THE BUILDING OF THE TOWER OF BABEL
What the language was, we simply do not know.
I believe whatever that language was will be the language that will be spoken in heaven, and it will be a much better language than we have today, with more specific nouns and verbs, adverbs, and adjectives.
Genesis 11:1-9 KJV
 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 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.
 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.
 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: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
- God, who made man as the one creature with whom He could speak (1:28), was to take the gift of language and use it to divide the race, because the apostate worship at Babel indicated that man had turned against God in pride(vv.8,9).
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.
- “As they journeyed from the east”—notice it was from the east. Mankind was apparently moving toward the west.
- “They found a plain in the land of Shinar,” which is in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley.
- God had restated His commission for man to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (9:7).
- It was in the course of spreading out that the events of this account occurred.
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.
- Down in that area there is no stone, and so they made bricks.
- That in itself reveals something about the substantial character of their buildings.
- Even today brick is a popular type of building material.
- Yet the brick was used there because of its practicality; it was a necessity.
- While dispersing, a portion of the post-Flood group, under the leading of the powerful Nimrod (10:8-10), decided to stop and establish a city as a monument to their pride and for their reputation.
- The tower, even though it was a part of the plan, was not the singular act of rebellion. Human pride was, and it led these people to defy God.
- They were refusing to move on, i.e., scattering to fill the earth as they had been instructed.
- In fact, this was Nimrod’s and the people’s effort to disobey the command of God in 9:1 and, thus, defeat the counsel of heaven.
- They had to make bricks, since there were few stones on the plain.
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.
- The tower would not actually reach to the abode of God and the top would not represent the heavens.
- They wanted it to be a high tower as a monument to their abilities, one that would enhance their fame.
- In this endeavor, they disobeyed God and attempted to steal His glory.
- Notice that they said, “Let us build us a city . . . and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad.”
- They had a bad case of perpendicular I-it is—let us make us a name! In my opinion, the sole purpose of this tower was for a rallying place for man.
- The Tower of Babel was a ziggurat. There are many ruins of ziggurats in the Tigris-Euphrates Valley.
- The ruins of one in Ur of the Chaldees where Abraham lived was made of brick, solidly constructed, and around it was a runway which went to the top.
- Apparently, on top of it was an altar on which, in certain instances, human sacrifices were offered.
- Later on children were offered, put in a red-hot idol. All of this was connected with the ziggurat in later history.
- But at the time of its construction, the Tower of Babel represented the rebellion of mankind against Almighty God.
- Apparently it was Nimrod who led in this movement. He was the builder of the city of Babel and evidently of the Tower of Babel also.
- It was to be a place for him to rear a world empire that was in opposition to God.
- In order to realize his ambition and to make his dreams come true, two features and factors were essential:
- First, he needed a center of unity, a sort of headquarters, as it were. He needed a capital, a place to assemble, a place to look to.
- This was why he built the city of Babel. It fulfilled one of his requirements to carry out his dream of world empire.
- Secondly, he needed a rallying point, not just geographical but psychological, that which gives motive—a spark, an inspiration, a song, a battle cry, sort of like a “rally-around-the-flag-boys.”
- There had to be some impelling and compelling motivation. There had to be a monument, Lenin’s tomb is where Communism meets, and in Nimrod’s day it was the Tower of Babel.
- “Let us make us” is defiance and rebellion against God. “Let us make us a name” reveals an overweening ambition.
- Now let’s see what the Tower of Babel was not. It was not built as a place of refuge in time of high water.
- He wasn’t building above the flood stage, as some expositors suggest. In fact, I consider that a very puerile interpretation.
- After all, Lenin’s tomb is not a place of refuge when the Volga River overflows! No, this tower revealed the arrogant, defiant, rebellious attitude of man against God.
- God had said to man that he should scatter over the earth and replenish the earth.
- But man in essence answered, “Nothing doing. We’re not going to scatter; we are going to get together. We are through with You.”
- The Tower of Babel was against God. Also, the Tower of Babel was a religious symbol. It was a ziggurat.
- All through that valley, as I have indicated, there are ruins of ziggurats. They were places where people worshiped the creature rather than the Creator.
- Some ziggurats were round, others were square, but all of them had runways leading to the top, and on the top the people carried on the worship of the sun, moon, and stars.
- After all, when they could see the sun, moon, and stars, they knew they were not going to have a flood, and they felt that God had been pretty mean to have sent the Flood.
- Now notice God’s reaction to the Tower of Babel—
And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
- Just as the emphasis in the “upward” part of the inversion is on man’s activity to the exclusion of God, the emphasis in this “downward” arm is on God’s activity to the exclusion of man-the only activity that man “undertakes” in this section was that of “ceasing” to build.
- The statement that the LORD came down should be understood as a literary-theological device emphasizing the actual futility of man’s goal and the essential “distance” between him and God.
- At the same time this “distance” between man and God is immediately “bridged” by God’s goal in “coming down,” namely, to see what man had done.
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.
- Concerned for what is best for man, God “assessed” their building activity, as represented by the statement, this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.
- They were so united that they would do all they desired to do.
- This is a tremendous statement!
- Since all the people spoke one language, they didn’t have the great language barrier.
- They could get together and pool their knowledge and resources—”and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”
- We find here that man has a fallen nature in spite of the Flood and that he is totally depraved. God cannot ignore this rebellion, for it is a rebellion against Him.
- God is going to put up a protective wall. He is going to throw up a barrier. This was necessary because man is such a very capable creature.
- He can go to the moon and he can fly in a jet plane. I still am amazed that I can sit in a jet plane, flying five miles high in the air and be served a delicious dinner.
- I just can’t get over it, I’ll be honest with you. It seems unbelievable. Man has done that, friend. Man is a very competent creature.
- You can see what mankind would do with one language if they all came together against God.
- So notice what God did—
Genesis 11:7 **********
Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
- Consistent therefore with this well-established pattern, God’s act of “confusing” (i.e., differentiating) the language of man was intended not only as an act of punishment, but also as an act of grace.
So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
- God addressed their prideful rebellion at the first act.
- They had chosen to settle; He forced them to scatter.
- This account tells how it was that the families of the earth “were separated, everyone according to his language” (10:5) and “were divided on the earth after the flood” (10:32).
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.
- This is linked to a Hebrew word meaning “to confuse.” From this account, Israel first understood not only how so many nations, peoples, and languages came about, but also the rebellious origins of their archetypal enemy, Babylon (cf 10:5, 20, 31).
- Because they would not fill the earth as God had commanded them, God confused their language so that they had to separate and collect in regions where their own language was spoken.
I hope that you have really enjoyed this post,
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