Hello my friends! I am still in the beautiful state of Ohio. Soon I will be traveling back to my home state of Arizona. It is so nice to visit my sister and now that the kids have grown and dispersed to various areas, we will have one more big family reunion before I leave.
So what exactly happened at the tower of Babel? Why was it built and what happened to it in the end?
God gives us a brief understanding of this unique historical event in the bible. Genesis 11: 1 tells us “And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.” So, at first, all of Noah’s descendents (which would be all people inhabiting the earth at that time), were of “one lip” and “one words”, having the same vocabulary and the same grammar.
These people found a plain in the land of Shinar (today a part of Iraq), and settled there. A little over one hundred years after the Noachian flood they decided amongst themselves to build a city and a tower out of burnt brick and mortar (Genesis 11: 2-4). And there, a very ambitious man, Nimrod, took charge of building 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 4).To understand why this was such a terrible thing, we have to back up and read scripture from Genesis 9:1. God gave a commandment to Noah’s descendants to “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth”. However, these people did not want to do that, instead they became permanent residents of that area and did not seem to have any intentions to spread out. “Early Jewish writers and Christian commentators suggested that the tower was the first center of false religion in the post-Flood world. (Revelation 17:5 also indicates that Babel was the mother of world religions.) One recent suggestion is that, like ziggurats built in later cities of the region, the tower was a symbolic bridge between heaven and earth, a place where the [false] gods could come down to earth or rest.”[i]
The statement “. . . and let us make a name for ourselves.” (Genesis 11: 4) shows just how arrogant the people at Babel were. “They sought a name for themselves rather than to honor the name of their Creator, who is above all and whose name is worthy of all praise. This rebellion, which took place a century or two after Noah’s Flood, was no surprise to God. While promising not to send another Flood, God told Noah that human sinfulness was still a problem: ‘The imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth’ (Genesis 8:21).”[ii]
Because of man’s sinful nature, the people of Babel disobeyed God, wanted to remain in one spot, and decided to build a tower “whose top may reach unto heaven”. So what happened? The bible tells us in Genesis 11:5-9, that God basically took matters into His own hands. The Lord did not want these people to live in such a manner as “nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” Therefore He “confounded their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” The end result? “The Lord scattered them abroad upon the face of all the earth.”So we know the people dispersed from that region; “after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations.” (Genesis 10: 31), and have become the language groups and cultures we have around the world today.
But what of the tower itself? The bible mentions nothing about that. Other historical records relate that when God confused the languages, the tower toppled as well. It may well have happened then, or it could have happened later. What we do know, however, is that the tower did topple for it was noted by Alexander the Great during his exploits.
Linguists can trace the languages to only a few main tongues. This fits nicely with what the bible tells us, yet again confirming the truth of scripture. Man’s rebellion came full circle, the people made a name for their city, but not necessarily one they liked. From the word “confusion”, their city’s became known as Babel.
“Nothing escapes God’s attention. No individual sin, no sin of a nation. That is the lesson of Babel.”[iii]
Until next time, God Bless and take care!
PS (at one hour after sunset) – look tonight at the night sky…the bright star you see above the first quarter moon this evening is not a star but mars. On May 31st, the moon, the star Spica, and Saturn will form an upward line. How straight the line is will depend on when and where you're viewing from. Happy star gazing!