Summary: Chapter 11 gives us a good insight to how man for the first time collectively rebelled against the true worship of God. Learn 3 lessons for our lives!
“Highway To Hell ”
Genesis Chapter 11
This chapter takes place about 37 years after the flood.
The time between chapters 11 and 12 is about 100 years. That’s when we are first introduced to Abraham.
Remember last week I told you that Moses writes to fill in the gaps of the Biblical account. In this case, he is filling in the gap of chapter 10 and the nations that come out of Sem, Ham and Japheth. So you could say that chapter 11 is happening at the same times as chapter 10. Without chapter 11 we would not know what brought about the scattering of peoples.
1. The Construction of The Tower. Vs. 1-3
· This was built 100 south of Baghdad Iraq. There are ruins of some of these great towers still in Iraq today, but not this one we see in chapter 11. But they are very impressive with over 150 feet of height with great steps or stages that were used to reach the top.
· Since there are very few stones in this part of the world, most of the tower was made of burned or baked bricks and a slime coating to waterproof…what we today would call asphalt or tar.
· This tower was the brainchild of what would come for many years later, like the pyramids in Egypt and the sacred temple towers of Mesopotamia, called Ziggurats. These were high towers built not only to worship in, but also to give the flat lands a mountain look from a far.
· These temple towers are also found in South America with the Inca’s that thrived for centuries with false worship.
· There is evidence that this tower was never finished. Vs.8
The Sumerian King List, tables of stone (pictured)…there are more than 16 fragments and one nearly complete copy of the Sumerian King List found at different places at different times. The first fragment was discovered in the temple library at Nippur, Iraq, at the turn of the century and was published in 1906. The most complete copy was purchased shortly after World War I and is now in a Museum in Oxford, England.
The tablets list Biblical kings who reigned over the centuries. They mention a great flood that came. Men had long life spans before the flood and shorter life spans after the flood. The 11th tablet speaks of an ark, animals taken on the ark, birds sent out during the course of the flood, the ark landing on a mountain, and a sacrifice offered after the ark landed.
On another tablet is the story of Adapa, which tells of a test for immortality involving food, similar to the story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Sumerian tablets record the confusion of language as we have in the Biblical account of the Tower of Babel. There was a golden age when all mankind spoke the same language. Speech was then confused by the god Enki, lord of wisdom. The Babylonians had a similar account in which the gods destroyed a temple tower and "scattered them abroad and made strange their speech."
2. The Congregation at The Tower. Vs. 4
Ancient Jewish scholars like Josephus and others believe that these towers were built to protect against another massive flood that many thought would take place again. I discount this argument for two reasons:
· If this were the case, why didn’t they build these towers on the mountaintops to begin with?
· Why was there such a rapid response from God?
This tower and every one that would follow for centuries functioned for one reason…to form a congregation to worship false gods. The first of its kind!
Who was the religious leader or the first pastor of this congregation? Nimrod, and how do we know this? Genesis 10:10
This tower was a rallying point for their:
· Exaltation of Pride - “let us build for ourselves”.
· Expression of Purpose - “Let us make a name for ourselves”.
The making of a name is an expression of making a reputation for themselves and to influence loyalty to their plans. They were now filled with a godless ambition.
Remember, Shem means “Name”. Is it possible that this group of people said, “We will make a shem” to attack Noah’s godly son Shem?
Genesis 4:26 gives us a godly contrast with spiritual giants.
This chapter indicates a major tuning point in how man worship. This marks the first time man collectively replaced the true worship of Yahweh for a false god.
· Exercise of Power - “Lest we be scattered”.
This is a bold statement that exercises their ability to stay right where they were. They showed that they had the power to dig their heals into their own action. That’s rebellion!