Nimrod and the Tower of Babel

17 Aug 1995 15:51

Connections to legends of Archer Yi, shamanism, Prometheus?

On examination, I find that Genesis does not explicitly say Nimrod was the builder of the Tower. The whole is so prodiguously strange that I may be forgiven from quoting the relevant verses, from Genesis 10,

1 Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth: and unto them were sons born after the flood. 2 The sons of Japheth; Gomer, and Magog, and Madai, and Javan, and Tubal, and Meshech, and Tiras. 3 And the sons of Gomer; Ashkenaz, and Riphath, and Togarmah. 4 And the sons of Javan; Elishah, and Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. 5 By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations. 6 And the sons of Ham; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan. 7 And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtechah: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan. 8 And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. 9 He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD. 10 And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. 11 Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, 12 And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.
and Genesis 11:
1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. 2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. 3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. 4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth. 5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. 6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. 7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. 8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. 9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
Cf. the version in The Black Bible Chronicles, as quoted by Michael Eric Dyson, ``The Lawd Iz in da House, Homey!'', Might 7:26-27:
Everybody who was anybody understood exactly what was going down. Soon folks were spreading for miles around... Now Babylon was kinda bare, so that these folks got a wonderful idea --- or so they thought. Everybody started talking about building the baddest building 'rouind: ``one that would reach all the way to heaven,'' they agreed. It would be a monument to the bad boys who built it.

``If we build it for the homeboys,'' they said, ``we won't be so eager to stray away from the homebase.'' So they got a lot of bricks and tar and started building this great tower.

But the Almighty came down sort of unexpected and looked 'round and saw what was coming down...

at which point Dyson quit, presumably because he couldn't take it anymore.