Troublesome Topic: ADVANCED TECH, BABEL, AND THE DISPERSION

Genesis 11:1

Translation

Now all the earth was of one lip

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and [the] words [of it were] one.

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Paraphrase

At that time all humans in the world spoke the same language; they could understand each other’s words.

Genesis 11:2

Translation

It came about that, as they journeyed

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toward the East

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they found a level valley in the land of SHINAR

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and they dwelled there.

Paraphrase

It so happened that, as they migrated looking for the perfect spot that would sustain life, they thought they had found it when they came to a certain level valley in the land of CONFUSION, so they settled there.

If we take “the East” literally, it means that they first traveled Southwest toward the Mediterranean Sea, then East to Shinar. If we take it symbolically, it means they were looking for the perfect place that would sustain life. Either one is possible.

How do you get lots of people to agree to stay together?  How does a leader convince everyone, without exception, to follow his ideas? With force and intimidation? Yes. Did Nimrod also establish public schools to indoctrinate young minds? Possibly. Did he take control of the media in order to manipulate the flow of information and news? Possibly.

Genesis 11:3

Translation

Then a man said to his fellow man, “Come, let us whiten whites,

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and let us burn them through burning.” Thus, they had to them white for stone and bitumen slime for mortar.

Paraphrase

Then each man spoke to his neighbor (repeating the words of their great leader who had convinced them to say these things), “Come, let’s use the white clay that is prevalent here and make bricks and bake them in huge ovens instead of in the sun.” By doing this they provided themselves with bricks which served in place of stones for building. However, bricks require mortar, so they used bitumen slime for that.

“Let us whiten whites” is kind of like saying, “Let’s make white stuff out of white stuff.” Context must indicate what kind of white stuff is being used and what the final product will be, although we can be sure it will be white. In this passage the only meaning that fits the context is that of making bricks because the topic is a large construction project and it was a white clay that they used in that region to make bricks. Therefore, as it is used here, the clause means “Let us brick bricks.” This type of repetition was used for emphasis to indicate the scale or difficulty of the task. The same repetitive emphasis is used in the next clause, “let us burn them through burning.”

Genesis 11:4

Translation

Then a man said to his fellow man “Come, let us make a city for ourselves and a tower and the head of it is in the heavens.

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And let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered over the face of the earth.

Paraphrase

Then each man spoke to his neighbor (repeating the words of their great leader who had convinced them to say these things), “Come, let’s build a city for ourselves including a tower, the top of which will be the primary access from earth to heaven and heaven to earth. In this way we will become important and everyone on earth will need us. It will also keep us from being scattered [which would compromise our strength and capabilities].

Nimrod would never concede control or authority to anyone else. He knew that others practiced the ancient, in my opinion, pre-flood, construction method of building with large stones. This construction method is called Megalithic construction- megalithic means “big stones.” Therefore, Nimrod came up with a different way to build, using bricks fired in a kiln. I believe he purposefully chose to settle in a location where there was clay for making bricks, but no stones to quarry. It also seemed suitable in other ways as well. This place was called Shinar. Nimrod convinced people to do it his way rather than using stones. Notice the text says they had “whites,” meaning bricks from white clay, in place of stones. That tells me that building with stones was the standard method and had been carried over from before the flood. One irony in this is that Nimrod’s bricks were inferior to megalithic construction, and therefore, the tower of Babel did not survive in tact while some other ancient structures have survived.

It was thought that a high place is what connects man to the gods and the place where the gods descend to the earth. It was the access point to heaven. By building a great tower, Nimrod was trying to control the people’s access to the gods. About their plans the Creator God said, “nothing will be impossible for them” (Gen 11:5). He may have meant, “I have made them so capable that the leaders will be able to convince everyone that they (the leaders) can control access to the gods.” 

Shinar became Babylon (from the word Babel). In the Babylonian language, Babylon meant “gateway of the gods” – this shows the tower of Babel was intended as a high place, a gateway for man to go to the gods and for the gods to come to earth. But the Hebrews refused to acknowledge Babylon as the access to God, so for a Jew the meaning of Babylon is “confusion” because that was the result of Babel.

Because obelisks point to the sky, were always dedicated to a specific god, and also had the name of at least one king inscribed on them, I understand them to be a version of a high place. In essence, an ancient obelisk was saying, “this king served or serves as a gateway to this specific god.”

THE QUASI-JUDGMENT FROM GOD AT BABEL

In the tower of Babel incident, God did not judge them by destroying them, rather He limited their abilities by separating them with language barriers that He thrust upon them. At that point people finally began to go their separate ways. Some even travelled by boat to faraway lands, following the instructions of the sons of Javan, or hiring them to pilot their ships.

CONLCUSION #2 

The people directly after the flood were very intelligent but they became self-absorbed, self-sufficient, arrogant, godless, uncaring and brutal, therefore God limited their ability by separating them according to language. The one who wanted to forcibly control the world, probably Nimrod, could no longer do so.

The next lesson in this study on Advanced Technology in Ancient times is ADVANCED TECH WAS USED BY THE FOUNDER OF EGYPT

Footnotes

1

This word means “edge, bank, shore, brim, brink, border, lip.” By extension of lip, it was also used of “speech or language.”

2

This is a plural form of the word “one.” How could they have a plural for “one”? Among its uses was the idea of “similar.”

3

The antecedent of “journeyed,” meaning the people referred to by the third person plural “they,” is in the previous verse, and is “all the earth.” The logical conclusion is that there had not been any scattering of people yet, and that every human on the planet was involved in the tower of Babel incident.

4

The word “East” was highly symbolic because it was the place where the sun rose. Therefore, it represented life, the light that gives life, and the origin of everything that is necessary for life. Context must tell us when it is being used as symbolism, and when it is both literal and symbolic. The geographic realities involved here were the following: Noah and his descendants had left the mountains of Ararat and most, or all of them headed Eastish toward Shinar, which is a synonym for Babylon. The way this phrase is written, a literal translation focusing on physical realities can render this word “toward the East” or “from the East.” In a geographic sense, “toward the East” makes most sense because most scholars think the mountains of Ararat are in Turkey, to the West or Northwest of Babylon. This use of the word “East” also seems to make a symbolic meaning plausible. As such it would mean that they were looking for the perfect situation to sustain life with as little hardship as possible. Life after the flood was rough because the aftermath of the world-wide flood was quite violent. They thought they found a good place for life when they reached Shinar.

5

The name Shinar is most likely of foreign origin and its meaning unknown to us. The important thing here is the meaning ascribed to it by people who came along much later. The people of Nimrod’s time did not know that this area would become known as Babylon, a place of “confusion” and a “gateway for the gods” (those are the meanings of Babylon). They simply thought they had found a suitable location. But those to read it much later would hear anything associated with Babylon and think of Babel, which to the Hebrews meant “Confusion.”

6: "whiten whites"

The first word used here usually means “to whiten.” The second word in this clause is “white.” Thus, the clause is literally, “Let us whiten some whites.” However, the context is that of building a tower, and we are told that it was a white clay that they used in that region to make bricks. Therefore, as it is used here, the clause should mean “Let us brick bricks.” This type of repetition was used for some type of emphasis including to indicate the scale or difficulty of the task. The same repetitive emphasis is used in the next clause, “let us burn them through burning.”

7

The tower would be seen as an access point to the gods because it was a high place.