03 Jun 2018

Was the City of Babel (Site of the Famous Tower) the First Kingdom?

Religious 3 Comments

A friend sent me this interesting essay talking about the Bible’s treatment of political government. The author acknowledges that traditionally, Christians think the Bible establishes God’s support of the State as an essential institution for the maintenance of justice. (The most obvious passage is Romans 13. Here’s one of many posts I did on that topic.) You can of course read his whole commentary (and buy his book) if you want, but here I just wanted to note this intriguing argument:

According to Scripture, the nation-state began with the scattering at Babel. As I pointed out in Insurgence, the first use of the term “kingdom” in the Bible occurs in the city of Babel in Genesis 10:10.

Speaking of the enterprise at Babel, one scholar rightly said, “Here the whole city-building tower-erecting project is one that God condemns.”

Essentially, the people of Babel desired to create a centralized government, a concept that ran contrary to God‘s will.

Of course, those who build empires rarely perceive themselves to be wicked. They often begin with good motives, the chief one being to promise humans a better life. This is why Jesus said the rulers of the Gentiles were seen as “benefactors” (Luke 22:25).

But what we have at Babel is the beginning of the nation-state, the origin of the kingdoms of this world. Put another way, at Babel we have fallen man‘s endeavor to centralize domination and organize power. And God‘s response is to diminish this power by dispersing the people and creating multiple nations. [Footnotes removed.]

For those of you who have studied the Old Testament, how do you feel about the above? It certainly affirms my biases, but wondering how controversial his claims are?

3 Responses to “Was the City of Babel (Site of the Famous Tower) the First Kingdom?”

  1. Andrew_FL says:

    Babel cannot be a nation-state because Babel, taken literally, predates by the terms of the story, the concept of a nation-the story, after all, purports to explain why there are different nations and languages and not just a single people.

    The possibility that Babel is supposed to be the first state, that is the first government, is more interesting but seems like a speculative reading to me, relying heavily on reading into omission.

    • Khodge says:

      In addition to which, the terms “kingdom” and “nation-state” carry baggage of millinial understanding that was not fixed until the last century.

      Take, for example, the Napoleonic era in Europe. France and England were discreet entities with well-defined monarchies while every minor municipality in Germany called itself a kingdom.

      In the time of the patriarchs, every extended family – or tribe – could, like Germany, call itself a kingdom without misusing the word.

  2. Samuel Ziegler says:

    Well, I’m a Orthodox Jew but never really studied in depth of the Torah (Old Testament) as I really should have so I can’t really make any judgement on this.

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