Dr. Jack L. Arnold Equipping
Pastors International Genesis
The Tower Of Babel
A. In chapter 10, a record of the migrating of different
peoples from Japheth, Ham and Shem was given, and it would be only natural to
give some explanation of the great variety of different languages and dialects
that are found in the world and how these languages originated.
B. Many scholars think that Genesis 11:1-9 actually precedes
the scattering of peoples in Genesis 10. Genesis 10 tells us what and
Genesis 11 tells us why.
II. THE RELIGION BEHIND THE TOWER OF BABEL 11:1-4
A. “And the whole earth was of one language, and of one
speech.” In the new beginning after the Flood, there was a unity among all
the people of the earth. They all spoke the same language. NOTE. Perhaps this event took place around
150 years after the Flood. The Hebrew scholar Keil estimates that the
population was about 30,000. Figuring from Noah’s three sons, he calculated
eight children to each family in every generation at 30-35 year intervals.
B. “... journeyed from the east,
that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.” The
key to this section is found in the words “in the land of Shinar” for this
immediately takes us back to Genesis 10:8-10 where it talks about Nimrod who
settled in the area of Shinar (Babylon). Apparently he was a demon- possessed
tyrant who made the first attempt to unify the total population of the earth
into a political entity. He did this by uniting the people, who already spoke
the same language, into a religious unity. Nimrod set up a rival religion to
the one true God. Nimrod, which means “rebel” was the arch-apostate of the
1. Nimrod’s History. The beginning of Nimrod’s kingdom was
Babel or Babylon (10:10). Babel had as its original meaning “gate of God.”
Nimrod was running from God and he went to Babylon to remove himself not only
from the fact of God’s revelation but the place of revelation. Nimrod was going
to build a false religious system that would be the new gate or approach
to God. According to Genesis 11, it was in Shinar (Babylon) that the Tower of
Babel was built, for he was going to build a tower by his own works that would
reach God. It was a substitute for
the one true religion. NOTE. Babel
introduced the first organized idolatrous religious system in the history
of the world. Babylonians did not
want God at the center of their system. They wanted idolatry and set up a
system opposed to God.
2. Nimrod’s Religion. Secular history shows that Nimrod
married a girl named Semerimus. Semerimus became the high priestess of the
Babylonian mysteries, which consisted of sacred religious rites
which were developed as a part of the worship of idols in Babylon. The
revelation of the true God was carried in those days by oral tradition, and
Semerimus, even though a rejecter of God, knew God’s promise of Genesis 3:15 to
send Messiah through woman’s seed, and Semerimus set out to corrupt and
counterfeit God’s promise. According to extra biblical records, Semerimus bore
a son Tammuz, and claimed that he was the fulfillment of Genesis 3:15, being
conceived in a miraculous way. Tammuz was considered a savior of his people and
was, in effect, a false messiah, purported to be the fulfillment of the promise to Eve. The symbol of this apostate religion of Semerimus
and Tammuz was a figure of a mother holding a child in her arms. It was the
mother-child cult. The basic teachings of this cult are as follows:
a. Semerimus set herself as a way of
approach to God, and one had to go through Semerimus to God.
b. Because of the miraculously born child
she held in her arms, Semerimus felt she could give life. She called herself
the Queen of Heaven (cf. Jer. 44; Ezk. 8).
c. She taught that salvation was by good
works and by the sacraments of water and ceremonial cleansing.
taught that there was ultimate cleansing after death in a place she called
e. She established an order of virgins
dedicated to religious prostitution, and there was an earthly male priesthood
to further the mother-child cult.
f. She taught that her
child was killed by a wild beast, but after 40 days of fasting, Tammuz
was resurrected from the dead. Tammuz’s resurrection was celebrated each year
by 40 days of lent (sacrifice) and there was a big feast. This feast was called
the Feast of Ishtar. The egg was set aside as sacred to Tammuz, which was
exchanged on the Feast of Ishtar as the symbol of life out of death. These were
called Ishtar eggs.
g. The evergreen tree, the symbol of life,
was made the symbol of Tammuz; and it was prominently displayed in mid-winter
in the month of December, the supposed birthday of Tammuz.
h. She taught that relics, images, holy
water, lamps and wax candles were all part of the worship of the mystery cult.
i. The Queen of Heaven was worshipped by
offering a round cake that was marked by the letter “T” which in Babylonian,
and later in the Phoenician, alphabet was an “X”. These crossed buns or cakes
were offered to Tammuz and Semerimus at the Feast of Ishtar. The second symbol
of the mother-child cult was a cross like a “T”.
3. The Spread of Nimrod’s Religion. Nimrod’s religion spread throughout the
ancient nations, the names may have been changed but the characters and worship
were essentially the same. The mother-child cult spread to Phoenicia and the
characters were called Ashteroth and Tammuz. Here the worship of the sun
was added and all was done under the worship of Baal. In Egypt, the characters
were called Isis and Hornus. In Greece they were called Aphrodite and Eros and
in Rome they were named Venus and Cupid. In India the Hindus have Ushas and
Vishnu. NOTE: The cult has also
crept into Christianity and forms the basis for the Mariolatry that has
prevailed in the Roman Catholic Church, where the Mother and Child are
worshipped as joint redeemers, NOTE.
The final form of world religion will be a revived form of Nimrod’s
religion, which began in Babylon (Rev. 17). This is why that final form of
religion is called, “MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND
ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.” Just as this early anti-God union centered in
Babylon the final anti-God movement will center in a Babylon system of greater
C. “... Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly.
And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.” These early
people were ingenious, for they learned how to fire brick and use some kind of
tar or pitch for mortar. NOTE.
Nimrod was a Hamite and the Hamites were the technicians of humanity,
technologically gifted people,
D. “And they said, Go to, let us build a city and a tower,
whose top may reach into heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be
scattered abroad upon the face of the world earth.”
1. A City. Man, seeking unity and power, sees the
way to do it is to have a city. This was to be a big population center where
political power could be manipulated. This city was organized in order not to
obey God, for God had told men to scatter over the earth and populate it (Gen.
9:1). This verse tells us that they refused to scatter (11:4) and they
were acting in defiance of God Himself.
2. A Tower. They built this tower as the basis for
a new religion and a rallying point for the population of that city. The word “tower”
is a word that can mean ziggurat, which means “pinnacle” or “mountain top.”
At Babel, the first ziggurat was built and it was a symbol of the whole
anti-God religion of these early Babylonians (Sumerians). NOTE. No one as yet, can definitely
pinpoint through archeology the Tower of Babel, but there are other ziggurats,
which have been discovered which many scholars feel were patterned after the
original Tower of Babel. One such temple is that of Nebo at Borsippa usually
called Birs Nimrud. This tower has
seven stages, each stage of a different color. Beginning at the bottom, the
first stage was black (for Saturn), the second brownish red (for Jupiter), the
third rose red (for Mars), the fourth golden (for the sun), the fifth whitish
yellow (for Venus), the sixth dark blue (for Mercury), and the seventh silver
(for the moon). At the top was a lofty tower, which contained the signs of the
zodiac and other astrological figures. Also in the top stage the shrine and
image of the city’s patron deity were housed. NOTE. From these ziggurats, we discover that astrology was also a
part of this first apostate religion. Priests would gaze at the stars from the
top of these towers. Hal Lindsey comments,
The origin of astrology was described in what may have
been among the first writing known to man, a form of hieroglyphics devised by
the ancient race of the Chaldeans who began to give the stars certain meanings.
They divided the heavens into the twelve sections of the Zodiac and said that
the stars control the destiny of men. This religion started to flourish and
have its greatest glory of history in the Babylonian Empire, which was
primarily made up of the priestly cast of the Chaldean people (The Late
Great Planet Earth).
3. Name. This city, tower and religion were built to exalt man and
not to glorify God. This whole system was built on humanism and left God out of
the picture. It was a false, substitute religion that was counterfeit for the
one true religion.
III. THE REASON FOR THE CONFUSION OF TONGUES
A. “And the Lord came down to see the tower, which the
children of men builded.” This is an anthropomorphic expression for God
knew all the time what was happening. But it does convey the thought that God
stands amazed at the apostasy of men.
B. “... and now nothing will be
restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.” God had to stop them
in their apostasy or there would be no limit to the evil they might do.
RESULT OF THE TOWER OF BABEL 11:7-9
A. “Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language. . .” The
Lord judges by giving them various languages, so now they are forced to break
off from one another and form different groups by language.
B. “So the Lord scattered them abroad.
. .” God did not want
one religious and political unity headed up by a dictator. This passage seems
to indicate that God’s plan for the world until the Prince of Peace returns is
not an international one-world government, but nationalism. NOTE. The future anti-Christ or world
dictator will come to power through this one world religious system that is to
come to the earth (Lev. 17-18).