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Unformatted text preview: .Amwmp .wumfloom :ofiumoflansm nmflzmb mna uxuow BGZV mmuHDu. HHOM HOE GER. uEMflZflB uEOHh 1%? s Em Eggs: a} .me L Q.§§m: tMN a its 20:3 o6 mo uufl B: 55 Sufi 355% 554 05 805 50¢ 98 wafimo 2033 0% mo 53% Eu otuuqsoLEoU 954 05 805 8:83 Eonmm 3:8 83 a 33 mm “SE. .36 ufi @8353 3&0: 55 98 £53 22>» 05 .«0 8mm 2t b>o 22% 80¢ 82.: UBMESW n23 2t mafia 24.33% @8505“ use vqfimbnc: go: zafi >05 35 om, 656 58% Eng 950%.8 US 5506 ow #56 £5 HQ? :qu has“ .«0 So on 33 ow 9 umomoa ENE >05 “Eu wanton 55 Jun 9 5&3 PE: 5% >6: a £5 4d“ 5m uwmsmqfl use 53» alga 2.5 mm 5.. Jug 95A 05 undo J35 can 58 “Eu 539 «Em 36 us... 3 402 9 Esow 2:8 954 Balm 2.253 2t :50 :4“ @80th on :5? 95 83 302850 5m 25s a BE: 8 iv? “.5 E m9 m: 5; $38 a U5. 56 m m: 283 m: E 6800: 61mm 55 vévlgwfioE mm Sufi 338 :uEBE Ea museum 3 E05 vutuw xuimlnafilas Eur? ESQ Una Quin BEE a: 8— 6800: 5505 use 9 ES 53.? 055 393 «Ed chEm we was 2% E 52$, a com: 258 55 $8 2.3 So: @8838 55 3 v5” 2:03 088 ufi 35 ququg 08% Ba was 556 GO 3963mm Amflmmcwwv Hmnmm MO HmBOB .__ _ _ - .. .....- .._.-..,s _..,,_..-..‘.- --—‘_.-. . mud-n..— 22 From : Robert Graves and Raphael Patai, THE TOWER OF BABEL HEBREW MYTHS (New York : Doubleday, 1964). (a) Noah’s descendants ioumeyed together from country to coun- try, slowly moving eastward. They came upon a plain in Shinear, and said: ‘Come, let us bake bricks; we will build ourselves a city, and a tower reaching to Heaven, and become one nation, lest we be .vj‘ scattered over the earth.’ At once they began work, using bitumen for mortar to seal the courses of brick. Cod watched them, and thought: ‘While they continue as one people, speaking one tongue, whatever they have in mind will be accomplished . . . Let us now :3 confuse their language, and provoke misunderstandings between 3-; them.’ This He did, and presently work on the tower ceased, and the builders diSpersed in all directions. Its ruins were called Babel, - _ because God confused the tongues of mankind, and divided 3 single _' nation into seventy.l a . L (b) Others say that Nimrod, a famous hunter in God’s service, L- ' raised the Tower of Babel; but that it was not his first foundation. ' Having won dominion over all Noah’s descendants, he had already , built a fortress upon a round rock, setting a great throne of cedar— , wood upon it to support a second great throne, made of iron; this, :3 , in turn, supported a great copper throne, with a silver throne above . 3, / the copper, and a golden throne above the silver. At the summit of :3 this pyramid, Nimrod placed a gigantic gem from which, sitting in divine state, he exacted universal homage? fl, (c) Nimrod’s father was Cush, Ham’s son by the wife of his old ‘ *" _‘ age. Ham doted on Cush, and secretly gave him the garments of ' skin which God had made for Adam and Eve, and which Shem should have inherited from Noah, but that Ham stole them. Cush kept the garments well hidden, and bequeathed them to Nimrod. When, at the age of twenty, Nimrod first wore these holy relics, he became exceedingly strong; and God granted him courage and skill in the chase. After killing his quarry, he never failed to raise an altar and offer God sacrifices. (d) Twenty years passed, and a war broke out between the Sons ' of Ham and the Sons of Iapheth, their chief enemies. Despite an 125 —.-r... -. maul... ...- \'.. i? J at '91:"! __ . . .o— c: .' .‘.:m—’;;_ .u. . .-....-_a.—_ :_ ._,._.. .fi... ...— ._... - , . III "aMWH-mnmw -—r THE BOOK OF GENESIS early defeat, Nimrod gathered together four hundred and sixty Sens of Ham and eighty chosen mercenaries from the Sons of Shem. With this army he routed the Sons of Japheth, and returned victorious. The Sons of Ham thereupon crowned him King, and he appointed governors and judges over his entire kingdom, choosing Terah the son of Nahor to command the army. Nimrod’s Councillors advised him to build a capital in the Eastern plain. He did so, calling the city Shinear because, he said, ‘God has shattered my enemies.’ Pres— ently he also overcame the Sons of Shem. They brought him tribute, paid homage, and came to live at Shinear, side by side with the Sons of Ham and Japheth, all continuing to speak the Hebrew tongue. (e) In his pride, Nimrod did more evil than any man since the Deluge, raising idols of stone and wood, which the whole world must worship; his son Mardon proved to be yet worse—hence the proverb ‘Evil parents, evil child.’ Nimrod and his people raised the Tower of Babe] in rebellion against God; for he said: ‘I will be revenged on Him for the drowning of my ancestors. Should He send another flood, my tower will rise even above Ararat, and keep me safe.’ They planned to assault Heaven by means of the Tower, destroy God, and set up idols in His stead.8 (f) Soon the Tower had risen seventy miles high, with seven stairways on its eastern side, by which hodcarriers climbed to the summit; and seven on the western, by which they descended. Abram, Terah’s son, viewed this work and cursed the builders in God's name: for should a brick drop from a man’s hand and break, all bewailed its loss; but should a man himself fall and die, his neighbours never so much as turned their heads. When Nimrod’s men shot arrows into Heaven, God’s angels caught every one and, to deceive them, threw it back dripping blood. The archers cried: ‘Now we have killed all Heaven’s inhabitants!" (g) God then spoke to the seventy angels nearest His throne, say— ing: ‘Let us go down again and confuse their language, making sev- enty tongues of onel’ And so He did, for immediately the builders became embroiled in misunderstandings. If a mason told a hodcar— rier ‘Cive me mortarl', the carrier would hand him a brick instead, with which the mason would angrily kill the bod—carrier. Many were the murders done in the Tower; and on the ground also, because of this confusion; until at last work slowed to a standstill. As for the Tower: Earth swallowed a third part; the from Heaven destroyed another third; the remainder stands to this very day—still so tall that from its summit the distant groves of Jericho appear 126 THE TOWER OF BABEL like a swarm of locusts; and the thin air robs men of their wits. Yet the Tower seems less tall than it is, because of an exceedingly wide base.“ (11) Every family now spoke its own language, chose its own coun- try, founded its own cities, became a nation, and acknowledged no universal ruler. Cod appointed seventy angels to guard these separate nations; but He said also: ‘Over Abram’s Children I will Myself watch, and they shall stay true to the Hebrew tongue.’8 (1') Nevertheless, Nimrod continued to rule from Shinear, and built more cities; namely Erech, Akkad and Calne, which he filled with inhabitants, reigning Over them in majesty, and taking the title of ‘Amraphel’.’ (7') At last Jacob’s son Esau met Nimrod by chance while both were out hunting, killed him, and despoilcd him of the holy garments. Esau was then likewise greatly strengthened, until Jacob stole them from his tent; saying: ‘My brother does not deserve such a blessingl', he dug a hole and buried them.“ 1. Genesis xr. 1—9; PRE, ch. 24. 2. Mid. Hagadol Gen. r88; Caster, Maasiyot 2; Ginzbcrg, L], V. 201, n. 87. 3. Sepher l ayashar 22—31; Tanhuma Noah 18, 19. . See preceding footnote. . Sepher llayashar 22—31; B. Sanhedrin roga; PRE, ch. 24. . See preceding footnote. ‘ J~ PRE, ch. 24. PRE, ch. 24. 5 6 i V 1. This twelfthcentury Jewish version of the ancient Tower of Babel myth closely resembles that given by the fifthcentury Christian writer Orosius of Tarragona in his Seven Books Against the Pagans. Orosius, who seems to have drawn—though at second or third hand—from Jewish Tan. naitic sources, describes the Tower as five and a half miles high, ten miles in circumference, with a hundred brazen gates and four hundred and eighty storeys. He reports that Nimrod's grandson Ninus built the city of Nineveh ——an honour which Genesis x. 11 gives to Asshur. 2. Haupt identifies Nimrod son of Cush, also called Nebrod, or Nebron, with Nazimarattas, one of the non-Semitic (but also non-lndo-European) Cassite Kings of Babylon. Coming down from Cush (Kashshu) now Kurd— istan, the mountainous region which separated Assyria from Media, they had overwhelmed the Amorite dynasty of Babylon, and ruled from the sixteenth century ac. to the twelfth. Their national god was called Kashshu, and their kings could therefore be described as ‘Sons of Cush’. Another Cassite god was Murudash, identified with Ninurta, a name from which 127 n tr‘fldqfl“? \ ar‘; urfii‘rfiu‘tiw c: in l :1. Hilufii’di i‘Kr’» ' t .3 t THE BOOK OF GENESIS Nimrod may have been evolved. Like all his predecessors and successors, Nimrod will have been 'a mighty hunter’ in so far as he was depicted on monuments killing lions, bulls and serpents—a symbolic act suggesting a coronation ritual. This myth may preserve the tradition of Nazimarattas’s early glory—before he was humbled by Adadnirari I, a fourteenth-century king of Assyria. It is, however, confused by the existence of a second Cush -—namely the Ethiopian kingdom centred on Meroe, and referred to in Isaiah xvm. 1, which had ethnic connexions with Southern Arabia. The Cush mentioned in Genesis x. 8, which makes Nimrod a ‘son of Cush’, is Cassite; the one mentioned in the preceding verse fathered several South Arabian peoples and must therefore be the second Cush. 3. Nimrod's Hebraicized name (from the verb marod, 'to rebel’) con— firms his evil reputation. According to the seventh—century A.D. Chronicon Paschale, Persians called the constellation Orion ‘Nimrod’; thus linking him with the rebel angel Shemhazai (see 18. f), and with the Greek hero Orion, also ‘a mighty hunter’ who offended his god. 4. The Nimrod tradition has, however, become attached to the myth of Samael’s rebellion against El (see 13. b. c.), and the Hittite myth of Ku- marbi’s towering stone giant Ullikummi from whose head he intended to launch an attack on the seventy gods of Heaven (see 8. 3). A Greek myth, evidently drawn from the same source, tells how the gigantic Aloeids piled Mount Pelion upon Mount Ossa as a means of attacking Zeus’s Olympian Heaven. 5. In Genesis xrv. 19 Amraphel is called the King of Shinear; in the Targum, King of Babylon; and in Iosephus's Antiquities, ‘Amara Psides, King of Shinar’. He has been confidently identified with Hammurabi, King of Babylon (1728-1686 3.0.), the code—maker and city-builder, though Shirfar is now thought to be the Akkadian Shankhar, a country lying to the northwest of Babylon. 6. These early Hebrew traditions were reinforced and enlarged when King Nebuchadrezzar 11 (604-562 13.0), another great administrator who forcibly populated the cities he built, carried off large numbers of Judacans to exile in Babylon. King Sargon II of Assyria (721—705 no.) had already deported all but a few of the Northern Israelites; and Nebuchadrezzar needed the Judaeans to help him repair the shameful damage done at Babylon by Sennacherib in 689 B.C., when he plundered and burned the enormous terrace—temples known as ziggurats. 7. For a long time the lofty tower of Birs Nimrod was believed to be the Tower of Babel. With the dccipherment of cuneiform inscriptions, it has, however, been established that Birs Nimrud was the tower of the city of Borsippa; and agreed that the Tower of Babel must have been located within the city of Babel (or Babylon) herself. This huge gtowcr, called in Sumerian Etemenenanki (House of the Foundation of Heaven and 128 'IEE TOWER OF BABEL Earth’) stood in the central temple—complex called Esagila or ‘House that Lifts Up the Head’. . The location of Babylon had been known before the German Oriental Society excavated it in 1899—1918, because the mound which marked its site near modern Hillah was called Bdbil by the Arabs. This name preserved the old Akkadian form of the city's name, Balei or ‘Gate of God. The Biblical interpretation of Babel, as deriving from the Hebrew halal, ‘to confuse’, is an early and classic example of popular etymology. 8. Literal belief in the ‘confusion of tongues’ myth has been encouraged by the discovery at Borsippa of another Nebuchadrezzar II inscription. It records that the local ziggurat, long fallen into disrepair, had never been completed by its original architect; the God Marduk, therefore, persuaded his servant the King to perfect it. ‘Mardon’, the name of Nimrod’s son, also means ‘rebel’, but may well be a cacophemism for ‘Marduk’. Though the Judaeans transported to Babylon by Nebuchadrezzar will have been astonished at the number of different dialects spoken by their fellow-deportees, God's confusion of tongues seems to be a far more anc- ient tradition—Moses of Chorene records it in his Armenian History, when discussing Xisuthros and the ark (see 20. 5). 9. St Jerome, like Orosius, identifies the Tower of Babel with Babylon itself—the outer walls of which, according to Herodotus, measured over fifty-five miles. The circumference of the Royal City enclosed by it was, however, about seven miles (not much less than the Tower’s), and its inner walls stood over a hundred yards high. 10. Nebuchadrezzar’s corvées, cruelly enforced, may account for the graphic description of how workmen went up and down the Tower stairs, and of what happened when a brick was dropped. His royal palaces, also, were ‘adorned with gold, silver and precious stones, after being reared as high as the hills'——which may explain Nimrod's extravagant throne-pyramid. Forty years later, King Darius the Persian (522—485 ac.) began the work of destruction so often prophesied by Isaiah and Ieremiah; his son Xerxes continued it. According to Arrian, Alexander the Great (366~323 no.) thought seriously of restoring Babylon’s glory, but reckoned that it would take ten thousand men more than two months even to cart away the rubble. Meanwhile, the population had emigrated to Seleucia on the Tigris and, by Iosephus’s time (end of first century an), all the ziggurats had fallen into complete neglect. 11. The Biblical tradition (Genesis x. 10) ranking Babylon with the primeval cities of Erech, Akkad and Calne, has not yet been disproved. t \'|"\1\ ran-r ~ :- \ klUt‘u’HVL‘J From: Joseph Gaer, THE LORE OF THE OLD TESTAMENT (Boston : Little, Brown and Company, 1951). CHAPTER FIVE The Age of Confusion 1. Nimrod the Hunter Cush, the son of Ham, had many children, and all of them have long since been forgotten, all but his oldest son, Nimrod. Not that there was any greatness in Nimrod. He was neither wise nor strong, neither pure in heart nor a great magician, neither splendid in ap- pearance nor dazzling in wit. The word “ordinary” describes Nim- rod up to the age of twenty. But on his twentieth birthday Nimrod received from his father a snakeskin coat that Cush had obtained from his grandfather, Noah, and which had belonged to Adam. Grandfather Noah claimed that there were two of these coats which were given to Adam and Eve when they were expelled from the Garden of Eden. Eve’s coat had been lost. But Adam gave his coat to Gain. Cain gave it to Tubal Cain. And so it was handed down until it was given to Nimrod as a birthday gift. When Nimrod received the coat, he put it on, took his bow and arrows and went out hunting. All Nimrod ever did was hunt. He was not a brave hunter. The sound of a wolf struck fear in his heart; and the thought of a tiger weakened his knees. Nimrod hunted rabbits. On this day, as he reached the hunting grounds, Nimrod was petrified at the sight of a vast number of small game and big game coming toward him. And the sky was suddenly darkened by flocks 0, every conceivable and coveted bird. Nimrod was so frightened that he just stood still, wondering where he could hide. Then he saw that all the birds had settled in the trees and all the animals had come to rest and were bowing to him, as meek as the rabbits he usually hunted. Though he shot at them with arrows they did not run away. THE AGE OF CONFUSION 77 That day he returned home with more game than any hunter of his generation. People came to admire his catch and wondered how he did it. Nimrod related many wild exploits and claimed the game as only the just reward of his courage and prowess. The next day Nimrod went out again (wearing his snakeskin coat), and returned with an even greater catch. Little by little it dawned upon him that when he wore Adam’s coat, he had do- minion over all the wild animals. After that, when he planned to go hunting he would say to people: “I am going hunting tomorrow. What do you want me to catch?” “Bring us a hundred golden ptarmigan,” they would say jokingly. Or they would say: “Bring us a koodoo, a nilgai and a springbuck.” Nimrod would put on his hunter’s coat and go out. And soon he would return with whatever animal or bird his friends had men- tioned, and in any number that he could carry. But he never re- vealed how he got them, always claiming he was braver and nimbler than any man on earth. Nimrod’s fame traveled fast, and it traveled far and wide. His prowess was even exaggerated. People admired him and began to fear him. And their fear became Nimrod’s strength, as it is believed that the fear in the heart of the people becomes the weapon of the wicked. 2. Nimrod the King At that time King Iaphath and his army of giants terrorized the nations. The people came to Nimrod and said: “You are such a great hunter and such a brave man. You are the man to go out and fight King Japhath and his men!” Nimrod went out all alone (with his snakeskin coat on) and a vast horde of wild beasts followed him. When they neared Japhath and his men, the animals fell upon them, and the vipers bit them, and the Scavengers of the air fed upon them. King Japhath and his men were utterly destroyed. When Nimrod returned victorious, there was jubilation in the land of Shinar and dancing in the streets of Accad, Babe], and 78 THE LOHE on THE OLD TESTAMENT Calneh. In gratitude, Nimrod was proclaimed king by the people of his own land. Yet he was not content. King Nimrod waged war after war with all his neighbors until, in the end, he became King of All the Nations on Earth. Nimrod was not a saint to begin with. And the more powerful he grew, the more wicked he became. When his only son, Mardon, grew up, Nimrod taught him in all the ways of wickedness. Though the King of All the Nations on Earth was still afraid to go out at night alone (without his snakeskin coat on), he told his people not to depend on God but on their own strength. Power, he said, was justice; and whatever one man could wrench from another, that was rightfully his. So wicked were Nimrod and his son Mardon, that they gave rise to the proverb: "Out of the wicked can come only wickedness.” 8. Nimrod Wants to Be God Now that he was king of the entire earth, Nimrod wanted to be remembered forever. “I shall build cities, so many and so great,” said he, "that as long as a single man remains on earth, he will see them and remember their builder.” Then Nimrodrbuilt Babylon, Erech, Caleh, Ressed, and many more equally great. Still he was not satisfied. Now that the cities were completed, he began to be jealous of God in heaven. Nimrod then built a stone tower higher than any mountain. On top of the tower he placed a throne of cedar. Upon the throne of cedar he placed a throne of iron. Upon the throne of iron he placed a throne of copper. Upon the copper throne he placed a throne of silver. Upon the silver throne he placed a throne of gold. Upon the golden throne Nimrod placed a diamond so large that he could sit on it with comfort. Over the diamond he hung lamps which, when lighted, were reflected by the diamond in rays that could be seen all over the world. ’ Nimrod seated himself on the golden throne, lit the lights, and. the people came to pay homage as if he were a god. And still Nimrod was not satisfied. THE AGE OF CONFUSION 79 4. The Tower of Babel Then the idea arose of building a tower that would reach to the seventh heaven. Some say that the wise men in Nimrod's court believed that the skies were weakening and foretold that exactly within 1656 years from the date of their prediction, the skies would cave in. They adv vised their king to build four brick towers to support the four corners of the skies. Others say that the wise men of that day advised the king that another deluge was in store, unless they could build a tower that would reach to heaven, open the great windows in the skies and let the waters out. Still others believe that the idea was entirely King Nimrod’s, who said: “God took heaven for himself and gave only the earth to man. I will build a tower so high that all men can enter heaven at will and enjoy that, too.” Nimrod gathered six hundred thousand men and began to build what he called the Pillar to Heaven. All the people in Nimrod‘s day were rich but, strangely enough, they loved each other, and they enjoyed working together on a tower that would take them to heaven. They built a large round foundation, and upon it began to rise above the desert plains of Shinar a great brick tower, the walls of the tower rising cubit by cubit. On the east side of the tower and on the west side were stairways, and the workers who carried mortar and bricks up the east stairway descended on the west stairway so that no worker was ever in the way of another. As the tower rose, the builders became divided in their hearts. One group thought: “When this tower is completed, we will move into heaven and live therel” Another group thought: “When we get to heaven, we will estab- lish our gods there and worship them!” And still others thought: “As soon as we reach heaven, we will declare war on Codl” Whatever the different groups thought, they said nothing to each other, and continued their work in peace and with unflagging enthusiasm. Forty—two years after the tower was started, it reached to a height of twenty-seven miles. It took a hod carrier a full year to 80 THE LORE OF THE OLD TESTAMENT get up from the ground to the top; and a brick was more precious than a man. For if a man fell down, there were others to take his place; but if a brick fell down, it took a year to replace it. 5. The Confusion of Tongues King Nimrod looked at the tower that reached far beyond the clouds and was certain that the top was already quite near to heaven. He ordered the men on top of the tower to shoot arrows into heaven. All the arrows returned to the ground covered with blood, each arrow a warning to Nimrod and his men. But they were so blinded by power that they believed their arrows had killed the angels in the first heaven. For a long time God did not punish the builders of the tower because they were at peace and loved each other. And so great is the power of love and peace that, even when people band to- gether to defy God, He will not destroy them. But when the sign of the arrows was not heeded God said to the seventy angels sur- rounding Him: “Co down and confuse their tongues that they may not understand each other.” Up to that time all the people of the earth had spoken the same language, the Holy Language of Creation. Now each angel brought down a new, language, and the builders of the tower talked in seventy different tongues, and not one of them, not even King Nimrod, knew more than one language. The hod carriers could not understand the bitumen mixers; the bitumen mixers could not understand the brick makers; the brick makers could not under- stand the bricklayers; the bricklayers could not understand the carpenters. And so it went. There were seventy names for each object and seventy words for each action, and the loud talk sounded like the babbling of mad- men. Soon the confusion turned the Pillar to Heaven into the Tower of Babel. Each worker blamed the others for the lack of understand- ing and for doing the wrong thing. Up to that time they had worked in peace; now the workers began to quarrel, though, of course, neither quarreler understood the other. Accidents began to ‘1 THE AGE OF CONFUSION 8 ha en One worker asked for mortar and he was gi\f/i::nit a :1; threw the brick back in anger, and it toppled the s we the twenty—seven-mile-high tower. Soon the tower had to be abandoned. 6. The F ate of the Tower and Its Builders One third of the Tower of Babel sank into the ground of its own fusion eat weight; one third was destroyed by fire, due (tlo thn: iglriird re” El tongues before the task was abandoned; an o ' din ener- mained standing as an omen and a warning to succee g g ' l' d in the Land of Shinar. ' ahTh: $25 Idle the Tower of Babel can be seen to this day. But he who sees them is cursed with the loss of merppryilAlilillielp’eZpletzr; earth who go around saying: “Who am I? Wbol thmu h WhiCh ones who have seen the ruins of the Tower of Ba e g ' ar a ainst God. men aspired to reach heaven and w g ' into As for the builders of the tower: those who aspired to move ‘ ' f the heaven and live there, God dispersed to the four. ccirnpzzno GOd eaith- those who aspired to establish their idols in re‘ , ‘ .nned to onfused in thought as well as tongue; and those who péareqdmd declare war on God when they completed the tpvylcr :13“ That is heaven, God turned into monkeys, sea cats inrk erfiiljrfién beings why monkeys, sea cats and demons look a htt e 1 e to this day. And that is how it came to pass that the generation of uicfiinte’: in the days of Noah was followed by the age of confus days of Nimrod. ...
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