Genesis: The Beginning
God, His Word and Babel 1-13-16, Continued
READ: Genesis 10:1-11:9
Chapter 10 is a bit of a “dry” read about the generational families from the three sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. It’s the three-fold division of humanity from the seed of Noah. Seventy nations are listed—Japheth 14 nations (Greeks/Medes/Asia Minor), Ham 30 nations (Assyrians/Babylonians/Philistines), and Shem 26 nations (Semitic nations/lineage of Jesus Christ). Over a very long period of time, the Japhethites migrated westward, the Hamites south by southwest, and the Semites south by southeast.
In Chapter 10, the author speaks of the descendants as a flashback; it lists the generations following the Tower of Babel and then follows by telling the story in Chapter 11.
Chapter 11:1-9 Involves Ham’s descendants.
Even archaeological evidence leads us to understand at one time the world had a single language—they all used the same Words God gave them. Remember, Adam was given the gift of speech by God. God used that language to bring revelation (discovery/epiphany) to humanity about the Creator, as well as allow Yahweh to enjoy communication with His creation. But the gift of that one language which was given to connect people with a powerful God, was misused to connect people to people in the power of human flesh apart from God. So, God confused the language as a way to conceal power; because words are powerful—life and death are in the power of words. Speaking God’s Word is extremely powerful.
A Sumerian clay tablet discovered centuries ago has similar accounts of the Tower of Babel (translates “confusion”). The plain that is described for the tower’s foundation in v.2 is the land of Shinar—located between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers—that would later be called Babylon.
These people in our lesson use words to gather like thinkers. They agree to make bricks so they can build a tower/temple glorifying themselves. In the ancient world, gods were associated with high and powerful places. Humans who reject God’s image do so because they long to be gods in their own right. (NOTE: Satan’s strategy is always to “speak” to the human appetite for power).
These descendants of Ham were building a structure to exalt themselves when God came down! The God of Wonders who is exalted above the earth; the God who created the universe, as well as humanity lowered Himself to deal with prideful human ignorance one more time. Aren’t you just amazed by the grace of God? Humans have the propensity to listen to the lying words of Satan calling them to reject the LORD God’s image and His Kingdom; they choose to live in defiance of God. Here we see humanity has chosen to build for themselves a human kingdom. God breaks up the human pride party and disperses the people all confused about their image.
The Tower of Babel was more than likely a ziggurat since the Babylonians commonly built them.
Built for local pagan religions; a shrine or dwelling place for the gods.
Considered the site of a sacred marriage
Provided security; built in the center of the city.
It was an image of divine strength
2-7 levels; numbers are symbolic (2 reflects union; 3 reflects completeness; 4 reflects creation; 5 reflects grace extended to humans; 6 reflects human weakness, Satan, and sin; 7 reflects perfection).
A description of the Tower of Babel is found in a cuneiform tablet from Uruk, written in 229 BCE. It is a copy of the original text found in Paris. It states the tower was made up of 7 terraces; 91 meters tall (298 feet—compared to the tallest pyramid 479 feet—Great Pyramid of Khufu in 2540BC). The Ziggurat contained stairways around the outside of the structure leading to the top; a stairway to heaven.
We will end our devotion, tonight with a little humor from my spiritual brother, Bob:
- During a revolution in ancient Babylon, one of the usurping officers in the army had planned a secret meeting in a local temple, or ziggurat, to avoid the general, who had been trying to hunt them down for quite some time. However, after waiting for one hour with no sign of his compatriots, he began to get nervous and decided he should get rid of any compromising documents. So, he started a fire and burned all the secret papers. Of course, the general who had been searching for him saw the smoke and, upon investigating, discovered the officer and had him executed. The moral of this story should be obvious.
- Warning! The searchin’ general has determined that smoking ziggurats may be hazardous to your stealth.
I know…it’s painful but I had to laugh, too! Blessings for your night…