The Mighty Acts of God – The Tower of Babel

in Mighty Acts of God

Following the Flood, the survivors departed from the Ark and began life anew (Gen. 9:18). Earlier God had told them: “And God blessed Noah and his sons, and said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Gen. 9:1). Noah lived 350 years after the Flood, and was 950 years old when he died. Noah’s three sons were Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Ham begat Cush, who in turn begat Nimrod (Gen. 10:6-8).

What the Bible states about Nimrod is short and to the point:

And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city. (Gen. 10:8-12)

In just two generations after the Flood, something sinister was beginning to happen. Rather than dispersing to the allotted lands God had assigned (Deut. 32:7-8), men began to centralize power by means of conquest and the building of cities. Alexander Hislop, on pages 23-24 of his work, The Two Babylons, informs us that Roman historians wrote: “Ninus, king of the Assyrians, first of all changed the contented moderation of the ancient manners, incited by a new passion, the desire of conquest. He was the first who carried on war with his neighbors, and he conquered all nations from Assyria to Lybia, as they were yet unacquainted with the arts of war” (emphasis his). In a footnote Hislop says that the name “Assyria” had a wide-latitude of meaning among classical authors and was applied to Babylon as well as Assyria. Diodorus Siculus, the Greek historian, had this to say: “Ninus, the most ancient of the Assyrian kings began to be mighty on the earth, ” and the “beginning of his kingdom was Babylon.” Who Ninus was is very clear. According to Hislop, Ninus was none other than Nimrod, “the most ancient of the Assyrian kings,” and the wars he inaugurated gave him such unprecedented power that he brought the people of Babylonia under subjection to him while the city of Babylon was not yet in existence. Hislop points out that Babylon, as a city, could not properly be said to exist until Nimrod established his power there and made it the center of his greatness (Gen. 10:10).

Hislop tells us on pages 51-52 that Nimrod carried out exploits in hunting down and killing the wild beasts that had become so numerous after the Flood-beasts that were now preying on human beings. Because Nimrod rid the world of these monsters, he was regarded as the preeminent benefactor of his race. To provide security so that the people could be free from the alarm that their scattered condition had exposed them to, he built fortified cities to keep the beasts out. Inside the battlements of a fortified city, the danger from these savage animals no longer existed. Nimrod indeed had delivered men from the fear of animals. Then he set about to deliver them from the fear of God. He was the first man after the Flood to gather men into communities, and the first to offer idolatrous sacrifices. He led men away from the patriarchal faith and the need to rely on God.

Not satisfied with these accomplishments, he set out to bring the world under his control. Due to his warlike disposition and ambitions of glory, Nimrod armed a considerable number of young men, brave and vigorous like himself, trained them by laborious exercises and hardships so they could bear the fatigues of war, and taught them to face danger without fear. By hardening these young men to the toils and dangers of the chase, he gradually prepared them for aiding him in his conquests (Hislop, 23). By means of the armed men that he had trained and organized, he first began to be mighty upon the earth (Hislop, 51).

Nimrod was the first king after the Flood to violate the patriarchal system, the first to abridge the liberties of mankind. This began because of his prowess as a hunter-first by killing predatory animals that had become a threat to mankind-and then by building fenced cities, followed by military conquests. Nimrod delivered men from the fear of animals, and then from the fear of God. He was the first mortal to reign as a king after the Flood.

After the Flood, the nations were divided in the earth (Gen. 10:32). Many, however, abandoned what God had given them. They began to wander about, and came upon the fertile plain of Mesopotamia. “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” (Gen. 11:2). ” Now the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech” (v. 1). The phrase “from the east” in verse two is disputed. Notice the marginal reference. It says “eastward.” So the people either migrated from the east, or from along the eastern edge of the Mediterranean toward the east. If they came from the east, how did they get there? When the floodwaters had receded sufficiently, the Ark landed on the mountains of Ararat (Gen. 8:4), which would indicate the people migrated from the east. Whatever the case, the people began to mass in the fertile region of the Tigris-Euphrates Rivers.

According to the classical writers, Nimrod came on the scene at this time. The Bible says the same thing, though not in detail. See Gen. 10:10. What took place there? “And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. 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. 11:3-4). The name of the city was Babel. The beginning of Nimrod’s kingdom was Babel. There he set up a power base, and eventually conquered the world from Babylon to Libya. The Bible does not indicate how many years it took for Nimrod to begin building the city of Babel and the Tower, but sometime thereafter God chose to intervene. The people had become arrogant. Notice what they said: ” . . . Let us make a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” These people were in rebellion against God. They rejected Noah as the senior patriarch and set about to collectivize power in one location-contrary to God’s instruction to fill the earth (Gen. 9:1).

God knew their potential to do evil. “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. 11:6). One of the reasons Nimrod had been so successful in war, and in building fenced cities was because of communication. There was only one language, so messages and correspondence, either by word of mouth or by writing, was efficient. God proposed to end all that. He said: “Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech” (Gen. 11:7). What was the consequence? “So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city” (Gen. 11:8).

In one fell swoop God put a stop to their endeavors. This Mighty Act prevented man from setting up his own system-a system that would have brought about eventual destruction. We can assume people scattered around the earth did not participate in this project and were probably not aware of what was going on. Had not God intervened, it is likely that eventually the entire population of the world would have come under the sway or control of the city of Babel. “Therefore is the name of it called Babel; 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” (Gen. 11:9).

Consider what likely happened when the language was confused. The builders of the Tower would soon begin to accuse others of not talking plainly. Arguments would take place because orders could not be understood or followed. The more the workers misunderstood, the more they would argue. It is likely that bad feelings and arguments soon led to fracases. Cooperation ceased, and the only alternative was to stop the construction of the Tower. Separating from one another was the simplest way to avoid the bad feelings caused by the accusations and bickering. Soon, the various language groups began to spread out. Those remaining in Babel spoke the same language, while others who did not went to distant locations. This is exactly what God intended. His purpose had been accomplished. This was a great setback for Nimrod and his plans for the takeover of all society. While the people went on to build the city of Babel, Nimrod’s plans to complete the Tower and establish his hegemony over the world failed.

What was the purpose of this Tower? What did it signify?

Various books about the subject point out that ancient cuneiform tablets relate several features of the biblical narrative. The remains of the Tower of Babel were extant until at least until the time of Herodotus of Halicarnassus, who visited there in 460 BC. Herodotus stated that it was seven stories in height, or 295 feet. The Tower was almost 300 feet high, which would make it the equivalent of a 30-story building of today. It was built in a series of levels with each level a little smaller than the one below it. The Tower was built in the middle of a temple, and a spiral staircase that ran around the outside could reach all levels. The top level also contained a temple. Some authors state the Tower of Babel was a ziggurat, intended as an astronomical observatory and for the worship of heavenly bodies. Its purpose was to establish a bond of union between heaven and earth. Some of the earlier Babylonian kings refurbished it, but their efforts to completely restore it did not last. Alexander the Great wanted it rebuilt, but this was never accomplished. For centuries Arabic peoples carted off building materials for their homes, and today all that remains of the Tower is a huge water-filled crater. Portions of the Tower could be seen as late the early AD period.

Not only was the city and Tower representative of a rebellion against God’s intent to disperse the human race, it was also the first attempt to establish idolatry after the Flood.

No one can deny that idolatry has been an integral part of the history of man. While it was suppressed at the time of the confusion of the languages, it has existed in a myriad of forms ever since. The first commandment forbids idolatry, yet men today pay as little attention to God’s instruction regarding idolatry as they did at the time of the Tower of Babel. Some of the major religions in the world today are steeped in idolatry in one way or another, and these religions involve millions of followers.

Look at the languages today. The World Book Encyclopedia states there are about 5,000 languages. Scholars have classified languages into families, and the languages of each family probably go back to an original source. As such, they are related. Fifty percent of the people in the world speak languages from the Indo-European family. The 5,000 languages are divided into ten groupings. The confusion at the Tower of Babel probably did not have introduce this many languages. We do not know how many were originally given, but in time languages go through changes. For example, Old English is hardly understandable today. Even the language changes that have occurred since the time the King James Version was written are a contrast to our English language of today.

By this Mighty Act at the Tower of Babel, God put a stop to man’s rebellion and idolatry. Only in modern times have men again seemingly concentrated their efforts to bring about what was intended at the Tower of Babel-the centralization of power under a One World Government-the establishment of the New World Order. Will God need to intervene again?

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