Lesson 10 - Chapters 10 and 11
The importance of Genesis chapters 10 and 11 is that they are the bridge from the beginning of the New World, after the Flood, to the greatest of the Biblical patriarchs, Abraham. As brief as these two chapters are, we get a linkage of genealogy between Shem and Abraham…..as well as the all important lines of descent that have now been divided and separated into 3 distinct groups, each with its own destiny. And, this destiny was contained in the blessings, and for one son, a curse, that Noach pronounced upon his 3 boys.
Let me make something clear: Shem, Ham, and Yefet were NOT the only sons Noach had produced. They were but the sons selected for reasons unknown to be included in the group of tzaddik…..the righteous……those 8 people who were allowed to live through the Flood, for the purpose of repopulating the Earth. Noach had many sons and daughters over the 600 years of life he had attained at the moment the Flood began. And, I suspect, fathered more AFTER the flood. They were apparently unimportant to the purpose of the story, so they were not written of. Of course, Shem, Ham and Yefet WERE the only surviving sons of Noach. All the rest….daughters, grand daughters, grandsons, great grandsons, and too many “greats” to speak, all were deemed wicked by Yahweh and all were destroyed right along with everyone else in the deluge.
In V 6, we follow the line of Ham….. the accursed line of Ham. And, we need to pay close attention to these names, for they will play a prominent role in the Bible. Cush is Ethiopia. Mizraim is Egypt. Put is Libya, and Canaan is the founder of the Land of Canaan, conquered by Joshua, which became Israel; those descendants of Canaan form many of the people of the Middle East and the Orient, some of which are often, mistakenly, called Arabs. Arabs are of the line of Shem, not Ham.
We are told that Kush was the father of the infamous Nimrod. Now, it might come as a surprise to you that Nimrod was a black man. This is not at all conjecture; many figurines and etchings of Nimrod have been found, going back thousands of years, and they all confirm his Negro features. And, it is perfectly logical that Nimrod should be a black man, because in the Bible whenever you see people called Kushites, that is, people that descended from Kush, you could for your own frame of reference call them Ethiopians…..generically speaking, the race of black people. Further, it is ancient Jewish tradition that HAM was a black man.
We should not just mention Nimrod’s name and then quickly move on. We will talk more about him after we read the next chapter. Suffice it say, for now, that ancient Assyrian tablets, found in large quantities, not only mention Nimrod, they confirm the title for him that we see in 10:9….. “mighty hunter”. But, as the Assyrian tablets explain, this is not because he was good at killing deer, fowl, rabbits, or wild boars. This expression means “a hunter of men”….. a warrior. And, being a fierce warrior, he became the very first empire builder, and world tyrant. And, that first empire was Bavel…… the most ancient Babylon, not the Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar which came many centuries later. During Nimrod’s day, Bavel, Babylon, was located in the land of Shinar, an area a little west from where Abraham would come, and located in modern day Iraq. Nimrod is credited with being the builder of Bavel, along with 3 other major cities in that area.
Next we’re told that “Ashur” went forth and built Nineveh, the fabulous city at the heart of Assyria. And, like in Babylon, this Ashur fellow built 3 more great cities in Assyria. Who is Ashur? Ashur is simply the Assyrian name for Nimrod (Nimrod being a Babylonian name). So, verse 11 is still speaking about the same man….just using a different language……and that man was Nimrod.
Let me give you a little secret about biblical names: very often, you see the same person, with as many as 3 or 4 different names, depending on which nation that person was residing in, what era the biblical account was actually written versus when the recorded event actually happened, and which culture was speaking of him. Because, just like today where Rick or Ricky is an American nickname, Richard is a more formal English title, Ricardo is a Spanish title, Hecardo is Brazilian….. but all are speaking of the same name. The same thing happens concerning nations, regions, and cities…… the names change over the years as cultures and languages change, but it is still referring to the same person or place.
In verse 13, we’re told something that has great impact on our current events. Mitzrayim, son of Ham….. the line of evil, cursed by God….. Mitzrayim fathered a people called the Kasluchim. From the Kasluchim descended the dreaded Philistines. And, we need to remember that the modern word for Philistine, is Palestine. The Palestinians of today claim to be descendants of the Philistines who are descended from Ham. In fact, that is not true. The bulk of the Palestinians who we see fighting the Israeli Jews every night on TV, are Arabs from various areas of the Middle East, who came as immigrants to the Holy Land area over the last 75 -100 years seeking work on Jewish farms and in Jewish factories; and Arabs are not from the line of Ham, they are from the line of Shem. That said, the fact is that many of these people have made a conscious decision, out of their hatred for Israel, to identify with the Philistines because the Philistines were Israel’s arch enemy. But, they have unwittingly created an enormous problem for themselves. Just as a person of any descent can become an Israelite by formally identifying themselves with Israel (on a physical level, by converting and becoming a Jew), so can a person become a Philistine by identifying with the Philistines? Many Palestinian Arabs have given up their heritage of the line of good…..Shem…..to join the line of evil…..Ham. They, as have most Arabs, also given up the Semite God, Yahweh, for a false god, Allah. And, they’re going to be judged for it, and we need to pray for them to wake up to this fact before it’s too late.
Anyway, we see a list of tribes spawned by Canaan in verses 15-18. Later, during the Exodus from Egypt, you’ll see many of these names reappear as enemies of the Israelites who will try to keep them out of the Promised Land.
In verse 21, we now come to the blessed line of Shem…... the line of good. Notice we come across the name “Ashur” as a son of Shem. Remember, this is NOT the “Ashur” who built Ninevah… that “Ashur” was simply the Assyrian name for Nimrod. This is another person named Ashur.
Let me sum up the most important aspect of the verses spelling out the line of Shem: you’ll notice that Shem is referred to as the “father” or “ancestor” of the children or descendants of Ever, or Eber. This is key to Hebrew history because from the line of Eber would come another of God’s divisions: Peleg and Yoktan. Dividing, selecting, electing. Watch for this, for this is a major theme that points to a way God works His will throughout the Bible, and for that matter, in our own lives. Peleg and Yoktan were brothers, sons of Ever. Interestingly, Peleg means “division”. For, from the line of Peleg came Abraham, from whom God’s plan to rescue all of mankind, to restore fallen man to Himself, would come.
READ GEN 11 all
In Chapter 10, we had an expansive summary of the genealogical history of the earth’s nations. In Chapter 11, we take a step back, and begin by examining Nimrod, and WHY the earth’s people spread out so rapidly and thoroughly.
We’re told that up to the time of Nimrod, every person in the whole world spoke the same language. Apparently, people were dispersing at a very measured rate, and they stayed quite linked to the common language because they didn’t SEPARATE themselves from each other, they just expanded….. like so much urban sprawl.
Notice also, which direction they expanded…… EAST! There’s that “east” word again, a word of importance for us; and here it has the greatest of meaning. Notice that the wording says they (meaning the bulk of Noach’s descendants) came “from” the east to Shinar, rather than saying they moved to the east. That’s a tad confusing, because Shinar is south and EAST from where they came. Shinar is in modern day Iraq, near the Persian Gulf, in an area dominated by the city of Basra. Shinar and Sumer are the same place, just different languages. Here’s why the reference to moving FROM the east: by going east from where God had placed them, they in essence moved away from God. Now, we shouldn’t necessarily think of what they did, by moving, as evil per se…..after all, they were pretty much accomplishing that which God had instructed, to repopulate the planet. Rather, by the Biblical designation that they were going “away from East”, it was symbolic of they want to gain independence from God. A lot like some of us who couldn’t wait to reach the age of majority so that we could move away from the authority of our parents!
Now, did Nimrod found the city of Bavel, which we now call Babylon, in the sense that it was he who planted a stake in the ground and said, “build here”? Probably not. He likely took over ruler ship at some point in the city’s early development…..a common practice… and took it to another level. And, in time Bavel became a huge city, with the smallest estimates being a mile square inside its walls, and the larger estimates at 5 times that size! And, of course, there’s that Tower…... the Tower of Babel. Technically, the tower was a Ziggurat, kind of a step pyramid. Several ancient Ziggurats have been discovered in modern day Iraq and Iran. And, this particular Ziggurat was built for two stated purposes: a) to reach up to heaven, so they could make a name for themselves and b) to make sure that they weren’t scattered. Bottom line: rebellion of an enormous scale.
As we saw in the last couple of weeks, Shem means name; and the word SHEM is used here when it refers to Nimrod’s followers wanting to make a name for themselves. But, recall that the word “name” is not referring to Bob, or Elizabeth, or Fred; this Hebrew word shem would be better translated as “reputation” as it carries with it the sense of power and authority. For instance, Nimrod means “mighty hunter”; that was his reputation. So, they built a tower up to the heavens to make a reputation of having power and authority in themselves. And, the REASON they wanted the reputation was to show God that they were NOT going to be obedient to Him and scatter as they fully understood they were to do. Further, anyone planning to be a dictator (as was Nimrod) has to demonstrate that he is all-powerful, so that the people will submit to him. That was very much a part of what Nimrod was doing.
It is apparent from the wording that even from the days of Noach, man was to scatter, to disperse, to repopulate the whole world…… those were God’s instructions. Those orders hadn’t been lost or forgotten, they had simply been ignored. But, now, at Nimrod’s leadership, they set out to openly DEFY God’s order to disperse. As it says in verse 4 “…… that we not be scattered over all the earth”.
The idea in these early Babylonian brains was this: God lives in heaven? No big deal, we, man, with our wonderful intelligence, can invent a way to build a tower right up to heaven…so, we can live up there too, if we wish. And, when we get there, we’re going to tell God that WE have decided we like all the power, knowledge, wealth, and comforts we have attained by staying together…… by NOT scattering….. and that’s just the way we’re gonna keep it, and there’s nothing you can do to stop it! And, BTW, when everybody else hears about this, we’ll really make a reputation for ourselves and nobody would ever want to come against us.
Is this far from where we stand today, as humankind? Isn’t man currently saying: “God, your ways are old and obsolete. We have amassed such superior knowledge, that we can not only solve our own problems, we can do it better than you can. In fact, you and those backwards people who stay stuck to you and your ways are just a hindrance to where we, mankind, want to go and CAN go……. Without any help from you, thank you very much. We don’t need YOUR silly moral directives….. we can make our own, as we need them, and relevant for each situation. Life? We can produce life, and manufacture it to OUR specifications. Marriage? Only between male and female? Great for times long past, not necessary for today.” What Nimrod did is nothing different from what our secular humanistic culture is leading us to do, today. Rebellion, pure and simple.
In verse 5 we come to one of those “figurative” expressions, in that “God came down to look at the tower”. God certainly didn’t have to “move” to know what was happening. But, and I really love this, God put down this rebellion in an absolutely brilliant stroke: he gave everybody different languages. Try putting together a team, building anything, when nobody speaks anybody else’s’ language.
By the way, paleo-linguists, that is, scientists who research the history of language, have come to the conclusion recently that all language sprang from ONE source. They’re working hard to discover which one, and from where. Talk about a waste of time….. all they have to do is read this chapter.
Verse 6, when we look at the Hebrew, gives us some interesting insight. It says that what God saw when he looked upon these people, was unity. They were united, and they had a single language…..they all spoke as one. In the Hebrew, it says they were echad……which is an attribute attached to God himself. That is, the people were organically connected and inseparable. And, God didn’t like this. But, what is so bad about their being united? All for one, one for all? Is this not the cry from every pulpit, in every church, in our land? Unity, unity!
You see, unity in the sense mankind….including the church…..defines it, is a false doctrine. Here in Bavel the people had a leader, and they had a vision and a purpose that they thought was good; and so, since they ALL thought it, and ALL wanted it, they had unity. Yet, when we examine the Scriptures, we don’t see God unifying; we see God dividing, and electing, and separating. In fact, later when we see Israel wind up in Egypt, and then when we study the laws of Leviticus, we’ll see Yahweh constantly telling the people to separate themselves from unclean and unholy people; to separate pure and impure things like food, and animals, and behavior; Separation was His intention for Nimrod and his followers. Unity in itself is not a bad thing; the key is what or who the unifying agent is. Consensus and compromise is man’s kind of unity. It is the kind that we see throughout Christendom and the world in general. It is men, holding hands, saying we are one.
God’s type of unity is unity in Him. It is each individual holding Christ’s hand. And, like the hub of a spoked wheel, Christ is the point of unity. It has nothing to do with consensus, compromise or even majority rules.
What is also fascinating is that we get a wonderful demonstration of this principle, in the form of the OPPOSITE thing happening thousands of years later. Remember our principle of opposites. Everything in our Universe has an opposite, or, for you scientists, a reverse corollary. Here in the story of the Tower of Babel, God is once again demonstrating how He will divide and separate that which man wants to unify. And, the dividing mechanism He used on this occasion was language.
In the book of Acts, however, we see Man being unified in God’s way, at the day of Pentecost. In effect unifying that which He had divided and separated over 2000 years earlier.
READ ACTS 2:1 – 21
Do you see this fascinating connection between Pentecost and the Tower of Babel? At the Tower, God broke up man’s type of unity by giving them different languages, so they couldn’t communicate….so that man’s kind of unity was undone and limited. The HUMAN spirit was what was driving mankind at the Tower of Babel, and the HUMAN spirit was what was defining unity. Now, at Pentecost, Shavuot, God puts the Holy Spirit into man, and unifies them BY MEANS OF GOD’s SPIRIT……not by means of compromise and consensus. The unity was not a physical type of unity; it was a spiritual type of unity. He even gives them the ability to understand and speak languages they never understood or spoke before…..the exact opposite of what happened at the Tower of Babel when he gave them each languages that they could NOT understand.
Let’s talk about Nimrod a little bit. Nimrod was a real, literal man, but he was also a type. He is the first of a type of man who wanted to rule the world, and represents all the attributes of he who will become the LAST man who wants to rule the world: the Anti-Christ. Nimrod is the “Man of Sin” who was fully possessed of Satan, by the complete agreement of his own evil inclination. So will many who come after Nimrod be of the same type……Pharaoh, Antiochus Epiphanies, Nero, and Hitler to name but a few; culminating in the Lawless One, that Man of Sin, the Beast called the Anti-Christ. And, of course, this is to oppose the man who is the exact opposite, Yeshua….Jesus the Christ….who is fully possessed, and is one with, Yahweh.
Nimrod, of the cursed line of Ham, son of Cush, is credited with being the first empire builder in history. He is the first to want to dominate not just the animals, but men. He is the first to build a walled city; this is a clue as to why he is thought to be the inventor of warfare. That is, there is only one reason to build a wall around where you live: self-protection. And, if you were the first to think of the idea, imagine how you could go out and raid and conquer others, and retreat to safety behind the walls so that others could not do the same to you.
Nimrod married Semiramis. After he died, his wife declared him to be God. Further, as the earthly wife of God, she made herself Queen of Heaven. They had son, named Tamuz. Tamuz was considered to be the rebirth…..or reincarnation….of Nimrod. So, now, we had a man-god ruler…..Tamuz, who’s essence was Nimrod. This formulation of God the father, Queen of Heaven mother, and a son who’s essence was the rebirth of the father, became the basis for all future false religions; those religions that God calls “Mystery Babylon” religions. They all have their starting point with Nimrod.
Ever since that day, both Nimrod and Semiramis (now deified as god and goddess) have appeared by different names……names reflecting the language and culture that adopted them. Semiramis, as the mother of all mothers, was therefore the fertility goddess. In Egypt, her name was Isis. In India, Indrani; in Asia, Cyblle, later, particularly in the area of the Holy Land, she will be called Ashteroth. Her oldest known name was Astarte.
As for Nimrod, his god image became known as the Biblical Ba’al, and as the god-man Ninus who built Ninevah. Later, Nimrod would also be known as Marduk, and then Molech.
I show you this so you can see the tangle of evil that shows up in our Scriptures from beginning to end; and what it is that makes up the “Mystery Babylon” religions….at least foundationally….and from where it came. And, how the prophetic curse of the line of Ham, by Noach, is playing out. You can be your boots that the Anti-Christ will be from the line of Ham.
Interestingly, the name of the city Nimrod first built, Bavel, had in more ancient times a different meaning than it does now. Notice the spelling of Bav-el. The EL indicates the word “God”…..the highest god, actually. Originally, Bav-el meant the city of God. Eventually, it’s meaning got changed to reflect what happened there; and the word Bavel came to mean confusion.
In the end, as a result of the confusion of languages, the city of Bavel, Babylon, stopped its expansion; and the people moved out, and now at a much faster pace began to repopulate far-flung places in the world. Isn’t it curious how at that point in man’s history God judged man by confusing human language, and forced us to disperse; but then, at Pentecost, thousands of years later, God blessed man through the outpouring of the Holy Spirit when God’s Truth could be understand by everyone, of every language. And, as marvelous was that event, it was to point to yet another time in the future when the people of God, in all the nations of the world, would come back from their dispersion, to unite in one spirit, under our present and future king, Yeshua HaMashiach, Jesus Christ. We call this united kingdom of God the Millennial Kingdom. But, wouldn’t you know that just like everything else Satan has planned, he is quickly working towards a counterfeit of this……. In the form of his own one-world government. We today, are in that generation that is actively reincarnating what Nimrod tried to do…… to bind all the world into one people, echad, under one rule, and one ruler…..a man. And, large segments of the church are blindly leading the way preaching tolerance, world harmony, peace at any price, and the end of Torah such that instead we should trust the goodness of our hearts.
From V 10 to the end of this chapter the lineage of Shem, beginning with him and taking us all the way to Abraham, is recounted. We are also given some good basic information about Abraham and his family. For instance, his father was Terach, and Abraham had two brothers….. at least two……. and their names were Nachor and Haran. Haran had a son named Lot, but Haran died. We see that Abraham married a woman named Sarai (we later find out that she was the daughter of another of his father’s wives…… so Sarai would have been Abraham’s half-sister). And, we are told that for some reason, Sarai couldn’t seem to have children.
A curious thing, often overlooked, is told in V 31. It seems that it was initially Terach, not Abraham, who FIRST got the call to take his family and move to the land of Canaan. When Terach got that call he and his family were living in the city of Ur of the Chaldees. The Chaldees was an ancient culture of that area; Sumer was the region’s name, and Ur was in essence the capital city. It was also a very wicked place; in fact it was the cultural center for the worship of the moon-god Hurki, who is today known as Allah.
Interestingly, for some reason, Terach did leave Ur, but instead of heading southwest to Canaan, he went northwest to Mesopotamia. When they arrived at a certain city, they decided to stay instead of going on to Canaan. Why, we’re not told. But, it was there that Abraham’s brother, Haran, died. And, the city was named after him sometime later.
BTW: technically, at this time, Abraham was not yet called Abraham…… he was called Abram, or in Hebrew, Avram, which meant “exalted father”. It would be several years before God changed his name from Avram to Avraham, which meant “father of many”