When both have only human appetites, then rogues may worship rogues Miller Unlike the modern interpretations, which suggest that there was no offense and that YHWH, acting in grace, prevented offense from occurring, we would suggest that the offense was not prevented, but rather delayed and isolated by YHWH's action. By confusing the languages, God made cooperation impossible; therefore, scattering could no longer be prevented. Thus the urbanization process was delayed. We cannot deny the possibility that this account was understood by the Israelites as being pregnant with political implications.
Its main intent, though, we would argue, would seem to be not political polemic, nor even the account of yet another offense. Rather, the account demonstrates the need for God to reveal himself to the world. The concept of God had been corrupted and distorted; this would require an extensive program of reeducation to correct. So it was that God chose Abraham and his family and made a covenant with them. The covenant would serve as the mechanism by which God would reveal himself to the world through Israel. As is evident from the above, I believe that the account of Genesis 11 has a solid historical foundation in early Mesopotamia.
The details are authentic and realistic. The identification of the urbanization process and the accompanying development of the ziggurat with fundamental changes in the religious perspectives of the people demonstrates the keen analytical insight of the Biblical author. Is it possible to suggest a particular historical period as the background of the event recounted in this narrative? First, a review of the pertinent information:. Development of Ziggurat: Early Dynastic Period, ca.
First, in the Biblical account the tower of Babel is presented as a failed prototype. The result of God's action against the builders was to delay the development of urbanization in Mesopotamia. Consequently, it would be logical to infer that the event recorded in Genesis 11 occurred perhaps centuries prior to the actual development of urbanization as attested by archaeological records. Second, development of institutions may have taken place prior to the Early Dynastic period, but written records are not available to inform us of those developments.
Writing developed in the Late Uruk period, but is limited to basic economical use for some time. Besides the archaeological information that has been discussed, we must also consider that the account must have support from our understanding of the history of linguistic development and from settlement patterns in Mesopotamia. Taking all of this information into account, the Ubaid period is most intriguing. Ubaid is a site in southern Mesopotamia just northwest of Ur. The Ubaid period witnesses the first settlements in southern Mesopotamia, with many of the sites being built on virgin soil Finegan 8.
The sites in the northern section of Mesopotamia that attest the earlier settlements e. This pattern suggests that the Ubaid period witnessed the initial migration from the north into southern Mesopotamia, in notable agreement with Genesis Nissen has described the developments of this period in southern Mesopotamia and suggested a cause for the events:. A prolonged period in which only very scattered individual settlements existed was suddenly followed by a phase in which the land was clearly so densely settled that nothing like it had been seen even in the Susiana of the previous period.
With the help of information from the Meteor research project, an explanation for this development in Babylonia is now possible. The land, which had been unsuitable for settlement owing to the high sea level in the Gulf or the large amount of water in the rivers, had at first supported only a few island sites, but from the moment the waters began to recede it was open to much more extensive habitation The results of studies of the ancient climate and of the changes in the amount of water in the Mesopotamian river system and in the Gulf… now present us with a clearer picture of the developments in southern Babylonia.
The climatic changes documented for the middle of the fourth millennium seem, within a space of two to three hundred years, to have stemmed the floods that regularly covered large tracts of land and to have drained such large areas that in a relatively short period of time large parts of Babylonia, particularly throughout the south, became attractive for new permanent settlements Both architecture and pottery of the period show similarity to that found at earlier northern sites CAH3 I, 1: , , Archaeologists have observed that the most striking characteristic of the Ubaid period is its uniformity.
Mellaart comments:. Never before had a single culture been able to influence such a vast area, if only superficially. The pottery distribution, in spite of minor variations, is fairly uniform The principal site of the Ubaid period is Eridu. It appears to have had a town wall even in its earliest periods CAH3 I, 1: Levels feature temples, though none approach very closely the ziggurat architectural development. The patron deity of Eridu in the Sumerian periods was Enki, the crafty god, known for his association with the arts of civilization and for his many sexual encounters cf. Kramer and Maier The mention of baked brick technology directs our primary attention to the periods coming after the Ubaid period, but Genesis 11 may span these periods.
In Genesis a group of people is identified as having traveled to the plain of Shinar to settle. In this scenario, a large group of Semites migrated southeast and settled in Sumer. The text would not demand that even all the Semites were there. The span of time that the text covers is not mentioned.
It is possible that the migration should be understood as having taken place in the Ubaid period, during which southern Mesopotamia began to be settled. Then the decision to undertake the project may have come toward the end of the fourth millennium, perhaps during the Late Uruk period, or perhaps as late as the Jamdet Nasr period, when we actually have the beginning of baked brick technology.
The project would then result in different Semitic? Whatever the case may be, it resulted in the people being scattered throughout the fertile crescent. This scenario would not require that all language groups were formed at this time or that all the languages were represented there. But from that beginning, urbanization in southern Mesopotamia was initiated, including the development of ziggurat architecture and the full development of the Mesopotamian religious system that it represented.
It is interesting to note that archaeological evidence shows a clear dissemination of Babylonian culture throughout the ancient Near East at the end of the Late Uruk period and into the Jamdet Nasr period. This is particularly evident in the Zagros area and in Syria. Nissen says,. In a completely independent local development, individual settlements were founded that are absolutely identical with what we know from Babylonia and Susiana, down to the last pottery sherd in the inventory.
If, in addition, we consider that these alien types of settlement were all either directly on the Euphrates or on its tributaries, there seems to be a relatively simple explanation for the whole situation. We are most probably dealing here with settlements of people who came there directly from the southern lowland plains ; cf. Furthermore, it is evident that this influence did not last for long but quickly was subsumed by the local cultures.
The Habuba settlement in Syria, for instance, hardly survived more than 50 years Nissen , It is difficult to bring archaeological or historical information to bear on the question of whether the city Babylon was actually the site of this occurrence or whether it was the outstanding example of that system.
The Tower of Babel Panel
Excavation at Babylon cannot inform us of its history prior to the second millennium, because the shifting water table of the Euphrates has obliterated the strata Saggs Historical records do not mention Babylon prior to meager references in the Ur III period, and a year date formula of Sarkalisarri during the dynasty of Akkad Gelb If it was the site of the event recorded in Genesis 11 , it seems to have been abandoned for over a millennium before it was again occupied. Author: John H. Walton, reprinted by permission from Bulletin for Biblical Research 5 : Supplied by Associates for Biblical Research.
Net users generous rights for putting this page to work in their homes, personal witnessing, churches and schools. Is there archaeological evidence of the Tower of Babel? The base of the Tower of Babel. Artist reconstruction of a ziggurat pyramid in Babylon.
The Tower of Babel
Illustration by Paul S. Copyright, Films for Christ. All rights reserved. Read the story of the Tower of Babel. Ziggurats Nearly 30 ziggurats in the area of Mesopotamia have been discovered by archaeologists. Origin The structure at Eridu, the earliest structure that some designate a ziggurat, is dated in its earliest level to the Ubaid period Oates comments, Convention clearly demanded that the ruins of one shrine should be preserved beneath the foundations of its successor, a practice that probably explains the appearance of the high terraces on which some of the latest prehistoric temples stood, and which may be forerunners of later times Mallowan remarks, The so-called ziggurat or temple tower on which it [the white temple] was set had risen gradually in the course of more than a millennium, for in fact beneath the white Temple the tower incorporated within it a series of much earlier sanctuaries which after serving their time had been filled solid with brickwork and became terraces for later constructions Crawford concedes that… …there can now be little doubt that some sort of staged tower does go back to the Early Dynastic period, although there is no evidence for an earlier occurrence The clearest evidence of this is at Ur.
There… …the Early Dynastic ziggurat is completely engulfed by that of Ur-Nammu, but its existence can be safely deduced from the remains of the period in the surrounding courtyard area Crawford Function There have been many different suggestions concerning the function of a ziggurat, and the issue is far from settled. Childs presents a brief summary of some of the major opinions: The older view that the ziggurat was a representation of a mountain, brought from the mountainous homeland of the Sumerians to Babylon , has been shown as only a secondary motif by recent investigation.
Dumuzi -? Enegi We may now attempt to categorize the names with the hope of finding some clues about the function of ziggurats. Two of the ziggurats are named for the god 8, 14; probably also 2. Two names feature mountain terminology 4, Six names seem to address the role or function of the ziggurat 1, 7, 10, 11, 15, Pallis remarks… Anyone who has perused the whole of the material is struck by the remarkable fact that Etemenanki [the fabulous ziggurat of Babylon] is nowhere mentioned in the description of the course of the [ akitu ] festival though numerous other sacred localities in Babylon are referred to.
Although the function of the ziggurat cannot be identified with certainty, our study of the names, the use of the simmiltu in mythology, the use of mountain terminology, and the lack of reference to a function in the cultic practice of the people, leads us to put forth tentatively, as a working hypothesis, the following suggested function: The ziggurat was a structure that was built to support the stairway simmiltu , which was believed to be used by the gods to travel from one realm to the other. Building Materials Discussion of the building materials occupies the whole of Genesis Bitumen of any grade was an expensive item Forbes , as Singer notes: Being expensive, it was seldom used for walls of sun-dried bricks …except to make the walls and floors of such buildings impervious to water.
Thus Hilprecht notes… The temple complex of Nippur, with the dwellings of numerous officials, embraced the whole eastern half of the city, an area of almost 80 acres. The Importance of the City and the Tower We cannot say that the building project described in Genesis 11 was exclusively a temple complex, but a temple complex certainly was included and is the focus of the story. Jacobsen comments: The centralization of authority which this new political pattern made possible may have been responsible, along with other factors, for the emergence of a truly monumental architecture in Mesopotamia.
Hans Nissen says, We can deduce from the completely different layout of the two shrines in the Late Uruk period that there must have been greater differences here than can be expressed merely by the assumption that we are dealing with different divinities. Nissen observes, We can assume that it is highly probable that the custom of setting up statues in temples with this intention began in the Early Dynastic Period. Jacobsen further comments: Particularly powerful and concrete in the new anthropomorphic view was the symbol of the temple, the god's house. Finkelstein observes, The Babylonian gods …although not themselves BOUND by moral or ethical principles, nevertheless appreciated them and expected man to live by them.
As the modern poet has voiced it: The more the gods become like men, the easier it is for men to believe the gods. The Historical Setting of the Tower of Babel As is evident from the above, I believe that the account of Genesis 11 has a solid historical foundation in early Mesopotamia. First, a review of the pertinent information: Development of baked brick technology: Jamdet Nasr, ca. Nissen has described the developments of this period in southern Mesopotamia and suggested a cause for the events: A prolonged period in which only very scattered individual settlements existed was suddenly followed by a phase in which the land was clearly so densely settled that nothing like it had been seen even in the Susiana of the previous period.
And again: The results of studies of the ancient climate and of the changes in the amount of water in the Mesopotamian river system and in the Gulf… now present us with a clearer picture of the developments in southern Babylonia. Mellaart comments: Never before had a single culture been able to influence such a vast area, if only superficially.
Nissen says, …in the Syrian area, we now encounter yet another variant. Further Reading Is there any reference to the confusion of languages at Babel in early Mesopotamian literature? What Happened at Babel? How did different skin colors come about? For the best analysis of these, see Parrot It may also be overstatement to say that the previous shrine was preserved. While not totally demolished, it was filled with brick or rubble so as to serve as a suitable foundation for its successor. The assertion that Busink demonstrated that the ziggurat had nothing to do with a mountain is perhaps overzealous.
While Busink's evidence suggested other formative elements as more likely, the mountain motif cannot be entirely discarded. This name is reconstructed, although there is little doubt of the reading. The transliteration is presented as [E. The name of the ziggurat of Nabu in Borsippa is well-known. ME is a variable in the name, so it may or may not have occurred in this tablet. Ebeling and Meissner This view, however, does not enjoy a consensus and fails to give adequate explanation of the ME variant.
I have posited the present translation based on the role ascribed to Inanna in Inanna's Descent to the Netherworld cf. Falkenstein ; Hallo and van Dijk lines This reading follows the generally accepted emendation. The signs on this as they stand would be read E. KI and this is retained by Deimel. The meaning of DU. In 21 the name is restored as E. NA], where U6. SL , 19, though somewhat dubious praise would be intended.
Akkadian simmiltu has cognates in many Semitic languages. In Jacob's dream the sullam is set up with its head reaching toward the heavens. Messengers of God cf. Namtar in Nergal and Ereshkigal were going up and down it. For discussion of this see Millard ; Houtman ; and Cohen The ziggurat name ending AN. The Hittite texts which speak of a ritual ladder being lowered into pits for the spirits of the dead also use the symbol KUN 5 for the ladder. See Hoffner A survey of occurrences of ziqquratu in CAD further confirms the lack of references to the cultic use of the ziggurat.
By this I mean in general worship. Certainly the fertility rituals where a high-priestess cohabited with deity would have taken place in the deity's chamber on top of the ziggurat. It has also been thought that astrological observation was made from the top of the ziggurat, though I have been unable to confirm any such references to this sort of use prior to the Neo-Babylonian period. I am grateful to Prof.
Wiseman for this information. For the limitations of the evidence, see CAH3 I, 2: This interpretation is as early as Josephus Ant. On the permissive function of the imperative see Kautzsch I have to disagree. The revelation of Jesus to the world is the Word. The boat that floats carried the creator in his creation. The point is even MORE straightforward than that: The Israelites Jews did not even recognize the messianic deliverer when they SAW him, even when they had heard the words of the prophets read every sabbath day:.
For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled them in condemning him. Acts Nevertheless, I would caution against the use of sweeping terminology that might leave readers with the impression that some parts of the Bible have nothing to do with the story of redemption.
Indeed, seeing those passages where Jesus is not the ultimate focal point as unrelated to redemption can as easily lead to error as can the other hermeneutic. Honestly, pure, unadulterated rubbish. A truly apostate view of the Word of God that is designed to promote apostasy. To address your examples from Judges — the passage shows the need for a godly king Judges , a king that finds final fulfillment in Christ. Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. Jesus is the image of the Invisible God.
You show a picture of the tower of Babel. Genesis shows us how it was started, Revelation shows us the destruction thereof. Culminating with the return of who? Jesus Christ! Babel seemed a way to reach heaven. Jesus is the only way to Heaven. Jesus, the Image of the Invisible God, before He became flesh. If this is just a warning about the dangers of reading the bible all about Jesus then fair play.
But these warnings against a simplistic misuse of a Christological hermeneutic seem to me unpersuasive as arguments against it. Michael alludes to sightings that no one would ever consider being about Jesus. I wonder what his motive was for writing this blog. Jesus was not received by his own and Michael is one of them.
He knows his personal motive and what he finds offensive about the church as the fulfillment of the Jewish Torah. Mike you should re-read Matthew and be aware of your Pharasitical pronouncement in this blog and what Jesus has in mind for those who espouse your beliefs. Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting. Why does God rest? But he chooses to limit his creation in time as well as in space. The universe is not infinite. It has a beginning, attested by Genesis, which science has learned how to observe in light of the big bang theory.
Whether it has an end in time is not unambiguously clear, in either the Bible or science, but God gives time a limit within the world as we know it. As long as time is running, God blesses six days for work and one for rest. This is a limit that God himself observes, and it later becomes his command to people, as well Exod. So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.
A full theology of the image of God is beyond our scope here, so let us simply note that something about us is uniquely like him. It would be ridiculous to believe that we are exactly like God. But the chief thing we know about God, so far in the narrative, is that God is a creator who works in the material world, who works in relationship, and whose work observes limits. We have the ability to do the same. The development occurs in two cycles, one in Genesis and the other in Genesis The order of the categories is not exactly in the same order both times, but all the categories are present in both cycles.
The second cycle describes how God equips Adam and Eve for their work as they begin life in the Garden of Eden. The language in the first cycle is more abstract and therefore well-suited for developing principles of human labor. The language in the second cycle is earthier, speaking of God forming things out of dirt and other elements, and is well suited for practical instruction for Adam and Eve in their particular work in the garden.
This shift of language—with similar shifts throughout the first four books of the Bible—has attracted uncounted volumes of research, hypothesis, debate, and even division among scholars. Any general purpose commentary will provide a wealth of details. Most of these debates, however, have little impact on what the book of Genesis contributes to understanding work, workers, and workplaces, and we will not attempt to take a position on them here. The following table gives a convenient index with links for those interested in exploring a particular verse immediately. Genesis Genesis ; As Ian Hart puts it, "Exercising royal dominion over the earth as God's representative is the basic purpose for which God created man Man is appointed king over creation, responsible to God the ultimate king, and as such expected to manage and develop and care for creation, this task to include actual physical work.
As we exercise dominion over the created world, we do it knowing that we mirror God. Think about the implications of this in our workplaces. How would God go about doing our job? What values would God bring to it? What products would God make? Which people would God serve? What organizations would God build? What standards would God use? In what ways, as image-bearers of God, should our work display the God we represent?
The cycle begins again with dominion, although it may not be immediately recognizable as such. Meredith Kline puts it this way, "God's making the world was like a king's planting a farm or park or orchard, into which God put humanity to 'serve' the ground and to 'serve' and 'look after' the estate. Quite the opposite. We are to act as if we ourselves had the same relationship of love with his creatures that God does. Subduing the earth includes harnessing its various resources as well as protecting them. Dominion over all living creatures is not a license to abuse them, but a contract from God to care for them.
That does not mean that we will allow people to run over us, but it does mean that we will not allow our self-interest, our self-esteem, or our self-aggrandizement to give us a license to run over others. The later unfolding story in Genesis focuses attention on precisely that temptation and its consequences. Today we have become especially aware of how the pursuit of human self-interest threatens the natural environment.
We were meant to tend and care for the garden Gen. Creation is meant for our use, but not only for our use. Remembering that the air, water, land, plants, and animals are good Gen. Our work can either preserve or destroy the clean air, water, and land, the biodiversity, the ecosystems, and biomes, and even the climate with which God has blessed his creation. Meredith G. Chisholm Jr. We have already seen that God is inherently relational Gen. These relationships are not left as philosophical abstractions in Genesis.
We see God talking and working with Adam in naming the animals Gen. How does this reality impact us in our places of work? Above all, we are called to love the people we work with, among, and for. The God of relationship is the God of love 1 John Francis Schaeffer explores further the idea that because we are made in God's image and because God is personal, we can have a personal relationship with God. He notes that this makes genuine love possible, stating that machines can't love. As a result, we have a responsibility to care consciously for all that God has put in our care.
Being a relational creature carries moral responsibility. When Eve arrives, Adam is filled with joy. Although this may sound like a purely erotic or family matter, it is also a working relationship. To be a helper means to work. Someone who is not working is not helping. To be a partner means to work with someone, in relationship. Clearly, an ezer is not a subordinate. It is a tragic consequence of the Fall Gen.
A yoke is what makes it possible for two oxen to work together. In Christ, people may truly work together as God intended when he made Eve and Adam as co-workers. A crucial aspect of relationship modeled by God himself is delegation of authority. God delegated the naming of the animals to Adam, and the transfer of authority was genuine. The foundation of this kind of development has been in Genesis all along, though Christians have not always noticed it. In turn, working relationships make it possible to create the vast, complex array of goods and services beyond the capacity of any individual to produce.
And without the intimate relationship between a man and a woman, there are no future people to do the work God gives.
- Select a book of the Bible.
- Redemption Song!
- Miss Crystals Recognition (The Crystal Collection Book 3).
Our work and our community are thoroughly intertwined gifts from God. Together they provide the means for us to be fruitful and multiply in every sense of the words. Francis A. God could have created everything imaginable and filled the earth himself. It is remarkable that God trusts us to carry out this amazing task of building on the good earth he has given us. Through our work God brings forth food and drink, products and services, knowledge and beauty, organizations and communities, growth and health, and praise and glory to himself. A word about beauty is in order. This is not surprising, since people, being in the image of God, are inherently beautiful.
Christian communities do well at appreciating the beauty of music with words about Jesus. Perhaps we could do better at valuing all kinds of true beauty. A good question to ask ourselves is whether we are working more productively and beautifully. History is full of examples of people whose Christian faith resulted in amazing accomplishments.
If our work feels fruitless next to theirs, the answer lies not in self-judgment, but in hope, prayer, and growth in the company of the people of God. No matter what barriers we face—from within or without—by the power of God we can do more good than we could ever imagine. Both are creative enterprises that give specific activities to people created in the image of the Creator. By growing things and developing culture, we are indeed fruitful. We bring forth the resources needed to support a growing population and to increase the productivity of creation.
We develop the means to fill, yet not overfill, the earth. We need not imagine that gardening and naming animals are the only tasks suitable for human beings. Work is forever rooted in God's design for human life. It is an avenue to contribute to the common good and as a means of providing for ourselves, our families, and those we can bless with our generosity. An important though sometimes overlooked aspect of God at work in creation is the vast imagination that could create everything from exotic sea life to elephants and rhinoceroses.
While theologians have created varying lists of those characteristics of God that have been given to us that bear the divine image, imagination is surely a gift from God we see at work all around us in our workspaces as well as in our homes. Much of the work we do uses our imagination in some way.
We tighten bolts on an assembly line truck and we imagine that truck out on the open road. We open a document on our laptop and imagine the story we're about to write. Mozart imagined a sonata and Beethoven imagined a symphony. Picasso imagined Guernica before picking up his brushes to work on that painting. Tesla and Edison imagined harnessing electricity, and today we have light in the darkness and myriad appliances, electronics, and equipment.
Most of the jobs people hold exist because someone could imagine a job-creating product or process in the workplace. Yet imagination takes work to realize, and after imagination comes the work of bringing the product into being. Actually, in practice the imagination and the realization often occur in intertwined processes.
- At times God intervenes with a divisive hand in human affairs!
- What Happened At Babel.
- Everything in the Bible Isn’t about Jesus.
- Why is this idea so prevalent?;
While it is being done, it changes as one's thoughts change. And when it's finished, it goes on changing, according to the state of mind of whoever is looking at it. Laird Harris, Gleason L. Archer, Jr. Waltke, eds. While this quote is widely repeated, its source is elusive. Whether or not it is genuine, it expresses a reality well known to artists of all kinds.
God said, "See, I have given you every plant yielding seed that is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree with seed in its fruit; you shall have them for food. And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food. Without him, our work is nothing. We cannot bring ourselves to life. We cannot even provide for our own maintenance. We do not have to depend on our own ability or on the vagaries of circumstance to meet our need. The second cycle of the creation account shows us something of how God provides for our needs.
He prepares the earth to be productive when we apply our work to it.
BYU Reseachers Discover Ancient Mosaics of Biblical Stories in Galilee
Though we till, God is the original planter. In addition to food, God has created the earth with resources to support everything we need to be fruitful and multiply. He gives us a multitude of rivers providing water, ores yielding stone and metal materials, and precursors to the means of economic exchange Gen. Even when we synthesize new elements and molecules or when we reshuffle DNA among organisms or create artificial cells, we are working with the matter and energy that God brought into being for us.
Did God rest because he was exhausted, or did he rest to offer us image-bearers a model cycle of work and rest? Remember the sabbath day, and keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, your son or your daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the alien resident in your towns.
While religious people over the centuries tended to pile up regulations defining what constituted keeping the Sabbath, Jesus said clearly that God made the Sabbath for us—for our benefit Mark What are we to learn from this? When, like God, we stop our work on whatever is our seventh day, we acknowledge that our life is not defined only by work or productivity. Walter Brueggemann put it this way, "Sabbath provides a visible testimony that God is at the center of life—that human production and consumption take place in a world ordered, blessed, and restrained by the God of all creation. Otherwise, we live with the illusion that life is completely under human control.
Part of making Sabbath a regular part of our work life acknowledges that God is ultimately at the center of life. Having blessed human beings by his own example of observing workdays and Sabbaths, God equips Adam and Eve with specific instructions about the limits of their work. In the midst of the Garden of Eden, God plants two trees, the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil Gen. The latter tree is off limits.