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Verse 4

"And they said, Come, 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."

"Whose top may reach unto heaven ..." This expression is viewed by many as merely a rhetorical way of expressing great height, or as a device by which they might avoid disaster of another flood, or as some kind of a fortification, but we cannot accept any understanding of this that leaves out of sight the religious and theological aspect of it.

The Babylonians called such a tower a ziggurat, an immense tower shaped like a pyramid, rising in terraces, and crowned with a temple, which was regarded as an "entrance to heaven."[9]

In the light of the nature and use of such towers as subsequently revealed, there can hardly be any doubt that paganism and idolatry were intimately associated with the tower mentioned in this passage, despite the fact of there not being a word in the text concerning it. Many have discerned this. The construction of the tower of Babel was actually the dethronement of God and establishment of paganism as their system of worship. There were extensive collateral developments in connection with the tower. There was the change of government into a military dictatorship with cruel and oppressive power, and also the creation and promulgation of a priesthood which constructed right there in Babylon a pantheon of pagan gods and elaborated paganism into a religious system that was to prevail throughout the world until the Edict of Theodosius outlawed such things in 389 A.D.

That tower (ziggurat) mentioned above has been described as follows: The most conspicuous feature was a huge pyramidal tower, in seven terraces from the temple area. The seven stories represented the seven planetary deities .... The ascent of the tower was a meritorious approach to the gods; and the summit was regarded as the entrance to heaven.[10]

The same writer also declared, "That the tower of Genesis 11 is a Babylonian ziggurat is obvious on every ground."[11] We may inquire as to "Who did all this?" But the Scriptures record none of the names of the perpetrators. The traditional account handed down by Josephus carries the stamp of truth in the simplicity that says, "It was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God; he was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah."[12] Josephus also affirmed that Nimrod had taught that it was cowardice to submit to God, and wrong to praise God for benefits, because it was through the courage and daring of MEN themselves that all blessings and benefits came! Such a doctrine as this has been the bible of evil world rulers in all generations.

"Let us build a city ... let us ... make us a name ... lest we be scattered ..." The children of men who wrought this wickedness in God's sight were clearly infected with the US virus - the pride, arrogance, and conceit of the people standing starkly obvious in this cryptic account of it. Their rebellion against God is inherent in their stated purpose of avoiding their being "scattered," a scattering that God had commanded in the original great commission to "multiply and replenish the earth." Their self-centeredness and anti-God determination reveal with surgical accuracy the fundamental aspects of paganism. That the Second Judicial Hardening of the human family had not merely begun in this episode but that it had reached a crisis stage is revealed emphatically in Paul's great essay on it in Romans 1. Of those pre-Christian Gentiles, Paul declared three times that, "God gave them up" (Romans 1:24,26,28). The rapid increase and degeneration of paganism were also recounted by Paul. It began by man worshipping himself (or, an image of himself), but it swiftly moved downward in cycles until men were worshipping reptiles and creeping things!

Thus, we understand the events of Babel as man's SUBSTITUTION of himself for God as the object of worship and devotion. In all probability the ancient tradition that Nimrod himself was deified and worshiped as Merodach or Marduk in Babylon, and that his wife Semaramis[13] received divine honors would appear to be founded in fact. The deification of Roman emperors in the Christian era and their hatred of God were only the eventual developments of the tragedy at Babel.

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