After the Flood, what was the first civilization with which the church had contact? At that time, the church was found in the Ararat mountains of Armenia. From there the church moved to Chaldea, where both Hamites and Shemites dwelt. Here the original centers of civilization were founded, especially in the cities of Babel and Nineveh. (Gen. 10:10-11) Here the children of Shem sprung up: the children of Elam (Persians), of Assur (Assyrians), of Aram (Syrians). The earliest ties of the church in the new world began in this Tigris- Euphrates region. Abram, a Hebrew, a descendant of Eber, lived here in Ur, Chaldea. The Shemites, then, were the hub of the nations, had closest contact with the Hamites, the Canaanites, Egyptians and Ethiopians, and, then finally, with the Japhethites, the Cyprians, Greeks, Romans and Germans. Among the Shemites were the Joktanites (probably the Arabians), who were, according to the tabulations, as numerous as the Japhethites. This means that the main line of the Shemites contains, among these seventy nations, the briefest record of all (although eventually itself increasing to seventy, 46:27), the reason being that the smallest branch of humanity is under special providential guidance, since it was destined to become the hub about which the whole world revolves.
This wheel, if we may think of it for a moment as a gear-wheel, is the connecting link between the times of Noah (Methusaleh, Lamech) and the times of Abraham. World history, then, has its source material in this chapter of Genesis. Without it, we could not understand the relation of “secular” history to sacred history, nor appreciate the problems of ethnology, nor understand that all history is at bottom church history.
History therefore moves in the direction of Christ. (Eph. 1:10)
The races of men, too, move in the direction of Christ. They are not in Scripture distinguished by color. Holy Writ never developed a “color complex.” For example, in the O.T. there is no hint of the presence of the negro race. Mere color is no index of race. For example, the Jew is of every complexion according to the climate he inhabits, from the darkness of the Hindu to the fairness of the Dane. When Jeremiah says, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin?” (13:23) there is no proof that he had in mind the negro race. For there are African races in this part of the world which are only dark, others black, but do not have the features, shape of skull nor the wooly hair of the negro.* The point that Scripture makes is that the races and nations descended from the families of the sons of Noah. (10:32) They became divided throughout the earth, after the Flood, and after the building of the city and the tower of Babel. They were not divided until the time of Peleg, (10:25) for up to that time the earth’s families were together and plotted to remain together. One-worldism is a conspiracy.
Originally, “the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.” (11:1) literally, of “one lip and one kind of words,” i.e., formally one lip and materially one kind of words. Language was one and the same for the whole human race, the entire globe, and not just the land of Shinar, having one pronunciation and one vocabulary. It is not possible to absolutely identify this language. Many, including the O.T. rabbis, and the early church fathers and the older theologians, thought it was the Hebrew language. Hebrew, they said, was propagated after the Flood by Eber. Abram, a descendant of Eber, came from Mesopotamia where Aramaic was spoken, (31:47) yet he undoubtedly spoke Hebrew, since he was called Abram, the Hebrew, and used a name, Mizpah, which is neither Aramaic nor Chaldean, but Hebrew.
From this period in history three basic languages arose from the three basic national families. Hence there were three basic directions in which they were scattered. There were the Semitic languages: Hebrew, Assyrian, Phoenician, Aramaic (Syrian), Arabic, all different varieties from one original parent tongue. Then there were the Aryan (Japhetic) languages: the Indian (Sanscrit), Iranian (Persian, Celtic (Welsh, Cornish, Irish), Italian, Thracian-Illyrian, Hellenic, Slavonic (Russian, Polish, Lithuanian), Teutonic (German, Anglo-Saxon, English, Dutch, Icelandic, Swedish, Danish, Norwegian). All these have such common features as to indicate a single original parent tongue. The Hamitic languages were Egyptian, Coptic, Abyssinian and Libyan. Present-day projects to construct a universal language, such as Esperanto, are an attempt to obviate the divine sentence of judgment made and executed at Babel. But the confounding of language at Babel not only resulted in the various language divisions of the nations and races, but is destined to result in the degeneration of language itself. The low spiritual state of men lowers their language. Here was the beginning of great deterioration of language, a ruin which we see today when the best language in a community of bad men reverts to a degraded jargon, such as that used by gangsters, thieves, pirates, profane adventurers, or the “existentialist” caste, or the so-called “beat” generation. This is the result of the best of Greek philosophy moving in the direction of the philosophy of pessimism and ending (because men’s hearts fail them for fear) in a cowardly nihilism.
“And it came to pass, as they journeyed from then east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there.” (11:2) Now “the whole earth” (v. l), including the Shemites, began to move out from the east, from the Assyrian empire, and to settle in the land of Shinar. However, the Shemites did not engage in the tower-building, for from chap. 10 we know that that was done by the Hamites, primarily. The children of men built it, not the children of God. (11:5) That theyjourneyed literally means that they pulled up stakes, an expression which indicates a new trend in man’s history. For originally he was a gardener. After the fall the Adamic race became city-dwellers. After the Flood, man became a nomad, as later he was in the wilderness journeys. The human race in this period was an encampment, as Israel under Moses.
That “they dwelt there” in Shinar (probably the Hebrew name for Chaldea), instead of replenishing the earth, indicates the beginning of a world-kingdom, headed by Nimrod. He is not mentioned in this chapter, but was undoubtedly the leader of this one world empire-building (cp. 10:10). Under his management, the empire-expansion movement was not intentionally atheistic. It styled itself as furthering the cause of God’s kingdom, and its plan of one-worldism was advertised as being for the benefit of all mankind. Therefore, for any to oppose it, as the covenant people would, was to become embarrassed as an enemy of God. This would mean that the church would be hampered by the state’s “red tape” methods, social ostracism, polite, recondite persecution, and, eventually, open opposition and aggression.
These Hamitic Babel-builders began on their city. It was not God’s city, for that has a Builder and Maker who is God. Their calling was to seek God’s city (Heb. 11:10-16) and to live on this earth as citizens of it. (Phil. 3:20) They began their project in the interest of union. But their way of union led to dispersion and disunity. In the city of God is true unity. But man is not called upon to build that city. God is the Builder, and constructs it not of dead brick, but of living stones (I Peter 2:5). The city was then soon being land-marked by its space-needle, its own united nations building. For they built a tower in case of another flood, to keep above it, not .only above the height of Ararat but even the 23-feet height of the flood waters above the highest mountain! (7:20) Godless “science” attempts to overcome nature, to gain the supremacy over it, recognizing no power or authority that is above that of science. The boast is that man will conquer space and time, control the lightning, harness the sun, subdue all the forces of nature, make the ocean subservient to man’s genius, and so usher in the utopia of human achievement, making man superior to any power now above or beyond him. Before Nimrod, government had been centered in the patriarchs of the tribes. Under him, the rural rulers were amalgamated in an urban society, under his popular, humane dictatorship. He was the first head of an imperialistic civilization. He adopted and put into execution the principles of territorial expansion. He also would have done credit to a modern civil-rights leader. For he was anti-racist and anti-nationalist. In his scheme of things there was no place for nationalism, nor for national independency, nor for national sovereignty, nor for statism. He was the kind of leader the races of the world look for today. In the eyes of the world he was a servant of God. (10:9) He was a messiah, like the President Franklin D. Roosevelt. He was a favorite politician, like President Eisenhower. He had the personality and attraction of a President Kennedy. He was also a combination of Frank Buck and Benjamin Franklin. He was a pure humanist-socialist of great physical power. Today he would champion the cause of the Pope, the UN, the world-church, the Red Feather, Community Chest, urban renewal, the housing commission, the war on poverty and world peace. Nimrod is a sketch of the final antichrist who will temporarily succeed in uniting the races of men in Satan’s world-kingdom, which is counterfeit of the kingdom of God.
*Geike, Hours with the Bible, I