for their own fulfillment and their own satisfaction.
Secondly, they wanted to build a tower. This is really the most curious part of this. What’s the point of a tower? I mean if you were going to build a tower for the purpose of, say, looking out over the countryside to see your enemies; that would be one thing, but there weren’t any enemies; you just had one group of people. I can understand a tower if you were afraid you were going to be attacked, but there wasn’t anybody to attack essentially. What’s the tower about?
Well, you look a little more carefully, you will notice that it says, “‘Let us build a tower whose top” – and “will reach” is in italics in the NAS, which means it’s added to try to help you to clarify things; if you just take it out – “whose top into heaven” – whose top connects to heaven. I think there’s no other way to understand this than this was their supposed connection to the gods, which indicates that they had already begun to worship false gods. Not surprising. Satan disguises himself as a angel of light, and his ministers are disguised as angels of light. False religion is his business. It didn’t take long for him to develop in them a false religion to take the place of the worship of the true and living God, and they connected that false religion to the heavens.
Now, this kind of tower became very common in Mesopotamian religion. If you – you may have heard this word “ziggurat” – Z-I-G-G-U-R-A-T – ziggurat. In fact, very, very common to find a ziggurat in the ancient cities in the area of the Mesopotamian valley.
It was, in theory, a ladder by which the gods could descend and ascend and make connection with men. A stepladder. It could be made of bricks and mortar and was generally rectangular or square at the base, and there was a temple there. So, you went there to worship the ascending and descending gods. This was their connection with God. And Nimrod, who rejected the true God, knew that the people needed religion because it is an opiate for the people. And so, he concocted some kind of religion associated with a ziggurat, and the base a temple area for the earthly imitation of the heavenly residents of their gods. Babylonian writings, Babylonian legends refer to these ziggurats that may well be copies of this original migdal, this original tower.
Sumerian culture, Babylonian culture also speak of an ancient united people with one language. So, the true account here is passed down through the tradition of these peoples. In fact, in later Babylonia, every important city had a ziggurat, a similar tower - even in Nebuchadnezzar’s Babylon - and it was introduced right back here by Nimrod in Babel. He knew that people needed religion. They needed to overcome their vacuum when they rejected the true God. And so, he concocted this false religion, obviously aided and abetted by Satan.
In fact, the Bible traces all false religions back to – where? - Babylon. Babylon - Revelation 17, Revelation 18. They had rejected the true God. They had developed belief in false gods. Babylonian mystery cults developed from this and spread over the whole world. You got a Babylonian mystery cult, a Babel mystery cult – that’s the worship of false gods; that’s a system of idolatry in Babel. And when God scatters them all, this was not a revival spiritually; they just took bits and pieces of that false religion and spread it all over the Earth. And that’s why Scripture indicates in Revelation 17:5 that all the false religions of the world find their way back to Babel. Even the form of religion that characterizes Antichrist at the end of the age, Revelation 18, is called Babylon. Babylon.
The gods of Rome, the gods and goddesses of Greece, India, Egypt, the original pantheon of the Babylonians all sort of comes from Babel. One historian says, “Nimrod himself was apparently deified as the chief god Marduk of later Babylon.” So, here they turn Nimrod into a god in later worship in Babylon. And they built a tower not to reach – that’s not, as I said, in the Hebrew; rather, it says, “‘whose top is’” – in/with/on/or by – “‘heaven.’” It simply means it’s dedicated to the heavenly gods.
The third element – the first one was social, a city; the second one was religious, a tower – the third one was psychological, they wanted to - “‘make for ourselves a name.’” This indicates their pride, their self-will, their ugly rebellion. They didn’t want to make for God a name; they had turned their back on Him. This is their great ambition. This is, “Come, let us!”
And as we will see, God steps in and says, “No, come, let Us,” and reverses it.
Well, Lord, we thank You for giving us the revelation that You have so that we can understand things the way they really happened and the way they really are. Thank You for the wonderful, faithful attention of Your people to Your truth, and may they be rewarded greatly for their eagerness to learn. And may they be blessed as they worship and praise You as the true and living God, tragically rejected by so many through all of history, even by those who had firsthand family testimony of the flood. How unimaginable it is that those who survived the floor were still alive at the Tower of Babel, and still their testimony of divine judgment must have fallen on deaf ears, even in their own family. How evil is man, how vicious, how wicked, how self-exalting, and still today saying, “Come, let us build our cities of wickedness, build our false religions, build our psychological self-esteem,” only as in the days of old, to have it all reversed in a coming act of divine judgment.
Father, may we take the message, the truth to all around us so that others can come even into these waters of baptism and testify to Your saving power and Your deliverance, we pray in Christ’s name, amen.


President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

DunkingDan

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The Tower of Babel
« Reply #141 on: October 21, 2020, 03:48:28 PM »
Written for our learning…
            After the floodwaters receded, Noah sacrificed to Jehovah and it pleased Him; and the Lord made a promise that He would never destroy the earth again in such a fashion as He had done with the flood (Gen. 8:21-22). At the beginning of chapter nine, God tells Noah and his sons to “be fruitful and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth and multiply and fill it” (Gen. 9:1, 7). Genesis chapter ten confirms that Noah’s sons began fulfilling God’s command. The earth was beginning to be populated again—things seemed to be going well—until this enlightening story in Chapter 11:1-9 draws our attention.
            All humanity spoke only one language at this time (vs. 1); but the people were not mindful of what God told them to do (i.e. fill the earth), so they decided to settle down in the land of Shinar. They wanted to be remembered in history, so they began building a huge tower and a city to live in (vs. 4). They displayed their rebellion to God’s instructions by saying they did not want to be “scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” So God, being aware of what was going on, decided to “stir the pot” in order to get them to do what He had instructed them to do in the first place. Jehovah divided their languages and made them speak with tongues that were foreign to each other. Thus, the work on the tower came to a halt and the people spread out across all the face of the earth (vs. 9). This story is pregnant with lessons. Please notice that:
  • Good communication is the key to working together toward a goal. Oh, how we need this lesson! This is true in every meaningful relationship we have. In the marriage relationship, each spouse has to communicate with the other so that things will work out. In the family relationship, parents must communicate with their children and vice versa; and last, but certainly not least, in dealing with our Christian brethren, we must learn how to communicate with them if we are to effectively work toward the goal of heaven (Mt. 18:15; Pro. 25:8-9).
  • Much of what man does while here on earth is a monument to his insecurity (Deffinbaugh). These men of Babel stated plainly why they wanted to build this tower. They “wanted to make a name for themselves” (vs. 4). The same is true for many, if not most, people today. They work so hard at trying to find that big break in their career, or wait and work diligently until their ‘ship comes in;’ and finally they realize around mid-life that most of what they had planned to do in life has not even begun to be done. So they start scurrying around looking for ways to be remembered. They fear that no one will remember them when they are gone. If men would put their trust in God and try to glorify Him, then they would not be so worried that men would forget them.
  • Only negative results come from trying to thwart God’s purposes (Woods, p.28). This is a lesson sorely needed for everyone—myself included. We humans are sometimes prone to think that we can get by on doing things a little bit different than how God said to do it—but such will not work, and really this is a wicked and rebellious attitude (cf. 1 Sam. 15:1-28); this is what the men of Babel did. God told them to fill the earth, not settle down in one area and stay there; So instead of making a great name for themselves, they made a name of shame, because Babel in the Hebrew language means ‘division’ or ‘confusion’(Ibid). That’s the irony of the whole story; they, wanting to make a great name for themselves, disobeyed God and started building a huge tower, but they really ended up making a negative name. Man cannot outwit God (Gal. 6:7-8).
  • We must not misuse the gifts that God has given us. Everything, from the “smallest” thing to the “largest” thing, God has given us is a gift. We use language so often that it really escapes our attention that it is a blessing from God. Just imagine what life would be like if you could not communicate with anyone. It would be rather frustrating wouldn’t it? Obviously so! Look at how frustrated these men of Babel became when they couldn’t communicate—they pulled up stakes and decided to keep on moving. When God has given us the ability to speak, we need to always be sure that our speech is above reproach and a blessing to those who hear us (1 Pet. 4:11; Col. 4:6). 
  • No matter how ‘big’ men’s projects are to them, they are small and insignificant to God (Deffinbaugh). Was Jehovah unaware of what these men were doing because verse 5 says that He came down to see the city and tower they had built? No. He knew all along what they were doing; but Moses uses a bit of satire (i.e. ridicule used to expose folly) to express this point: These men were so impressed with their tower—it was huge and would be doted over by men for generations to come they thought, but to God it was so small that He had to ‘come down’ to even see it. I am reminded of Psalms 127:1 here. All their work on the city and tower did them no good, for they ended up moving away from there anyway.
  • The desire to ‘make a name for ourselves’ must never override our desire to please God (Ibid). There is nothing wrong with wanting to be remembered. I think we can all appreciate the fact that when someone notices us, it makes us feel good. However, when we start to love that feeling we get from other people’s recognition more than we love that feeling we get from having God’s approval, then it becomes wrong. 
  • Men’s intentions are curbed by God (Ibid). Jehovah’s will is not going to be thwarted (Gal. 6:7). Whatever happens, He is going to have the final say so. We will do well to go ahead and get that lesson down in our mind; because the sooner we learn that, the sooner we will bring our will into harmony with God’s will. God rules in the kingdoms of men (Dan. 5:21), and nothing will happen that is not in accord with His ultimate will.
Works Consulted
Clarke, Adam. Clarke’s Commentary: Vol. 1. New York: Abingdon Press, No date given.
Deffinbaugh, Bob. “The Unity of Unbelief.” Bible.org. 28 August 2006. http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=89>.
Woods, Clyde M. People’s Old Testament Notes: Vol. 1. Henderson, Tennessee: Woods
            Publications, 1972.


« Last Edit: October 21, 2020, 07:05:38 PM by DunkingDan »
President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

Cincydawg

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Re: Was there a literal Tower of Babel?
« Reply #142 on: October 21, 2020, 06:58:17 PM »
I idly wonder how the literal Bible explains the Americans and its population.

DunkingDan

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Babel vs. Pentecost
« Reply #143 on: October 26, 2020, 02:34:40 PM »
  An Orthodox priest, who was involved in ecumenical activities, became acquainted with some Lutheran pastors and He invited them to a Holy Friday service. Three of them came but the church was already full. The priest noticed them standing in the back and wanted to show good hospitality. So, he whispered to one of the acolytes, ?Get three chairs for our Lutheran pastor friends.? The altar boy didn?t quite hear, so the priest said it again a bit louder, pointing towards the back of the church, ?Three chairs for the Lutherans.? Dutifully, the boy went out of the altar and stepped to the front of the congregation and loudly proclaimed to everyone, ?Three cheers for the Lutherans.?

  A golden anniversary party was thrown for an elderly couple. The husband was moved by the occasion and wanted to tell his wife how he felt about her. She was hard of hearing however and often misunderstood what he had to say. With many family members and friends gathered around, he toasted her: ?My dear wife, after fifty years I have found you tried and true!? Everyone smiled with approval but his wife said, ?Eh?? He repeated in a louder voice, ?After fifty years I have found you tried and true!? His wife harrumphed and shot back, ?Well, let me tell you something?after fifty years I?m tired of you too!?

  These two stories underline the importance of clear communication and how good intentions can go bad with mis-communication. Today is the great Feast of Pentecost on which we commemorate the descent of God?s Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. The Epistle reading from the Book of Acts (2:1-11) recounts the event itself, how the disciples were gathered together in one place (v.1) and a rush of violent wind came and filled the entire house in which they were sitting (v.2). Divided tongues of fire appeared and rested upon each one of them (v.3) as they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages (v.4). The icon in the narthex depicts this exactly.

  The event of Pentecost ten days after Jesus ascended into heaven should remind us of another earlier event that we read about in Genesis. Listen to it.

1Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. 2And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. 3Then they said to one another, ?Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.? They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. 4And they said, ?Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.? 5But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6And the Lord said, ?Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 7Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another?s speech.? 8So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. 9Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth. (Genesis 11:1-9 The Tower of Babel)

  The event is so well know in history that we now use in the word ?babel? to mean a confused mixture of sounds or voices; a scene of noise and confusion.? What are the similarities and differences between the Tower of Babel event and Pentecost? One obvious similarity is that God bestowed different tongues of languages upon the people involved. But the huge and important difference is this: with the Tower of Babel event God intervened to cause miscommunication where at Pentecost the various languages are meant to facilitate communication. How so? Well, all the disciples/apostles were Galileans (v.7) and had their own language or dialect. Yet, the people who came to Jerusalem for the ancient feast of Pentecost, which celebrated eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the harvest of first fruits (Ex.23:16) and Moses striking the rock in the wilderness (Ex.17:1-7), were from different countries and regions (v.9-10) and thus spoke different languages/dialects. So, God enables the Apostles, with the fiery gift of tongues to speak in the languages of the Parthia, Medes, Elamite, Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phyrgia, Pamphylia, Egypt, Libya, Rome, Crete and Arabia. Why? So these people could hear the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, the preaching of God?s Kingdom, repentance and forgiveness of sins. These people say in the last verse of the Epistle ?we hear them speaking about God?s deeds of power? (v.11).

  Unlike Pentecost, the different languages given by God at the Tower of Babel event were meant to hinder communication so they could not finish building the tower. Why? Was God afraid of their power or what they could do if they worked together? No, it was to defeat their pride which just like He defeated the pride of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The people of Babel wanted to be like God but without God or apart from Him. So, He humbles them to save them. And He will do this time and time again to succeeding generations up to and beyond our own.

  With the advent of reinforced steel, in the last 100 years mankind has been able to build the highest skyscrapers in history and each country and/or corporation tries to outdo the previous one. Are we really that different than the ancient people of Babel trying to make a name for ourselves? Each one of us, at various times, has built a skyscraper within our heart to stand above and look down on everyone else. But you know what they say, ?The higher you go, the greater the fall.? One of the lessons for us today is humility. If we want to acquire the Spirit of God, and the Saints agree that this should be one of our main goals in life, we must be humble. This is why we kneel as we read the special prayers of Pentecost. This is why daily prayer and weekly worship are so important, because they are actions of humility before God in which we express our utter dependence upon Him. And the Sacrament of Penance is one of the main ways to tear down our skyscrapers so that God may build/construct us in His image and likeness, not the other way around.

  In conclusion, let us hear again the words of the Kontakion of Pentecost:

Kontakion (Plagal Tone Four)
When the Most High came down and confounded tongues of men at Babel, He divided the nations. When He dispensed the tongues of fire, He called all to unity, and with one voice we glorify the Most Holy Spirit.

  This same Spirit, which descends upon us at our Chrismation, which descends upon us at every Divine Liturgy, is also calling us to unity. Division and divisiveness are not qualities and characteristics of the Holy Spirit. Dividedness is the result of demonic spirits, stirring things up because of the human passion of pride. Let us come together in humility to have one voice, glorifying the God the Holy Spirit. Amen!



http://www.stgeorgegoc.org/pastors-corner/fr-ricks-sermons/babel-vs-pentecost
President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

DunkingDan

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Babel vs. Pentecost
« Reply #144 on: November 08, 2020, 03:39:33 PM »
 An Orthodox priest, who was involved in ecumenical activities, became acquainted with some Lutheran pastors and He invited them to a Holy Friday service. Three of them came but the church was already full. The priest noticed them standing in the back and wanted to show good hospitality. So, he whispered to one of the acolytes, ?Get three chairs for our Lutheran pastor friends.? The altar boy didn?t quite hear, so the priest said it again a bit louder, pointing towards the back of the church, ?Three chairs for the Lutherans.? Dutifully, the boy went out of the altar and stepped to the front of the congregation and loudly proclaimed to everyone, ?Three cheers for the Lutherans.?
   A golden anniversary party was thrown for an elderly couple. The husband was moved by the occasion and wanted to tell his wife how he felt about her. She was hard of hearing however and often misunderstood what he had to say. With many family members and friends gathered around, he toasted her: ?My dear wife, after fifty years I have found you tried and true!? Everyone smiled with approval but his wife said, ?Eh?? He repeated in a louder voice, ?After fifty years I have found you tried and true!? His wife harrumphed and shot back, ?Well, let me tell you something?after fifty years I?m tired of you too!?
   These two stories underline the importance of clear communication and how good intentions can go bad with mis-communication. Today is the great Feast of Pentecost on which we commemorate the descent of God?s Holy Spirit upon the Apostles. The Epistle reading from the Book of Acts (2:1-11) recounts the event itself, how the disciples were gathered together in one place (v.1) and a rush of violent wind came and filled the entire house in which they were sitting (v.2). Divided tongues of fire appeared and rested upon each one of them (v.3) as they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages (v.4). The icon in the narthex depicts this exactly.
   The event of Pentecost ten days after Jesus ascended into heaven should remind us of another earlier event that we read about in Genesis. Listen to it.
1Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. 2And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. 3Then they said to one another, ?Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.? They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. 4And they said, ?Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.? 5But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6And the Lord said, ?Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 7Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another?s speech.? 8So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. 9Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth. (Genesis 11:1-9 The Tower of Babel)
   The event is so well know in history that we now use in the word ?babel? to mean a confused mixture of sounds or voices; a scene of noise and confusion.? What are the similarities and differences between the Tower of Babel event and Pentecost? One obvious similarity is that God bestowed different tongues of languages upon the people involved. But the huge and important difference is this: with the Tower of Babel event God intervened to cause miscommunication where at Pentecost the various languages are meant to facilitate communication. How so? Well, all the disciples/apostles were Galileans (v.7) and had their own language or dialect. Yet, the people who came to Jerusalem for the ancient feast of Pentecost, which celebrated eighth day of the Feast of Tabernacles, the harvest of first fruits (Ex.23:16) and Moses striking the rock in the wilderness (Ex.17:1-7), were from different countries and regions (v.9-10) and thus spoke different languages/dialects. So, God enables the Apostles, with the fiery gift of tongues to speak in the languages of the Parthia, Medes, Elamite, Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phyrgia, Pamphylia, Egypt, Libya, Rome, Crete and Arabia. Why? So these people could hear the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus Christ, the preaching of God?s Kingdom, repentance and forgiveness of sins. These people say in the last verse of the Epistle ?we hear them speaking about God?s deeds of power? (v.11).
   Unlike Pentecost, the different languages given by God at the Tower of Babel event were meant to hinder communication so they could not finish building the tower. Why? Was God afraid of their power or what they could do if they worked together? No, it was to defeat their pride which just like He defeated the pride of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. The people of Babel wanted to be like God but without God or apart from Him. So, He humbles them to save them. And He will do this time and time again to succeeding generations up to and beyond our own.
   With the advent of reinforced steel, in the last 100 years mankind has been able to build the highest skyscrapers in history and each country and/or corporation tries to outdo the previous one. Are we really that different than the ancient people of Babel trying to make a name for ourselves? Each one of us, at various times, has built a skyscraper within our heart to stand above and look down on everyone else. But you know what they say, ?The higher you go, the greater the fall.? One of the lessons for us today is humility. If we want to acquire the Spirit of God, and the Saints agree that this should be one of our main goals in life, we must be humble. This is why we kneel as we read the special prayers of Pentecost. This is why daily prayer and weekly worship are so important, because they are actions of humility before God in which we express our utter dependence upon Him. And the Sacrament of Penance is one of the main ways to tear down our skyscrapers so that God may build/construct us in His image and likeness, not the other way around.
   In conclusion, let us hear again the words of the Kontakion of Pentecost:
Kontakion (Plagal Tone Four)
When the Most High came down and confounded tongues of men at Babel, He divided the nations. When He dispensed the tongues of fire, He called all to unity, and with one voice we glorify the Most Holy Spirit.
   This same Spirit, which descends upon us at our Chrismation, which descends upon us at every Divine Liturgy, is also calling us to unity. Division and divisiveness are not qualities and characteristics of the Holy Spirit. Dividedness is the result of demonic spirits, stirring things up because of the human passion of pride. Let us come together in humility to have one voice, glorifying the God the Holy Spirit. Amen!

President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

DunkingDan

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The Tower of Babel
« Reply #145 on: November 29, 2020, 02:49:29 PM »
Genesis 11:1 “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, ‘Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They used brick instead of stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.’ But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The LORD said, ‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.’ So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel – because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.”
Early in history “the whole world had one language and a common speech” (v.1). Most linguists accept that all Indo-European languages of today are descended from a single language spoken at least 5,000 years ago. The people who built the tower of Babel had literally ‘one lip,’ one language and a single vocabulary. Some have argued that that might not mean that they had only a single language; it could refer to one predominant language, a trade language, a lingua franca by which they could co-operate and do their business. We’ve been told of other languages back in chapter ten, in verse twenty and again verse thirty-one; there were local languages spreading. We know how dynamic languages and dialects are; new words and new ways of saying things can develop with amazing rapidity. But at this time there was one predominant common language by which everyone could communicate with everybody else. There was no one who couldn’t make his meaning clear to anyone else for linguistic reasons. I am not sure about that interpretation. The references in chapter ten are probably retrospective; the obvious interpretation of the text is that the language which Noah and his sons spoke was being spoken by all their descendants.
So it was at this time that we are told of one unidentified group of people who pulled up stakes. I think of them as a group of anxious nomads. Off they travelled, and that was fine because God had told them to fill the earth. However, once they came to this area between the two great rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates, in the region of Babylon, they stopped and in their minds settled there for ever. Today that part of the world is known as Iran and it was there that these people put their roots down in a plain called Shinar. Notice that they had moved there from the west; like Cain who had gone east from Eden, away from the presence of God. Later Lot was to travel east from Abraham. These people too moved east and that fact alone should cause us to hear faint alarm bells. So, though God had commanded all the descendants of Noah to fill the earth when this one group reached the plain of Shinar they settled there, refusing to go any further. That is the background of this famous incident.
1. THE MEN OF SHINAR DEVELOPED A SPECIAL SCHEME.
“Come!” one cried to another (it is the first of three ‘Come’s in our text), “‘Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They used brick instead of stone, and bitumen for mortar” (v.3). The children of Israel at Moses’ time did not build in that way, and neither did the Egyptians nor the Canaanites. These people arrived in this plain and decided to settle there, but they found no stones suitable for building, so they used their ingenuity and adapted the latest forms of technology in manufacturing bricks. They hardened mud bricks in a furnace and they used bitumen or asphalt for mortar – the Gulf region is still rich in oil deposits. So this group built using tar to cement the mud bricks together. “Come, let’s go for it!” their leaders exhorted. They all made one another feel geniuses. So they had the technology, now where were they going with it?
There came the second ‘Come,’ “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”(v.4). The crucial factor in laying out this city and erecting this tower is that there was no divine blueprint for such an action. The architect of Babel wasn’t the Lord. This conurbation was not like Jerusalem, the city of God. This is going to be the city of man, the secular city. You see its purpose very blatantly set out in our text in their own goal, “ that we may make a name for ourselves.”
One characteristic of the God of the Bible is that he gives names to people. For example, he changes the names of Jacob and of Abram. He was the one who named Adam, and even Jesus’ own parents didn’t get to choose the name of their firstborn child. In each case the chosen name pointed to what God had done or would yet do. This rankled in the thinking of these men settling in the plain of Shinar. They were determined to establish their own names. They wouldn’t be debtor to man or God; the Lord was to be marginalized from the life of this community from the beginning. Here was a society with Jehovah absent or at least on the fringes, a city without God. Though he had told them to fill the earth and subdue it, they had arrived at this plain and there their obedience came to a halt. They wanted to be left alone by the God of Noah and his seed. “Let’s be our own blessing, our own Messiah, our own saviour and god. Let’s be our own source of meaning. Let’s be beyond good and evil. We will define everything there is. That will be our mighty name.”
They said to one another, “Let’s not think small and build just one or two dwellings for ourselves and children, let’s make a city. More than that. Let us have a great tower, one that will reach up to heaven. It will be our reference point, our ground zero; we’ll know where we are and how to get back home from anywhere on the plain of Shinar. What civilization has ever existed before that can be compared to the one we’re planning? Men have never had our skills. Let’s do something to leave our mark on the world. Let’s erect this great monument reaching up to the sky!” So that is what they began to do.
So the very heart of this city was a huge tower; “It is interesting how sometimes the archaeologist is able to cast little sidelights upon the Word of God. Various books give you drawings or diagrams illustrating their finds. They tell us that in this particular region between the Tigris and the Euphrates there are the remains of tower structures that were obviously used for religious purposes, though at a later date. One in particular was out­side the ancient city of Babylon—or rather, the site upon which it was built and where its remains are to be found. The archaeologists are able to tell us what it was like and to give us some dimensions. One, which may have been centuries later than the tower of Babel—a great tower or ziggurat as these structures were called—had a base ninety metres square. Let me give you the dimensions of this building in which I preach so that you can see how large that is. It is thirteen metres from wall to wall, and thirteen metres up to the peak of the building, which is therefore as high as it is wide. Now the height of just the base of the ziggurat was thirty-three metres—that is approximately two and a half times the height of the church—and on top of the base were a further five storeys, each up to eighteen metres in height! Even with my mathematics I could calculate (and then I checked it with the commentaries!) that we might reason­ably expect this tower to have been one hundred metres high, or more than three hundred feet. That was no mean achievement. That particular tower may not have been the tower of Babel, but it gives us some idea of the building skills of some of these ancient people and the scale upon which they conceived their building operations. ‘And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth’ (Genesis 11:4)” (Graham Harrison, Beginning at the Beginning, Bryntirion Press, pp. 121&122). So let’s bring together our understanding of the Tower of Babel. What have we said?
i] The first fault with this people was their disobedience. The descendants of Shem, Ham and Japheth were told to move out and replenish and subdue the whole earth, and yet this group went east and grated to a halt. They were staying put in the plain of Shinar. They weren’t moving again. They said that they were determined, “not be scattered over the face of the whole earth” (v.4). They were going to build a permanent city. They were not venturing forth trusting in God to guide, preserve and keep them. You understand that when God said to them, “Fill the earth,” he was blessing them, not merely commanding them. It’s a privilege to go forth in the name of the Lord. It was not a burden to be shouldered by the sons of Noah exploring and living in this beautiful world. It wasn’t open to debate whether to do it or not – any more than the disciples who heard the Great Commission from Jesus to go from Jerusalem into Judea and Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth had a choice voting to go for it or not. So the first wrong attitude was defiance.
ii] The second fault with this people was their pride . . . They were not asking God for help. They were looking at one another. “Come,” they cried to one another, “Let us . . . Let us . . .” They sought for significance and immortality in what they were going to achieve. Weren’t they showing themselves to be the true children of our first parents? Adam and Eve also thought they could be smarter than God. They would heed the serpent’s point of view. They would at least taste the forbidden fruit and see if God were telling the truth. Again you remember how the sons of God of Genesis 6 thought that they had a better understanding of marriage than the Lord who’d invented it. These tower builders sought meaning and fame by what they themselves did – without any reference to the living God.
iii] The third fault of these people was rebellion. What we read of in Genesis 11 is a confederacy of rebels encouraging one another, not holding a prayer meeting and worshiping the Creator but rather looking at and exhorting one another, “Come! . . . Come! . . .” Honest men, and faithful men, and men of integrity don’t long for the approval of others in stirring up rebellion. They say as Martin Luther said at the great Reformation, “Here I stand. I can do no other. So help me God.” What courageous manliness! Rebels, however, need to be reinforced by other rebels. They won’t dare to be a Daniel. They won’t dare to stand alone; they skulk around to find others to support them. “Come! . . . Come!”
Here were a group of men who determined to remain in that place, and protect themselves from God’s judgment by building houses, streets, a city-tower complex. Its height would reach to heaven. Now these people knew of the mighty mountains thousands of meters high, and they saw eagles flying far, far above them, high in the air like little dots, and above them sailed the clouds, and so I don’t think we have to believe that these rebels literally thought that they would be able to reach heaven with their building, any more than builders of the highest office blocks in our own world think they are literally going to scrape the sky when they erect their skyscrapers. I don’t believe for a moment that if that was their actual intention that they would be foolish enough to lay the foundations of their tower on the plain of Shinar, that is, almost at sea level, when they could equally as well have built it on the top of a nearby mountain and gained a few thousand feet start. What these Shinar rebels were doing was to build a city which was also a massive fortress which would protect them even from God himself. “A mighty fortress is our Tower of Babel” was their hymn. Thus they were going to be inviolable. “Jehovah can’t bother us here!”
iv] The fourth fundamental fault of these people was to create another religion. In the plain called Shinar was the first of what has been many human experiments, to develop an alternative to Jehovahism. In Babylon the high tower, the ziggurat, was as much a symbol of their religion as a mosque and minaret are symbols of Islam. The ziggurat was their god’s home. It towered over the flat roofs of the surrounding town. It gave the inhabitants the assurance that their god was in their midst. The most famous ziggurat of all was in Babylon itself and it was called “The House of the Foundation of Heaven and Earth.” “We men have laid it – the foundation of heaven and earth.” Here were people who came to a halt in the plain of Shinar. There they fashioned a religion which would obtain for them lifelong security. They felt they could establish a throne on a par with anything Jehovah had made – reaching to his own height. From there they could rule with the authority of heaven, gaining for themselves great glory. So they called the name of the place ‘Babel.’ Babel means, ‘the gate of God.’ They could come and go as gods.
So what are we faced with in the tower of Babel? We are meeting men using organization and technology as an attempt to raise themselves to the level of God. What creativity and imagination and a spirit of innovation is shown in this new building! In its vast height, and in its radical composition – the bricks and the asphalt – it was all breathtakingly original. It was the Sydney Opera House and the Pompidou Centre and the London Gherkin all rolled into one. For that time – when there were old men alive who had been in Noah’s Ark – it was an extraordinary achievement, and “we men of Babel did it all by ourselves!” In all the world there hadn’t been a building erected by one of Jehovah’s followers that could remotely compare to the tower of Babel.
Now we know that this Shinar experiment was possible only because all the builders were created in the image of God. They all had God-given intellects and God-given desires to replenish and subdue the earth. We support endeavours like that today don’t we? There is nothing wrong with erecting striking buildings. Our concern is that these people were using their technology to play God, to centralize the power of the world in themselves, and control their destinies. They wanted a monument to their own greatness, crying, “We will not have Jehovah rule over us,” They were saying, “Who is the Lord that we should obey his voice?” They thought they could erect a fortress on a par with heaven itself and God would have to take note of them. Do we see that spirit today? Of course we do, in the individual, in the family, in the state and in the church.
i] In the individual we see the spirit of Babel in today’s philosophy of self-esteem.
One of the richest women in the world is Oprah Winfrey, an American television entertainer and an entire industry. She’s a lot richer than even J.K.Rowling. She is called “the Queen of Talk,” and she says that her secret is the self-esteem religion that encourages people simply to believe in themselves and follow their hearts. She recently was talking with someone called Naomi Judd over the issue of obesity on her television programme and Oprah Winfrey said, “When you’re really inside yourself you don’t need a book [that is, the Bible], you don’t need a psalm, you don’t need a song, but you know that you are worthy because you were born. The moment you get to the point where you really do feel worthy and feel, ‘I deserve it; I deserve all the happiness and abundance that God is willing to give me,’ it will be over.” That is her message that your life can change for better once you realize you deserve it. Oprah is living on the plain of Shinar. The Christian message is the very opposite of her philosophy, that I deserve nothing because of the sin of my father Adam and my own sins, but God in his great mercy has sent God the Son into the world whose life and death entitles me to everything. Jesus Christ deserved everlasting glory but he chose to take my shame and died in my place, and now I get everything he deserved. That’s the gospel.
ii] In today’s attitude to the family we see the spirit of Babel. Let me mention two ways, firstly in the sphere of reproduction. Ten million unborn baby girls have been aborted in India in the past twenty years by parents who have insisted that they will only raise male children. Again, there is a book called I’m a Little Frostie and it’s a tale for children that is literally chilling. The hero, Little Frostie, records how he spent quite a while in a special refrigerator much colder than an ordinary fridge. Other frosties were also there with him. Why did they live in such a cold place? Because some people didn’t have babies to love and had asked doctors to make them a baby. So the doctors made embryos in a test tube and stored them in extreme cold. There Little Frostie and his friends remained “very quiet, very still, and very cold” for a long time. As the story unfolds, the doctors thaw Little Frostie and put him in “mummy’s tummy.” A baby is born, making a happy family.
This book’s dusk jacket recommends it for children aged 3 to 6. It’s not exactly Mother Goose or Hans Christian Anderson. It’s a new way to answer children’s age-old question “Where do babies come from?” I’m a Little Frostie was written to help children who were conceived in vitro and frozen for a time to understand their origin.
The story doesn’t mention that many hu­man embryos perish in the freezing process. It doesn’t mention that extra embryos are often thrown away if parents don’t want them, or that the embryos may go through government-supported experiments before being destroyed. If there’s any moral prob­lem with treating human embryos as products that can be manufactured, frozen, im­planted, or trashed at will, the story says nothing about it. In the story, the parents want a baby, the doctors give them one, and everybody lives happily ever after. They are living in the Tower of Babel on the plain of Shinar.
Little Frostie is just the tip of the iceberg. New reproductive technologies are opening as­tonishing possibilities and disturbing ques­tions. Molecular biologist Lee Silver of Prince­ton University thinks, for example, that human cloning would be fine. Silver predicts that in the future a woman can carry her own clone in her own womb. He says men will be able to become pregnant and have babies. He says two lesbian women will be able to combine their genes and truly have their own baby. Silver also thinks it may be possible and beneficial to make some hu­mans without a forebrain so they can be dis­membered for spare parts. Silver sees no moral limit on such things. “Whether we like it or not,” he says, “the global marketplace will reign supreme. The only limits on altering reproduction and human genetics will be whether people want it and can afford it.” The spirit of the Tower of Babel is enormously powerful in the world today. What has historically been the prerogative of God alone has now come under the dominion of depraved humanity. The prospect is frightening.
We see the spirit of Babel in the family also in the sphere of marriage. No institution has been as much under attack as Christian marriage. In the Bible God defines marriage as an exclusive commitment of a man and woman to one another made publicly ‘until death us do part.’ But today people simply live together for a time and then abandon the relationship and move on to another relationship. Or they do get married and then they divorce, and they remarry and can redivorce and so on. Or two men may live together or two women may live together and such sterile relationships betweeen members of the same sex inhabiting a dwelling place though called ‘civil partnerships’ are considered to be marriages. It is the philosophy of Babel that if something can be done then go ahead and do it, whatever seems right in your own eyes.
iii] In the church we see the spirit of Babel, in the whole ecumenical enterprise. There is one non-negotiable doctrine concerning which all the Christian denominations have to subscribe if they are to unite. It is a doctrine which declares that the future ‘Great Church’ must be ruled by bishops. It is the doctrine of episcopacy, and it is unchallengeable. Whatever preachers may believe about the trinity or the deity of Christ or how one becomes a Christian or whether there can be homosexual clergymen and clergy women – and enormous latitude is given to any church official concerning such matters because the ethical and doctrinal statements are minimal and studiously vague – however, what cannot and must not be challenged is that government in the ecumenical church is going to be by bishops. The authority will lie in those men and women to rule over the individual congregations and their officers. What a Tower of Babel that will be.
Listen closely, men and women. Did you know that this is the only spot in the world you will ever hear the Truth, here in the church? Did you know that the church is the only tower and foundation of the truth (1 Tim.3: 15)? You won’t get the Truth in the universities of the land, nor in our Parliaments. You will not get the Truth in our public schools or in our social welfare and justice systems. You will not get the Truth in a mosque, or a synagogue, or in a Buddhist temple, or in churches where God’s glory has long since departed. Only here, only amongst the elect, the redeemed of God, only amongst Christ’s sheep who are considered as sheep to be slaughtered. So you had better treat God fearing, Bible believing churches with respect and honour and serve them, otherwise the Truth will disappear from our land, and all we will have is the Tower of Babel.
iv] In the growing power of government we see the spirit of Babel. Aren’t you concerned with the powers that Caesar has taken to himself, the enormous data banks in which so many of the details of your life are recorded? Aren’t you concerned with the cameras on the streets, and in the shops, and buses, and stations, and banks, and building societies that monitor your every movement? An average city dweller will have his image taken 100 times each day. Big Brother is watching you. Aren’t you concerned about the growing powers of the Brussells bureaucrats of the European Union. 80 per cent of our legislation now comes to us from Europe. What began as a free trade area has developed into a united military power seeking to control everything even the shape of bananas and cucumbers. If we do not like what Brussels decrees, there is only one thing that we can do. We can lump it. For example, Brussels adopted a general directive (its code is 2000/78) that gave a framework for equal treatment in “employment and education”. It outlaws any “discrimination based on religion, or belief, age or sexual orientation.” But it was aware of religious convictions in some European countries. In Malta and Poland it said the EU “respects and does not prejudice the status under national law of churches and religious associations.” Those countries were free to make specific provision for religion. There exist religious adoption agencies which would not agree with single-sex adoptions. Christians do not accept homosexual marriages as valid. However, the British government would have none of these exemptions. It was more afraid of the gay lobby than the Christian lobby. It is trying to impose its will on the professing church. So the Tower of Babel is being built.
In these areas of the individual, family, church and state we are increasingly living on the plain of Shinar, and what a dangerous place it is for Christians to live, because the people there are acting as if God doesn’t matter, and they are masters of their own destiny, that they can find salvation within themselves. Because all men and women are made in God’s image it is possible for us to make striking advances in technology; we can rule over certain aspects of creation, but that doesn’t make us gods responsible to no one but ourselves. We do need the Book and the psalm and the day and a people to belong to. We do need the Son of God and his gospel. Having a conviction that we are made in the image of God is indispensable. Helping the infertile married couple to conceive and have children is a ministry of mercy when it’s done within the prescribed limitations of God’s compassionate and wise Word. Pursuing genetic research is crucially important, but it is foolish rebellion to dispense with the Creator of the universe or try to rise to his level. To play God is a disastrous game; we ignore his design for marriage to our peril. To use our talents in a way that is good and not evil we need a vision of life that comes from the Bible. We live in a civilization where men want to control the environment, other living organisms, mountains of data, human psychology and genetics and destiny. The biggest battle in the future is going to be between those who insist on man alone controlling the world of men, and those of us who insist any controls must be subject to the restraints of the Word of God.
2. GOD INTERVENED AND SCATTERED THEM.
We come to the third ‘Come’ in our passage; “let us go down,” and the speaker is the triune God. We read, “But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The LORD said, ‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.’ So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.” (vv.5-8). Now, God knows all things and is present in all places, so he doesn’t liter­ally have to leave one place in order to check what’s happening somewhere else. But Moses is poking fun at Babel as Elijah poked fun of the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel thousands of years later; “Call him louder! He is hard of hearing!” Moses is saying that God actually had to swing low, “come down”, to see their tower. As the build­ers of Babel worked on their tower, they thought they were scaling the heights; “No one has ever built anything remotely as high as this.” The fact was that they were still so far below God’s height, that it was a very long descent from God’s level to theirs. Some of our modern sky­scrapers may look impressive from the ground, but if you’ve flown over them in a plane, they look like Lego buildings. The tower of Babel may have impressed its builders, but they and their tower remained puny in God’s eyes. It is at Pentecost that men from all the nations are united. They are there in Jerusalem and the Spirit of God is poured out upon them, and they all hear in their own languages the wonderful things of God. They fall before Jesus Christ in repentance and not only received the forgiveness of their sins but are born into a new trans-national family.
As David Feddes says, “When the Lord saw the tower, he wasn’t worried about losing his own supreme posi­tion, but he saw trouble brewing. God saw there would be no limit to the people’s sinful rebellion against God and no limit to the damage done to humanity if the people of Babel kept playing God. If they were al­lowed to continue with their attitude of “the sky’s the limit” and went ahead with their plans for one world government, one man­made religion, and one centralized system of information and technology, they would be capable of anything, no matter how terri­ble. “The Lord said, ‘If as one people speak­ing the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them” (11:6).
“Organization (‘one people’) and infor­mation (‘one language’) are the keys to hu­man power. The Lord knew that in order to limit human power, he simply had to con­fuse their information and break up their or­ganization. So the Lord announced his definitive ‘Come’, “‘Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not under­stand each other.’ So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth” (vv. 7-9). The tower project ended not with a bang but with a whimper. The builders talked but couldn’t understand each other. They couldn’t exchange information. They lost their organization. The tower of Babel remained unfinished, a monument to human folly and God’s rule.
[If you go to Edinburgh, Scotland, you’ll see up on one of the hills called Calton’s Hill, a monument that looks like a quarter of the acropolis. What happened was after the Napoleonic wars, some people got together and decided they would build a monument to all the Scottish soldiers who had fought in the Napoleonic wars. They got a quarter of the way through the project, and they ran out of money. So it is just sitting up there, just like it was when they ran out of money on the very last day. A quarter of an acropolis on the top of Calton Hill in Edinburgh! And people refer to it as Edinburgh’s Folly. Over and over and everywhere we see, we see men who have begun to make a name for themselves. They didn’t count the cost at the beginning and they’ve got half-way through with their grand designs, and they’ve fallen.]
“Ever since that time, God has kept people divided into tribes and nations, making it hard for them to organize as a united world empire. God has kept people speaking dif­ferent languages, making it hard for people to communicate or work together. Even those who talk the same language often have mis­understandings that hamper their work. This difficulty is rooted in God’s decision to confuse human language at Babel. In many ways, this confusion has been a hin­drance to human progress and organization, but that’s just the point. God knows the pow­er of the human mind, and he knows the evil of the human soul that separates itself from God. The Lord limits progress in order to limit damage. Technological progress is very dangerous when it occurs without progress in obedience to God. Ever since Babel, knowledge and technology have moved ahead in fits and starts. Governments have risen and fallen. At times we might wish everything would run smoothly, that we could master all the information needed to develop a single system of government to bring the whole world together. But in our sinful condition, a united world system and unlimited technology would mean disaster, not salvation.
“At Babel God frustrated the proud goals of humanity, but the Bible warns us that Babel, or Babylon, is a recurring problem. Babylon represents human culture in its pas­sion to centralize and dominate and control everything, to create our own future inde­pendent of God. According to the book of Revelation, Baby­lon will reach its final form near the end of history. The Lord frustrated the original Babel and continues to keep human power within certain limits, but near the end, he will allow human power and human evil to run its course. A leader even more ambi­tious and ruthless than Nimrod will arise, someone the Bible calls “the beast” or “the antichrist.” Revelation describes the final Babylon as a concentration of knowledge and wealth and power in opposition to God, united under one central governing power. In this Babylon, everything is for sale, even human bodies and souls. When the Bible speaks of bodies and souls for sale, I can’t help thinking of experiments on embryos and the scientist who said that in reproduc­tive technology “the global marketplace will reign supreme.” In the final Babylon, any­one who opposes the antichrist agenda will be despised. But this world system, so advanced in technology, economics and political power, will collapse under its own sin and under God’s judgment” (David Feddes, The Radio Pulpit, March 2001, “Rebuilding Babel” pp. 42-44).
In our world God is active though men ignore him. What is he doing? He is revealing his wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men. He is frustrating their purposes. There is that great refrain in Romans chapter one as Paul describes the Augustan age in which the early church flourished. God is giving them over to their sinful desires and giving them over to shameful lusts and giving them over to a depraved mind (Romans 1: vv. 24, 26 and 28). God will not be mocked; what men sow that shall they also reap. Babylon the great will one today fall.
Graham Harrison preaches, “‘Babylon the great is fallen’—and so falls everything that exalts itself against God. It happens individually; it will happen to you. You may think that all is well with you, that even God – if, as some of you might say, there is a God – even God cannot touch you. He can do it, he is able to do it, he is committed to doing it and he will do it! God cannot allow you to exalt yourself against him. All your hopes are going to be dashed. Your hope for health; it will fail you one day. Your wealth, such as it is, you will have to leave behind you. You may depend on popularity and affability, but friends are so fickle. All can go, and all will go. In the future, when your name is mentioned, people will say, ‘Who was he? Who was she?’ A nonentity, forgotten even by those who should remember you.
“He is a God who will allow no rivals, the God who is pledged to intervene and humble anything that exalts itself against him and his knowledge. Is that what you are doing? What is your life being built on; what are your foundations? Are you in some puny little way erecting a tower of Babel that you think is impregnable and indestructible? God will cast it down, God will inter­vene. There is only one place where you will be secure, only one foundation on which you can build. There is only one kingdom, one empire, that will never fade away, and that is the kingdom of our God and of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. You enter that kingdom not by virtue of your efforts, your works or your potential, but by the grace of God. You enter as your sins are washed away in the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ shed upon the cross for sinners. I tell you in his name that, despite what the world says about you and whatever it ultimately makes of you, if you call upon him you will be in that kingdom. You will receive a kingdom that cannot be moved; you will have that confi­dence that you have listened to the God whose Word is never a lie and whose promises are never broken; the God who has promised never to leave you nor forsake you. He is the Lord who will build his church high and glorious and eternal, and the gates of hell cannot prevail against it. He is the God who has promised one day to take you to heaven, the God who has pledged one day to set you there on the very thrones of heaven praising and glorifying him”

11:1 The Tower of Babel – Geoff Thomas Sermon Archive
President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

DunkingDan

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Babel and the World Trade Center
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“And they said, ‘Come, let us build a city and a tower with its top in the heavens’...So the
Lord scattered them over the face of the earth and they left off building the city. Therefore it was called Babel, because the Lord confused the language of all the earth, and from there the Lord scattered them abroad” (Genesis 11:4,8).
Raising towers comes instinctively to men, but not necessarily to women. Boy infants squat on the floor, squeeze blocks in fat fingers and place one atop another, piling them up until they fall. Later they will fulfill that urge by erecting pillars, monuments, spires and towers as evidence of their presence on the earth. And they take pride in affirming theirs as tallest. Those who cannot compete in erection consider ways to bring down the symbols of male dominance. Both the tower on the plain of Shinar in Genesis 11 and the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center that came cascading to the ground on September 11, 2001 affirm those basic male tendencies.
The purpose for building the towers was quite different. In the Bible account it’s said that the people in those days spoke a common language, but their intent was to raise an edifice high enough to peer into the heavens and eavesdrop on the deities who dwelled there. Certainly it’s a naive thought. Most scholars now believe that the Babel tower was indeed the ziggurat of Babylonia which the Hebrews may have witnessed and considered an arrogance. It was in fact a wedding cake arrangement, spiraling upwards to a platform. There the king would take a consort and in effect demonstrate to the lord of the skies a literal example of how he should fertilize the earth with rain so that the fields would yield their precious crops. It therefore combined several violations of the Hebrew faith. For one, the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth did not require a prompt to instruct Him in what He ought to be doing on the earth, and for another, to utilize sexuality as a ritual of worship was indeed beyond the pale.
In our secular society the Twin Towers were erected purely for expediency. Unlike Cleveland, New York City is blessed with a solid foundation upon which one might build as high as desired with little fear of the foundation crumbling beneath. The architects hardly considered that the height of their edifice would be an offense to anybody. Yet it was. The first attempt to bring it down was a miserable failure—but not the second try.
The occupants of the Twin Towers spoke a diversity of languages; after all, they came from a variety of nations—but they all spoke the language of the computer. It was God who frustrated the arrogance of the Babel builders. It was savages who in the Name of Allah brought down the Twin Towers.
Babel began as a community, or at least a common enterprise, precipitating the scattering of the nations. The Twin Towers drew a plethora of nations into a commonality of interests.
Babel’s purpose was to invade the heavens. The goal of the Twin Towers was economically motivated.
God’s intention was to distribute and expand humanity through all His world, albeit it may have been misunderstood or even resented by the human beings who might have preferred the comfortable to the challenging, and the know to the unknown—but that’s the way the Lord seems to work. God did on a human and social scale what He had been doing with the simplest molecules and life forms; i.e., to divide and multiply.
El Qaida would retract and thwart the progress of civilization in the Name of Allah. If they had a vision, it was to reduce the expansiveness of modern society into a tribalism they define as religion. God even in a secular culture pushes onward with His plan for progress and humanity’s unity.

Babel and the World Trade Center - Orthodox Church in America (oca.org)
President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

DunkingDan

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The Tower of God
« Reply #147 on: December 20, 2020, 04:31:16 PM »
You would think that people would learn a lesson. I mean, consider it, just two chapters before our passage we have the story of the flood. People are living in sin and so God judges them. He sends the flood. He wipes out everything to make a brand new start! You would think that now people would learn their lesson! But do they? No! Noah and his family leave the ark. They begin to subdue the earth again. And before we know it we get the events in our text. Sin is on its merry way again! We have the story of the tower of Babel.

In that sense, you know what this story is all about? It is about how sinful people really are. By nature we are sinful! We are slow to understand God’s ways! We are slow to get it! We are slow to learn! And we are quick to forget God’s judgment!

It’s interesting. God sent the flood to wash the whole earth but there is one thing water cannot clean and that is our hearts! By nature we are sinful! The fact that people went on to build the tower of Babel so soon after the flood is proof of it.

Not that people cannot be industrious or ingenious. Oh for sure they can! Humankind was certainly industrious after the flood. We read about their ingenuity already in verse three. Says the Scriptures, “They said to each other, ‘Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.’ They used brick instead of stone and tar for mortar….” Apparently before the flood (or maybe for a time after the flood) people would build their houses and buildings out of stone, out of big rocks and boulders. But when they moved to the plain of Shinar they discovered the clever concept of making bricks. They would make forms of whatever size they wanted, fill them with cement, and make square blocks! This was ingenious! With bricks and mortar they could build houses, temples and buildings much faster, stronger, straighter -- not to mention safer. I would not be surprised if this discovery led to an economic boom in the plain of Shinar!

In their sin people can still be very industrious! People remain so today! I mean, look at what people are able to do today! We can build roads, hospitals, schools and amazing computers. We can find cures for all kinds of cancers. We can put satellites into space! We can do all kinds of ingenious things! But does any of this make people anymore righteous or holy before God? The answer is, “NO!” For whose glory do we make our roads, hospitals and satellites? It’s for ourselves! What our passage proves then is that humanity is indeed very sinful.

Let’s look at the opening verses of our scripture reading to see in what way humanity was sinful back then. We start right away at verse one, “Now the whole earth had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, ‘Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly. They used brick instead of stone and tar for mortar.’ Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.’”

Notice the three big reasons why these people wanted to build this big city and tower. First, it was so that they would not be scattered over the face of the whole earth. I guess the idea behind the tower was so that they could see it from far away. Notice that this refusal to be scattered was in direct disobedience to the Lord’s command. God told Noah and his descendants (after they left the ark) to be fruitful, to increase in number and to fill the earth. But what do these people say? “No, we don’t want to. We want to do things our own way. We want to stay together.”

A second reason they wanted to build the big city and tower was so that they could reach into the heavens! Did you catch that in our text? The reason for the tower was to climb up to God! Notice what Babel actually means in the Akkadian language (which was probably close to the original language of that time). Babel means “gateway to God”. Yes, these folks figured that, because of the fall into sin, God and man were separated from each other--which caused a lot of bad things to happen--like the flood. And so what better way to fix the problem than to make a stairway to heaven, go right up to God, be in heaven with God, and talk things out! Do you see the arrogance of these people?

And a third reason to build the city and tower? They said to each other, “Come let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth…” What did these people want ultimately? They wanted to make a name for themselves! They wanted to pat themselves on the back and give all the glory to themselves! In this time, not long after the flood, we see the epitome of sin showing up all over again!

And is God happy about all of this? No way! We turn to verse five. Says our text, “But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The LORD said, ‘If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them’….” It is clear that God is not impressed.

It is interesting how the beginning of that verse is worded. Verse five says, “But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building…” Here the people were trying to build a tower up to God. They must have thought that God was not that far away. Maybe just a little bit above the clouds? But notice the assumption of the book of Genesis. God is way up there! He’s way beyond us! Of course God is everywhere present, but His heavenly throne of glory is certainly very far away!

You almost picture God up in heaven looking way down towards the earth and He says, “Oh no, what are those sinful little human beings doing this time? Would you believe it? They are trying to build a little tower up to heaven, way down there in their sandbox! We’d better go down and take a look.” And so that is what God does. He comes down, looks at everything, and is convinced that in one language there is nothing impossible for these people to do--to bring total dishonor to God. And so God says, “Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other…”

It is interesting. In the beginning the people say, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly…Come, let us build ourselves a city…” And now here God says, “Come, let us mess everything up!” And that’s exactly what He does!

Actually, what judgment does He bring again? He does not send an earthquake. He does not send a big hurricane to blow everything away. No, he simply makes it so that the people cannot talk to each other anymore. He changes their language. That’s it! It’s simple, powerful and adequate! And the result is chaos and confusion. I’m sure there was a lot of fighting. In the end their pride is ruined, and their name is torn down. Babel gets a new meaning. In the Hebrew language Babel is very close to the word confusion and that is the name and reputation that the building project finally receives. That is their judgment: confusion! And the final result? The people disperse. They can’t talk to each other anymore and so they leave. They take their language groups with them. They begin to fill the earth as the LORD originally commanded. And that is where the story ends.

In light of the story’s conclusion, do you know what our passage is really all about? It’s about the failure of the sinful person who seeks to do all for his own glory. What do you think? Isn’t that the point of this story?

I pointed out earlier that this story tells us that people are extremely sinful. But is that all it tells us? No! It also tells us what happens to the sinful person who continues to live in sin! He is judged! His kingdom comes to ruins! This story tells us of the ultimate failure of the sinful person who lives for his own glory!

This is also the sense we get when we hear the word Babel or its closest equivalent--Babylon in the rest of Scripture. Did you know that Babylon comes from Babel? Yes! And what do Babylon and Babel always signify? In the end, they signify total failure, chaos, confusion and judgment! That sense is also in the book of Revelation. In Revelation Babylon is the name given to the kingdom of the Antichrist. And what is the sure outcome of that Babylon? Failure, chaos, confusion, disaster and judgment! And so that is what the story of the tower of Babel is all about: the ultimate failure of sinful man.

Yes, dear friends, if your agenda in life is only to make a prideful name for yourself, maybe you should read our passage one more time.

Congregation, note something else about our passage. After the story of our text is over there is no sign of hope or redemption. Did you notice that? The people come together to build a city. God comes along and judges them. The people disperse. And that is it. That’s the end of the story. The other stories of judgment in Genesis don’t end that way. You get the story of Cain. Cain kills his brother Abel. God judges Cain. But there is a hopeful conclusion. God provides Adam and Eve with a new son, Seth. You get the story of the flood. The people are evil. God judges the world with the flood. But there is a hopeful conclusion. God sends the rainbow as a sign of His faithful promise. There is no such ‘positive’ conclusion to tower of Babel. The people build a tower, God disperses them…and all we get next is the table of nations after Shem, followed by the story of Abraham in Genesis chapter 12.

Why is this? Well, maybe in a round about way, the Lord is saying, “Hey, dear Bible readers, you just keep your eyes open now. You just keep reading. You read the story of Abraham and you follow his descendents and see where that leads you…” Yes, where does it lead you? It leads you to the greatest hope and the greatest redemption that there is: Jesus Christ. He is the focus of the Bible. Everything comes together in Him!

In that sense, when we look at our passage in the light of Jesus Christ, we are able to see a whole new perspective of what the story of the tower of Babel is all about! I said earlier that this story is about how sinful people are. I also said it’s about what happens to sinful people; they are judged! But there is more to this story and it comes down to this: God! He destroys the kingdoms of sinful humanity… so that He might build His own Kingdom! The Kingdom, the city, the community, the “tower” of our Lord Jesus Christ! That is what this story is ultimately all about!

We must not misunderstand our passage. God was not out just to judge people and send people away to be isolated and alone. No, His ultimate goal is always to unite them, to pull them together into a harmonious whole. That is always His desire! But what He wants is a united people connected in Him, who long to live for His praise and glory! Yes, even in the dispersion after the failure of Babel, that was still God’s plan and desire. And you know what? Such a plan and desire came in Jesus Christ! That’s right! In our passage God destroys the kingdom of sinful man so that He might build the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Congregation, consider with me the Kingdom, the tower that God has build for His people. In the fullness of time God sent His Son Jesus Christ. He died on the cross to pay for our sin and He rose from the dead. Removing our sin, He draws God and humanity back together again. That’s right! In Jesus Christ, we find the gateway to God.

God’s Kingdom is able to unite! Look what happens at Pentecost. At Pentecost God pours out the Holy Spirit on His people. They preach the gospel in different languages and tongues. By the Spirit’s power the gospel is able to go over all language barriers and over all continents to unite God’s people into one whole-- the church and Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ!

All of this happens in fulfillment to promises. Already in Genesis 12 God came to Abraham and said, “Abraham, it is through you and your descendants that all the world (the dispersed world) will be blessed!” Well, that blessing has come! God has given us the Kingdom and community of our Savior Jesus Christ. And now here we are today sitting in His assembly. And what is our hope today? What is our hope? This: someday God will give us the fullness of the Kingdom of heaven!

You know, it’s ironic. In Genesis sinful people try to build a tower up to heaven. But in the book of Revelation God sends heaven down upon the earth! And what a gracious Kingdom is described for us there! In Revelation 21 this city, this New Jerusalem, is described as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. In Revelation 21 the measurements of this city are also given. It’s huge: 1400 miles long, 1400 miles wide, and 1400 miles high! A tower! The tower of God given to those who live by faith in Jesus Christ to the glory of God.

Here is the summary of today’s message. Congregation, what is the story of our passage all about? People are sinful. They remain so today. And sinful people are brought to confusion. They will be judged! But for those who put to death the old self, those who come to Jesus Christ, who rest in Him, who live for His praise and glory in everything they do and say, God builds a city for them! A city where righteousness dwells. A city where there is care, unity, and laughter. A city that will go into eternity for the praise of our God in Jesus. To God be the glory! Amen!
President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

DunkingDan

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Inside Etemenanki: The Real-Life Tower of Babel
« Reply #148 on: February 07, 2021, 02:37:26 PM »

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If there was a tower of Babel, it was Etemenanki: a massive, stone ziggurat at the center of Babylon built to be a passageway up to heaven. The Babylonians didn’t see their tower of Babel as a failure. As far as they were concerned, they really had made a stairway that they could walk up to go see the gods – and it really worked.
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President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

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THE FALL OF BABYLONIAN CIVILIZATION
« Reply #149 on: February 22, 2021, 02:39:31 PM »
Talks on the Book of Genesis, 11:1-32
Continuing his cycle on the book of Genesis, historian and sectologist Andrei Ivanovich Solodkov speaks about what should above all transform a man—the surrounding world or himself; why the Lord punished Babel; about the bloody star gods of Babel and their “influence” on modern life; and on ungodly unity and unity in God.
    
Man, change thyself!
Although God destroyed the perverted pre-Flood civilization (we spoke about this in the previous conversation), sin continued to exist. This is the answer to those who ask, “If God exists, then why doesn’t He bring order?” As we see, He imposed order from a position of righteousness and strength, but external change did not make man more noble. Degraded human nature needs healing from the inside out, and therefore all external changes of the political world order, thanks to which mankind supposedly attains the fullness of happiness and prosperity on the earth, are but deception and illusion. There are more successful political systems, there are worse, and there are those that are absolutely useless. But the reason for the disorder is in us. Everything is topsy-turvy for us. We demand love, respect, courtesy, and patience from others, but Christ teaches to demand this from ourselves. And not only with words, but by His very life He teaches us sacrificial love. There is no such commandment, to demand love from others, but there is, Love thy neighbor… (Mt. 22:39). As long as we have no faith, trust, and love for God, we will be running in circles.
However, all the same, the fullness of order will not be on Earth. But man has the desire for absolute purity. It is inherent in him from creation. “The soul is Christian by nature” (Tertullian), and the law in the soul is the conscience. The conscience, according to teaching of Abba Dorotheos, is “something Divine and never perishes,” and, “there is no man without a conscience.” “When God created man He sowed in him something Divine,” the saint teaches, “a certain thought which has in itself, like a spark, both light and warmth; a thought which enlightens the mind and indicates to it what is good and what is evil—this is called conscience, and it is a natural law.”1
Absolutely purity is possible only in the Heavenly Kingdom, but the desire for it in this life transfigures a man, making him purer through repentance. In this way, in this striving for Heavenly purity, a Christian spreads his light upon people and all the surrounding world. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven (Mt. 5:16). If you all sought to change yourselves with Divine help, it would require no external, imaginary prosperous world political systems, upon which we so vainly rely. People would become simpler, and where there is simplicity, in the expression of St. Ambrose of Optina, “there are a hundred Angels, but where there is cleverness—there are none.” And the state system would become better.
Thus, the external post-Flood changes to the surrounding world did not abolish sins, which are deeply rooted in the hearts of man. It would seem that with all villains destroyed, life on earth would begin anew with a clean slate. Righteous Noah left the ark with his three sons. Finally, everything was just, and goodness had triumphed… However…
The sin of Ham was not slow to appear. Sin enslaves a man, and here we meet for the first time in the Bible the expression “slave of sin,” which one of the sons of Noah—Ham—became. Blessed Augustine writes the following in this regard: “The state of slavery is rightly appointed for the sinner. In Scripture we do not find a slave before Righteous Noah punished the sin of his son with this name. Thus, not nature, but sin deserved this name.” Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? (Rom. 6:16).
Note: In the tenth chapter of Genesis it says that the head of the grandiose Tower of Babel construction, Nimrod, was a descendant of Ham (cf. Gen. 10:6-10).
Higher, and higher, and higher…”
    
Let’s read further in the eleventh chapter of Genesis:
And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth (Gen. 11:1-4).
As we see, there was one tongue and one speech. People understood one another without a translator. Borders were erased—it was cosmopolitanism! But such unity didn’t bring people happiness. Why? The stimulus for the construction of the Tower of Babel was the idea of “unity for the sake of unity,” and the desire “to make a name.” People began to create their own civilization without God, their own political structure, based on the ideology of self-exaltation. One of Nimrod’s reasons for constructing the tower was nothing other than perpetuating “his name” in his descendants, to gratify his pride and vanity: “Look how human nature does not love to remain within its boundaries… This especially destroys people… Addicted to worldly possessions, even when we have great wealth and power… they endeavor to rise higher and higher,” writes St. John Chrysostom.
Recall how God concluded a covenant with Noah and gave the commandment and blessing to spread over the entire face of the earth, promising there will be no more floods. But people acted as they wantes. They built a tower reaching up to heaven, reasoning, “Even though God said there wouldn’t be a flood … what if there is one?” We have to play it safe. They did not come to their senses by the punishment of the flood; they had no intention of changing, but decided to continuing acting as they wanted—to sin, and if there would be a flood, then to save themselves it would be enough to change the surrounding world, for example, to build a high tower “to heaven,” climb up there, and continue to live according to their own desires.
Modern man has not gone far from the builders of Babel. Today we reason the same way: “What’s written in the Bible? Oh, come on!... What do they say in the Church? Sin begets death? Ok, we get it—the clergy’s job is to scare the people, but we will do what seems best to us.” The Church warns about the danger of experimenting on producing surrogate people, trying to stop the infanticide of unborn children, but man acts according to the principle, “while no thunder’s crashing…”2
But, it would seem, the thunder has struck, and recollections of the flood are still alive in the Babylonians, but man persists. God says to spread across the whole face of the earth. But man creates a huge metropolis. As before, so today. Here it’s crowded, and there’s shoving in lines and standing in traffic. And man makes his way through the jungle of civilization, exhausted by his artificial world, his idea of imaginary freedom and an imaginary meaning for life, walled up in a concrete cave with a gas burner, sitting at the “substitute for nature” of the television, looking for rest and comfort, but falling into the same trap of the hustle and bustle—only now the human soul is devastated by information overload.
I’ve been to Sakhalin on a missionary trip. You fly for nine hours without a layover. Under the wings of the plane you see forests, rivers, lakes, fields… And the thought involuntarily arises: To whose advantage is it to build up Moscow and not the rest of the country?
Those who built the Tower of Babel acted according to this principle—higher, and higher, and higher…
The seventy-year experience of the builders of ghastly communism has, unfortunately, taught us little. Of course, the Church is not persecuted now, but the desire to please both God and mammon can be seen in the attempts to build a consolidated society. As the old soviet-era song went, “We are born to make a dream come true… and replace our heart with a fiery motor.” This seventy-year construction showed everyone, to put it mildly, the absurdity of such building. It all collapsed. And everything that’s being constructed in the same way is doomed to destruction. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it (Mt. 7:24-27). And it is all because man became the object of worship instead of God, revealing all the madness of such an undertaking. A mad man is he who says in his heart, there is no God (Ps. 13:1).
Bloodstained stars
    
We read further in the book of Genesis:
And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do (Gen. 11:5-6).
What did the Babylonians do? Creating their world and not trusting God, they created their own religion—astrology. “If a man stops believing in God, he begins to believe in everything else,” says Feodor Dostoyevsky.
People began to invent a self-made religion—of course, not without the prompting of the devil.
During the heyday of the Chaldean-Babylonian civilization, they built a gigantic ziggurat in the Mesopotamian Valley. “Chaldean priests watched the starry heavens from these towers and plotted maps of the locations of the heavenly bodies. They believed that the sun, moon, planets and stars were gods, able to magically affect the fate of the world and of every man individually, and believed that if they managed to understand and predict the motion of the heavenly bodies, they would be able to predict the future. Astrology of this kind is called vulgar, or primitive astrology. The main principle of vulgar astrology is that the position of things on earth and trends in the development of events correspond to the configuration of celestial bodies. The astrological beliefs of the religion of Canaaan, itself an offshoot from the Mesopotamian religion, were closely associated with the worship of gods such as Baal (Bel, Moloch), Astarte (Ishtar), and Remphan, identified respectively with the sun, moon, and Saturn” (Biblical Encyclopedia).
Archaeologists have held excavations in these places, and they have discovered thousands of skulls of infants offered in sacrifice to these star gods. The Babylonian religion had a principle: to decipher by the stars which children were pleasing to the gods and which weren’t. Some were offered in sacrifice as unwanted and useless for society, and others to appease the gods and avert their wrath.
How and what to do when depended on the location of the stars. And, as the Babylonian tablets bear witness, during these slaughters they would engage in orgies with whomever they could grab.
The apostle Paul writes about the reason for this madness in his epistle to the Romans:
Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, and changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen. For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them (Rm. 1:21-32).
It's interesting that modern people have, for some reason, raised this ancient pagan Babylonian religion, satanic in essence and connected with human sacrifice, to the level of innocent fun. Astrology is not science. Astronomy is science, but astrology is a pagan religion. So why in a secular state is it ranked as if it were a dominant religion?! For example, for a person to register on the social network mail.ru, a zodiac sign is immediately given to him, and without his consent. And if by the same principle, but following instead the Church calendar, a person registered in the same social network, would be reminded, and not him only but also by his friends, which saint he is named after and when his name’s day is, imagine what ruckus there would be in the media! People would be yelling about freedom of conscience, and about “insulting the feelings of unbelievers”; but when it comes to the zodiac—nothing. They made me a pagan; they decided for me, and in fact it’s the same as if they had roped me into a marriage against my will. But shut up, they say, this is science. How did it happen that we live in a country where astrology—an ancient misanthropic pagan religion—has won out over Christianity in social spheres?
And what’s so surprising? We also kill children in the mother’s womb—the unborn! Nothing has changed since those ancient times—just instead of Baal and Astarte, people began to worship the dollar and the euro. And instead of the stars of Remphan—comfort. They say, “Why should I give birth? I want to live for myself.” They kill children for the sake of temporary happiness!...
God instructs us to eschew such pseudo-religious experiments: And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them… There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch. Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the Lord (Deut. 4:19, 18:10-12). And again: Therefore hearken not ye to your prophets, nor to your diviners, nor to your dreamers, nor to your enchanters, nor to your sorcerers, which speak unto you, saying, Ye shall not serve the king of Babylon: For they prophesy a lie unto you, to remove you far from your land; and that I should drive you out, and ye should perish (Jer. 27:9-10).
How reliable are the predictions about our futures by horoscopes, in which the curious so eagerly believe?
Senior researcher of the State Astronomical Institute of P. K. Sternberg and associate professor of the physics department at Moscow State University, B. G. Surdin writes in one of this works, “The position of the zodiac signs is displaced in relation to the constellations about 30 degrees, or one constellation. This is due to the fact that the canonical rules of astrology were established two thousand years ago in the works of the ancient Greek scholars. Since then, as a result of the movement of the earth’s axis relative to the plane of the Solar System (the phenomenon of precession), the system of heavenly coordinates has shifted relative to the stars. Therefore, now when the sun is located in the Taurus constellation, astrologists believe that it is in the sign of Gemini.”
In 1981 the Roman newspaper “Paeze Sera” published a debate between astrologists and astronomers, during which the scientists asked the fortunetellers one interesting question: “How do you compose a horoscope for those who were born in the north, in the Arctic Circle?” The fact is that for many months, the sky over the poles has no traditional astrological planets (they are below the horizon). It turns out that those born in the northern regions are deprived of characteristics and destiny! This dilemma did not receive any coherent answers from the astrologers.
The Lord did there confound the language of all the earth
    
Let’s return to Genesis and read:
Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth (Gen. 11:7-9).
The Lord scattered the Babylonians across the whole face of the earth. Was this dispersal a punishment? Yes, but God’s punishment is always a desire to help man return from death to life. From this story we see the origin of the languages of the peoples of the world. We spoke about the origin of the nationalities in the last conversation.
“Confounding” is always a negative word. The word “Babylon” is also translated as “madness, insanity, rebellion, insane rebellion.” That is, this scattering occurred because of people’s insane rebellion and search for unity outside of God.
There are many theories about the origin of the languages of the peoples of the world: the theory of sign language, the theory of onomatopoeia, the theory of the creation of language by the power of the human mind—but these do not speak of the source which gave power to the mind. But none of these are able to explain the presence and richness of speech, which, unlike all other living beings, man alone possesses. Evolutionists speak about a gradual development of language. Some talk about a sudden change in man’s DNA that spawned languages. When you research all these theories, none of which have any scientific basis, you simply marvel at how much we have to be believers in chance and coincidence to affirm that theories, hypotheses, and myths are science.
Such unity as the unity of the Babylonians is not pleasing to God, but is soul-destroying for man. But is there an alternative, a different unity? Yes. On the day of Pentecost—the day of birth of the Church—the apostles spoke in the tongues of the peoples of the world (cf. Acts 2:3-4), proclaiming unity in Christ. “For in the confusion of the tongues [at Babel—A. S.], their plan was destroyed, for their plan was ungodly, but here their thoughts were confirmed and united because their intention was godly. Through that which is fallen, through the same is restoration,” says St. Cyril of Jerusalem.
***
And then the eleventh chapter of Genesis brings forth the generations of Shem. His family extends until Abram. And we read:
But Sarai was barren; she had no child. And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there. And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran (Gen. 11:30-32).
We will speak more in detail about these events in the next conversation. For now, I will note that God rescues Abram and his family from this place so full of the passions—the Babel chaos (the word “Ur” is translated as “fire, vehemence, passion”)—and leads him into the land of Canaan—an image of the Church and of the Heavenly Kingdom.
Andrei Solodkov
Translated by Jesse Dominick

Pravoslavie.ru
5/15/2017
1 Abba Dorotheos, The Third Instruction: On the Conscience.
2 The full Russian saying here is “Гром не грянет, мужик не перекрестится,” and there is a 1967 Russian film entitled “Пока Гром не Грняет.” The phrase translates as “A peasant will not cross himself while no thunder is crashing.”


President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

DunkingDan

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The Tower of Babel
« Reply #150 on: March 07, 2021, 08:04:26 AM »
            After the floodwaters receded, Noah sacrificed to Jehovah and it pleased Him; and the Lord made a promise that He would never destroy the earth again in such a fashion as He had done with the flood (Gen. 8:21-22). At the beginning of chapter nine, God tells Noah and his sons to “be fruitful and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth and multiply and fill it” (Gen. 9:1, 7). Genesis chapter ten confirms that Noah’s sons began fulfilling God’s command. The earth was beginning to be populated again—things seemed to be going well—until this enlightening story in Chapter 11:1-9 draws our attention.
            All humanity spoke only one language at this time (vs. 1); but the people were not mindful of what God told them to do (i.e. fill the earth), so they decided to settle down in the land of Shinar. They wanted to be remembered in history, so they began building a huge tower and a city to live in (vs. 4). They displayed their rebellion to God’s instructions by saying they did not want to be “scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” So God, being aware of what was going on, decided to “stir the pot” in order to get them to do what He had instructed them to do in the first place. Jehovah divided their languages and made them speak with tongues that were foreign to each other. Thus, the work on the tower came to a halt and the people spread out across all the face of the earth (vs. 9). This story is pregnant with lessons. Please notice that:
  • Good communication is the key to working together toward a goal. Oh, how we need this lesson! This is true in every meaningful relationship we have. In the marriage relationship, each spouse has to communicate with the other so that things will work out. In the family relationship, parents must communicate with their children and vice versa; and last, but certainly not least, in dealing with our Christian brethren, we must learn how to communicate with them if we are to effectively work toward the goal of heaven (Mt. 18:15; Pro. 25:8-9).
  • Much of what man does while here on earth is a monument to his insecurity (Deffinbaugh). These men of Babel stated plainly why they wanted to build this tower. They “wanted to make a name for themselves” (vs. 4). The same is true for many, if not most, people today. They work so hard at trying to find that big break in their career, or wait and work diligently until their ‘ship comes in;’ and finally they realize around mid-life that most of what they had planned to do in life has not even begun to be done. So they start scurrying around looking for ways to be remembered. They fear that no one will remember them when they are gone. If men would put their trust in God and try to glorify Him, then they would not be so worried that men would forget them.
  • Only negative results come from trying to thwart God’s purposes (Woods, p.28). This is a lesson sorely needed for everyone—myself included. We humans are sometimes prone to think that we can get by on doing things a little bit different than how God said to do it—but such will not work, and really this is a wicked and rebellious attitude (cf. 1 Sam. 15:1-28); this is what the men of Babel did. God told them to fill the earth, not settle down in one area and stay there; So instead of making a great name for themselves, they made a name of shame, because Babel in the Hebrew language means ‘division’ or ‘confusion’(Ibid). That’s the irony of the whole story; they, wanting to make a great name for themselves, disobeyed God and started building a huge tower, but they really ended up making a negative name. Man cannot outwit God (Gal. 6:7-8).
  • We must not misuse the gifts that God has given us. Everything, from the “smallest” thing to the “largest” thing, God has given us is a gift. We use language so often that it really escapes our attention that it is a blessing from God. Just imagine what life would be like if you could not communicate with anyone. It would be rather frustrating wouldn’t it? Obviously so! Look at how frustrated these men of Babel became when they couldn’t communicate—they pulled up stakes and decided to keep on moving. When God has given us the ability to speak, we need to always be sure that our speech is above reproach and a blessing to those who hear us (1 Pet. 4:11; Col. 4:6). 
  • No matter how ‘big’ men’s projects are to them, they are small and insignificant to God (Deffinbaugh). Was Jehovah unaware of what these men were doing because verse 5 says that He came down to see the city and tower they had built? No. He knew all along what they were doing; but Moses uses a bit of satire (i.e. ridicule used to expose folly) to express this point: These men were so impressed with their tower—it was huge and would be doted over by men for generations to come they thought, but to God it was so small that He had to ‘come down’ to even see it. I am reminded of Psalms 127:1 here. All their work on the city and tower did them no good, for they ended up moving away from there anyway.
  • The desire to ‘make a name for ourselves’ must never override our desire to please God (Ibid). There is nothing wrong with wanting to be remembered. I think we can all appreciate the fact that when someone notices us, it makes us feel good. However, when we start to love that feeling we get from other people’s recognition more than we love that feeling we get from having God’s approval, then it becomes wrong. 
  • Men’s intentions are curbed by God (Ibid). Jehovah’s will is not going to be thwarted (Gal. 6:7). Whatever happens, He is going to have the final say so. We will do well to go ahead and get that lesson down in our mind; because the sooner we learn that, the sooner we will bring our will into harmony with God’s will. God rules in the kingdoms of men (Dan. 5:21), and nothing will happen that is not in accord with His ultimate will.
Works Consulted
Clarke, Adam. Clarke’s Commentary: Vol. 1. New York: Abingdon Press, No date given.
Deffinbaugh, Bob. “The Unity of Unbelief.” Bible.org. 28 August 2006. http://www.bible.org/page.asp?page_id=89>.
Woods, Clyde M. People’s Old Testament Notes: Vol. 1. Henderson, Tennessee: Woods


President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

DunkingDan

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Re: Was there a literal Tower of Babel?
« Reply #151 on: March 11, 2021, 03:58:16 PM »
President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

DunkingDan

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President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

DunkingDan

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Etemenanki (the "Tower of Babel")
« Reply #153 on: April 14, 2021, 05:32:20 PM »
The story of the Tower of Babel, found in the Biblical book of Genesis, is one of the most famous and beloved legends of mankind.
Quote
The whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Šin'âr, and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, "Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly." And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, "Come, let us build us a city and a tower whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth."

And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the children of men built. And the Lord said, "Behold, the people are one and they have all one language, and this they begin to do; and now nothing will be withheld from them which they have imagined to do. Come, let Us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth; and they left off building the city.

Therefore is the name of it called Bâbel (that is "Confusion") because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth; and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.note
Let's start our discussion of the Etemenanki with some remarks about this Biblical story. The Hebrew word Bâbel, Confusion, is often used for Babylon (Akkadian Bab-ili), but this is not sufficient to prove the identification of the tower with a monument in this big city. (Imagine a legend about the unity of mankind, which is situated by scholars in Union, Connecticut.) Fortunately, the story contains a second geographical clue: the tower was erected on "a plain in the land of Šin'âr". This country is known from other books of the Bible (Isaiah 11.11 and Zechariah 5.11) and is translated as "Babylonia" in the Septuagint. So there is nothing that keeps us from identifying the Biblical building with a monument in ancient Babylon. This must be the building known as E-temen-an-ki, the 'House of the foundation of heaven on earth', a giant mountain of bricks and tiles with, on top, a temple for the god Marduk. He had a second temple in the neighborhood, the Esagila.
Map of Babylon

Map of Babylon
The ancient Babylonians called these brick mountains a ziqqurratu or ziggurat, which can be translated as "rising building" (Akkadian zaqâru, "to rise high"). This type of temple tower is the oriental equivalent of the Egyptian pyramid and just as old, although there are two differences: the ziggurat was not a tomb, and ziggurats were built well into the Seleucid age, whereas the building of pyramids came to an end after c.1640 BCE. Ziggurats played a role in the cults of many cities in ancient Mesopotamia. Archaeologists have discovered nineteen of these buildings in sixteen cities; the existence of another ten is known from literary sources.
The Etemenanki was among the largest of these, and the most important. (The largest was the shrine of Anu at Uruk, built in the third or second century BCE.) According to the Babylonian creation epic Enûma êliš the god Marduk defended the other gods against the diabolical monster Tiamat. After he had killed it, he brought order to the cosmos, built the Esagila, which was the center of the new world, and created mankind. The Etemenanki was next to the Esagila, and this means that the temple tower was erected at the center of the world, as the axis of the universe. Here, a straight line connected earth and heaven. This aspect of Babylonian cosmology is echoed in the Biblical story, where the builders say "let us build a tower whose top may reach unto heaven".


The ruin of the Etemenanki: foundations in a wetland
The best description of the monumental tower can be found in a cuneiform tablet from Uruk, written in 229 BCE. It is a copy of an older text and is now in the Louvre in Paris. It states that the tower was made up of seven terraces and it gives the height of the seven stocks - 91 meters all in all. The ground floor measured 91 x 91 meters, and this is confirmed by archaeological excavations conducted by Robert Koldewey after 1913 (91,48 x 91,66 m). Large stairs were discovered at the south side of the building, where a triple gate connected the Etemenanki with the Esagila. A larger gate in the east connected the Etemenanki with the sacred procession road. Seen from the triple gate, the Etemenanki must have resembled a true "stairway to heaven", because the gates on the higher terraces seemed to be standing on top of each other.
Using the archaeological data and the tablet at the Louvre, several reconstructions have been proposed. However, there is one caveat: it is possible that the Louvre tablet describes not the real temple tower, but an idealized sanctuary - a blueprint for a Etemenanki that still has to be build, comparable to the description of the temple of Jerusalem in the Biblical book of Ezekhiel.
Hypothetical map of the temple on top of the Etemenanki

Hypothetical map of the temple on top of the Etemenanki
On the highest terrace was a temple, dedicated to the Babylonian supreme god Marduk. The Louvre tablet again offers information. There were several cult rooms: Marduk shared his room with his wife Sarpanitum, a second room offered accommodation to the scribe-god Nabû and his wife Tashmetu, and there were rooms for the water god Ea, the god of light Nusku, the god of heaven Anu, and finally Enlil, Marduk's predecessor as chief of the Mesopotamian pantheon. A seventh room was called "house of the bed" and contained a bed and a throne. A second bed was on the inner court of the temple on the highest platform of the Etemenanki. Finally, there must have been stairs to the roof. It is possible that the famous Babylonian astronomers, the Chaldaeans, did their observations at the topmost level of the building.
This is the point where another text becomes useful: the Histories by the Greek researcher Herodotus of Halicarnassus (fifth century BCE). Although he probably never visited Babylon, his description of the Etemenanki tells us something about the temple ritual. (Herodotus correctly calls the supreme god of Babylon Bêl ("lord"), because his real name was not pronounced.)
Quote
The temple of Bêl, the Babylonian Zeus [...] was still in existence in my time. It has a solid central tower, one stadium square, with a second erected on top of it and then a third, and so on up to eight. All eight towers can be climbed by a spiral way running round the outside, and about half way up there are seats for those who make the ascent to rest on. On the summit of the topmost tower stands a great temple with a fine large couch in it, richly covered, and a golden table beside it. The shrine contains no image, and no one spends the night there except (if we may believe that Chaldaeans who are the priests of Bêl) one Babylonian woman, all alone, whoever it may be that the god has chosen. The Chaldaeans also say -though I do not believe them- that the god enters the temple in person and takes his rest upon the bed.note


Marduk and his snake dragon
This account contains minor errors (the dimensions of the tower, the number of levels, the shape of the stairs) and belongs to a description of Babylon that contains grave errors. It needs to be stressed, because there are still scholars maintaining that Herodotus visited Babylon, that the Greek researcher does not claim that he has seen the Etemenanki: he merely writes that it "was still in existence" in his time. Yet, this is the only text we have that describes the ritual performed in the temple: a holy marriage, in which the god sleeps with a woman. Unfortunately, there is not a single scrap of Babylonian evidence that can be used to corroborate Herodotus' story.
Probably, we must simply ignore it. He goes on to make a comparison with a similar Egyptian ritual, and this betrays him: on several occasions, Herodotus offers comparisons between Babylonia and Egypt, and in those cases, he is always wrong and may be repeating a story told by Egyptian priests. The story about the woman and the god belongs to this category.
The Etemenanki is mentioned for the first time in the Annals of the Assyrian king Sennacherib, who claims that he destroyed the temple tower of his Babylonian enemies in 689 BCE. Although he certainly sacked Babylon, it is impossible that his looting soldiers destroyed the Etemenanki. The wholesale destruction of large-scale structures is the prerogative of the modern age; ancient armies were incapable of destroying a large building.
The fact that Sennacherib could send an army against the Etemenanki, proves that it was older, and it would be remarkable if it was not so by at least 1000 years. During the reign of king Hammurabi (1792-1750), Babylonia was the leading power of Mesopotamia. In his age, there were ziggurats in lesser towns like Qatara, Aššur, Sippar, Kish, Borsippa, Nippur, Uruk, Larsa, Ur, and Eridu. It would be very strange if the capital of the world would be the only city without a ziggurat. It may be noted that the creation epic Enûma êliš with its reference to the building of the Esagila (and the implication of the existence of the Etemenanki), had already been written.
After Sennacherib, Esarhaddon was king of Assyria (r.680-669). He allowed the Babylonians to rebuilt their city. Another construction phase may have been after the war between the Assyrian king Aššurbanipal and his brother Šamaš-šum-ukin, the viceroy of Babylon (r.667-648). When Babylonia became independent under Nabopolassar (625-605), there was renewed building activity, and finally, king Nebuchadnezzar (605-562) is recorded as one of the builders. He finished the temple at the top, which was covered with a roof made of cedars from the Lebanon. The two last king have boasted that the tower "reached unto heaven" (cf. the Weidner Chronicle).
The building history suggests that the Babylonians were occupied with the construction of the tower for over a century. It is possible that the ambitious design of a tower of 92 x 92 x 92 meters was too grandiose, so that they needed as much time for their project as the medieval builders of the European cathedrals. For a long time, the tower must have looked unfinished, and this may explain how the Biblical story came into being. It is certainly possible that the sanctuary was never finished at all.
The Persian king Xerxes (r.486-465) has often been blamed for the destruction of the Etemenanki. During his reign, there were indeed two revolts (led by Bêl-šimânni and Šamaš-eriba, both in 484), and Herodotus states that Xerxes took away a large statue of a man from the Esagila. Some six centuries later, the historian Arrian of Nicomedia, the author of an important book on Alexander the Great, expanded this last piece of information to a remark about the destruction of the Etemenanki. After all, Arrian had to explain why Alexander started to rebuild the monument that was by then known as the "tomb of Belus". But his story cannot be true. The continuous cult at the Esagila and Etemenanki is mentioned in cuneiform sources form the fifth and fourth centuries, and is confirmed by Herodotus (whatever his merits), who states that "the temple of Bêl [...] was still in existence in my time".
Alexander the Great. Portrait from Delos

Alexander the Great. Portrait from Delos
The truth must be that by the time of Alexander, the ziggurat had fallen into disrepair. Buildings made of brick easily fall apart and need permanent care in the hot climate of the Near East. There is one badly damaged source, quoted here, that suggests that the Persian king Artaxerxes IV Arses (338-336) had already decided to restore the Esagila and the Etemenanki. Behaving like a Babylonian king was supposed to do, Alexander ordered 10,000 soldiers to remove the remains of the old building. Over a period of two months (April and May 323), tiles and bricks were brought to the eastern part of the city. This time, the tower was not destroyed by an army looking for loot: it was a systematic attempt to clear the building ground.
Although the site was now cleared, the tower was never rebuilt. On 11 June, Alexander died. Civil war broke out between his generals, the Diadochi. During the next years, Babylon saw several armies, and it lasted until 309 until peace conditions were restored by Seleucus Nicator. However, he founded another capital for the new Seleucid empire, Seleucia. Babylon was never restored to its old status, and that meant the end of the attempts to rebuilt the Etemenanki - although one scribe in Uruk was still hoping for its reconstruction and wrote the Louvre tablet. The Esagila remained intact well into the first century BCE and probably even later.
Antiochus I Soter

Antiochus I Soter
Interesting detail: the Ruin of Esagila Chronicle mentions that the Seleucid crown prince Antiochus sacrificed on the remains of the Etemenanki, stumbled and fell, and angrily ordered his elephant drivers to destroy the last remains.
Arabic authors were responsible for keeping the memory of the Etemenanki alive, sometimes comparing the greatness of the ancient city with the humble town Bâbil of their own age. However, they thought that the ancient royal palace, which was the largest ruin on the site, was the tower of Babel. The inhabitants of Bâbil told the same to the first Western visitors, in the sixteenth century.
In the nineteenth century, the real Etemenanki was rediscovered by the native Arab population. People of the nearby village wanted to create a palm garden and discovered ancient bricks when they lowered the groundwater level. German engineers understood the significance and in 1913, Robert Koldewey started the excavation of the Etemenanki. Today, only four channels can be seen; the rest of the site is overgrown with weed.
Literature
  • A.R. George, "E-sangil and E-temen-anki, the Archetypal Cult-centre?" in: J. Renger, Babylon: Focus mesopotamischer Geschichte, Wiege früher Gelehrsamkeit, Mythos in der Moderne (1999 Saarbrücken)
  • A.R. George, "The Tower of Babel: Archaeology, History and Cuneiform Texts" Archiv für Orientforschung 51 (2005/2006) 75-95
  • Caroline Janssen, Bâbil, the City of Witchcraft and Wine. The Name and Fame of Babylon in Medieval Arabic Geographical Texts (1995 Ghent)
  • Hansjörg Schmid, Der Tempelturm Etemenanki in Babylon (1995 Mainz)
  • Wilfried Seipel, Der Turmbau zu Babel. Band I: Der babylonische Turm in der historischen Überlieferung, der Archäologie und der Kunst (2003 Graz)
  • Bert van der Spek, "'Is dit niet het grote Babylon, dat ik gebouwd heb?" in: Phoenix 36 (1990) 51-63.

President Harry S. Truman said: “The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings…  If we don't have the proper fundamental moral background, we will finally wind up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the state.”

 

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