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Thursday, July 21, 2016
Genesis the Book of Beginnings Part 27 - The Tower of Babel: an Occultic Portal? (11:1-9)
As we have discovered in the last lesson, after the Flood the population began to increase again, as God gave Noah and his sons the mandate to "be fruitful and multiply" in much the same way He did Adam. At this point in history, everyone spoke the same language, and due to the close proximity to the ark's resting-place on Ararat, most people lived in close proximity, with a population center being on the Plain of Shinar in central Mesopotamia. However, although the earth was renewed, human nature was not, and in time man's inherent concupiscence began to manifest itself again in sinful behavior, but this time in a way totally different. In Genesis 10, we introduced an enigmatic character who was a great-grandson of Noah by the name of Nimrod, and as we also examined, Nimrod was a person who more than likely inherited corrupted recessive genes probably through his grandmother, Ham's wife. Other than the fact that he founded Babel and eventually lived there and ruled from it, not much specifically is mentioned of Nimrod in Genesis 11 except to say that traditionally the events that happened at Babel are thought to be an instigation of Nimrod. We are now going to examine some extrabiblical texts regarding Nimrod's life, and this will shed light on the events we see in Genesis 11, in particular this section.
Artistic rendering of Nimrod
The connection of Nimrod to the events of the first few verses of Genesis 11 are an inference based on Genesis 10:10 which states that Nimrod was king over Babel. Nimrod is also historically thought to be a prototype of the future Antichrist, one of many we see in history (others being Nero, Napoleon, and Hitler). The ancient Book of Jasher has quite a bit to say about Nimrod, so we will take up his story from Jasher as it also connects the story of Nimrod to the Tower of Babel incident.
The version of the Book of Jasher we will utilize for this particular study is Dr. Ken Johnson's Ancient Book of Jasher (Olathe, KS: Biblefacts, 2008). Johnson is a minister in the Calvary Chapel denomination, and although on some things he has some Fundamentalist Protestant bias in his writing, he does have a very handy translation of these ancient books, and it is a good ready reference if you are interested in getting something like that without spending a lot of cash. In the first reference, we go to Jasher 11, where it is recorded that Nimrod built four cities (which we also see in Genesis 10) and they are named Babel ("confusion"), Eched ("dispersion"), Calmah ("consumption") and Echad ("conflict") (Johnson, p. 23-24). In Jasher 11:6, it states that Nimrod dwelt in Babel, which can be inferred to be his administrative capital. In Jasher 7, Nimrod's birth is recorded as the year 1908 AM, and in 7:29 it records that Nimrod inherited (dishonestly, as we see later) the garments of Adam (Johnson, p. 17). In Jasher 8, we see an interesting story of Nimrod's interaction with Abraham, which was actually a very hostile one - Nimrod for some reason sought to kill Abraham at his birth (Genesis 3:15 coming to life, maybe?) but his father Terah hid him in a cave. As he grew, he was taught the ways of God by his own ancestor Shem, who was still alive at this point (Jasher 9:6), and at the time Nimrod began construction on the Tower of Babel, Abraham is reported in this text as being age 45. Abraham is eventually arrested as an adult by Nimrod as Abraham had refused to follow Nimrod's false religion, but he is able to flee when Nimrod tries to kill him (Jasher 12) (Johnson, pp. 26-28). Nimrod's death is also reported in Jasher 27, and it ironically corresponds with Genesis 25:28-33, as it is of all people Esau, Abraham's grandson, who kills him! As that story goes, Nimrod and Esau had a rivalry, as both were "mighty hunters," and on one occasion Esau seizes the opportunity to decapitate Nimrod in a field, and also absconds with the garments of Adam. Given the effort and the struggle such a battle must have entailed, this would also correspond with why Esau was so tired and hungry when he gives up his birthright for a bowl of lentil soup in Genesis 25. At this point, Nimrod would have been close to 300 at his death then.
Bodie Hodge, in his book Tower of Babel (Green Forest, AR: Master Books, 2012) notes also the title of Nimrod as "the mighty hunter," and as he notes on page 90, the speculation is not someone who hunts deer or wild boar, but rather one who hunts men to enslave them. Again too, we come back to the question we asked in Genesis 10 - was Nimrod a giant? The thesis I have here remains the same, in that the Hebrew word Gibborim when used in this context infers a super-human person who in some ways surpasses the average man, and the reason for this is Nimrod possessed the same recessive gene his uncle Canaan did, which resulted in him becoming a Gibborim. If this be the case, then we do have an event that reflects the playing out of Genesis 3:15, in that Nimrod then was the "serpent's seed" whereas his adversity with both Abraham and Esau as recorded in Jasher reflected the "enmity between the seeds," which is probably why he sought to kill Abraham. And, when the languages are scrambled and the population disperses at Babel later on, many legends arise which feature demigods with many similar traits to Nimrod, which is why many writers believe that all these names in different cultures (Gilgamesh, Heracles, Osiris, etc.) all refer to the same person, and that is Nimrod. Below is a chart showing some of the names associated by some with the personage of Nimrod, and when their myths are read in context with the way Genesis describes Nimrod, the uncanny similarities actually do jump out:
At this point now, we go to the Tower itself in verse 3.
There are some things about the tower itself we will now discuss, and they are as follows:
1. How it was constructed
2. Why was it built?
In verse 3, Genesis tells us that the Tower was built out of bricks plastered with "slime," and in looking up that word, some translations render this as asphalt. It you recall when Noah was constructing the ark, he used a material called pitch to waterproof it, and as we discussed, this pitch came from naturally-occurring petroleum tar pits in the region (in southern Iraq, oil is an abundant commodity, as much of the world's supply does come from this region). The names "pitch" and "slime" are talking about the same thing used two different ways - one was for waterproofing, and the other acted as a sort of mortar or cement in building. As we see below, this is still a practice used by peoples in that region even today:
As for the construction itself, the Tower was probably a ziggurat, which was common to the region, and more than likely it looked more like the illustration below rather than the conical thing we see in classical artwork:
Keeping this in mind, the next question then is why did they build this thing? In verse 4, the Tower is described as "a tower whose top will reach heaven," and this also leaves questions. As the tower was probably a ziggurat, it was also imposing, given the flat plains of Shinar where Babel was located. However, I have come to believe that size is not the real problem with the Tower, but rather something else. After all, if God were against tall skyscrapers, he would have flattened New York long before 9/11 happened! Therefore, be assured that God is not against tall buildings, but the purpose of the structure rather than its physical attributes are why God had concern.
It also said in the same verse that this tower was built by the people (possibly under Nimrod's mandate) to "make a name for ourselves." Nimrod was the absolute ruler of most of the population of the earth at this time, and it is one possibility that this structure was built to consolidate his rule in the region. In doing so, the people would be drawn toward it, and the consolidation of the majority of people on the earth into one area would have made it easier for Nimrod to rule them. However, I am about to propose another purpose that is much more mysterious for this structure, and it is now being talked about more in some circles.
Many reading this I am sure are familiar with a science fiction TV series called Stargate SG-1. That series is one of my wife Barb's favorite shows, and it is a very good program. The premise of the program was that some US military people unearth an ancient inter-dimensional portal, and it becomes a top-secret project of the government to travel to other galaxies and even alternate universes. It comes into play here because if size was not an issue in the construction of Babel, then what was? Also, was it just merely a symbol of the pride of man, or was there more to it? Many rulers, and even some not-so-powerful, have symbols of their pride displayed all the time; statuary, monuments' plaques, etc. For the most part, they just preserve the legacy of the one whose likeness is reflected by it, and God really doesn't seem to be too worried about mere monuments to leaders or civilizations. Therefore, an "I love me" display in the central square is not really the issue, and the Tower of Babel was not necessarily built for that purpose either. However, what if I were to speculate that Babel may have been a portal of some sort? Opening "portals" to supposed "other dimensions" has been done before, as occultists are constantly playing around with that stuff in order to initiate contact with "higher consciousness," which they fail to realize are actually demonic spirits. One such example of this happened in 1918 with notorious occultist Aleister Crowley, and I want to discuss that now.
Occultist Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) in his "tinfoil pyramid hat"
Crowley is perhaps the most notorious occultist of all time, and despite being brought up in a strict home with devout Plymouth Brethren parents, he was actually an evil and perverted soul who many believe inspired much of the modern "Satanic Church" movement. In 1918 Crowley attempted a ritual that was supposed to bridge the visible and invisible dimensions which he called the Alamantrah Working, and when he opened this rift he was attempting, a weird being called a "lam" named Aiwass came through it (Thomas Horn, Nephilim Stargates. Crane, MO: Anomalos Publishing, 2007. p. 94). Crowley sketched this entity, and what he drew looked like this:
Doesn't that look familiar?? Today, we would associate this thing with the "little green Martian men" we see in sci-fi movies, but in reality what it really is actually is a demon. Some researchers would also call this thing an "alien gray," and keep in mind when Crowley conjured this thing, it was a good 28 years before the UFO sightings began, and another similar coincidence relates to that too.
Two other occultists, one being an otherwise brilliant rocket scientist named Jack Parsons and the other being the founder of the Church of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard, attempted a similar experiment in the year 1946 called the Babylon Working (begin to put all this together, and you will see where we're going in case you are wondering why we are even discussing this in a study about the Tower of Babel), and a big part of that was what was called ritual sex magick (called the "Great Rite" in Wiccan traditions - George Mather and Larry Nichols, Dictionary of Cults, Sects, Religions, and the Occult. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1993. p. 317). While Parsons was performing this sexual act with a prostitute (representing the Whore of Babylon) in order to call down the spirit child into a human womb (sounds like a Genesis 6 attempt, doesn't it?) thus embodying the supernatural forces of "Babylon," Hubbard acted as a scribe recording it all (Daniel V. Boudillion, "Aleister Crowley's Lam and Little Gray Men," published August 2003 at http://www.boudillion.com/lam/lam.htm. Accessed July 8, 2016). Two interesting facts emerge about this. First, Parsons and Hubbard were attempting to harness the "spirit of Babel," which no doubt has a connection to Genesis 11 (a fact not lost either in Peter and Paul LaLonde's 1997 Christian thriller Tribulation) and thus has some relevance to what I will say momentarily. Secondly, this "Babalon Working" (the spelling Parsons used) corresponded so closely with Roswell a year later, when the UFO hysteria began officially. Oddly about that, whereas Crowley had mastered closing the portal some 30 years earlier, somehow Parsons and Hubbard were unable to do so, and that may have something to do with all these UFO sightings. That could all be a study in itself honestly. Bottom line, with a limited tangent here, people who see these UFO's are seeing something, but it isn't what they think - what they are seeing are not aliens from other galaxies, but rather demons who appear as friendly little extraterrestrials. Now, to connect this with Babel.
Rocket scientist and occultist Jack Parsons (1914-1952)
The question here to ask then is this - was the Tower of Babel a similar portal? Remember what we talked about when we studied Genesis 10, about Nimrod wanting to "seek vengeance" on God for killing off his possible Nephilim ancestors before the Flood happened? It is possible that Nimrod was trying to summon the "spirits" of his ancestors to become part of him so that he would be able to "vanquish God." And, this is a reason why Nimrod is the first Antichrist figure we see in the Old Testament, for when we look at the description of the future Antichrist in Revelation 13:4-6 (NKJV):
So they worshipped the dragon who gave authority to the Beast, and they worshipped the Beast, saying, "Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?"
And he was given a mouth speaking great things and blasphemies, and he was given authority to continue forty-two months.
Then he opened his mouth in blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His name, His tabernacle, and those who dwell in heaven.
Remember the description of Nimrod in Genesis 10 - "a mighty hunter before the Lord" - which means something very different from what many reading this may think? St. Augustine acknowledges that Nimrod founded Babylon, and in his City of God he refers to Nimrod as a "giant." Although some Fathers - such as St. Chrysostom in his Homilies on Genesis - take on a view that Aquinas would formulate later that even Lucifer in his being was good, as was Nimrod because God initially created him. But, as even St. Chrysostom acknowledges, Nimrod has a weird change in his being, and the phrase "before the Lord" then means standing defiantly in the face of God - what I would propose happened here is that Nimrod's pride got the best of him, and he became transformed into something evil, even super-human, as this pride animated the possible recessive Nephilim gene within him. Perhaps also he was indwelt by the spirits of the Nephilim themselves, hence giving him a delusion of godhood that those he ruled over bought into as well. The similarities between the descriptions of Nimrod and the Antichrist in Revelation are striking, and it is believed to be the same spirit animating them. Perhaps then, the Tower was a portal of some sort to channel that demonic power to focus on Nimrod, and thus he had the delusion of thinking he could take on God. But, God has other plans, as the passage continues.
In verses 7-8, God stops this whole scheme before it gets out of hand by confusing the languages, and hence this is why the "Table of Nations" precedes the story of Babel. Genesis 10 documents 70 original nations, and these may not even be all of them, but the ones mentioned have significance in the narrative of salvation we read throughout Scripture it seems. When the nations are scattered, work on the Tower stops, and Nimrod is thwarted in any possible plan to get revenge on God and overthrow Him. But, Nimrod retains his kingdom, and becomes still mightier as the nations scatter and begin to embody his legend in their own mythologies. In time though, the Tower does fall into ruins, and although Babylon in various incarnations would continue to be a great power for many generations to come, nothing of this magnitude was ever attempted there again, although it is taught by some that the Antichrist will, with the image of the Beast we read about in Revelation 13, seek to resurrect the very plan Nimrod started. The confusion of languages is why Babel has its name, which means "confusion" (and also the source of the English word babble, which means to speak incoherently about absolutely nothing, confusing the listener). In God's plan though, He desires us to be one family, but on His terms, and that is where Acts 2 comes in - God sent His Holy Spirit to the Upper Room on the Day of Pentecost, and people of different nationalities were able to glorify God together. Although I grew up myself in a Pentecostal denomination and understand all about speaking in tongues (which I believe to be known languages and a real gift of the Holy Spirit), the miracle of Pentecost has another dimension for us as Catholic Christians I have never noticed before now - if you go into one of our Anglican Catholic parishes anywhere in the world, we may speak in different languages but we know what is going on and can worship Jesus together as one Church, because as Ephesians 4:5 reminds us, we the Church have "one Lord, one faith, and one baptism." When Jesus Christ is at the center, true unity exists, but where man tries to dominate others and imposes unity upon people by force (as Nimrod did here), it leads to something intrinsically evil. That is the lesson for the Church in the Babel story.
As we noted in our look at Jasher, Nimrod wanted to kill Abraham, so when the confusion of languages happens at Babel, Abraham and his family are able to escape Nimrod's wrath, although it says Nimrod did try to pursue. Another interesting fact here is the descendant of Shem named Peleg, whose name we recall means "scattering" or "division." Again, this indicates that the confusion of languages at Babel happened in Peleg's lifetime, and Peleg's father Eber named him that prophetically. In other words, it has nothing to do with geologic plate shifts, as that would have occurred during the Flood.
In the aftermath of Babel, we have a scattering of nations, and many begin to move away from knowledge and worship of the true God, and a series of myths and legends develop within each culture. Many of those legends no doubt deify Nimrod under other names as a "hero," and in some cases he personifies the dominant deities of those cultures, such as Osiris in Egypt or Apollo among the ancient Greeks. As Fr. Warkulwicz notes as well in his book The Doctrines of Genesis 1-11 (Caryville, TN: The John Paul II Institute of Christian Spirituality, 2007) on pages 395-397, Nimrod became a hunter "before the Lord," meaning "against the Lord," and was thus corrupted by his own power and began to manifest traits of latent recessive DNA that lay dormant in other members of his family. Therefore, God dispersed the nations for their own good, and this too is another sign of His mercy, as He could have destroyed them all there with one move of His hand, yet His love for mankind restrains Him from doing so. As St. Jerome observes regarding Babel also, "where sinners dwell together, the worse they are," in contrast to what the Psalms say about the people of God: "Behold how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity" (Psalm 133:1, NKJV). It is Pentecost vs. Babel, and the challenge for us today is which we will be part of?
In the next study, we begin the first of several centering on the life of Abraham, as the narrative of salvation begins to narrow down to one family, and in time one Man, Jesus Christ. The first part of this will be the genealogy leading up to Abraham.
References to the Church Fathers are taken from Andrew Louth and Thomas Oden, ed. The Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture - Old Testament Vol. 1: Genesis 1-11. Downer's Grove, IL: Intervarsity, 2001. pp. 166-170.