googlef87758e9b6df9bec.html A Sure Word: Genesis 11: The Tower of Babel

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Genesis 11: The Tower of Babel

“And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.” (Genesis 11:6-7)

For those not familiar with the account of the Tower of Babel, you can read the entire passage here. I’ve often wondered about the builders of the Tower of Babel. I can understand why they built the Tower; but have you ever wondered why they chose a tower? A possible answer dawned on me a while back and I thought I’d share my theory here.

The people at the Tower of Babel were the descendants of Noah who lived around 100 years after the Flood. Remember that, before the Flood and even for a short while afterward, people lived extraordinarily long lives. Noah, for example, lived 350 years after the flood (Genesis 9:28). So Noah and his children who were on the Ark were still alive at the Tower of Babel.

When Noah got off the Ark, God commanded him to “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 9:1). It was not God’s plan for everyone to stay in one place but to spread out all over the earth.

However, the descendants of Noah immediately rebelled and decided they did not want to be scattered. They said this overtly, “And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4). So the why is easy – they did not want to be spread out on the earth. But still, why a tower?

Some people have said they were trying to create their own way to Heaven since the verse says, “let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven.” However, I doubt the ancients could have believed such a task was possible. In that passage, “heaven” most likely means “sky.” So, it was there intent to build a tower that reached to the sky.

Here then is my theory: It is my belief the people wanted to build a tall tower so they could escape the judgment of God if He decided to flood the world again because of their rebellion.

God had promised to never destroy the world again by flood (Genesis 9:11). Rather, He foiled their plans by confounding the languages. The divine intervention forced them to disperse since they could no longer communicate or work together. They thought they could rebel and escape God's judgment but they were wrong.

Today, people are still rebelling. And like then, people still think they can rebel against God and escape His judgment. Galations gives us a stern warning about this attitude, "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."


Anonymous said...

This is exactly what Josephus said regarding the Tower or Babel. The flood was still fresh in the minds of the people, and they wanted to build something tall enough to escape another flood. Foolish considering how the flood altered the world creating the physical features (mountains, canyons, oceans) we have today. A little brick tower would be pointless. Not to mention God's promise never to repeat it.

RKBentley said...

Thanks for your comments. I wrote this post 5 years ago and I still believe there is some merit in the argument that the tower was built to stand against God's judgment. However, I've backed off this position a little. If they had intended to build the tower to escape a possible second flood, why would they build the tower on a plain instead of on a mountain?

We know they rebelled. Why they chose a tower as a symbol of their city is still up for debate.

Thanks again for your comments. God bless!!