Chapter 11

  1. The Tower of Babylon

    • The whole earth spoke the same language at this point. They migrated from the east and settled in the Valley of Shinar.

      • Shinar was also a term used to include Babylon (Genesis 10:10).

    • They decided to build a city for themselves with a tower that would reach into the heavens, saying, “Let’s make a name for ourselves here or we will be scattered all over the earth. The tower would be built with baked bricks and mortar made of asphalt.

      • The building of this city and tower was in direct rebellion against God’s command for them to spread out all over the earth. (Genesis 9:1)

      • “Using baked bricks and asphalt for mortar, men built a tower that was both strong and waterproof, even as Noah used the same material in waterproofing the ark (Genesis 6:14). Later Moses’ mother used the same material in waterproofing Moses’ basket (Exodus 2:3)…The heart and the materials relevant to the tower of Babel show that it was not only disobedient to God’s command to fill the earth (Genesis 9:1), but it also shows man did not believe God’s promise to never again flood the earth. A waterproof tower was made to “protect” man against a future deluge.” (Guzik)

      • “Archaeology has revealed that this type of kiln-fired brick and asphalt construction was common in ancient Babylon.” (Morris)

      • “This tower was real. The ancient Greek historian Herodotus said the tower of Babel still stood in his day and he had seen it.” (Guzik)

    • The Lord came to look at the city and the tower that they were building and said, “If one people with one language have begun to do this, they will be able to accomplish anything they plan.”

    • Let Us go down there and confuse their language so they will be unable to understand each other.

      • Refer to Genesis Chapter 1 notes for a discussion on the use of plural “Us.”

    • So the Lord scattered them over the face of the earth and construction of the city was ended. It is called Babylon because that is where God confused the people’s languages and scattered them over the earth.

      • “Language is so complex because languages exist as whole systems, not as small parts put together. Most modern linguists believe all languages come from one original language.” (Guzik)

      • “Think what it was like for a family to leave the area of Babel and go out on their own. They must look for a suitable place to live, and once they found it, they must exist by hunting and gathering, living in crude dwellings or caves until they could support themselves by agriculture and taking advantage of the natural resources. Families would multiply rapidly, develop their own culture, and their own distinctive biological and physical characteristics influenced by their environment. In the small population, genetic characteristics change very quickly, and as the population of the group grew bigger, the changes stabilized and became more or less permanent.” (Guzik)

2. From Shem to Abraham

Genealogy from Shem to Abram

    • At the age of 100 Shem fathered Arphaxad (or Arpachshad)

    • At the age of 35 Arphaxad fathered Shelah.

    • At the age of 30 Shelah fathered Eber.

    • At the age of 34 Eber fathered Peleg.

    • At the age of 30 Peleg fathered Reu.

    • At the age of 32 Reu fathered Serug.

    • At the age of 30 Serug fathered Nahor.

    • At the age of 29 Nahor fathered Terah.

    • At the age of 70 Terah fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

– God later changed Abram’s name to Abraham.

Genealogy of Terah

    • Haran died in their native land, Ur of the Chaldeans (also known as Babylon), while his father Terah was still living.

    • Abram married Sarai, who was unable to have children.

      • Abram’s name literally means “Father”, which is interesting considering he had no children for quite some time.

    • Nahor married his niece (Haran’s daughter), Milcah.

    • Terah set out with Abram, Lot, and Sarai from their homeland of Ur on the way to Canaan. However, they never made it to Canaan. They stopped and settled in Haran.

    • If you don’t have an interest in archaeology or Egyptian chronologies and the fact that both seem to be at odds with the Bible this would be a good place to end Chapter 11. However, if you want to learn a little history regarding Bible translations and see that the Bible does, in fact, make sense in the light of archaeological finds…

      • Ok…I’m about to point out something big- but DON’T freak out. It’s not heretical, and I’m going to back it up with hard proof: The Genesis 11 genealogy we just went through is flawed. It’s missing 650 years, in the modern translations that are popularly used today. Before you become outraged that I’m questioning the authority of the Bible, hear me out. I’m not questioning Biblical authority. I came across this incredible video that solves all the inconsistencies- Biblically. You all know that I’m a lover of the Bible AND science and I believe wholeheartedly that the two go together even if we can’t understand exactly how. Anyway, this video- Were the Pyramids Build Before the Flood by Nathan Hoffman is WELL worth the 32 minute time investment.

Nathan puts all of the material together in a very visually demonstrative, easy to understand, and unexpectedly funny (considering the subject matter) way. Get ready to have your minds blown! I’ll do a short(ish) summary of the information below.

        • Creationists like Ken Ham with Answers in Genesis and many others use these genealogies to come up with a Biblical timeline and the belief in a 6,000 year old earth. While I consider myself a Creationist, it is undeniable that this creates some pretty massive archaeological inconsistencies that allow atheists to have a field day with their “proof” that the Bible is inaccurate. Using these genealogies, Creationists date the flood at 2350 BC. This date creates the following major issues:

– Egyptian history predates the flood, which means that somehow historical documents must have survived the flood.

– Egyptologists date the pyramids of Giza at 2550 BC (200 years prior to the flood) which means that they must have survived the flood- yet they have absolutely no water damage.

      • This date is even problematic in the light of other Creationist assertions.

        • The pyramids are built on top of sedimentary layers that contain fossils that Creationists claim were laid down during the flood- which obviously means that the pyramids cannot predate the flood.

      • In the Bible, Egypt is also referred to as Mizraim. Mizraim was the grandson of Noah, so it would follow that the Egyptians must be descendants of Mizraim. Obviously, Noah did not have any grandchildren until after the flood.

    • The logical step is for Creationists to question Egyptian history and they are correct in doing so as there is plenty of evidence pointing to the fallibility of Egyptian time frames. The award winning documentary Patterns of Evidence (which I would highly recommend) makes a fabulous case for moving the Egyptian historical time line forward about 200 years. It’s available at Wal-Mart, most book stores, and of course Amazon just to name a few.

    • Another work that addresses problems with Egyptian chronology is the book A Biblical Interpretation of World History by Charles Scott Kimball, which I would also highly recommend. This book is available on Amazon.

    • For a condensed version of the issues with Egyptian chronology you can check out my blog post Does Egyptian Chronology Prove the Bible Is Historically Inaccurate?
    • However, even with the corrected Egyptian chronology, the pyramids of Giza are only moved up to 2350 BC which means they occurred around the same time as the flood. This really doesn’t solve any problems due to the fact that it still doesn’t leave time for the tower of Babel events leaving Creationists to face the possibility of a flawed Biblical timeline. Except- not ALL Bible translations are in agreement with the Masoretic text- but they do agree with each other…

      • Modern Bible translations are translated from the Hebrew Masoretic text, which is not the original Hebrew. It’s a copy of the original Hebrew called the Leningrad Codex, copied in 1008 AD.

      • The Greek Septuagint was copied in 250 BC (1,000 years prior to the Leningrad Codex) which means it was translated from a different (older) copy of the Hebrew that no longer exists.

      • The Samaritan Pentateuch also predates the Masoretic text.

      • The writings of the Apostle Paul and historian Flavius Josephus also predate the Masoretic.

    • So, where does the extra time come in?

AGES AT THE BIRTH OF SONS

Hebrew Masoretic Greek Septuagint Samaritan Pentateuch Flavius Josephus

Arphaxad

35

135

135

135

Shelah

30

130

130

130

Eber

34

134

134

134

Peleg

30

130

130

130

Reu

32

132

132

132

Serug

30

130

130

130

Nahor

29

79

79

Doesn’t specify

    • 100 years is added to the age of each father (with the exception of Nahor’s 50 years) in the Septuagint, the Pentateuch, and according to Flavius Josephus!

    • Not only does adding in this additional 650 years solve archaeological discrepancies- it also removes a perplexing genealogical “oddity” that you may not have ever considered.

      • If you plot out these lifespans on a chart (which Nathan does in his video, quite comically I might add), you will find that according to our Bible translations, Shem would have outlived almost all of his sons and grandsons down the 8th generation! Obviously this would be considered an anomaly when compared to any other genealogy- well, ever…

      • However, when you add the extra 100 years per generation (and 50 years in the case of Nahor) the time line spreads out and falls in line with what would be considered a “normal” genealogy with each father dying before his son. (Much to the relief of Shem, as Nathan points out, who otherwise lived through the horrific grief of outliving 7 out of 8 generations!)

    • Where does this leave us archaeologically? Frankly, with a time line that actually makes sense:

      • First of all, a revised flood date of 3000 BC.

      • Much to the delight of atheists, the current Creationist time line only allows for 100 years between the flood and the tower of Babel event. This is not enough time for the population to have yielded enough people to even build the tower of Babel.

        • Atheists cite that the Pyramid of Khufu (the largest pyramid) required 30,000 workers. Babel would have dwarfed Khufu, yet according to the current time line, and any reasonable population growth rate, the population couldn’t have been much over 100 total people. A very valid argument!

      • With the additional time, there would be 400 years between the flood and the tower of Babel event. A reasonable population growth rate of 3.2% would yield 2.3 million people in 400 years. Clearly sufficient.

      • This would still leave an additional 150 years between the dispersion of people at the tower of Babel before the building of the first pyramid, which would allow plenty of time for those dispersed from Babel to have dispersed, settled, and built the pyramids.

    • If you’re like me, you’re wondering how or if this information regarding a flaw in the Masoretic text affects other Biblical events. There are some things that we’ll discuss as we go along, and I’ll post more of Nathan’s videos as we come to relevant material. (Nathan references one issue with the length of time the Israelites were in Egypt in his video.) Of course, only the Old Testament is affected- and of course nothing doctrinal is affected.