What's meant by the Tower of Babel?

Discussion in 'Ancient History and Mythology' started by Ontologue, Mar 27, 2005.

  1. Ontologue

    Ontologue New Member

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    Wondering whether anyone can offer any insight into the following theories: A. The confusion of the people's language after the building of the Tower of Babel can be viewed as the end of the single path to God era and the beginning of a new age auguring many paths to the same enlightenment. Since the builders' original intent was to reach God it stands to reason that that's what became confused - the builders being the archetype for humanity. For this purpose it's useful to think of religion more or less as a specialized mode of language or communion. In this vein the tower may be seen as the crucible of all theological substance. B. Prior to the undertaking (Babel) there may have existed (may still exist) a powerful creative language with a vibratory force very much akin to that spoken by God during the creation of the heavens and the earth, and that forever hence man has been reduced to the utilization of second rate symbols. Jesus and others may have known and used this primordial language. Just thinking...

    Love to hear your thoughts
    O.
     
  2. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Welcome to CR Ontologue. ;)

    Some opine that the Tower of Babel was not to try to reach God, but rather to pull a "Lucifer", that is to attempt to become Like God. In fact, in Judaeo/Christian scripture, God, murmurs that man left to his own devices, there is nothing he cannot accomplish...so language (the key to communication and orginization) was confounded (yet the will of man was not).

    It's a thought. ;)

    v/r

    Q
     
  3. alexa

    alexa somewhere in time

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    Hi Ontologue and welcome to CR. :)

    Jesus spoke eastern Aramaic. There is a thread in the Philosophy section about reaching the first language of humanity. Take a look on it and you'll find infos about the Tower of Babel, too.
     
  4. bananabrain

    bananabrain awkward squadnik

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    our sages say that the ruler of babel at the time of the tower was nimrod (you remember him, that "mighty hunter before the lord" chap) - but we remember him as being the first totalitarian ruler - it was his genius (or whatever you want to call it) that suggested to the people of babel to pull this stunt; they thought it was "we", but it was actually all him. according to this tradition, the only person to oppose him was abraham, for which he got thrown into a fiery furnace, from which G!D then saved him. without the backstory, everyone speaking the same language doesn't seem like such a bad thing. what nimrod did was forced everyone to do the same thing, think the same, act the same - which was actually his agenda rather than the free choice of the people concerned to unify themselves. of course, you'd not know this unless you knew the midrashic sources.

    as far as we're concerned, this is exactly what hebrew is. the basis of the jewish mystical tradition is the harnessing of the power of the hebrew alphabet in its various configurations. the source text to this is the midrashic statement in genesis rabbah that "in the beginning, the Torah was made from black fire on white fire". these were the primordial letters. in fact, this tradition speaks of the letter alef (the first letter of the 'alef-bet') being the letter with which the universe was created.

    b'shalom

    bananabrain
     
  5. robocombot

    robocombot Disciple

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    Perhaps this belongs in the language debate in the Philosophy forum, but i would be out of my depth there. I came across this which i found fascinating, any comments on its authenticity?:

    "Amoung the people scattered at Babel were a group who climbed over the mountains to the east and settled when they reached the sea. They became known as the chinese. Chinese culture goes right back to that day. They left the area of Babel before the Cuneiform alphabet replaced the picture language of ancient Egypt.

    All languagues were pictorial right up to the time of Babel. The language they took to China they put down in picture form. The amazing thing is that it is possible to reconstruct the story from Genesis 1 to 11 by looking at the symbols which the chinese use to describe different words.
    The Chinese word for 'create' is made up of mud, life and someone walking. Their word for 'devil' is made up of a man, a garden and the picture for secret. So the devil is a secret person in the garden. Their word for 'tempter' is made up of the word for 'devil' plus 2 trees and the picture for 'cover'. Their word for 'boat' is made up of container, mouth and eight, so a boat in the Chinese language is a vessel for eight people, as was Noahs ark.

    We can construct the whole of the first 11 chapters of Genesis from the picture language in China. When these people first arrived in China they believed in one god."

    Unlocking the Bible, David Pawson
     
  6. juantoo3

    juantoo3 ʎʇıɹoɥʇnɐ uoıʇsǝnb

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    Kindest Regards, robocombot!

    Thank you for your post.

    Well, I suppose one could write the entire Bible in Chinese if one were so inclined. The Gideons claim they have. As for the people of China originally believing in one God, that remains a mystery.

    A great deal depends on a lot of things...whether any of the 6th day creation survived the flood of Noah (I believe they did), whether the 6th day creation were monotheists (I am inclined to believe they practiced some form of shamanism), whether these people in question were at Babel and their language stemmed from the original root language from which the languages were divided (I don't know). Not to mention, the Chinese are composed of several races, as I'm sure Vaj could explain far better than I. Which one was the original? (I haven't got a clue.) The question revolves around whether or not the Chinese language can be shown to come from the same base root as most other modern languages, and as far as I know, that is not the case.

    Then there's the little problem with the Korean language, it is not related to Chinese (Japanese is though).

    So yes, as far as scholars can tell, modern language began with idiograms. From there, it is all guesswork. So far, the guess is that Chinese and other oriental languages developed apart from alphabetical languages. At least from what I have been able to see.

    My two cents...
     
  7. Rouge47

    Rouge47 Follower of Christ

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    I saw this thread and just have to say that a couple of weeks ago in my youth class I learned that we get the word "babel" from the story of of tower of Babel. I thought that was pretty cool. Anyway, I thought that I would babel about that!:D

    Paul J.
     
  8. Chalice

    Chalice I am the Grail

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    I personally believe the text of this history is to be taken literally. The tower was a tower, and the text also says that at this time, when Peleg lived the "earth split", i.e. the supercontinent of Pangea split into the continents. I believe the tower of Babel fell because there were pre-earthquake rumblings that toppled it, and then shortly after that, the "big" quake hit, divinding the continents. I think that while the texts says that the "languages" split because of the tower of Bable toppeling over, what relly happened was that families were upset and stayed together in small units, because of fear. Shortly after that the super-continent really did split and the one language everyone spoke had not option but to develop differently on different localities, and continents. So indirectly, the tower of Babel's earthquake heralded the division of continents and the evolution of language into different dialects and eventually different languages altogether. The tower was real, the toppeling was real, the division of families who stayed together for safety was real, and the division of Peleg's supercontinent, Pangea was real. Logically, language has no choice but to evolve as it is used, so the languages had to develop on different paths once the population was permenantly separated. Its a literal history.
     
  9. Nogodnomasters

    Nogodnomasters New Member

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    Incredible. The Bible is simply making up a story to explain the different languages. The tower of Babel is one story. In the chapter right before Babel, YHWH had divided Noah's sons according to their tongues. But now all the tongues were the same again. Hmmm...

    If one goes back to the start of civilization, we already find there were many tongues. This would place the Tower of Babel incident well before the 3000-4000 BCE period. Is this what we are saying or are we going to turn a blind eye to the written records of man?
     
  10. Awaiting_the_fifth

    Awaiting_the_fifth Where is my mind?

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    Im afraid I haavent actually read through all of this so apologies if Im repeating something already said. Im in a bit of a hurry.

    Has anyone considered this: That God seperated our languages so that we could not communicate and we would be limited in what we could achieve. But today, we can communicate with almost anyone in the world, at least with a translator, and something like a third of the people in the world all speak English.

    Does this mean that we have returned to the point where

    "if man is left to his own devices, there is nothing he cannot accomplish"?
     
  11. pohaikawahine

    pohaikawahine Elder Member

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    I love these discussions .... this site is really filled with scholary persons and people of spirit .... I'm in somewhat of a rush right now, but wanted to share my perspective .... by now some of you know that my perspective is very related to energy that runs through the human body up into the brain and opens us to the world of visions and revelations .... what if the tower of babel is a symbol for the spinal column (the pathway to the brain center) which could be called the pathway to god (because one would open the brain center to see god face to face .... this would be the path of the mystic as well) .... the language issue is important because of the refernce to frequencies or vibrations .... each of the seven energy centers in the body (through which the energy passes) is controlled by a different frequency or sound .... for example in the ancient days of hawaii, the kahuna could move the spiralling energy through the body by chant which is the different frequency sounds .... for some this might be a mantra .... I'll share with you about the "path of the night rainbow" at another time which is connected with different frequencies of sound .... but also in hawaii nei our language opens the doors through different frequencies and is buried deep in the root sound of words .... the hebrew language (from what little I know) is powerful in both sound and symbol (we do not have the symbols in our language because it was not written) .... so to run the energy up the spinal column (the tower of babel) into the brain cener (the location of the holy of holies or the holy grail or the ark of the covenant) is the path to ancient wisdom or knowledge, it opens the "hall of records" (the place of all knowing) ..... and the symbols go on .....

    this perspective, i realize, is different and may not feel right to those on a specific religious path .... but, in my view, it leads us to the path of spirit .... the way to know god .... just sharing in the dialogue .... he hawai'i au, fay
     
  12. tropheus74

    tropheus74 New Member

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    Measurements of the relative proportions of the radioisotops of Pottasium and Argon, in addition to the measurements of the location of the earths crust using paleomagnetic allignments simply do not support the idea that humankind was around at the time pangea split into the northern and southern continent.

    If you are choosing to use the splitting of pangea as evidence for a biblical reference, you must first prove that the events were inter-related.

    To say there was an earthquake that crushed the first and mightiest of the ziggurats, I would not take issue with. It is when people start mixing science and religion (which address different questions) that I become frustrated.


    Have you ever played Telephone? take a sentance, whisper it in your friends ear, who whispers it in his friends, who whispers in her friend, etc. By the time the circle is complete and it comes back to you, the sentance is usually nothing like what it started as.

    I do not take issue at all with your description of the process of differentiation of language; Physical barriers do wonders to change language. ask a person in Arcadia West Virginia to say something, then ask someone in Fargo North Dakota to say the same thing; even on the same continent and speaking the same language the difference will be there.

    Just don't put the Tower of Babel any earlier in time than the late pleistocene (though the oldest town we have record of is Jericho, circa 10000 years ago), and I can sit a little better with it.

    Does anyone know of a linguistic timetable to trace all languages back to their root lang (assuming of course that it was not a multi-regional "discovery")? I'm asking essentially if those clever linguists and/or theologions have determined a "mitochondrial eve" type method to track language change over time.

    Anyway, one more thought that occurred to me about the literal interpretation of the story; Does this mean that God was really afraid that as one people united, there is nothing we can't accomplish? Geez. That was a dirty trick he pulled. I mean, I guess overbearing pride deserves to be tempered but look at all the wars that have been fought over cultural differences based upon attitudes inherent in different languages...

    My final random thought (that is somewhat related); If the trinity represents one being, thus Jesus is God, and Jesus said "I speak in parables, so that they may hear and not hear, and see but not see...(gash, my bible is upstairs right now otherwise I'd quote it with the reference #)" Then God, speaking the Bible/Torah to Moses, could have concievably been speaking a parable regarding the Tower of Babel.
     
  13. ProphetSmurf

    ProphetSmurf Imagination Figament

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    I find it fascinating that with all this talk of the ancient tower there is no comments about Nebuchanezzers project and Saddam Husseins desire to rebuild it among his new Babylon.

    Nebuchadnezzar II rebuilt the tower to stand 295 feet high. According to an inscription made by the king the tower was constructed of "baked brick enameled in brilliant blue." The terraces of the tower may have also been planted with flowers and trees. In 460 BC, after the tower had been crumbling for many years, the Greek historian Herodotus visited the tower and was very impressed. "It has a solid central tower, one furlong square, with a second erected on top of it and then a third, and so on up to eight. All eight towers can be climbed by a spiral way running around the outside, and about halfway up there are seats for those who make the journey to rest on."

    "It has been divided into two stages: the first stage he really focused on the antiquities. He built Nebuchadnezzar’s Palace, the Procession Street, the walls of the main street that Nebuchadnezzar had leading into the city. He built several of the Temples that Nebuchadnezzar had. He didn’t quite finish that phase and has said he wants to rebuild the Tower of Babel, and he wants to rebuild the Hanging Gardens, one of the Seven Wonders of the World." -- “The Rise of Babylon,” Dr. Charles Dyer, speaking on Saddam Hussein.
     
  14. tropheus74

    tropheus74 New Member

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    What you are describing is the "Hanging Gardens", not the "Tower of Babel", unless, of course, the two are one. I would imagine that the Tower of Babel story predates the hanging gardens.

    Anyone know when the hanging gardens were supposed to have been built?
     
  15. Quahom1

    Quahom1 What was the question?

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    Actually, according to historical records, the two occured at the same time.
     
  16. tropheus74

    tropheus74 New Member

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    This is an interesting way to look at it, mythologically speaking. The story follows a common motif; that of Humankind striving to obtain more; Weather this is more than is allotted to them, or more than they are capable of, remains to be seen.

    In the Icarus legend it is clear that Icarus, in his exilhiration, seeks to exceed his limitations. The sun melts his wings and sends him plummeting to earth. This is a more passive statement; Don't strive for that which you cannot attain, or it will destroy you.

    Conversely, the Pegasus myth has the rider (and I forget his name) seeking to meet the Gods on Mount Olympus. This is clearly a breach of contract between the Gods and man; Be not so prideful; How dare you seek to be our equals! Zeus and Haephestus send bolts of lightning to knock this prideful little bugger back to the dirt he came from.

    The Tower of Babel, in my opinion, parallels the Pegasus legend more strongly than that of Icarus. Here we have humanity, clearly striving to bring themselves to the level of the Gods, and they are brought low for it. There are some significant differences, however:

    1. The gods were not afraid of the pegasus rider; they were punishing him for a transgression.

    2. God, in the Babel story, clearly feels threatened by humanity.

    While the Greeks say "you can never be as strong as the Gods, and it is impious and offensive to think so", this story says to me "Yikes; my creation has turned out to be rather clever. time for some damage control!"

    So; in pegasus, the gods are motivated by anger; in Babel, God is motivated by Fear.

    Second, is the driving force of the people; In pegasus, it is pride. What is it in Babel? We could say it is pride, but I think there is something more than that; There is an innate drive for humankind to improve themselves; In my mind, Babel is presenting a kind of chess game between God and Humanity; We are doing what everything in our power to "obtain the boon", and God is doing what he can to challenge us.

    I do not intend to extrapolate this view of God to the rest of the bible, but limit it to this one story, which I believe is an oral tradition from the fertile crescent that worked its way into the bible.
     
  17. Satanist

    Satanist New Member

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    Well Babylonia had a huge tower looking temple and
    it "suppressed" (or made them feel so) another culture:persian and many others(jews).
    In other words it tried to unite all the cultures through conquering and
    the story symbolise it's mutli cultural hybris.
    Also the Babylonian whore was probably the goddess Ishtar
    which might be a sight of more sexual liberal culture that influenced the jews religion and culture from persians by family.

    The Persians had a own religion Zoroatrism and took over.
    They freed the Jews who were influnced by Zoroatirian ideas and
    then the Persian empire started.

    The Zoroatrians had a seven fold mythology and believed the world were created in seven days and night by seven gods for the days and seven gods for the nights. These were created on each day or nigh by the good god or evil god. Both were created by an alsmighty God beyond Good or Evil.

    And the evil gods deveped from the previous Babylian gods
    which might explain a negative view on Babylon.

    I speculate that both Judaism and Zoroatrism had anti-natural and well anti liberal values in relation to Babylon.
    Therefore the negative view and the idea of imprisonment.
     
  18. queenofsheba

    queenofsheba New Member

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    Great new theory about the Tower of Babel:

    When the jews lived in exile in Babel, between 587 and 538 BC, they must have seen the famous ziggurat with the hanging gardens, one of the seven world wonders. They saw it as a symbol of evil, which inspired them to write the story in Genesis. This story is placed before the flud, so it can't be historical.
    The ziggurat of Babel had seven floors, each in square form. The ratio between the square sides was based on the primal numbers(1=5,35m).
    _2x_2=__4
    _3x_3=__9
    _5x_5=_25
    _7x_7=_49
    11x11=121
    13x13=169
    17x17=289
    _____+___
    ..........666 = the number of the beast
     
  19. queenofsheba

    queenofsheba New Member

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    The Hanging Gardens were a temple complex surrounded by walls. It was built between 800 and 600 BC. Apart from the ziggurat, it contained 7 temples for Marduk, Ishtar, etc. In the wall, there were gates. The Ishtar Gate still stands today:
    http://www.zyworld.com/assyrian/Ishtar%20Gate.htm

    It's true that there were already ziggurats in Mesopotamia under Nimrod around 3000 BC, but not in the city of Babel, which didn't exist yet.
     
  20. mahud

    mahud New Member

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    there is an interesting parallel to be found in African myth. The version that comes to mind concerns an old woman who accidentally strikes the high god on his foot with her pestal, causing him to retreat back into the heavens ,separating the link between heaven and earth forever.

    The old woman gathers her children about her, and together, they build a high tower contructed entirely of pestles (ironically the very thing that severed heaven from earth in the first place).

    The tower was almost complete. All that was needed was a single pestle to reach the gates of heaven, but not a single pestle remained in the whole land. all had been used up, and so the tower remained incomplete.

    Then the old woman had a bright idea, and ordered the the bottom pestle be removed so it could be placed on the top, and of course, the towers collapsed, proving once and for all that mankind, is incapable of ever reaching heaven.
     

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