- Published on Tuesday, 29 March 2005 00:00
The "tower of Babel" is a very important subject even though the account given in the Bible consists of just a very few verses. The discoveries of the last 150 years have shed tremendous light on the Biblical account and shown how completely accurate it is, but the one thing that can "pull it all together," so to speak, is the subject we will now discuss.
Almost every civilization on earth has had its version of the flood story, but what evidence is there of the great dispersion of Noah's family across the face of the earth? What evidence is there that the great division of languages - their "birth," so to speak" - occurred at Babel?
For a long time, Ron has been interested in searching for the location of Babel, but the other projects dominated his time so completely that he never had the opportunity to follow up on it. But recently, he has begun field work, searching for the remains of the infamous tower.
In Oct. of 1990, he and Richard Rives first visited the region of southern Turkey above the Syrian border where the Euphrates River exits the Taurus mountains. Richard wanted to visit Nemrut Da ("da " means "mountain"), the burial site of the Seleucid king, Antiochus Epiphanes (62-32 BC) in order to examine the vast array of pagan statues there.
Nemrut Da is located at the edge of the Taurus Mountains in the region Ron wanted to search for Babel, so off they went. After examining Nemrut Da , the two made note of a large "hill" which looked like a "tell" (remains of an ancient city or village covered in soil) off in the distance that they felt should be explored. But, pressed for time, they left for Israel. They decided that they would return as soon as possible to explore more.
In August of 1991, they returned to Turkey, accompanied by Dr. Allen Roberts and Marv Wilson, to make an application to excavate Noah's Ark. After meeting with officials and receiving a verbal approval, they were told that the written permit would be issued the next "working day", which would be four days later due to a Turkish holiday. At that time, they all decided to go look for the tower of Babel while they waited. Unfortunately, they were taken hostage by terrorists on their way to the region and held for twenty-one days. After this ordeal, the search for Babel was put "on hold."
It was four more years before Ron would consider returning to this still dangerous region. On Nov 30, 1995 he returned with his son Ronny and Bob Murrell. We will present the results of that very exciting first investigation. But because of the nature of the subject of Babel, we must study it in light of all of the evidence available, beginning with the Biblical account. Then, we must gather all the evidences and view them in their proper context.
The Biblical Account of Babel
The account of the building of Babel and its tower is told in Genesis 11. It begins with the statement that all the people spoke the same language. Next, we are told of the "exodus" of a group of people from the area first settled by Noah and his descendants after the flood:
- GEN 11:1-2 "And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there."
Ron accepted the Biblical narrative as the final authority, and what this passage told him was that the people who left the area of the ark traveled to the west. Common sense adds the additional information that they traveled along a river - a water supply for the people as well as their flocks and herds would have been an absolute necessity. Therefore, Ron concluded that they began their journey at the beginning of one of the mountain streams that was a tributary of the Euphrates River near the area of the ark and followed it to the west until they came to a plain.
Studying topographical and flight maps of the region, he saw where the Euphrates River exited the mountainous region - roughly a two hundred fifty mile journey from the region of the ark. And there, where the mountains ended, was a tremendous plain! After more study, he found another route he believed they also could have taken which would have brought them to the same plain but by an easier and more direct path. This second route would have taken them in a southwest direction for about one hundred forty miles until they reached the west side of Lake Van. From there, they would have traveled along a river about fifty miles through a mountain pass then exiting onto the vast plain where they would travel west until they reached the Euphrates. These are the only two natural east-west routes across Anatolia (PH, p. 7). Which route they took, we may never know. However, both would have brought the group to the same general area.
Putting himself in their place, Ron reasoned that once they found this massive plain, they would have traveled no further, provided the region contained all the natural resources that they would have needed, which it did. (We will discuss these later). Here was what he believed was the "plain in the land of Shinar" where they "dwelt". On the map, you can see the location of Mt. Ararat (the region of the ark) and in the top center is a black dot - this marks the spot where the mountains end and the plain begins, where Ron believes Babel was located.
The term "land of Shinar" has been interpreted to mean only the area far south of Ron's site - the area of Babylon. But in fact, we have no firm evidence of the boundaries of this "land of Shinar". Akkadian cuneiform texts mention "Shanhara" as being in northern Mesopotamia, west of Ninevah, the same mountainous region that is today called "Singar". The Amarna Letters (Egyptian) also mention a land called "Shanhar" which is also in northern Syria. These examples are in the same general region as Ron's site. In fact, the name may even today still be reflected in a road sign of a town very near the site Ron examined.(In Turkish, "C" is pronounced "Ch").
The next Biblical mention of Shinar occurs at a much later date:
- DAN 1:2 And the Lord gave Jehoiakim king of Judah into his hand, with part of the vessels of the house of God: which he carried into the land of Shinar to the house of his god;...
Since this above verse refers to the Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar's time, we know where it is located, which is far south of this region. Therefore, there are several possibilities to consider - perhaps "Shinar", like "Mesopotamia", referred to the land between the Tigris and the Euphrates. Since the Tigris begins east of Ron's site it would therefore be include in it; or perhaps in Daniel 1:2 it refers to the region (Babylonia) that during his time was dominated by the people (Chaldeans) who came from the more northerly region. Another Scripture adds additional information which we will discuss later when we study the cities of Asshur.
- GEN 11:3 "And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar."
They built the city and tower of Babel with baked brick and used "slime" for mortar. Several weeks ago, when Ron again visited the region and examined a very large tell, he took samples of the baked brick and the mortar. The very black mortar consisted of a mixture of sand and tar (bitumen/asphalt) which hardens when dried. Since this is a petroleum product, we must inquire: did the area Ron had selected have a supply?
The 1985 Encyclopedia Britannica states that the only oil fields in Turkey are in Ramana (west of this site) and Gaziantep (east of this site) both less than 100 miles away. The latest revision of the flight map shows oil wells in the immediate area, and the pipeline between Gaziantep and Ramana follows directly under the region. When Ron and Richard visited the area in 1990, they saw working oil derricks in the immediate vicinity. The presence of oil here, about 4,000 years after the time of Babel, indicates that an ample supply of bitumen most likely could have been obtained by the builders of this infamous city and tower. In fact, it may have been a major reason for selecting the area as this would have been a very necessary commodity.
- GEN 11:4 "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."
The command had been given to Noah's family:
- GEN 9:1 "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth."
Yet, in the passage about Babel we learn that when the time came that the mass of people set out from the Ararat region, they all congregated together to build ONE city in order to AVOID being scattered "upon the face of the whole earth." They also wanted to "make US a name." Evidences of ancient history all point to the fact that these earliest of people had, for the most part, rejected the true God, the Creator. By the time of Abraham, just a little over 400 years after the flood, we learn that even HIS family wasn't completely faithful to God and combined their worship of Him with that of idols:
- JOS 24:2 "And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood [Euphrates River] in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods."
Yes, the people wanted their OWN name, and they received it as we will soon see. But I dare say it wasn't what they had in mind.
- 5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. 6 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.
This is a very thought-provoking passage that we need to think about. It plainly speaks of the fact that God said "nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do". Noah and his sons were from the pre-flood world, a world whose people most certainly possessed knowledge and technology equal to that of today. This knowledge, at least some of it, was most certainly passed on to their immediate descendants.
The only thing that prevented a very advanced civilization from soon erupting was, in my opinion, the lack of personnel and the fact that for many, many years after the flood, they had to concentrate on breeding the animals and cultivating crops to sustain their lives. When the time came that these things were established, the people could concentrate on other things. And with every great mind on earth together in accord and of one language, we cannot imagine what they could have done. We have been "brainwashed" with the idea of early man being primitive and animal-like, but the evidence does NOT show this to be the case.
When we study the archaeological journals and reports, we must be careful to separate the physical evidence from the opinions of the excavators or those writing the reports. They all assume that first came the cave-man, then fire, etc. And they assign dates to archaeological sites based on these assumptions. But, if a "rocket scientist" suddenly found himself in a world of nothing but a barren planet of renewing plant and animal life, would we expect to find or build launch-pads?
If the US were covered in dirt and archaeologists one day dug it up, would they date the fancy, modern homes of today as from the same time period as those in Appalachia that have no plumbing or electricity? I suspect they would place hundreds of years between them - maybe even thousands. The point is that when mankind left their first home near Noah and the ark, they had knowledge. What they DIDN'T have were the resources. Later, we will discuss the documented evidences of advanced knowledge in this region that the scholars and historians admit they are at a loss to explain!
So, once again, God intervened. He has a timetable for world events which He controls.
When mankind had reached the point of almost complete apostasy, He sent the flood. When mankind again embarked upon a path that was contrary to His plan, He intervened in a manner that caused them to comply with His command to "replenish the earth."
- GEN 11:7 "Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. 8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.... 9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth."
The name of the first city that they built was called "Babel", which means simply "confusion" or "mingled" ("babel" is translated to read "mingled" 37 times in the Bible). The people wanted to "make US a name," and they did.
Imagine the scene - this city of certainly thousands of people working side by side, building not only their city, but this massive tower, the first ever built after the flood, whose design was to extend up into the very clouds of "heaven." (The fact that they chose this design may imply that they knew about similar pre-flood structures.) Workmen at the top called for materials to those down below, who called to those below them, and so on, until the request reached the bottom. Then, the materials were passed up until they reached the workmen at the top.
But then, something occurred that no one expected - they no longer could understand each other. Maybe the ones next to each other could understand one another, but those below them only heard gibberish when the next call came for materials. The scene must have been one of chaos. It's impossible to imagine what it must have been like. All we are told is that at some point after this "confusion" of languages, they ceased work on the city and were scattered "abroad upon the face of all the earth." Later, we will study the completely compelling evidence which shows that it was indeed this very area that the different languages originated.
Genesis chapter 10 presents the "table of nations" which tells of all the descendants of Noah's sons and how they were dispersed upon the face of the earth. In this chapter, we are told about one of Ham's grandsons- Nimrod, son of Cush:
- GEN 10:8 "And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD."
There are many traditions about Nimrod and our only confirmed knowledge of him is what we have read above, and what is gleaned from the earliest "tales" and traditions. Until they built Babel, the people had been living in the same region as Noah, who would have certainly been the central authority figure (they were under the patriarchal system). Nimrod is the first person who is singled out in the Biblical account after the story of the flood, and we need to examine who he was.
He was "a mighty one in the earth" which indicates that he was a man of influence and power. We next learn that Nimrod was a "mighty hunter", which many assume means that he was a conqueror. But let's think just a minute. Noah's family had left the area of the ark and set about to make ONE city so that they would NOT be scattered. This indicates to me that they were all in accord with each other. There would be no one to conquer. The Bible says Nimrod was a HUNTER, not a conqueror. Why a hunter?
After the flood, the entire animal kingdom had to be re-establishes. In time, they reached sufficient numbers that they could be allowed to go free and spread over the face of the earth. Predatory animals, such as lions and tigers, reproduce (in litters) at a faster rate than humans or domesticated animals such as cattle, sheep and goats who usually give birth to only one or two (at the most) at a time.
Think of these fierce animals, growing rapidly in numbers, roaming freely. It seems logical that this would have been the people's greatest fear. It reminds me of the old movies set in the African jungles where wild animals attack and kill people in their tents and as they travel through the dense vegetation. I believe Nimrod established himself as the great "protector" of the people as he hunted down and killed these fierce animals. And this would have given him great influence and power among the people.
Whether Nimrod acquired this reputation as a great hunter while still in the region of Noah or not, we don't know. But if he did, it makes sense that the large group of people would feel more comfortable about venturing out into the unknown world with someone like Nimrod to protect them, and this would place him in a position of great authority.
Further evidence of his great reputation is that the prevailing theme in the monuments and inscriptions of the kings and rulers of later civilizations was that of the king as a "mighty hunter", which seems to have begun with Nimrod. And as such a great hunter and protector, he was a leader, ultimately having a profound effect upon the lives of billions of people throughout the following generations who followed the pagan religions which all seemed to have begun with Nimrod. In fact, some of the very concepts that originated with him have remained through the ages and their influence can be found in almost every religion of today.
Paganism is Born
The evidences of archaeology in the entire region of the Middle East shows that from the earliest stages, even before writing had been developed, the people had idols. And these idols were indicative of several types of "gods" which soon were consolidated into "pantheons" of gods within each of the pagan religions.
The thing that we must never forget is that Satan has ever been busy trying to divert God's people from the truth. And once they were separated from Noah, it appears that they were an easy target. As Ron constantly tries to remind people, Satan was cunning enough to "snooker" one third of the angels of heaven as well as Adam and Eve, the most perfect humans ever created, so the rest of us don't stand a chance against his wiles if we do not maintain a close relationship with the True God. And as we are told,
- ECC 1:9... there is no new thing under the sun. 10 Is there any thing whereof it may be said, See, this is new? it hath been already of old time, which was before us.
Satan, in "creating" his "new" religion, could only corrupt that which was true religion. As a former occupant of heaven, he knew the plan of salvation; he knew about the sacrificial system and what it represented; he knew about the Son of God Who would one day come to earth in the form of humanity; he knew about God's messengers (ministering spirits), the angels and their work; he also knew how his evil legions of fallen angels worked - and he used this knowledge to corrupt the true religion into pagan religion. And he knew how to use men and their selfish motivations to accomplish his evil designs.
One early type of idol found all through the area is the "mother goddess of fertility". After the flood, first and foremost in importance among the people would have been procreation - having children, as well as the rapid reproduction among the animals and the crops. Also, there is early evidence of nature worship, such as the sun and the moon. Everything was dependent upon the sun for life. The moon was perhaps looked upon as something pertaining to the seasons for planting, etc. We don't fully understand.
Also, the early pantheons of "gods" consisted of eight - the same number of people who came through the flood in the ark. To these eight "gods" were assigned separate attributes of the true God and things expanded from there. Thus was the concept of ancestor worship incorporated into the pagan system. It's an extremely complicated subject, but ONE thing is certain- by the time man began to spread across the face of the earth, fully developed "sun worship" went with him. This indicates that this concept in religion - "nature" worship manifested also as "ancestor" worship- was developed BEFORE the confusion of the languages.
The evidence available on this subject indicates to us that Nimrod was the person who developed the concept of the sun god and in fact, claimed to be the god, himself. How could this happen? For a moment, let's reflect back to their situation. Mankind was "beginning again", so to speak. When the people remained around Noah, they were exposed to the knowledge of the True God. But life was hard. When mankind was first put upon the earth, it was perfect. Now, after the cataclysm of the flood, the entire face of the earth was harsh and rugged. Plants had to be cultivated, animals had to be bred and cared for. Everything had to be re-establishes under the harshest of conditions.
Hearing the story of the flood and the wickedness of mankind which brought about the flood, it appears that in time, the majority of the people wanted to get away from Noah and his God and "make US a name". They also, it appears, wanted a "new god" or religion, or at least accepted it quite readily. Noah's God couldn't be seen- but Satan's substitutes were visible, even if only in a stone statue or seen in the physical presence of the sun, etc. (To a great extent the same is true today.)
The nature of their "new" religion (from the archaeological evidences) show that it was also based on the acceptance of the first lie that Satan told Eve when he persuaded her to eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil:
- GEN 3:4 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: 5 For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
The first lie was that man doesn't die- that he is immortal-, a lie that has lived on in the still popular concept of "life after death" even though the Word of God plainly states that
- "the dead know not any thing,..." (Ecc. 9:5) and
- "His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish". (Psa 146:4)
- There is only one Who is immortal:... the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; 16 Who only hath immortality,.... (1TI 6:15)
The promise of eternal life to the righteous is a promise of FUTURE reward at the resurrection:
- 1CO 15:52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
The ancient records reveal the incredible extent of the belief by the early peoples in an "after-life" that begins the instant of death, and the necessity of appeasing the "gods" to insure good fortune both in this life AND in the future life.
The archaeological evidence seems to indicate that every group that left the immediate region of the ark had a belief in some type of idolatry as their burials contain "trinkets" for the person to have in their "next life".
The earliest idols seem to indicate that the people began worshiping a goddess typed "the mother goddess of fertility". Then there are idols of animals, especially bulls,- after all, cattle were vital to early existence due to their milk production and as food.
But then, there appears in the major civilizations such as Egypt and the cities up and down the Tigris and Euphrates, a series of gods and goddesses headed by a main god who was considered the creator, and his favored son who was ultimately the "sun" god. Incorporated into these fully formed "religions" were the early "mother goddesses" and "bull gods", among others. And the most important thing to recognize is that the kings and leaders of these early civilizations claimed that they were either the earthly representative of the sun god, OR, in some cases, they claimed to be the god reincarnated in human form.
For those who want to study this subject more in-depth, I suggest that you read "The Two Babylons" by Alexander Hislop. But in a nutshell, it can be summed up in a passage from Hislop's above-mentioned book, whose purpose is to expose remnants of these pagan religions that are still manifested in all religions today, including (unfortunately) Christianity :
- "The object [of this pagan religion] was to bind all mankind in blind and absolute submission to a hierarchy entirely dependent upon the sovereigns of Babylon."
Think about it for a moment- the powerful leaders, beginning with Nimrod, could get the people to do anything they wanted by convincing them that they (the leaders) were "god in the flesh" or at least the "god's" chosen representative on earth, and that they MUST obey this "god" (or "god's representative") or they would suffer terrible tortures in the blackness of the nether world after their "death", tormented by monsters and horrible creatures.
They likewise convinced the people that the success of their harvests, or flocks, or having more children depended upon appeasing the "god," who made known his wishes through his "earthly representative." The mediatorship of Christ, the Son of God, was here replaced by a human being - either the king or priest who "spoke infallibly" on behalf of the "god," or the king who claimed to be the actual reincarnation of the "god," ruling mankind from his throne as every word from his mouth was considered infallible. This concept has been preserved throughout the ages until even today when men worship the Lord in vain, "teaching for doctrines the commandments of men" (Mat. 15:19) and the "doctrines of devils"(1Tim. 4:1).
Genesis chapter 10 tells us in general where the various groups of people dispersed to.
But in verse 10 it includes some more information about Nimrod and his kingdom: 10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. The fact that he is stated as having "a kingdom" tells us that he had a following- in fact, a following large enough to found at least 4 cities.
Where were these cities? Nimrod was the son of Cush, who was the son of Ham. The Cushites were those who settled in Egypt, Arabia, and Ethiopia. But Nimrod's cities that were "the beginning of his kingdom" were in "the land of Shinar", which we discussed earlier. In the next Scripture, we learn that it was FROM this area which contained Nimrod's cities which Asshur, a son of Shem LEFT to found HIS cities:
- 11 Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, 12 And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.
The chronology of the Bible indicates the direction of travel FIRST from the original home near the ark to the plain in Shinar; THEN, from this area (which was where Nimrod's kingdom had its "beginning"), Asshur went OUT to found his cities. This indicates that Nimrod's first cities were between Babel (or in the vicinity) and wherever Asshur's cities were located. On the map, you can see that Ron's location of Babel is in the plain on the banks of the Euphrates, within miles of the beginning of the Tigris. Asshur, it appears, simply began to follow the Tigris, leaving the immediate area of Babel in south central Turkey, and founded his cities to the east.
Our conclusion is that none of Nimrod's cities have been accurately identified. The peoples who settled the later (well over 1,000 years!) city of Babylon and the region further south were NOT Cushite, as Nimrod was. And since the Cushites settled in Egypt, Arabia and Ethiopia, it seems most likely that they traveled NOT down along the Euphrates but instead along the Mediterranean coast through Canaan which is the most direct route to these places.
Also, Canaan was inhabited by the Canaanites, also descendants of Ham so it makes more sense that those of the same family would tend to migrate together, even if they didn't speak the same language. And since Nimrod was a "leader", it makes sense that the Cushites would have tended to follow him at least for a while; then, along the way, finding land they liked in Canaan, they settled while the others kept traveling south.
Since the Cushites ended up in Egypt, Arabia and Ethiopia, it seems likely that he ended up in that region as well- after all, the cities listed as being his are said to be "the BEGINNING of his kingdom- so where is the rest? The ancient civilization that exhibited the strongest evidences of Nimrod, his wife, and his son, Tammuz, is Egypt where he was worshiped as Osiris (the martyred god) and Horus (the reincarnation of Osiris).
But the bottom line is that we have no positive evidence as to the location of his cities simply because it seems likely that there was no writing system at that time to record the facts.
Asshur is stated to have founded Nineveh, Rehoboth, Calah and Resen. On the Tigris River, southeast of where we believe Babel was, are the remains of an extremely large ancient city identified as Nineveh. The written evidences show this to have been the name, and it seems likely that this is correct.
Whether the city identified as Calah is correct cannot be proven. There is something that we must take into consideration, which we have discussed before. We know when the colonists first arrive in what became the United States, they named their new cities and rivers after those they knew in England. We know that Noah and his family named two of the rivers near them after two of those they knew from the pre-flood world, the Tigris and the Euphrates.
Ancient cities were many times named after the person, or head of the family who first settled there. Later, sometimes they were named after the gods of the city, who were "deified" ancestors. Therefore, if someone founded a city and then left it to go somewhere else, it is possible that whoever moved into that city gave it a new name.
These are all possibilities which must be taken into account. And therefore, we remain unsure about Asshur's cities, with the exception of Nineveh. However, there is evidence, which we will next discuss, which indicates that the cities in the region later called "Babylonia" were founded by Asshur ("Assyria") or at the least his descendants.
Babylon was NOT Nimrod's City
Next, we must note that the city of"Babylon" (of over 1,000 years after the dispersion at Babel) and its region "the land of the Chaldeans" mentioned in the Old Testament (beginning with II Kings 17:24 through the end of the Old Testament) is NOT the same city or kingdom Nimrod founded. This city and the region later called Babylonia was actually founded by the Assyrians:
- ISA 23:13 Behold the land of the Chaldeans; this people was not, till the Assyrian founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness: they set up the towers thereof, they raised up the palaces thereof; and he brought it to ruin.
The earliest inscription referring to Babylon appears on the Sargonic text of Sar-kal-Sarri and reveals that the Hebrew word is a Semitic pronunciation of the Hurrian word, Papil/Papal. (NI, p. 245.) In the Sumerian records, its oldest name was Ka-dingir, which meant "gate of god" in Sumerian. We then learn from the ancient inscriptions that Babylon was, at its beginning, NOT the capital of a powerful nation but a provincial center under the so-called 3rd Dynasty of Ur (located far to the south near the Persian Gulf.) It next became the nucleus of a small Amorite kingdom called "the Dynasty of the Martu"- the famous Hammurabi was the 6th king of this dynasty.
And from there, Babylon was conquered again and again by different people. (See AH for detailed information.) A common practice of later conquerors was to destroy all references to previous "gods" and kings, etc., and rewrite history to honor themselves and their gods.
The above Scripture states of "the land of the Chaldeans" that the "Assyrian founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness". Although the Amorites' early settlements maintained political and diplomatic contacts with other cities, their way of life was specifically nomadic. The myth of their god, Martu and his marriage reflects the nomadic pattern of living, typifying the Amorite mountaineer as one unfamiliar with either agriculture or urban life. This description fits the above Scripture reference to the founding of "the land of the Chaldeans" by the Assyrians for "them that dwell in the wilderness", or the Amorites.
To state it plainly, the land later called Babylonia was founded by the descendants of Asshur ("the Assyrian"), who left the area of Babel traveling southeast along the Tigris, building Nineveh and the other cities mentioned in Genesis 10:10.
"Babylonia" was called "the land of the Chaldeans" when Nebuchadnezzar's father, Nabopolassar (a Chaldean) defeated the Assyrians in the battle for Babylon and took the throne there in about 626 BC. (AH, p. 124.) Specific information as to exactly "who" this Nabopolassar was is not certain, and in his own chronicles, he calls himself "the son of a nobody" whom Marduk chose because of his piety. (NI, p. 326). This possibly indicates that he came from a people who either weren't unified by a ruler prior to him; or that he took over rulership. Whatever the case, with him began the supremacy of the "Chaldean" empire which took over Babylon.
Where were these Chaldeans from? The evidence shows that their homeland included the area of south central Turkey because inscriptions have been found which tell that both Nebuchadnezzar (2nd king of the Chaldean empire) and Nabonidus (last king of the empire whose son, Belshazzar, was co-regent in Babylon) built temples to "Sin", the moon-god in HARRAN, about 80 to 100 miles south of Ron's site for Babel. Inscriptions also show that Nabonidus and his mother were both FROM Harran. (See our "Discovery Volume", p.44, for more evidence for the term "Chaldees"- the Urartuans or those from the greater Ararat region, called their collection of gods "khaldis" and their supreme god Khaldi).
The reason that it has been assumed that Nebuchadnezzar's Babylon was the original Babel is because "when the Jews were carried captive into Babylonia, they were struck with the vast magnitude and peculiar character of certain of the Babylonian temples, in one or other of which they thought to recognize as the very tower [of Babel] itself. (SB, p. 68 under subject "Tower of Babel.")
To determine when Babel and the confusion of languages occurred, we need to have a few points of reference as to time. The Biblical record indicates that the flood occurred in about 2348 BC. In 2247, 101 years later, we read that PELEG was born, in whose "days was the earth divided." The word "peleg," according to "Young's Analytical Concordance to the Bible" means literally, "an artificial watercourse." The Hebrew word, "peleg," occurs 16 times in the Bible - 7 times as the name, "Peleg." It occurs 9 other times, all of which are translated to read "river." We believe this is the key to understanding HOW the earth was "divided."
In Ron's book, "Discovered- Noah's Ark" he wrote of how he believed the waters of the flood were frozen at the poles (extending outward covering approximately half of the earth's surface) by the great wind that dried up the waters where the ark was resting. Some of the glaciers, we know, extended down to approximately 40 degrees N.
At some point in time, there was massive volcanic activity which caused some of the glaciers to melt forming "meltwater inland seas" which suddenly burst forth, raising the sea level and separating the continents. This, we believe, occurred AFTER the confusion of languages when the people left Babel and traveled to the various parts of the world. This would result in isolating various groups of people, as well as animals on continents and islands, thus accounting for the strange animals in places like Australia and Galapagos that are found no where else on earth. It would also account for the separation and isolation of many races.
In â‚¬atal HÂyÂk, the site of a very early settlement of people, (in west central Turkey) probably after Babel but still very early, excavators found "a wall painting in which either the units making up the town or the individual buildings forming one unit are shown against a background of a volcano in eruption." (PH, p. 19). There is an extinct volcano near Lake Van, called Nemrut Da (not the same as the one Ron and Richard visited in 1990 which is to the west along the Euphrates) which was a major source of obsidian in the area.
Because the obsidian from Nemrut Da contains unique trace elements, it was possible to identify that found in many of the earliest settlements as coming from this site, which confirms that this extinct volcano was active at a very early date. There are numerous other evidences of very early volcanic activity, all of which occurred after the flood which adds credence to Ron's explanation of the "dividing of the earth".
So when did this occur? The Bible doesn't say it happened when Peleg was born- ONLY that it happened "in his days". He died at age 239 (340 years after the flood), so it could have occurred any time between about 2247 BC and 2008 BC.
How could there be enough people to accomplish this after only a few hundred years? Well, Peleg was born 101 years after the flood and he was the great, great, great grandson of Noah. (Peleg- son of Eber, son of Salah, son of Arphaxad, son of Shem, son of Noah.) This tells us that there were four generations born in the first 101 years after the flood. And since God's purpose in "dividing the earth" was certainly to insure that the population continued to spread around the earth instead of migrating back to one central location, it makes sense that it would not have taken place until sufficient numbers of peoples had spread to the various locations.
To get an idea of how long it took the population to grow, I did some figuring. We know that Shem had five sons; Ham had four sons, and Japheth had seven sons. They must have had at least as many daughters in order to provide wives for the sons. If every couple had an average of ten children beginning at the average age of 25, and provided there were an equal number of boys and girls to accommodate marriages, I came up with the following.
- 1st At the end of the first 25 years, there would be 38 people- Noah, his wife, Shem, Ham, Japheth,their wives, and their 30 children.
- 2nd At the end of the next 25 years, (50 years after the flood) those 30 children married and produced 150 children. The original 8 + their 30 children + their 150 children would equal 188 people.
- 3rd As this series progresses, at the end of 75 years, there would be a total of 938 people.
- 4th At the end of 100 years, we would have 4,688 people, provided none had died.
- 5th At the end of 125 years,there would be 23,438;
- 6th At the end of 150 years, there would be 117,188;
- 7th At the end of 175 years, there would be 585,938;
- 8th And at the end of 200 years, there would be 2,929688!
- 9th Of course, even though the life spans were a little longer back then, they began to decline rapidly. So, let's assume that 1,000,000 (almost a third of the population) have died by the end of the 200 years. That would leave 1,929,688.
- 10th At the end of 225 years, growing at the same rate, there would be 13,648,438
- 11th And if another 2,000,000 die, at the end of 250 years, there would be 70,242,188!
- 12th At the end of 275 years, the total would be 363,210,938.
- 13th Perhaps 10 million die by the 300th year, 2048 BC. Even so, the total population is still almost TWO BILLION - 1,818,054,688! And Abraham wouldn't even be born for another 52 years!
The fact of a person dying without having children back then was so rare that the Bible makes mention of one in 1Chr. 2:10. It appears that the earth, the animals and the people were blessed with a special fertility at that time in order to facilitate the renewing of life on the planet.
Of course, I don't claim that my figures are accurate, but they give an idea of how slowly the re-population of the earth would have begun, and then how suddenly it began to increase. And though it doesn't sound like a long period of time, a great deal can take place in just three or four hundred years. If my figures are 50% too high, that would still be an AWFUL lot of people in an AWFUL SHORT time!
By the time Abraham went to Canaan, just 427 years after the flood, we know that the different nations were already established in their lands. Egypt was an empire and had its pharaohs; the sons of Heth (the Hittites) were known; there were kings of Shinar, Ellasar, Elam and one styled "king of nations"; there were Rephaims, Zuzims, Emims, Horites, Amalekites, Amorites, etc., etc. 427 years isn't really such a long time in the overall scheme of things. But in case one should think it impossible for everything to have occurred in that length of time, take a look at how our country has grown and the various stages it went through in just the last 200 to 300 years.
So when did Babel occur? I would guess that it was around 150 to 175 years after the flood (2198-2148 BC) - but that's a guess based on how long I think it would have taken to have enough people. It may have been much sooner, or much later. I would also guess that the people were at Babel for a number of years before the confusion of languages occurred and that the "dividing of the earth" occurred a number of years after this (since Peleg died in about 2008 BC - 340 years after the flood- it had to have occurred by then at the latest). But remember that these are just my rough estimates based on speculation and that only absolute number of years from the time of the flood the Bible gives relating to these events is that of the death of Peleg.
As we try to date and locate events and places of the time shortly after the flood, many times "direct" evidence is hard to come by due to the great number of years that have since passed. But by "indirect" evidence, we can reach conclusions that are "beyond reasonable doubt". While we will discuss the archaeological evidences more in-depth later, this seems to be the appropriate place to mention that excavators in the region have found evidence which shows that Mt. Ararat- the "traditional" sight of ark hunters- was not formed until many, many years after the flood.
In excavations of early settlements in the region of eastern and central Turkey, and western Iran and the USSR (the area which once was called "Ararat, or Urartu"), many tools and other objects have been found which were made out of obsidian which is found in and by volcanos. Because of the unique trace elements found in obsidian it is possible to match specimens found in settlements with sources whose obsidian exhibits the same trace elements. And these analyses show that the earliest settlements in this region obtained their obsidian from Nemrut Da , the volcano on the north side of Lake Van, about 70 miles south of Mt. Ararat.
Excavations of settlements in Assyria, such as Tell es-Sawwan near Nineveh, revealed obsidian that they are quite sure was imported from Mt. Ararat. The clear indication is that the earliest settlements (in the immediate vicinity of Mt. Ararat's present location) would not have traveled so far to get obsidian for tools if it was available in their own backyard, and therefore, Mt. Ararat was not formed until hundreds of years later since the first evidence of tools made with its obsidian occurs in areas (such as Assyria) that were settled a number of years after the people left Babel.