THE TOWER OF BABEL &
MAN SPOKE ONLY ONE LANGUAGE BEFORE THE TOWER OF BABEL
Before the confusion of languages the Bible says all men on earth spoke the same language. Evolution teaches that as men evolved from lower animals he ascended at some point above all other animals and began to communicate by making sounds. The cries, shrieks, calls and other sound signals of apes, was replaced by more and more distinctive calls and signals which man learned as he evolved.(1) These sounds, they suggest, were at first grunts but in time (more millions of years??) developed into intelligent speech. To explain the existence of so many languages on earth, evolution says numerous groups of early man used verbal sounds differently. Thus various languages developed all over the earth.
This statement in Genesis 11:1, absolutely refutes any form or position of evolution. God says He created the human family from one couple Adam and Eve. They could communicate in speech on the day they were created and all their decedents, until the intervention of God at the Tower of Babel, spoke the same language God gave them originally. Until this time there was only one race of man and only language.
The Lord was very clear in instructing Noah and his sons to go and replenish the earth with people. (Gen. 9:1) However, after they departed the Ark in what is now Turkey, they traveled South until they came to a place the Bible names as Shinar and there they stopped the migration and settled down. Shinar is the area of Babylonia between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers where the two rivers join before flowing into the Persian Gulf.
Soon the people under the leadership of Nimrod, (Gen. 10:9-10) decided to build a great city on this plain and they named the city Babel, later called Babylon, on the Euphrates River. Soon, as Genesis 10:10 records, they built other cites in Shinar named Erech, Accad and Calneh.
Babylon according to the ancient historian, Herodotos covered two hundred square miles. It was surrounded by walls three hundred and fifty feet high and eighty seven feet thick. The walls were guarded by two hundred and fifty watch towers and outside the walls were protected by a deep moat.
Under the leadership of Asshur, they also went north to the Tigris River and built the city of Nineveh, Rehoboth, Resen and Calah. Several of these city were "great" cities. This could mean they were large in size or power, or both. Many other cities sprang up in the area that is generally called, Babylonia.
Note also that these cities were built from fired brick. These people were not ignorant savages, but highly civilized. They not only used fired brick to built, but built great cities that had modern conveniences such as paved stone streets, libraries, courts and a system of law that modern law is based on. They had running water, bath rooms and sewage systems. The children went to school and could read and write. They had a strong government.
The remains of the oldest culture unearthed by archaeologists is in this area and is called "Obeid". They found there the oldest "ziggurat", which many conclude was what the Tower of Babel was.
The people not only congregated in these great cities in defiance of God's directive to spread out and repopulate the world . They also invented the first false worship system recorded in the Bible. The Tower of Babel was probably a ziggurat, which was a great pinnacle or man made mountain. The one which was found at Babylon was a gigantic artificial mound built with sun dried brick.(2)
It was a temple tower on which the ancient pagan priests would plot the stars. Astrology, which is a religion based on the worship of the sun, moon, planets and stars was born there. Being able to plot the heavens gave the priest great power.
The Hanging Gardens of Babylon, was a great ziggurat over three hundred and fifty feet high. Sir Henry Rawlinson found, in excavating a foundation corner at Borsippa, a cylinder on which was an inscription. It stated that the tower of Borsippa, had been erected by a former king who had completed it to a height of forty two cubits, but for some reason did not finish the tower. The later king, being urged to do so by the god Murduk (a pagan deity), restored the tower on its original site.(3)
The reason for building the tower is stated in Genesis 11:4; they built the tower so that the people of the area would not be scattered over the face of the earth. This would seem to tie in with the religious worship which developed at the tower. The towers drawing power was that it was the center of a worship of the stars. Thus false religion was invented to directly oppose the commandment of God to repopulate the Earth. That is the intend of all false religion. It began there in ancient Babylon. The Bible has much to say about Babylon in the past and also in the future. We can better understand why God has reserved Babylon for a terrible judgment during the Great Tribulation by understanding was the being of false religion.(Revelation 18:1-24). Before the flood the people was corrupt and evil, but the Bible does not say that they worshiped any false Gods. The city and its name is symbolically associated with direct rebellion against God through out the Bible.
It is interesting that all over the world, that otherwise primitive people had a great understanding of the stars. Almost all false religions in some form is related to worshiping the heavens. Examples are abundant such a Stonehenge in England, pyramids in both North and South America. Even the so called primitive Indians of North America could accurately plot the stars. Many conclude the basic knowledge originated in Babylon and that when God dispersed mankind these skills were retained. The people left the area of Babylonia, and abandoned their civilized way of living. They digressed to primitive cultures, however they retained their superstitious false religions and continued in some form to worship the stars.
God, knowing the intent of the people, directly intervened and confounded the languages of the people which caused a great confusion.
Man had again disobeyed God and deliberately congregated in great cities. To make keep the people congregated in these areas the leaders plotted to invent a false religion to worship idols who were not so demanding on mankind.
There is much evidence of the evils of bringing a great number of people together and congregating them in large cities. The evils of our society involving all types of crime come from our cities. When large numbers of men come together the evil element within society unites and crime becomes organized. Other problems caused by large concentrations of people are pollution and destructive demands on our natural resources for building materials, water and food. Economic problems are caused when many people can not find employment and causes people to become a liability on the rest those that are employed. Political unrest is bred in large cities. Welfare systems have to be instituted to take care of the unproductive peoples and this leads to dependency on the state and a lack of personal incentive.
In general almost every sin of man is intensified by the existence of large cities. However, in rural areas, there is less crime, a more peaceful life style and a higher degree of morals. Life is more satisfying and fulfilling. God's way has always been to instruct us to do that which was best for us. But today as it was in the time of Babylon, sinful men had evil intentions and wanted the power and wealth associated with large numbers of people. "And this is the condemnation, that light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light because their deeds were evil." (John 3:19)
God knowing that if mankind stayed in the area of Babylon, their sinful minds would imagine greater and greater degrees of sin. It is easy to see that if man had not been stopped at this time he would have destroyed himself long ago. The "wages of sin is death".(Rom. 6:23a) By dispersing the people God halted the spread of corruption that was breeding in the cities and man was forced into isolated smaller groups because they could not speak to each other. The powerful hold on the people by the ungodly leaders of the cities was broken.
In Genesis 11:7, note that the verse says, "let US go down and confound their language". Here again is the use of the plural word, Elohim for naming God. Since else where the Bible clearly teaches there is but one God this is evidence of the Trinity, God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit.
God then "confounded" the languages of all the people on earth. Genesis 10:5, states that God divided them in their lands by their family, and nation. The confounding of their languages was done in orderly fashion by God and families and tribes were given the same language. Noah's three sons are stated as being three divisions of man. Thus, at least three languages were needed to separate them and possibly many more. Some anthropologists believe that the languages found today developed from some forty to fifty earlier linguistic divisions.(4)
Note that until this time they were all living together. Smaller groups, for example, within the descendants of Shem, were given a different language than others of his line. This would again aid in separating them. It is estimated that today there are about three thousand dialects spoken all over the world.(5)
The city appears at first not to have been named Babel, however because of the Confusion of Tongues the city was then called by this name. The name "Babel" means "to confound". The name Babylon has the same root as Babel, and is the name that identified the city later in history.
The purpose of this genealogy is to list the descendants of Shem unto Abraham, who is the father of the Nation of Israel.
It is worth noting that each generation's life span was reduced. Arphaxad, Shem's first son lived five hundred and thirty years, however Terah who was Abram's father lived only two hundred and fifty years. Before Peleg, who was living when God scattered mankind, men lived almost twice as long as after the Tower of Babel.
It has been suggested that because of the harmful effects of sun after the flood man did not live as long as before. This is completely within reason. The effects of continued sin also could have played a part as well as the marrying within closer family groups.
Some have suggested that there are gaps within the genealogical lists that are presented here. However, one argument against these supposed gaps is that if there are gaps in the record, why did the writer leave them out? Why go into such detail in listing the names, life spans, and names of descendants of each generation and leave gaps while doing so? Most who suppose gaps do so to try and stretch out this time period to a greater amount of time than is found recorded. They do so in order to give foundation to some theory that is rooted in evolution. There is no need to do so and there is ample time to populate the earth to the degree of Genesis 11. In just three hundred years the population of the United States has grow from several thousands in the early 1600's to over four million today. All this accrued in around only three hundred years.
There is never any justifiable reason to second guess God, who is the author of the Bible and add to what He has said. Every time anyone tries to do so, most likely the reason is to support some scriptural theory. It is correct and proper to literally interpret the Bible. That is the Bible's way of interpreting Scripture. When the prophets of the Lord and the New Testament writers referred to passages of Scripture written by others, they interpreted it literally. The greatest support for a literal interpretation of Scripture is the Lord Jesus Himself. Jesus clearly taught literally the Scriptures of the Old Testament.
Terah the father of Abram had three sons, Abram, Nahor and Haran.
Abram means "exalted father". Abram's named was later changed by God to "Abraham", meaning "father of many". (Gen. 17:5) Abram's home was a city east of Babylon called, Ur of the Chaldees. All the Bible says about Abram's father was that he had three sons and that he worshiped idols. (See Joshua 24:2)
Abram's wife was named Sarai (Sarah) and although his name meant "exalted father", they had no children because she was barren.
After God called Abram and he left the city of Ur, and he took with him his wife, his father, Terah, and his nephew, Lot. They traveled west into Syria to the city of Haran, and Terah died there. Then Abram with his wife Sarai and nephew Lot left Haran and traveled south into the land of Canaan.
1. General Anthropology, Melville Jacobs and Bernhard J. Stern, Barnes and Noble Books, New York, 1953, page 17.
2. The New Unger's Bible Dictionary, Merrill F. Unger, Moody Press,Chicago, 1988, page 133.
3. Halley's Bible Handbook, Henry H. Halley, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, 1965, page 83.
4. Jacobs and Stern, page 280.