People Roots and Religious Rebellion

10:1 – 11:9

 

 

William F. Albright noted scholar and archeologist stated of this portion of scripture:

 

The tenth chapter of Genesis . . . stands absolutely alone in ancient literature, without a remote parallel, even among the Greeks, where we find the closest approach to a distribution of peoples in genealogical framework . . . The Table of Nations remains an astonishing accurate document. [1]

 

The Bible is an incredible book and one of the reasons for its incredible nature is its accuracy. In Genesis Ten we are given a genealogy that tells us the roots of the people of the earth and where they migrated to geographically. We are also given some interesting comments in this list that introduce us to the first post Flood religious rebellion and really the root of all religious activity. Arthur W. Pink makes the following comment on this portion of scripture:

 

 

When we read Genesis ten and eleven it’s important to note that the account of the Tower of Babel antedates or chronologically goes before the genealogical tables given in Genesis ten  and eleven (11:10-30). Genesis ten and eleven give us the lineage of those from Noah to Abram. The Tower of Babel account is a kind of parenthetical statement about the rebellion of humanity against God as led by Nimrod (10:8-12; which is also a parenthetical portion).

 

People Roots

Genesis 10:1 - Now this is the genealogy of the sons of Noah: Shem, Ham, and Japheth. And sons were born to them after the flood.

All the people of the earth can trace their heritage to the sons of Noah. We may have more difficulty tracing the roots of people from North America because Biblical history in how such groups of people came to that area of the world is mostly silent. But because Noah’s family was the only family that was left after the Flood we know that somehow all the people’s of the earth are traced back to one of these three sons of Noah. This is true because the genealogy gives us geographic information so that we can trace the roots of people from different parts of the earth.

 

The Descendants of Japheth

Genesis 10:2-5 - 2 The sons of Japheth were Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. 3 The sons of Gomer were Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. 4 The sons of Javan were Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. 5 From these the coastland peoples of the Gentiles were separated into their lands, everyone according to his language, according to their families, into their nations.

Japheth was the father of the Indo-European peoples located to the north of the Holy Land and which stretch from India to the shores of Western Europe.[3] The people groups of these geographically diverse areas are linked by “linguistic similarities that often seem invisible to the layman but are much more obvious to the linguist.” [4] Pastor Chuck Smith states:

 

Basically the sons of Japheth were the progenitors of what are known as the Indo-European nations. If you have a European type background, it is probable that you are a descendant of Japheth. The interesting thing is the prophecy of Noah, "God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem..." (Gen.9:27a). When Shem's descendants rejected the Messiah, then basically it was the European nations that picked up in Christianity and we dwell in the covering that God gave to Shem. We have come to dwell and find our place of rest in the covering of Jesus Christ. It is basically the people of Japheth who have embraced the gospel and carried it to the rest of the world. It is a fulfillment of the prophecy of Noah.[5]

 

Gomer is believed to be the progenitor of the Germanic peoples of Western Europe which includes the French, Spanish and Celtic people groups.

 

Magog, Tubal and Meshech are believed to have settled to the far north where Russia is located today. It’s believed that Magog is the progenitor of the Scythians.

 

Madai is the father of the ancient Medes who populated the areas known as Iraq and Iran of the present day. People of India can also be traced to Madai.

 

Javan is the progenitor of the ancient Greeks and as a coastland people they made use of sea travel (10:5).

 

Tubal is linked historically with modern day Tobolsk.  Meshach is associated with the area of Moscow in Russia today.  Tubal therefore, is associated with Magog and Meshach in Ezekiel 38:2 who form a confederacy to attack Israel in the Last Days (see Ezekiel 38 and 39). Tiras is linked to the ancient Thracians and Etruscans, peoples on the coast of the Aegean Sea.

 

The sons of Gomer and Javan are then elaborated upon. Ashkenaz is linked to having settled in the region of Ararat and Armenia (see Jeremiah 51:27). Josephus links Ashkenaz with Germany and the surrounding regions. Riphath and Togarmah were the inhabitants of Asia Minor.

 

The son of Javan, Elishah is the progenitor of the Hellenish or people of Greece. Tarshish is linked frequently in the Bible with seafaring people such as the Phoenicians (see 1 Kings 10:22; Jonah 1:3). Kittim is another name for the isle of Cypress and Dodanim is closely associated with the Dardanelles and Rhodes.

 

The Descendants of Ham

Genesis 10:6-20 - 6 The sons of Ham were Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. 7 The sons of Cush were Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabtechah; and the sons of Raamah were Sheba and Dedan. 8 Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.” 10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah, 12 and Resen between Nineveh and Calah (that is the principal city). 13 Mizraim begot Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, 14 Pathrusim, and Casluhim (from whom came the Philistines and Caphtorim). 15 Canaan begot Sidon his firstborn, and Heth; 16 the Jebusite, the Amorite, and the Girgashite; 17 the Hivite, the Arkite, and the Sinite; 18 the Arvadite, the Zemarite, and the Hamathite. Afterward the families of the Canaanites were dispersed. 19 And the border of the Canaanites was from Sidon as you go toward Gerar, as far as Gaza; then as you go toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. 20 These were the sons of Ham, according to their families, according to their languages, in their lands and in their nations.

Ham, son of Noah, is the root of the people of Africa and the Far East. Cush, son of Ham is believed to have been the progenitor of the Sumerians who were the first civilized group after the Flood. From the Sumerians came the ancient cultures of Accad, Babylon, Assyria and Persia.[6] Mizraim is the root of the Egyptian peoples (whose land is referred to in scripture as “the land of Ham” in Psalm 105:23). Put is historically linked to Libya and Northern Africa. And Canaan is the root of the people who settled in Holy Land of today.

The sons of Cush (son of Ham) are then delineated. The sons of Cush (also known as “Kashi” in archeological finds of ancient peoples) were, Seba linked to Upper Egypt. Havilah (“sand-land”) which likely refers to northern and eastern Arabia of the Persian Gulf or the Ethiopian coast. Sabtah is ancient Hadhramaut located on the western shore of the Persian Gulf. Raamah and Sabtecah are thought to have been linked to southern Arabia. Sheba is linked with southwest Arabia (e.g. the queen of Sheba in 1 Kings 10:1-13). “Dedan was in northern Arabia. Some of the people in these ancient kingdoms traced their lineage to Joktan from Shem (Genesis 10:29). So there was a mixing in the settlement.” [7]

One of the most important characters in this genealogy is Nimrod who is given particular attention. We will consider him in greater detail below.

Of the remaining entries in this genealogy we note that the Philistines were descended from Casluhim son of Mizraim son of Ham (10:14). Heth is the ancestor of the Hittites a people prominent in the Bible and secular history (10:15). Canaan son of Ham populated the area where God lead Abraham later in Genesis. The Jebusites were those who lived in the area of Jerusalem (10:16; Judges 19:10). The Sinites (10:17) may be linked to the Wilderness of Sin and Mount Sinai as well as possibly with the Assyrian god Sin (Isaiah 49:12). It is the descendants of Ham who populated the Canaan land.

Nimrod

Genesis 10:8-12 - 8 Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be a mighty one on the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.” 10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah, 12 and Resen between Nineveh and Calah (that is the principal city).

Cush, (son of Ham who had disrespected Noah - 9:20-27) was the father of Nimrod who is given comparatively great detail in this list. There is a reason for that. The name Nimrod means, “Let us rebel!” or simply “The Rebel.”  Some believe that “Nimrod” is more of a title or label than a personal name. Those who hold this view say it is possible that Nimrod’s real name was Gilgamesh, a figure found in ancient stories. As we dig a bit deeper into the available information on this historical figure we find the roots of religious rebellion.

The description of Nimrod as, “a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord is not a complimentary description but an indication of his rebellious nature. It was Nimrod who organized a mass rebellion against God. The idea of the phrase “before the LORD” is one who outright defies another, in this case God. We’d refer to this as getting in someone’s face.   Nimrod, like the pre-Flood wicked world, performed his sinful ways in clear brazen sight of God (compare Genesis 6:11). What Nimrod did was to commit mutiny against the LORD. The commentator Adam Clarke makes the following comment about Nimrod:

“. . . It is very likely he was a very bad man. His name Nimrod comes from מרד, marad, he rebelled; and the Targum, on 1 Chronicles 1:10, says: Nimrod began to be a mighty man in sin, a murderer of innocent men, and a rebel before the Lord. The Jerusalem Targum says: "He was mighty in hunting (or in prey) and in sin before God, for he was a hunter of the children of men in their languages; and he said unto them, Depart from the religion of Shem, and cleave to the institutes of Nimrod." The Targum of Jonathan ben Uzziel says: "From the foundation of the world none was ever found like Nimrod, powerful in hunting, and in rebellions against the Lord." The Syriac calls him a warlike giant. The word ציד tsayid, which we render hunter, signifies prey; and is applied in the Scriptures to the hunting of men by persecution, oppression, and tyranny. Hence it is likely that Nimrod, having acquired power, used it in tyranny and oppression; and by rapine and violence founded that domination which was the first distinguished by the name of a kingdom on the face of the earth. How many kingdoms have been founded in the same way, in various ages and nations from that time to the present! From the Nimrods of the earth, God deliver the world! [8]

The consequence of such rebellious leadership is pointed out by another commentator who quotes:

“The great success that attended all of Nimrod’s undertakings produced a sinister effect. Men no longer trusted in God, but rather in their own prowess and ability, an attitude to which Nimrod tried to convert the whole world.” [9]

When we look at ancient literature we find that Nimrod is a figure who is very well and widely known. David P. Livingston notes that, “In addition to the Sumerians, the Babylonians wrote about this person; the Assyrians likewise; and the Hittites. Even in Palestine, tablets have been found with this man’s name on them. He was obviously the most popular hero in the Ancient Near East. . . . The person we are referring to found in extra-Biblical literature was Gilgamesh.” [10] The ancient accounts of Nimrod/Gilgamesh paint him as a vile and filthy person who is referred to with pornographic imagery. 

If Nimrod is referred to in the ancient Sumerian Gilgamesh Epic (which is found in various forms amongst various civilizations throughout ancient history) then we get some possible interesting insight into the thinking of Nimrod. Livingston comments:

The Gilgamesh Epic describes the first “God is dead” movement. In the Epic, the hero is a vile, filthy, perverted person, yet he is presented as the greatest, strongest, hero that ever lived (Heidel 1963: 18). So that the one who sent the Flood will not trouble them anymore, Gilgamesh sets out to kill the perpetrator. He takes with him a friend who is a monstrous half-man, half-animal­ Enkidu. Together they go on a long journey to the Cedar Mountain to find and destroy the monster who sent the Flood. Gilgamesh finds him and finally succeeds in cutting off the head of this creature whose name is “Huwawa” (“Humbaba” in the Assyrian version; see Heidel 1963: 34ff).

Is there a connection with the Gilgamesh epic and Genesis 10? Note what Gilgamesh says to Enkidu the half man, half beast, who accompanied him on his journey, found in Tablet III, lines 147-150. “If I fall,” Gilgamesh says, “I will establish a name for myself. Gilgamesh is fallen, they will say, in combat with terrible Huwawa.” But the next five lines are missing from all tablets found so far! Can we speculate on what they say? Let’s try...We suggest that those five lines include: “But if I win,...they will say, Gilgamesh, the mighty vanquisher of Huwawa!” Why do we say that? Because Genesis 10:9 gives us the portion missing from the Gilgamesh tablets. Those lines include... “it is said, Nimrod (or Gilgamesh) the mighty vanquisher of YHWH” This has to be what is missing from all the clay tablets of the Gilgamesh story. The Gilgamesh Epic calls him Huwawa; the Bible calls Him YHWH. [11]

 

What the Sumerians included in their account may have been what Nimrod perpetuated to raise to power and rebel against God. He might have called all people to himself as the one who vanquished Yahweh. An ancient historian Trogus Pompeius states that Nimrod as, “the first who carried on war against his neighbors, and he conquered all nations from Assyria to Lybia, as they were yet unacquainted with the arts of war.” [12] this may be what is alleged to in Genesis 10:1—12 when it speaks of Nimrod’s city building.

It should also be noted here that Nimrod is a type of Antichrist figure (2 Thessalonians 2; Revelation 13). The Bible contains what are called types and shadows (Hosea 12:10; Colossians 2:17; Hebrews 8:5; 9:9; 10:1). Historical figures and events foreshadow and give insight into future historical figures and events. Here Nimrod foreshadows antichrist. Just as Nimrod as a major figure who is used by Satan to lead people astray prior to the introduction of the faithful figure Abram, so too antichrist will rise up to lead people astray before the Second Coming of Jesus. The violence, pride, defiance of God and false religion we see associated with Nimrod we will also see in the antichrist of the future.

It should also be noted that Satan is the great imitator or counterfeiter. Satan sinned by first elevating himself in his own mind and heart to equality with God (Isaiah 14:12-16). He of course was put down by God but still sees himself as God’s equal and is fighting to establish himself as such. Therefore, in Stan’s efforts to establish himself as God’s equal he uses evil alternatives that are imitations of God’s plan. For instance, just as God sent His only Son Jesus to be Savior of the world, Satan will rise up Antichrist as an evil incarnation of himself (Antichrist will be possessed and driven by Satan himself). Just as Jesus serves as High Priest and mediator between God and man and just as the Holy Spirit serves to bring the presence of God into the hearts of the saved, so too will Satan rise up a false prophet to come along side the Antichrist and head up the last days false religious system of Babylon (Revelation 16:13; 19:20; 20:10). This last day’s false religious system will be designed to get people to worship the Antichrist, and Satan who indwells him (Revelation 17 and 18). In fact, just as God is Triune in nature, Satan creates an unholy trinity of himself, Antichrist, and the false prophet of Revelation.

Nimrod is a type of Antichrist figure in that he and Antichrist are the great rebels against God (compare 2 Thessalonians 2:8). Both Nimrod and Antichrist will rebel against God by way of a great confederacy or world unified system (compare Daniel 11:36-37). Nimrod was “mighty” and Antichrist will perform powerful signs and wonders (2 Thessalonians 2:9). Nimrod was a bloody and ruthless hunter of men and so will Antichrist be (Psalm 5:6; Revelation 13). Both Nimrod and the Antichrist have their headquarters in Babylon (10:10; 11:1-9; Isaiah 14:4; Revelation 17:3-5). Both Nimrod and Antichrist are full of pride wanting to exalt their names above all else (2 Thessalonians 2:4).

Nimrod and his hoards throughout history are dead and gone and God is still eternal. In fact God has something to say to those who would venture to think they could cut off His head or rebel against Him. In Psalm 2 it states:

·         Psalm 2 - 1 Why do the nations rage, And the people plot a vain thing?2 The kings of the earth set themselves, And the rulers take counsel together, Against the Lord and against His Anointed, saying,3 “Let us break Their bonds in pieces And cast away Their cords from us.”4  He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; The Lord shall hold them in derision.5 Then He shall speak to them in His wrath,  And distress them in His deep displeasure:6 “Yet I have set My King  On My holy hill of Zion.”7 “I will declare the decree: The Lord has said to Me, ‘You are My Son, Today I have begotten You.8 Ask of Me, and I will give You  The nations for Your inheritance, And the ends of the earth for Your possession.9 You shall break them with a rod of iron; You shall dash them to pieces like a potter’s vessel.’ ”10 Now therefore, be wise, O kings;  Be instructed, you judges of the earth.11 Serve the Lord with fear,  And rejoice with trembling.12  Kiss the Son, lest He be angry, And you perish in the way, When His wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in Him.

It is in the nature of Nimrod that we see beginning of the fulfillment of Noah’s prophecy (Genesis 9:24-27). Nimrod was the grandson of Ham and the son of Cush and we see his depraved nature rising up against God. This was undoubtedly passed on to Canaan as well so that after the Tower of Babel incident God turns to Abram the man of faith through whom to bless the world.

Babel

In these verses we have the first mention of “Babel” and that makes it significant. Babel will become Babylon as we proceed through the Bible. One commentator states of the word “Babel”:

Here at the Tower of Babel we have the beginning of the historic false religious system that will last until God destroys it in the End Times.

The Descendants of Shem

Genesis 10:21-31 – And children were born also to Shem, the father of all the children of Eber, the brother of Japheth the elder. 22 The sons of Shem were Elam, Asshur, Arphaxad, Lud, and Aram. 23 The sons of Aram were Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. 24 Arphaxad begot Salah, and Salah begot Eber. 25 To Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan. 26 Joktan begot Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27 Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28 Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29 Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. All these were the sons of Joktan. 30 And their dwelling place was from Mesha as you go toward Sephar, the mountain of the east. 31 These were the sons of Shem, according to their families, according to their languages, in their lands, according to their nations.

It is through the descendants of Shem that Messiah Jesus Christ would come. Later in Genesis eleven we will see that Abram descended from the line of Shem. Abram, who later becomes Abraham is the father of faith (see Romans 4).

We get the word “Hebrew” from the name Eber (14:13). Elam is the ancestor of the Elamites who joined the Medes to make the Medo-Persian Empire. Asshur is the root of the Assyrians and people who would one day be used by God to conquer the northern tribes of Israel. Lud was ancestor of the Lydians.  Aram is the father of the Syrians and the Aramaic language that was prominent in the ancient world. Uz had a land named after him in which Job lived (Job 1:1). Little is known of Hul, Gether and Mash.

The name Peleg means “division” and may refer to the division of the world’s people at the Tower of Babel. Some believe Peleg is named for the great continental divide after the Flood. Little is known of the rest of the names listed other than their descendant were Arabic peoples.

The Unity of the Table of Nations

Genesis 10:32 - 32 These were the families of the sons of Noah, according to their generations, in their nations; and from these the nations were divided on the earth after the flood.

Some would deny the roots of humanity being through the three sons of Noah. Some would go so far as to claim aliens (from outer space) are our true ancestors. But scripture is clear here, we are all descended from the same family. This should put to rest the petty and ignorant prejudices that have arisen throughout time. The only family that truly is important is the Family of God which all people can join through faith in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:14-17). Henry M. Morris writes the following comment in his study Bible:

“The 70 nations from Noah’s three sons are the progenitors of all other nations. . . These three streams of nations should not be interpreted as three races, however. The concept of race is not found in the Bible and is purely an evolutionist concept with no basis in either Scripture or true science. In evolutionary terminology, a race is a sub-species in the process of evolving into a new species, but the Bible speaks only of kinds. Where mankind is concerned, there are nations, tribes, tongues, peoples and families, but there are not races.” [14]

The world would be a much more united place if a Biblical perspective was maintained. In Christ we experience unity to its highest, or should we should. In Christ we can come close to God (John 15; 1 John 1:1-3, 7, and 9). And in Christ we can experience the unity of loving fellowship with other brothers and sisters in the Lord (Philippians 2:1ff.)

 

The Tower of Babel

Genesis 11:1-4- Now the whole earth had one language and one speech. 2 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. 3 Then they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they had asphalt for mortar. 4 And they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

The Tower of Babel is a sinful corruption of the unity God desired for humanity. It is a defiance of God’s call to spread over the earth and be fruitful and multiply. And the uniting of humanity at the Tower created a dangerous combustible situation where sinful natures were brought together in a way that compounded depravity.

 

The LORD had commanded “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28; 9:1). It is the later portion of that command (“fill the earth”) that was the focus of rebellion under the rebellious leadership of Nimrod. Up until the time of Babel people lived primarily a nomadic existence. They were united with “one language and one speech" (11:1). God gave language so that people could first communicate with Him and secondarily communicate with each other. It’s interesting that in the Bible God is seen to have spoken and called people to service while they were in the wilderness. Moses was in the wilderness when God called him (Exodus 3-4; Nehemiah 9:19). David was prepared and protected by God in the wilderness (1 Samuel 23; Psalm 55:6-7). Jesus was led into the wilderness by the Holy Spirit and went through a wilderness preparation in His ministry (Matthew 4).

 

Cities are not mentioned in such favorable a tone. God knew that human nature remained sinful and that once men began to come together in a city situation their sin would begin to compound.

There are some people who in a one on one individual basis are charming, but once put in a group are given to being led astray by the pack mentality. Like people caught up in a riot so were those at Babel; a religious riot against God.

 

Now who would lead this rebellion against God? We are told that Nimrod was the founder of Babel (10:10). It was Nimrod who must have brought the dispersed people to the “plain in the land of Shinar” where they dwelt (11:2). It was likely Nimrod who spearheaded the development of the technology of making bricks baked thoroughly and with asphalt to hold them together, larger, higher structures could be made. The use of asphalt, a water proofing agent, may also be a statement against possible future Floods (see below). This paved the way for Nimrod to proclaim his next rallying point, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (11:4). Here we see Nimrod’s appeal to the fleshly pride of people as well as open defiance of God’s command to spread out and multiply in the earth.

 

If Nimrod was to solidify his control over the people coercion would not be enough. He was a hunter of men and the terrorist of the day. He was technologically advanced leader for his day. But for his movement to really pick up steam he needed something more. First he would need a central headquarters or capitol, which the Tower of Babel (Babylon) served as. Second he would need a driving force, a rallying cry, an impetus to draw people to his cause. He would have to bring the people together with something that would draw them away from consideration of God and to himself. What might that be? The answer was a new way of thinking; a religious way of thinking. Nimrod was a violent man, a perverted man, a technologically advanced man, and ultimately he was a very religious man. No doubt Satan the tempter was behind this rebellion.

 

The Tower

 

The historian Josephus writes of Nimrod and the Tower of Babel:

Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God, as if it were through his means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness. He also gradually changed the government into tyranny­ seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence upon his own power. He also said he would be revenged on God, if he should have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would build a tower too high for the waters to be able to reach! and that he would avenge himself on God for destroying their forefathers! Now the multitude were very ready to follow the determination of Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God; and they built a tower, neither sparing any pains, nor being in any degree negligent about the work: and, by reason of the multitude of hands employed in it, it grew very  high, sooner than any one could expect; but the thickness of it was so great, and it was so strongly built, that thereby its great height seemed, upon the view, to be less than it really was. It was built of burnt brick, cemented together with mortar, made of bitumen, that it might not be liable to admit water.” [15]

 

What was the purpose of such a Tower? First, it was man’s attempt to guard defiantly against God bringing another Flood on the earth. If they could get high enough, the Flood waters couldn’t touch them. They even used a water proofing material in their building, i.e. asphalt (11:3). It was a statement of mistrust toward God who had promised to never again Flood the earth (8:20-22). Secondly, not only was this Tower a statement of mistrust toward God, it was a statement of trusting in people instead of God. Building the Tower was a symbol of human unity and strength; a way of defiantly saying to God, “We don’t need you!” The Tower was ultimately an alternative to worshipping the one true God.

 

But if Nimrod was to draw people away from worshipping God, they would need an alternative, a religious alternative. God had desired and called humanity to a relationship with Him. Originally God had put people in a luscious garden that He would walk in with them (Genesis 3:8). Sin ruined all of that but there was still the possibility for humanity to have a relationship with Him albeit less than what He originally intended. Abel and Noah found that place of worship before God. But now, Nimrod would put a wedge between humanity and God and that wedge was religion.

 

Perhaps Nimrod initially presented this Tower as a place to worship God and then gradually weaned people away from God; we’ll never completely know this side of heaven. But religion is man’s attempt to reach the heavens. Religion focuses on people and what they must do to be righteous. God’s desire is to relate to Him in faith (Genesis 15:6). Religion is works oriented. The Tower was a powerful source of attraction to draw people. To hold them there once they came, Nimrod would use religion.

 

What was this Tower? It was not merely a tower to reach to the heavens. It was more of an observatory for pagan priests to study the stars. The Tower of Babel was what is known as a ziggurat, an ancient structure found in various ancient cultures such as Egypt, Cambodia, Asia, Mexico (e.g. Incas), England (e.g. Stonehenge) and the American plains. Priest who observed the stars often used narcotics to “enhance” their perception into the spiritual realm.

                                 

At the top of these ziggurats an altar was placed where sacrifices were made. Human sacrifices were often made on these altars (e.g. Incas and king Cetequatal). The rituals of these pagan religions often included fertility themes characterized by the most base and pornographic practices. Prostitution was practiced to raise funds for the temples. Obelisks and Asherah poles were phallic symbols to show people where they could go to “worship.”

 

Romans 1:18-32 tells us that Gentile pagan religions denied God as Creator and instead worshipped animals and men. When we look at ancient pagan religions we find hybrid human-animal idols such as Dagon. From the Tower of Babel onward humanity started on a slippery slope of religious depravity.

                                                 

Nimrod’s Babylonian Religion

 

The religion of Babel is filled with fantasy and half truths and is referred to by scholars today as The Babylonians Mystery Religion.

 

What would was Nimrod’s religion like? The initial religion of Babel was as simple as worshipping astrologically the “host of heaven” (Deuteronomy 4:15-19). Planets and stars were believed to be moved and influenced by spirits and therefore were believed to control heavenly destiny. The Tower of Babel was what is called a ziggurat, a Tower made with a temple of sorts located on a platform at the highest point of the structure. From there pagan priests would study the stars and planets thinking that the movements of the heavenly spheres have a direct impact on the lives of people on earth. This continues to be the premise for modern day astrology.

 

Nimrod, went by another name, Marduk. Marduk was not a name revealed to the public by the priests of this false religious system. Instead other pseudononymous names were used to note different attributes of Marduk. Such names were:

ENKI The god of wisdom, incantations, and the deep waters of the oceans. This god was also called APSU, from which comes the name Poseidon.

ASTALLUHI The son of ENKI/APSU was the god of healing and exorcism. . . .

BEL/BAAL - This was the primary name by which other nations (including Israel) were introduced to the worship of Marduk. Baal means "lord" or "master". Under this name with many prefixes and suffixes he was worshiped by the Canaanites, Phoenicians, Syrians and to some extent by the Egyptians. Later, the Greeks associated him with Hercules under the name Melkarth which is a transliteration of Marduk. . . . .

NABUL/NEBO - The prophet. This god was the son of Marduk associated with prophecy received by singing, chanting and muttering (in "other tongues"); as well as oracles. He was the original of both Apollo (Nabul) and Hermes as the Greeks knew them. The names Nabul and Bel were the official names of Nimrod/Marduk in later periods and were popular in later periods among the ruling classes of Babylon as name elements as in NEBUchadnezzar and BELshazzar. [16]

In addition to thee various names there was a particular symbol used by Nimrod and his pseudononymous representatives. What was it? The snake.

Nimrod and the Serpent

Bryce Self in his article, Nimrod, Mars and the Marduk Connection points out that, “There is one common element to Nimrod/Marduk in all his manifestations and that is the symbol of the snake/serpent/dragon. Nimrod took the dragon as his personal emblem, so that from him spring various dragon myths and their special association with apocalyptic events. Strikingly the only favorable accounts of dragons are found among the Hamitic peoples of the world (like Nimrod) including the Ethiopians, Hittites, Chinese, Japanese and American Indian.” Choosing a serpent or dragon as one’s symbol points us to the one behind Nimrod/Marduk and the rise of the false Babylonian religious system, the serpent of old, Satan.

Semiramis the Concubine who Became a Queen

When we look at Babylonian religious history we see that Nimrod over time was able to grow in influence and collect a harem out of which one concubine rose up to favored status. Her name was Semiramis and she became a central figure in the Babylonian religious pantheon and was also known as Astarte, “Queen of Heaven.”  Nimrod eventually named her his queen. When Nimrod died Semiramis consolidated her power and moved to deify her deceased husband Nimrod as Marduk.

 

Semiramis was licentious and became pregnant. In order to cover up her promiscuity she concocted the tale that Nimrod had risen from the dead and fathered the child! All this while she remained a virgin! She named her son Tammuz who was exalted as a god-man on earth. It is believed that this story of Nimrod, Simiramis and Tammuz is the root of ancient myths and fertility religious cults. The root of religion is found in Babylon! In all ancient religions there is a type of fertility scenario involved. For instance in Egypt Tammuz is known as Osiris, in Greek and Roman literature he is known as Bacchus.

 

The tale of Tammuz involves the violent death of Tammuz while out hunting. Once dead, Tammuz goes to the abode of the dead. The other gods are horrified at this development and offer a ransom to the goddess of Hell for his release. The goddess of Hell agrees on one condition: everything on earth must weep for Tammuz to show that he is worthy of returning to earth. Ezekiel 8:14 makes mention of “weeping for Tammuz.”

 

Christmas and Easter Roots

To celebrate Tammuz’ and all he had experienced a holiday was established to commemorate his birth. On the eve of December 25th a “Yule” (i.e. “child”) log was placed on a fire to burn and cause the people to remember the death of Tammuz. On the morning of December 25th an evergreen tree was set up and decorated to commemorate the eternal life of Tammuz since the evergreen remains green throughout the season of the year. In the springtime to celebrate the return of Tammuz from the dead eggs were decorated (which were a symbol of fertility and life). This holiday was known as Astarte. If these two holidays sound familiar they should. The church assimilated these holidays into their calendar as Christmas and Easter and gave them Christian meaning under the guidance of the Roman Emperor Constantine. If one was to do a comparison between the religious practices of the Babylonian false religious system and the practices in certain parts of the church, one would be shocked to see there is a great deal in the “church” that has its roots in Babel.[17] One writer states further that, “As a note on the Babylonian mystery religion, the original cult of the mother and child, Semiramis and Tammuz, became later Isis and Osiris, Venus and Adonis, the madonna and child in various cultures down to this day.” [18] This all happened after 312 AD. None of these traditions or holidays can be supported by scripture.

 

Offering the Most Precious Gift to the Queen of Heaven

 

Semiramis is a figure that was passed on to various other cultures and is known as, Astarte, Ishtar, Aphrodite and Venus. She was a very wickedly licentious figure as seen in the practices that developed from her. One commentator writes of the Babylonian religious practices associated with her:

 

They also offered the most precious gifts they could devote: their virginity, chastity, and sense of modesty and shame . . . The pathways and steps of the temple were infested with women of all ages, offering themselves to passers by.

 

The Babylonians were not the only people to be sunk in this degrading sin. The whole world, all peoples, races, and lands, polluted themselves with it. From the Caspian Sea to the isles of Greece; from the mountains of Ararat to the deserts of Yemen and beyond. Every knee bowed to the goddess, every hand was stretched out to her imploringly; her name on every lip.

 

One of the hallowed fundamentals of the worship of Ishtar obliged every woman who believed in her and worshipped in her Temple, to give herself at least once in her life to a strange man. This obligation was universal without respect to age or rank. Every female worshipper had to sit in the sanctuary with veiled face and expose her nakedness to the lustful eyes of strange males. If a man halted in front of the woman and desired to have intercourse with her, he would, as a sign of his desire, place a piece of silver or some article of value in her bosom. The woman was then compelled to surrender to his lust. This gift was taken by the priests as an offering to the goddess Ishtar.

Besides this compulsory whoredom which was carried on by the priests of Ishtar, there were attached to the Temple permanent harlot votaries or kedeshot (viz: holy, sanctified to Ishtar for harlotry.) During the spring festival, when Ishtar descended into Sheol (made into a theatrical) to beg the shades to release Tammuz from the bonds of deathly slumber and send him back to earth to renew its fruitfulness and fertility, the kedeshot participated in the wildest orgies in the Temple in honor of the returning newborn Tammuz.” [19]

 

When we read through the Old and New Testaments we frequently encounter the battle of God’s people with sexual immorality and its temptations. The center of such temptation is very frequently pagan religion and their temple centers. God calls His people out of such sinful depths to a new life of holiness (1 Corinthians 6:9-10). Such depravity became so intense and prevalent and ingrained in people that in the Old Testament God had to wipe them out (Numbers 21:3; Deuteronomy 7:1-5, 16; Joshua 6:21).  God strictly forbid His people from indulging in such sinful practices (Exodus 34:13-17; Deuteronomy 12:1-4). He even allowed His own chosen people to go into captivity due to a great extent to their pagan worship of the Queen of Heaven (2 Chronicles 36:14-16; Jeremiah 39:8-10; 44:17, 19, 45; Amos 5:26-27). When we look around us in our world today we see the same kind of sexual and immoral depravity rising to new heights. Those who indulge such sin likely do not associate it with Nimrod or Babylon, but you can be sure that the snake, that serpent of old is involved.  A day is coming when God will once again cleanse the sin of Babylon from this world. Certainly we can look forward to the day when it comes to pass as it is said in Revelation:

·         Revelation 18:1-8 - After these things I saw another angel coming down from heaven, having great authority, and the earth was illuminated with his glory. 2 And he cried mightily with a loud voice, saying, “Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and has become a dwelling place of demons, a prison for every foul spirit, and a cage for every unclean and hated bird! 3 For all the nations have drunk of the wine of the wrath of her fornication, the kings of the earth have committed fornication with her, and the merchants of the earth have become rich through the abundance of her luxury.” 4 And I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues. 5 For her sins have reached to heaven, and God has remembered her iniquities. 6 Render to her just as she rendered to you, and repay her double according to her works; in the cup which she has mixed, mix double for her. 7 In the measure that she glorified herself and lived luxuriously, in the same measure give her torment and sorrow; for she says in her heart, ‘I sit as queen, and am no widow, and will not see sorrow.’ 8 Therefore her plagues will come in one day—death and mourning and famine. And she will be utterly burned with fire, for strong is the Lord God who judges her.

 

False Religion

 

The Tower of Babel is the root of false religious rebellion and a false system of religion. God never intended for people to relate to Him religiously. God’s plan is for people to have a personal relationship with Him. E.g. A Garden where He could walk and talk with Adam and Eve.

 

Sin separates humanity from God. Sin prevents us from having a personal relationship with God (Isaiah 59:1-2). Jesus came to make a way for us to have a personal relationship with God through Him (Ephesians 2:13; Romans 8:14-17; Hebrews 4:14-16; 10:19-25; 1 John 1:1-4).  

 

Religion is impersonal because it emphasizes human works which always come short (Romans 3:23). Religion erects barriers and obstacles that make reaching God more and more difficult. Religion focuses on human effort and therefore will always fall short of contact with God.

 

When we look at religious systems today we find some common characteristics and these characteristics all find their origins at the Tower of Babel. Remember, God is not looking for human religious efforts; He is looking for those who will give Him their hearts (2 Chronicles 16:9). There are seven characteristics of false religion.

 

First, false religion is characterized by ceremonialism (Isaiah 1:13; Mark 7:4; Acts 15:10; Colossians 2:20-23). When we look at the religions throughout history we find a great deal of emphasis on the mode of dress, ritual, and liturgy. The Babylonians religious system involved a complex array of priestly garbs and rituals as well as holiday practices. The garments of the priest in religions are very important. The altar used in religious practices is also very important. Ceremonialism brings pomp and circumstance whereas as God is looking for simplicity in relating to Him. God’s altars are to be simple and not made of cut stones by man (Exodus 20:22-26). God wants us to come before Him and focus on Him with no distractions. The Bible tells us to beware of false religious practices and worldly philosophy (Colossians 2:8).

 

Second, false religion is characterized by false profession (Psalm 78:36; Proverbs 26:23; Ezekiel 33:31-32; Mathew 7:21). False profession is any and all professions of alternatives to God as the one true God and only God. But furthermore, false religious systems are composed of mythological and fantasy notions of the spirit realm which constitute falsehoods rather than anything based on objective truth. Jesus calls people to be His disciples and abide in truth and that truth sets us free from the sin of false profession (John 8:31-36).

 

Third, false religion is characterized by legalism (Mark 2:24; Luke 6:2; 13:14; John 5:10). False religious systems are rigid in demanding adherence and submission to their rules, codes and laws. There is often a rigid requirement put on adherents to make sacrifices, sometimes human, to appease their god or gods. The Law of God was intended to expose the sinfulness of humanity so that they would come in faith to Him (Romans 7:1-4; Galatians 3:10-13; 1 Timothy 1:8-11).

 

Fourth, false religion is characterized by religious pride (Isaiah 58:2; 65:5; Jeremiah 2:35; Matthew 6:5). The Babylonian false system of religion was steeped in pride. In the ancient world when two nations or kingdoms made war against one another, their gods were also seen as being at war. The victor of the war felt proudly that their god had come through and demonstrated themselves as more powerful and superior to the god of the defeated foe. Today when a person takes pride in a religious system they are following in this way. The Bible says God is opposed to the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5-6).

 

Fifth, false religion is characterized by hypocrisy (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 23:23; Romans 2:21). Because a religious system depends on human strength it is bound to fail. When people in religions fail to keep their religious laws, to save face they live a lie and present themselves as something they are not. That is the characteristic of a false religious system. Jesus had a lot to say about hypocrites (Matthew 23). We are to be honest with one another speaking the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).

 

Sixth, false religion is characterized by judgmentalism (Romans 2:1).Those who live hypocritically in a false religious system seek to feel better about themselves by judging others as less devote as they are. If they can put down someone else as less “spiritual” or less devote then they can think Well at least I’m not as bad as that person. False religion therefore leads to harshness and a lack of love toward fellow adherents and those outside the religion. Jesus said we should not judge others before we honestly judge ourselves (Matthew 7:1f.). Any judgment done as a Christian should be done for the sake of abiding by God’s truth and edifying another (Galatians 6:1; Jude 3-4).

 

Seventh, false religion is characterized by selfishness (James 2:15-16; 1 John 3:17). Since religion focuses on what can be done or has to be done by people to make them religiously acceptable, the focus is put on people rather than on God. This creates a futile downward spiral as failure after failure develops. Either a person will be come deeply depressed or adopt an attitude that rationalizes away their reality of not living up to their false religious system. It’s also usually a person who is religious who does things to bring attention to themselves because in such a false religious system or way of thinking they can disregard modesty and exalt self. Jesus said you have to deny your self, put it up on the cross and leave it behind as you follow Him (Luke 9:24-26).

 

Christianity is not religious. Religion involves people working their way to heaven. Christianity is God reaching down through Christ to lift people up to heaven. Religion focuses on people’s imperfect efforts and therefore is doomed to frustrate and fail. Christianity is based on the perfect work of Jesus Christ and therefore will never fail. Religion is based on laws.  Christianity is based on grace. Religion produces guilt and enslavement. Christianity produces fruit and freedom. The foundation of religion is human work and its command is, “do!” The foundation of Christianity is the work of the God-man Jesus who says, “done!” (Genesis 15:6; Ephesians 2:1-10)

 

The Babylonians Influence Today

 

Henry M. Morris in his book The Long War Against God[20] states the following about the historical influence of Nimrod’s religion of Babel:

 

The remarkable complex of astrology, spiritism, mythology, polytheistic idolatry, and evolutionary pantheism has been variously masked in pseudo-scientific verbiage and humanistic speculation (something for every taste!), which marked the ancient religions as well as modern evolutionary scientism. This worldview could never have been devised by men alone, not even such powerful men as Nimrod and his followers. The supernatural hold that this system has maintained over multitudes through the ages surely implies nothing less than a supernatural origin.

 

Somehow, in connection with the building of that first pagan temple at the peak of Babel’s Tower, Satan and his powers of darkness must have communicated these occultic revelations to Nimrod, setting the first great post-Flood rebellion against God under way. That rebellion was interrupted for a time by the Babel judgment, but it continues today world-wide, stronger than ever in history.”

 

The account of the Tower of Babel and the role of Nimrod in that rebellion and how God dealt with it foreshadows future End Times events. This is aptly conveyed in the words of one commentator who observes:

 

 

God’s word is magnificent and He has given it to us so that we can learn from the past and be warned of things to take place in the future. We need to come before the Lord to see if there is any evil unbelief and rebellion in any part of our being, to see if there be any Nimrod in us (cf. Psalm 139:23-24). Deception and false religion is what we will be faced with more and more as the end of days approaches (1 Timothy 4:1-2). And if there is we need to repent and surrender to Him as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1-2).

 

God’s Ultimate Response to the Tower of Babel and Babylon

Genesis 11:5-9- 5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city. 9 Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

When it says the Lord came down we have a typological reference to the Lord coming down to earth in Christ (John 1:14; 2 Corinthians 5:19). God was, is and always will be involved and invested in His creation. To this manmade rebellious religious alternative the Triune God would put a halt. If they rebelled against Him in this way, there was a very real danger their rebellion and sin would match the depravity of the pre Flood world and lead to another world wide judgment of God. Truly God said, “now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them” (11:6). Overcoming this rebellion was no big deal for the Lord. He merely had a conversation within the God Head (i.e. “Us”) and implemented His sovereign plan.

 

God’s answer was to confuse and diversify the language of humanity (11:7). “Babel” is a word that was coined to remind the world of the confusion and rebellion orchestrated at this historic event. God forcibly scattered the people abroad and stopped their city building (11:8). And to commemorate this event the city was named Babel (11:9). But God would not leave humanity in their state of disunity even though they had corrupted it. No, a time would come when God would bring people together again. This unity would come by His grace through faith in His only Son Jesus. Jesus the way, truth and life is the only way to experience true unity (John 14:6; 15). The day of unity would come when God, after atoning for sin at the cross, would then pour out His Holy Spirit on those who put their faith in Him. It’s at Pentecost that this disunity would begin to be healed and it is through the power of the Spirit that we can overcome the sins of Babylon (Acts 1:8; 2; Romans 8:26; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Titus 3:4-7). Will you pray and ask God to root out any Babylonian traits in your heart and mind?

 

 

 

 



[1] http://www.enduringword.com/commentaries/0110.htm

[2] Nimrod and the Tower of Babel by Arthur W. Pink found at  http://www.fbinstitute.com/genesis-pink/genesis_16.htm

 

[3] Henry M. Morris annotation in The New Defender’s Study Bible (Nashville, TN: World Pub. 1995) page 46.

[4] David Gudzik in Enduring Word Commentary of Genesis (Simi Valley, CA: Enduring Word Media, 1998) page 81.

[5] Chuck Smith, The Word for Today Bible Study tape #7006 Genesis 9-10. Word For Today Box 8000, Costa Mesa, CA 92628. www.thewordfortoday.org 

[6] David Pl Livingston, Who Was Nimrod? At http://www.ancientdays.net/nimrod.htm

[7]Walvoord, J. F., Zuck, R. B., & Dallas Theological Seminary. (1983-c1985). The Bible knowledge commentary : An exposition of the scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

[8]Clarke, A. (1999). Clarke's Commentary: Genesis (electronic ed.). Logos Library System; Clarke's Commentaries (Ge 10:8). Albany, OR: Ages Software.

[9] Ibid. Gudzik quoting Ginzberg on page 82.

[10] Ibid. David P. Livingston at http://www.ancientdays.net/nimrod.htm

[11] Ibid. David P. Livingston at http://www.ancientdays.net/nimrod.htm

[12] Quoted by Steve Gallagher in Intoxicated with Babylon (Dry Ridge, KY: Pure Life Ministries, 1996) page 35.

[13] Ibid. Arthur Pink in Nimrod and the Tower of Babel

[14] Ibid. Henry M. Morris, page 49.

[15] Josephus, The Works of Josephus, vol. 2, Baker Book House, 1974, pgs 79-80.

[16] Bryce Self in Nimrod, Mars and the Marduk Connection  at http://www.ldolphin.org/Nimrod.html

[17] See Alexander Hislop’s book The Two Babylons, Loizeaux Brothers Publishers, Neptune, NJ, 1916.

[18] Ibid. Bryce Self in Nimrod, Mars and the Marduk Connection  

[19] Rex Andrews, Meditations in Revelation, the Zion Faith Homes, 2820 Eshcol Ave., Zion, IL, 60099, 1991, page 75.

[20]  (Baker Book House: Grand Rapids MI, 1989. page 257

[21] Ibid. Arthur Pink in Nimrod and the Tower of Babel.