Gen. 11:1-27a, Babel and ages of men

Discussion in '2000-02 Archive' started by Helen, Jun 10, 2002.

  1. Helen

    Helen
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    Genesis 11 comes in three distinct parts. The last actually flows easily into the first part of Genesis 12, so that is how we'll divide it.

    The first part of Genesis 11 deals with the famous Tower of Babel.

    The narrative starts with the obvious way things would be after the Ark: the world had one speech; one language. The author then goes on to say that after the Flood, the families moved eastward or FROM the east (both translations are possible!). They settled on a plain in Shinar.

    Where is Shinar? There are two distinct possibilities.
    1. Mesopotamia -- Babylon (the currently accepted site)
    2. Turkey -- in southeastern Turkey there is a huge plain near the city of Diyarbakir named Shinar. It is named after the village on its boundary. It has Nimrod sculptures around it and an ancient ziggurat which has yet to be checked archaeologically.

    But wherever Shinar was, this is where the families lived for a generation or two or three after the Flood. And it is here where the basic apostacy which has given birth to so many of the world's religions began.

    Extra-biblical legends have it that it was Cush, the son of Ham, who was the architect for the tower that would 'reach' or challenge heaven, and his son, Nimrod, the builder.

    The biblical author, possibly Shem, reports that the people 'said to each other', or agreed regarding this building project. An interesting note here is that they baked bricks instead of using stone. After the Flood this would make perfect sense, for the sedimentary clay would have been far more accessible than stones! In addition, Genesis 11 tells us that they used tar instead of mortar. Natural tar is the sticky remains of plant and animal life -- a sort of carbanaceous muck. That, too, would have been plentiful after the Flood, rather than mortar, which is a product made with lime, sand, and water.

    The people of the Shinar plain then say something in direct disobedience to God's twice-given direction to Noah that the people should "increase in number and fill the earth": "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth."

    So not only was the tower which was to 'reach to' or challenge heaven itself an affront to God, but the people were in active rebellion against the specific directions given to Noah after the Flood.

    And so, the Bible says, "the Lord came down." He came down to see the city and the tower.

    But God did not have to 'come down' to see them. So what is being referred to? There is an interesting, almost parenthetic, section in Psalm 18 which may give us a clue:

    The earth trembled and quaked,
    and the foundations of the mountains shook;
    they trembled because he was angry.
    Smoke rose from his nostrils;
    consuming fire came from his mouth,
    burning coals blazed out of it.
    He parted the heavens and came down;
    dark clouds were under his feet,
    He mounted the cherubim and flew;
    He soard on the wings of the wind.
    He made darkness his covering, his canopy around him --
    the dark rain clouds of the sky.
    Out of the brightness of his presence clouds advanced,
    with hailstones and bolts of lightning.
    The Lord thundered from heaven;
    the voice of the Most High resounded.
    He shot his arrows and scattered the enemies,
    great bolts of lightning and routed them.
    The valleys of the sea were exposed
    and the foundations of the earth laid bare
    at your rebuke, O Lord,
    at the blast of breath from your nostrils.


    Whether or not David is looking back on the Babel incident here we don't know. But the fact that the "Lord came down" and the disaster that accompanied it might shed some light on the Genesis words, "the Lord came down."

    It sounds, in Psalm 18, like massive volcanism at the least. This might tie in with the heat-producing mechanism deep in the earth which had ended up unleashing the scalding waters of the Flood over the earth. Was magma building up as well as rocks melted? If this second critical point was reached at the time of Babel, we have a very good reason people took off in different directions.

    The common interpretation of this part of the Bible is that the languages were miraculously changed by God and then the people migrated away from each other. However, what if the migrations were because of some kind of catastrophe in their geologically very active area, and the language differences arose with the isolated populations after that?

    We do know from the Biblical account that
    1. The Lord was directly involved
    2. The people were scattered
    3. The city and tower were left unfinished
    4. Languages were changed

    Further elements which probably have to do with this, fleshing it out a bit, are in the legends and cultures from other peoples of the world, but that is outside the scope of this study here. It needs to be stated, though, that there are memories of this event in the same way there are memories of the Flood in old cultures around the world.

    So "Thy will be done" is going to happen. People can either go with it or against it, but God's will WILL be done.

    If the Tablet Hypothesis is true, this concludes the account from Shem, as the beginning of verse 10 states: "This is the account of Shem."

    Immediately following, we have another geneology. Keep in mind that a similar listing of names was immediately following Adam's tolodot as well as that of the three brothers (Shem, Ham, and Japheth) together.

    However, unlike the Table of Nations in Genesis 10, this geneology is much more like the one found in Genesis 5, as ages of the men are given.

    Now watch this, as the ages from chapters 5 and 11 are charted here:

    Person............Age at death

    Adam..............930
    Seth..............912
    Enosh.............815
    Kenan.............910
    Mahalalel.........895
    Jared.............962
    Enoch (translated)
    Methuselah........969
    Lamech............777
    Noah..............950
    .
    Shem..............600
    .
    Arphaxad..........438
    Shelah............433
    Eber..............464
    .
    Peleg.............239
    Reu...............239
    Serug,............230
    Nahor.............148
    Terah.............205

    Look at that. What happened? There is over a 50% cut immediately after the Flood, Shem excluded.
    There is another 50% drop at the time of Peleg.

    Two major catastrophes which did something permanent to the human race. After Terah, we see ages steadily decrease until Moses is considered VERY old at 120!

    This is another indication that the division of the earth at the time of Peleg was far more than a simple migration of peoples, as many currently explain it.

    [ June 10, 2002, 03:05 AM: Message edited by: Helen ]
     
  2. tyndale1946

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    Helen said:
    Helen you mean there has never been any archaeological examination of any of these sites? What is the reason? One would think this would be a prime archaeological dig and I can't understand why unless its a political thing? I speak as a believer and you speak as a believer and a scientist so what's the hold up?... Brother Glen :confused:

    [ June 10, 2002, 01:16 PM: Message edited by: tyndale1946 ]
     
  3. Helen

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    Politics. Political unrest. Funds needed to literally bribe your way in. Their refusal to let the ground be disturbed....

    Turkey is not Nebraska! They literally are patrolling Ararat now to stop people who are trying to go on searches for the Ark. I am aware of one man who was taken prisoner and not released for awhile and another who was dodging bullets at one point.

    Archaeologists really need more peace and quiet than that to work. Also, they are not always quite as brave (foolhardy?) as your standard adventurer looking for the Ark... :D
     
  4. tyndale1946

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    I thought as much but has there never been any digs by anyone over the centuries?... Brother Glen :confused:
     
  5. Helen

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    I asked Barry on the phone just now, as he keeps up much more with this side of things than I do. He said that no work has ever been done there that he is aware of.

    He mentioned a couple of other things that help explain why it is not being explored today. The site is near a major airbase -- one which the Israelis also use. So it is highly unlikely that anyone will be allowed in the area who is not a local. In addition, permission would have to be given not only from the Turkish government for a dig, but also from the same man who says yes or no regarding Ararat expeditions, and he is 'rather tight' to use Barry's words, right now.

    Hope that helps a little.
     
  6. tyndale1946

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    Helen what is the reason for Noahs Ark and the Tower Of Babel being in the same vacinity?... Why didn't they migrate farther after the flood? Not enough time?... Does this question make any sense?... Brother Glen :confused:
     
  7. Helen

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    Ok, you are asking for a guess here, so that's what you are getting, OK?

    Think of them getting off the Ark. We know they were at a relatively high altitude and would have had to have seen other mountain peaks around them! Where to live?

    Down the mountain, with perhaps some temporary quarters for even a few years in a reasonable area while they started finding out about this new world. And then (regardless of which plain they found), there is this beautiful expanse with grasses, water, and a place to build. Children have arrived and/or are on the way. Livestock needs to be cared for...and Noah is getting along in years!

    Why go further?
     
  8. tyndale1946

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    Brother Glen [​IMG]
     
  9. LadyEagle

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    I've heard it said the reason for this is because now man ate meat! :D
     
  10. Helen

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    I can think of no biological reason for this to be the case. Even today, vegetarians do not live any longer than meat-eaters!

    And if it were true after the Flood, then what happened at the time of Peleg?

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Clint Kritzer

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