Friday, March 4, 2011

The Tower of Babel

Alice C. Linsley

The Tower of Babel story offers a folk explanation for the linguistic diversity among Abraham's ancestors. It should not be taken as a literal scientific explanation. That would be to force Genesis into a modern mold. It should not be interpreted along the lines of Young Earth Creationist dogma.

At the back of YEC books one finds the 12 Affirmations and Denials. Affirmation XII claims that the diversity of languages and skin color came about as a result of divine judgment at the Tower of Babel.

XII. We affirm that all people living and dead are descended from Adam and Eve...and that the various people groups (with their various languages, cultures, and distinctive physical characteristics, including skin color) arose as a result of God's supernatural judgment at the Tower of Babel..."

Africa always has had the greatest genetic and linguistic diversity of any continent. Long before the earliest Genesis rulers there already existed diversity of skin color. Here are images of red, black and brown Nubians.

Red and black Nubians
(Ippolito Rosellini)

Red and brown Nubians
They resemble the warriors of Petra who had long wavy hair and wore feathers.
(Dr. Arthur Brack)

The Tower of Babel story also presents a criticism of Asiatic dualism, and it speaks of the spread or contagion of sin. We will consider each of these.

Linguistic Confusion

Babel on the Plain of Shinar is synonymous with the confusion of languages among Abraham’s Afro-Asiatic ancestors. Linguists have been attempting to sort out the confusion, but have given little consideration to what Genesis tells us. From the biblical text we gather some important clues about the period and about who the rulers were.

The confusion or division of the Afro-Asiatic languages was complete in the time of the rulers Peleg and his brother Joktan.

To Eber were born two sons: the first was called Peleg, because it was in his time that the earth was divided, and his brother was called Joktan. (Genesis 10:25)

This verse refers to Joktan the Elder who married a daughter of Sheba the Elder. This means that Sheba the Elder of Arabia was a contemporary of Eber the Asiatic. The ruler-priest lines of Eber and Sheba intermarried according to the kinship pattern of their ancestors even after the ruling lines became geograpically separated and linguistically distinct. So the Tower of Babel story speaks of real historical developments. Apparently, the linguistic divergence to which the story alludes began at least five generations before Abraham the Aramean.

The intermarriage of the lines of Eber (Father of the Arameans) and Sheba the Arabian means that wives were chosen from kin living in distant territories (as happened with Jacob). Their pattern of marriage parallels that of the lines of Cain and Seth, and the lines of Ham and Shem.

When Genesis 11: 1 speaks of the whole world having one language, it speaks from the perspective of the Afro-Asiatics. It is not speaking of all peoples and languages.  The languages listed in Genesis 10 are all Afro-Asiatic and languages of peoples living in the Levant which was controlled by Afro-Asiatic rulers. The Afro-Asiatic family is the oldest known language family. This is proof of the reliability of the Genesis record. For example, were the Chinese and Polynesians listed here, we would know that someone had corrupted the text, since Abraham's people had no knowledge of those groups 7,000- 6,000 years ago.

The Afro-Arabian Criticism of the Elamites

The Tower of Babel story criticizes the Asiatics for aspiring to the position of God through the elevation of a great tower.  The criticism evidently came from the Afro-Arabians because the Asiatics wouldn’t have criticized themselves for building a tower “whose top may reach unto heaven.” (Gen. 11:4)  The criticism asserts that the Asiatics living in Shinar had overthrown the binary worldview of the Horites in which one of the entities of a binary set is observed to be superior to its opposite. The Sun's light is greater than the Moon's. The Moon merely reflects the light of the greater entity. Likewise, heaven is more glorious than earth and the Creator's throne is beyond the reach of mere mortals. 

This criticism is like that launched against Terah, Abraham’s father in Joshua 24:2: “In olden times, your forefathers – Terah, father of Abraham and father of Nahor – lived beyond the Euphrates and worshiped other gods.” Terah was accused of false worship because he ruled the territory of Ur and Haran where people regarded the Moon as the Sun's equal. We have no evidence anywhere else in the Bible that Terah worshipped the Moon god Napir, but in Joshua he was criticized for having association with that cult.

Genesis 11:2 says that the Asiatics who built the tower came from the east of Shinar. This suggests that they were Elamites. The Elamite worldview was more dualistic than that of the Afro-Arabians, although later the Moon god of Sinai (Sin) was revered in Mecca.

Václav Blažek suggests that Elamite is related to the Afro-Asiatic languages whereas David McAlpin finds a genetic relation between Elamite and Dravidian languages. Both are correct. All are languages of the ancient Afro-Asiatic Dominion which extended from the Nile to the Ganges. 

Here are some examples of the linguistic connections between these languages. The Hebrew word for salvation - yasuah - corresponds to the Sanskrit words asvah, asuah and yasuah, all meaning salvation. The Sanskrit word for heaven - svah - corresponds to the Semitic svam and to the Proto-Dravidian van. The Hebrew root thr, to be pure, corresponds to the Hausa/Hahm toro, meaning clean, and to the Tamil tiru, meaning holy. All are related to tor, the Proto-Dravidian word for blood. The Elamite word for king is sunki, a cognate of the Hahm/Hamitic sarki, meaning king. The Sarki are found in Orisha, Nigeria and in Orissa, India.  They are also in Nepal and parts of South Asia (see map.) 

The conquest of the Sumerian city states by Kushites rulers is well-documented. Sar-gon I conquered Nippur in 2340 B.C. and established his capital in Accad. Sar-gon I is the name by which Nimrod of the Bible is remembered in history. Sar-gon is a title meaning High King or King of Kings. The Elamite word for king is sunki, a cognate of the Hahm/Hamitic sarki, meaning king. The Sumerian word for king is sar and the Chadic word for ruler - gon.

When Kain was born his mother declared kan-itti. E.A. Speiser noted that Qany(ty) or Qan itti shows close affinity to the Akkadian itti, as in itti šarrim, which means "with the king". Akkadian was the language of the empire during Nimrod's time (BC 2290-2215). Genesis 10 tells us that Nimrod was a Kushite, so it is not surprising to find that Akkadian shares many words with Nilotic languages. Among the Oromo of Ethiopia and Somalia, itti is attached to names. Examples include Kaartuumitti, Finfinneetti and Dimashqitti. That itti is associated with Nilotic rulers is evident in the name Nefertitti.

Dr. Catherine Acholonu reports that in Nigerian lore Nimrod is known as Sharru-Kin which is interpreted to mean "righteous King." Nimrod's Akkadian name was Šarru-kīnu, which is usually translated "the true king."

Many of the place names of Sar-gon’s kingdom match place names in ancient Kush. For example, Accad is Agade, which is the original name of a river settlement in Odukpani, Nigeria. (Its geographical coordinates are 5° 29' 0" North, 7° 58' 0" East.) Sargon’s territory was called Kish, which is Kush. One of the cities of his territory was Mari which is the Egyptian word for Mary. A seventh-century Assyrian text says that his city on the bank of the Euphrates was called Azu-piranu. It was a Horite shrine as evidenced by the word piranu, meaning house. The Hapiru devotees of Horus called their temples O-piru, meanings House of the Sun. Azu is the East African name for God - Asa. So Azu-piranu means the House of God and is equivalent to the Hebrew word Beth-el.

The Ashante of Ghana were Kushites. Nte means "people of" and Asha is a proper name. The Ashante are the people of Asha. Either Asha was a Kushite ruler who established a kingdom in West Africa or the word Asha means God and is a cognate to the East Africa word for God – Asa, and the Accadian word for God – Azu.

Asha, Asah or Asa is a priestly name in the Bible. A Jerusalem priest was named Am-ashai (Neh. 11:13). One of Jesse's grandsons was named Asah-el. This suggests that the origin of the priesthood of Israel is to be traced to the older Kushite civilization. This is implied by the story of the Tower which was built in the very territory that was conquered by the Kushite kingdom-builder Nimrod.

The Contagion of Sin

Finally, the Tower of Babel story shows that the rebellion that took place in Eden involving a single couple spread to whole populations. This speaks of the contagion of sin among Abraham's ancestors. The Kushites were a powerful force in shaping the ancient Afro-Asiatic Dominion, but they over-reached, as is common of civilizations that think they are invincible. Their hubris is shared by all people. In our own ways, each of us is trying to build a tower to heaven by our own efforts.

Related reading:  The Hapiru Were Devotees of Horus; Peleg: Time of Division; Noah's Sons and Their Descendants; The Afro-Asiatic Dominion; Afro-Asiatic Rulers; The Lines of Ham and Shem Intermarried; Was Abraham an Idol Worshiper?


Anonymous said...

Thanks, I made use of this in my research paper on the Tower of Babel

Anonymous said...
man with black turban is same like us dark indians somalia has some people like this egypt and of coarse yemen features are a little softer than the dravidians straight hair with dark skin