It's party time for the guys in the tower of Babel
Sodom meet Gomorrah, Cain meet Abel
Have a ball y'all
- Tower of Babel, Elton John
There was a time that I understood this in just one way: the plain reading of the text, as many would describe it. Historical, scientific, nominal. Over the last several years, I have come to appreciate that it need not be this way – and, in fact, for countless centuries it was not this way.
Could we not say today that everyone on earth has one language? I can translate any document into English with a click or two of my mouse. Do we not have “one language”?
Yet, it is safe to say that they did not have google translate three or four millennia ago. But they did have trade. Significant and meaningful trade, over vast distances. Consider just what such trade requires. What does it require today?
Trust. Trust in your trading partner, trust in the medium of exchange, trust in the logistics flow and supply chain, trust in the stability of prices, trust in your employees and customers, trust in the rules and regulations, trust in the weather, trust in the soil. When you have these – even if not perfectly, but reasonably so and reasonably reliably – are you not speaking the same language with others all around the world?
And what happens when this is the case – this one language? Does man use it for good or for ill? Man being human, the answer is clear.
4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”
Pride. Replace God. Remove Him from society.
It seems this idea is not agreeable to God:
5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.
Or, if you want to avoid the “God” part of this story, then just consider: any universalizing governance structure or universal institution (if it isn’t under God’s authority) presents the same problem (and since this paragraph is for those who want to avoid the “God” of this story, then this means every single universalizing governance structure presents the same problem).
And isn’t this what our betters have in mind? In store for the rest of us? This one language, this universalizing institution for governance and control?
God has solved that problem before:
7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech.”
This is simple: destroy the trust in all of the factors that underlies widespread trade. The medium of exchange, etc. This will do more to “confuse the language” than anything else that could be done today. So, maybe it isn’t God actively destroying these factors. Maybe God just knew that it was inevitable whenever man decides to place himself in the place of God. The laws of economics, the laws of nature: maybe God set these in motion to do the heavy lifting whenever these were violated to the point of breaking.
8 So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
Scattered. No more working together to achieve man’s goal; man’s tower to replace God.
More than 3,200 years ago, the Mediterranean and Near East were home to a flourishing and interconnected Bronze Age civilization fueled by lucrative trade in valuable metals and finished goods.
The Egyptians, Babylonians, Minoans, Mycenaeans, and Hittites (among others) all were integrated into this trade network. A situation not unlike the time of the Roman Empire; a situation not unlike today.
In a matter of decades, though, that thriving culture underwent a rapid and near-total collapse. After 1177 B.C., the survivors of this Bronze Age collapse were plunged into a centuries-long "Dark Ages" that saw the disappearance of some written languages and brought once-mighty kingdoms to their knees.
A collapse not unlike that of Rome…and, it seems ever more likely, today. What happened more than 3,000 years ago? Draught, famine, earthquakes, marauders, the invasion of the Sea People. And, perhaps most relevant to the story of the Tower of Babel and for today’s possible repeat:
Among the casualties of the Late Bronze Age collapse was large-scale monument building…
No more towers to the heavens.
…and an entire system of writing called Linear B, an archaic form of Greek used by Mycenaean scribes to record economic transactions.
Writing in a common language was lost. The ability to record transactions was lost. As was offered in the first verse, “the whole earth had one language and the same words.” And this was lost, the Lord “confuse[d] their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech.”
“But no, bionic. That isn’t what the Bible says. Are you saying the story in the Bible isn’t true?”
We have such a distorted and myopic understanding of the word “true.” For example, regarding the movie “The Matrix.” Is this story true?
[The Matrix] depicts a dystopian future in which humanity is unknowingly trapped inside a simulated reality, the Matrix, which intelligent machines have created to distract humans while using their bodies as an energy source.
Well, I think it is safe to say that we are not batteries trapped in an immense farm of human beings used to power machines, given “dreams” that trick us into believe we are actually walking, working, and eating steak.
But then again, are we not batteries trapped in an immense farm of human beings used to power machines, given “dreams” that trick us into believe we are actually walking, working, and eating steak?
What does this Tower of Babel story tell us for today? Well, in the same way I see various prophecies and events in the Bible playing out repeatedly (for instance, we have had many Antichrists in our world over the centuries), this story is one that has been repeated numerous times and is clearly playing out again today.
Man has decided to build a tower to the heavens, without God at the top; “…let us make a name for ourselves.” God says “no” to that idea. So, we are turned over to lies instead of truth, mistrust and disbelief instead of trust. And what comes next?
… the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.
See the end of the Bronze Age; see the end of Rome. “In a matter of decades, though, that thriving culture underwent a rapid and near-total collapse.” It has happened before, it will happen again. It is likely happening now.
See the letches crawl with the call girls under the table
Watch them dig their graves
'Cause Jesus don't save the guys
In the tower of Babel