"THE TOWER OF BABEL!" and "THE LIFE OF ABRAHAM!"
(Transcribed, Edited & Prepared by: Beriah & Beth Wire.)
C.P. 748, 00100 Rome, Italy.
We continue this story of the beginning of things in the Book of Beginnings, the Book of Genesis, the first book in the Bible. The next story is going to be especially about the Tower of Babel, and Abraham and Lot. The Flood occurred about when? About 1656 years after the Creation. The Creation occurred about when? The creation of man occurred about 4000 years before Christ; the Flood occurred about 2500 years before Christ.
Incidentally, the Bible is not the only book that tells the story of the Flood; many ancient histories of many various ancient civilizations, all of them, have the Flood story; and these records have been uncovered in various archaeological discoveries. So there was a flood, and scientists are pretty well convinced of that now—because of even the geological formations. We still find today seashells on the tops of mountains and we find good layers of mud and so on that have covered ancient civilizations that were before the Flood.
You see what the Bible says about Creation‚ the Fall of man—he fell from his high estate. So as the first parents go out and get their bread by the sweat of their face‚ we still have to do this every day, don't we? They increased in number, engaged in grosser sin, and became a race, and this is the morbid story of their conduct‚ followed by their total destruction by the deluge of water, only Noah was saved.
Now 300 years later here at this spot, where later ancient Babylon was also built, these people, descendants of Noah, had gotten so numerous and so many of them that they decided‚ "Well, we're going to make ourselves a great name!" The Tower of Babel is begun and here comes the confusion of tongues and the beginnings of various languages‚ as a result of this Tower of Babel.
1. Here in Number 1 we've given you the map and told you about what happened.
2. Now in Number 2, 300 years after the Flood Noah's tremendous family designed and started to build a very great brick tower whose top was going to reach, they said, "unto Heaven"—to make themselves a name and to brag about how great they were. In other words‚ in pride they were building this Tower—that they had made themselves great, instead of thanking God for what they were—that they were a great people of one common language. They began to brag of themselves saying, "Oh, we don't need God, and we're going to build us a tower right up to God!"
3. Well, Number 3 shows us what happened: God confused their language and the people, being unable to understand each other, had to abandon their tower project; and the Lord scattered them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
4. This map shows us where they went. Sons of Japheth, the oldest son, went northward and over into Europe. Japheth therefore was the father of the Europeans. Noah and his sons were the only people living after the Flood; so therefore, the descendants of Noah and his sons are the forefathers of us all. Ham's tribes went southward into Africa, and Shem's tribes went eastward into Asia.
Now which son of Noah did you descend from? I think most of us here tonight are probably Europeans—if so, you're a son of Japheth. If you are partly Oriental or Jewish or Arabian or Syrian or Chinese or Japanese, something like that, you are descendants of Shem. If you are Indian or if you are American Indian you're a son of Shem. Now we know where we came from. The big question now is: Where are we going?
5. Number 5, this is Constantinople‚ built by the Dardanelles in Turkey, northward from where man began. Which son of Noah built Constantinople? Sons of Japheth built Constantinople. This is a scene in Constantinople, land of Japheth, unique for its religious system and mode of living. Japheth does not enter into the Bible story to a great extent until the Christian era is well opened up through St. Paul.
6. Number 6, here we have the site of Memphis, Egypt—which was a great capital in the country of which son of Noah? The one who went southward into Africa—the sons of Ham. Ham was the earliest builder and his posterity has left us the most ancient and colossal ruins known to man. It was he who first settled the valley of the Nile; and this is the ancient site of Memphis, which was one of the greatest cities of the world in the days of Joseph. (See "Warning Tract"!)
7. Number 7, the tents of Shem. Shem still remained in his tents along the Euphrates and spread eastward from there into Asia. He was the pastoral member of the family. Up to this day the sons of Shem, many of them, still live in tents in this primitive manner as you see here. The tents of Shem may still be seen in their simplicity even from the Nile to the Euphrates because both the Jews and the Arabs and all of those tribes in the general area are sons of Shem.
8. Now here's a group of old Jerusalem Jews, which son of Noah did they come from? Shem, that's right—descendants of Shem through Abraham and Sarah.
9. Number 9, this is a Bedouin chief. He's an Arab, which son of Noah did he come from? That's right, from Shem. He's a descendent of Shem through Abraham and Hagar, whose pathetic story will be told in another chapter.
10. Number 10, this is a descendent in Africa of which son of Noah? Ham, that's right—a lineal descendent of Ham. He probably retains more original likeness to his forebearers than any of the sons of Noah. This particular individual is of Ethiopia and a Christian priest of the Abyssynian Coptic Church. He is very dark—skinned as you can see, a son of Ham.
11. Number 11‚ a great American, who is this? Abraham Lincoln, who's he a son of? Japheth, right—he represents generally the white Races. The sons of Shem were what? The Yellow and the Brown and the Red Races; and Ham the Negro Races, the Black Races. So there we get a little bit about our background.
12. The map on Number 12. Here we see Ur of the Chaldees. Chaldeans were a very ancient people; some of the most ancient languages were spoken here—very famous‚ considered one of the fathers of languages. This was quite a merchant city; and at the time it was built‚ it was right on the mouth of the Persian Gulf. Today it's many miles inland, why do you suppose? Because the delta of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers have continued to build up the silt, from the upper valley, depositing it in the Persian Gulf until it has built the land right on out into the Persian Gulf, it's still a port city on the Euphrates but quite a ways inland.
The higher critics of the Bible said there was not such a person as Abraham because there never was such a place as Ur. But since that time they've actually dug up the remains of Ur and they know more about its culture than we know about many other cities in the Bible. They even dug up plaques which mention the name of Abraham or Abram, his old name. Whether it was the same Abram or not we don't know, of course. But there were people called that in that city many thousands of years ago.
This is about 4000 years ago when Abraham was born in Ur of the Chaldees; ten generations have passed now since the Flood — 292 years after the Flood. Here at Ur of the Chaldees nearly 500 miles from Babylon, is Terah the father of Abraham, Nahor and Haran—members of the house of Shem. Nahor, who was Abram's brother‚ died here, leaving one son, whose name was what?—Abraham's nephew‚ Lot.
13. The next is Number 13, the site of ancient Ur. Here is part of the mound which has been excavated of the ancient city of Ur. This is a part of the ancient city of Ur of the Chaldees that is buried just like those Indian mounds, and now they've carved it out.
14. Number 14, the tents of Abraham. Abram was born at Ur, 292 years after the Flood, and married his half–sister Sarah. So later on when Abraham, to protect himself from the wrath of some of the kings that took a fancy to his wife, said, "Why‚ she's not my wife; she's my sister!"—He was half right, wasn't he? 'Cause she was his half-sister.
There were no laws at that time against marrying close blood relatives, such as the incest laws of today, because man's sins had not taken such a great toll upon the chromosomes and genes of his body to cause inbreeding to have bad results. That's why the son of Adam, Cain, could marry his own sister; he had quite a few sisters to pick from, too. Even brothers and sisters married in those earliest days—that's all they had to marry! Today the laws of most States forbid even marriage of close relatives because it usually results in one of three things: It can be perfectly all normal children; or they can become geniuses, outstanding and uncannily brilliant, talented children; or they can develop into idiots, morons, imbeciles and so on. So a good many States have laws against anything closer than the first cousins and some States even have laws against first cousins marrying. I think it's because sin has taken a greater toll on humanity; we don't live as long either!
This is a picture of the tents just like Abraham used to live in, only I imagine his were a little better looking than this. This looks old and patched, made out of goat-hair and camel's hair.
15. Number 15, the Euphrates Valley. Terah decided to move after Haran died. He decided to move away from Ur, and God's word tells us that he left Ur to go to Canaan. Now many of you probably didn't know that even Abraham's father intended to go to Canaan or Israel, but he never got there. He traveled up the Euphrates Valley here and arrived at Haran about 1000 miles up the valley and that's a long walk, believe you me! In those days they didn't have much in the way of transportation. This is the great River Euphrates called the Great River in the Bible; and as you can see it's a very broad, great river, the largest river in all Asia Minor. Their course up to Haran lay along the Euphrates. After a very long journey they came to Haran, about 1000 miles north.
16. Number 16, the map. Here is Haran, 1000 miles north of Ur, where Terah for some reason or other didn't continue the journey on to Israel, but decided to settle down here, and it was left up to his son Abram to continue the journey at a later date. At the age of 205, Terah died here at Haran, after they had dwelt there for a short time. Here it was that God definitely called Abraham.
17. Next is Number 17, and this is a picture of Damascus, one of the most ancient cities in the world. It was surely an important place even in the days of Abram. Since it lies directly on the route to Canaan—the caravan route—he very likely passed through it on his way from Haran to Israel, at that time called Canaan.
(Let me ask you a question: Does the Bible say anything about this whole area having a different climate in those days—being more fertile, more tropical, more lush than now?) Yes‚ the Bible tells us that this whole country was like the Garden of Eden. In fact, all it needs now is water! As the Jews are proving in Israel, this desert just blossoms like the rose just as soon as it gets water. According to the Bible, God withheld the rain because of the sins of the people and turned it into a desert. He says now in these Latter Days He's going to bring back the rain. I have a meteorological friend in San Jose, California—he works for the weather bureau; they get the world meteorological maps and he says that it's amazing how the rains have increased in amount. So God is bringing again the latter rains that He promised!
Here's a scene in this once fertile crescent, as science and archaeologists and geologists have discovered, although it hasn't been very fertile for a good many thousand years—because of the lack of rain. Damascus is one of the oldest cities in the world. It's now got a population of about a million people! This is still the junction of the caravan routes from many different directions; it's a hub of various caravan routes of the Near East.
18. Number 18, here's another scene in Damascus. We can see in the distance there that covered street. The streets are very, very narrow and the buildings very ancient. They have streams running right under the houses kind of like canals, out of which the people get their water. They have some beautiful rivers there, the Arnon and Pharpar, and supposed to be some of the clearest, most beautiful in the world—because Damascus is right at the foot of Mt. Hermon and these streams flow right down from the mountain—pure and cold! Water is very priceless in that part of the country. Well, Abraham moved through Damascus on his way to Canaan.
19. In Number 19 you see the principal possessions of Abraham, at this time, were his flocks. A man's wealth was judged by the number of his flocks; and so Abraham had become a very wealthy man—because he had a tremendous amount of flocks. Later on he was even able to divide them with his nephew Lot. Lot, of course, owned a certain share of the flocks himself from his grandfather Terah. Abraham had adopted Lot and taken him on as one of his own sons and he always was very good to Lot. In fact, I think he spoiled Lot—he gave him more than he really deserved and as a result, he had a lot of trouble with him. He was one of the early juvenile delinquents of his day.
20. Number 20, we see a map here showing the route that Abraham undoubtedly took—one of the major caravan routes still in operation today from Haran‚ through Damascus, down into Israel.
21. The first halting place in Israel was undoubtedly Shechem‚ which lies south of Haran about 400 miles. The dwellers were Canaanites—descendants of Canaan the oldest son of Ham‚ and were distant relatives of Abraham. Shechem today is not like Abraham found it; it's been besieged and stormed and destroyed many times since then. But it is remarkable that we can look upon the same physical features which were seen by the old patriarchs nearly 40 centuries ago! "And Abraham passed through the land unto the place of Shechem, unto the plain of Moreh and the Lord appeared unto Abraham, and said‚ Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord‚ who had appeared unto him." (Gen.12:6,7.) This was about 2000 years before Christ.
22. This is the plain of Moreh, and here Abraham erected the first altar unto the Lord built in the Holy Land, so-called Holy Land‚ Israel.
23. Number 23, we see Beth-el. For some reason Abraham did not tarry long at Shechem but moved unto Beth–el, which means the House of God—later named so by Jacob, remember? It's about 20 miles south of Shechem and was then called Luse.
24. Here in Number 24 between Beth-el and Hai he pitched his tent—much like the ones you see here in the photograph in Israel today. These are actual photographs of the very places where these events took place and you see people living here just as they did thousands of years ago—no doubt just like Abraham lived in those days.
25. It's not stated that the Lord gave him any message at this time. So he seems to have gotten a little wavering for a moment in his faith, or at least he didn't seem to know just exactly what to do from here—but he kept on moving. He moved on instead of stopping in Canaan like he was supposed to do. He moved on through because there was a famine in the land and he went on down to Egypt; but he went without having been directed by God to do so, as far as the records speak. He was originally directed to go to Canaan and not to Egypt, so he got in trouble down here in Egypt.
26. This is very likely the same type of transportation employed by Abraham—camels and donkeys. Customs change very little, as you see in this old medieval painting.
27. Here's the way they travel to this very day—usually starting off at sunset, as you can see here, along the crest of the hill by camel train. They travel at night since it's so very hot in the daytime out on the desert—120, 130 and even 140 degrees sometimes, in the shade and no shade! So they usually travel at night‚ and pitch their tent and sleep in the daytime when they're on a journey like this. Business practically stops during the heat of the day in these countries.
28. There they are pitching their tent in Number 28 in the heat of the day—very likely the way Abraham did.
29. They finally reached the River Nile. Here's the beautiful River Nile with one of the pyramids in the background, the lovely date palm trees, a land of plenty—always has been a land of plenty because the watering of the River Nile made it grow very rich crops. Here Abraham found food for his family while Israel was suffering a famine.
30. Here he saw some of the great sights of Egypt which were very old even in his day. Memphis was still a flourishing city at that time; Pharaoh no doubt spent much of his time here, where you see the Step Pyramid. Abraham certainly did not fail to see this very ancient pyramid which was near Memphis. This is called the Step Pyramid, made of softer material than the later ones like Cheops the Great Pyramid. It is falling into decay, but it still stands to this day.
31. Here in Number 31 you see the Great Pyramid, so-called, Cheops and the Great Pyramids in the distance. Abraham evidently met Pharaoh, whom it is believed was one of the Hyksos Dynasty of Shepherd Kings; that's why they had so much in common with the Israelites or with Abraham and his children and were very friendly toward them. The Egyptians of the Hyksos Dynasty were not of the dynasty which arose afterward and enslaved the Israelites, but the Hyksos Dynasty were the Shepherd Kings of Egypt and were very friendly to Abraham and his descendants.
He denied to the king, however, on this first visit, that Sarah was his wife, because he was afraid the king would kill him to take her for his wife; and this little misrepresentation, little white lie he used in saying that Sarah was his sister proved to be a very stupidly expensive blunder. Later on when the king found it out he got quite angry with him; but he didn't kill him, he just sent 'em all away. He said, "How come you're trying to make me sin against God?"—Evidently this Pharaoh knew God and was a worshipper of the same God as Abraham worshipped.
32. Here's a picture of the Sphinx, which was in a good state of preservation at Abraham's time—4000 years ago. This Sphinx was a very handsome looking statue in Abraham's day. Would you like to know how it lost its nose? That happened in the last century when Napoleon's armies were down in Egypt. Napoleon conquered most of Europe and also North Africa. His armies used to use the nose of the Sphinx for cannon practice—now isn't that a nice way to preserve the ancient relics of the past? The Bible says‚ "Destroy not the ancient landmarks‚ which thy fathers have set up."—(Pr.22:28.)—And Napoleon's army certainly didn't live up to that: They just used it for target practice and that's how it lost its nose.
Abraham no doubt stopped to admire the advancement made by the sons of Ham. Imagine now, the Black–skinned Races, the Negro Races of the world had the world's first truly great civilization. Did you know that? Believe it or not‚ Egypt was the greatest nation on the face of the earth in her days and it was Black! We'll have occasion to see more of Egypt later on in the lives of Joseph and Moses.
33. Here in Number 33 he is taking a trip back. So the blunder of Abraham on the introduction of his wife resulted in his leaving Egypt earlier than otherwise he might have. But his departure was a peaceable one since Pharaoh permitted the patriarch to take all his possessions with him as he returned to Canaan. We're told that "he was very rich" as you see him with all of his flocks—as the artist has pictured him here.
Now remember some of these are actual photographs and some of them are merely artists' conceptions. There wasn't a photographer there from the United Press to take Abraham's photo when he was leaving Egypt, so we have to depend on the imagination of the various artists to re–create some of these scenes to help us try to at least imagine what they must have looked like. This is no doubt very much like the way he left Egypt, traveling by camel or donkey with his flocks behind and with his beautiful wife.
This happens to be about the first of three kings that tried to steal Abraham's wife—incidentally, a very beautiful woman. Every time that he claimed that it was his sister to keep from getting killed he let the guy have her; and then about the time they were to get married, why, God would stop it by some way or other and so he'd get her back each time. I don't know what would have been the result if he'd been honest in the first place and told them the whole truth. He was telling the truth, but not the whole truth; he was telling them just a half–truth!
So God's Word always portrays its heroes as they really were! It doesn't depict them as men who were perfect and never made a mistake and supernatural and all that sort of thing, but they were just ordinary men like you and me. They made their big boners just like you and I do‚ and if it weren't for God, why, they really would have been a mess—just like you and I are without God! Well now, he went back into Canaan.
34. Here we have Abraham and Lot in Number 34. At best the pasturage in Canaan was very poor around Beth-el, but the famine passed and they remained here for about two years—he and his nephew Lot and their herdsmen and their wives and so on. Abraham and Lot kept their property interests separate; but servants of Lot and Abraham, however, fought a great deal as a result of this. Here was a form of socialism in the Bible; the Bible is full of various forms of socialism, incidentally. People seem to think that socialism started with Karl Marx; socialism started a long ways back in the Bible and there was a great deal of it there.
When I say socialism I'm not necessarily talking about Communism or Karl Marx's brand, I'm talking about a community system of living in which the community benefits are shared, community responsibilities are shared. It's sharing or co-operative form of living I'm talking about: genuine, pure socialism! That's what Abraham and Lot had! But typical of the difficulties of socialism, we discover here that Abraham and Lot themselves didn't fight, because Abraham refused to fight, but their herdsmen would fight each other over the best pasturage—because it was commonly owned and community used. So their herdsmen would beat each other up trying to get their sheep in the best pasturages. Finally Abraham decided that the best solution to that was just to divide, instead of all using the same pasture. Here we have the beginning of capitalism‚ you might say, and private ownership.
35. So they finally agreed to separate. Abraham agreed to give Lot, this spoiled nephew of his, his first choice and, of course, instead of saying, "Why, dear old father Abraham, you've been so good to me and I owe you so much I'm certainly going to give you, in your declining days, the best pasturage—because after all when you die I'll get it all anyhow." Did he say that? No, he just marched promptly right off to the valley! He marched right straight off toward the valley of the Jordan, which was the best watered and the richest pasturage. He went right down toward a place along the Dead Sea where Sodom and Gomorrah were located.
Now this author of this map here made a slight mistake, because Sodom and Gomorrah, in fact, are buried under the waters of the southern end of the Dead Sea. There are various archaeological indications of this and geological as well— because this whole end of the Dead Sea is completely solidified salt. There is even a mountain of salt along the western shore — Mount Sodom, which is six miles long, three miles wide and about a mile high and it is solid, almost 100% pure table salt! Remember what Lot's wife turned into? Salt! Well‚ there was a reason why she turned into salt—they had some kind of an explosion; we'll hear more about that later‚ and she probably got covered with salt and became a solid pillar of salt as a result.
36. The area that Lot settled in the Jordan Valley—very beautiful, very fertile. See the Jordan River flowing through there, down the valley and watering that big plain, the plain of the Valley of Achor it was called. It was later on that some of Moses' followers got in trouble there, remember?—One of the fellows had grabbed the wedge of gold and hid it in his tent and that's where this happened.
37. Lot pitched his tents down here, very much like you see these fellows pitching their tents there—these Bedouins. To this very day the Arabs pitch their tents in this area. But today it's desert because God has withheld the rain because of the sins of the people, according to His prophecies. But there's still a certain amount of foliage and pasturage, even for the flocks‚ along the Jordan banks.
38. Remember that bitter spring that Elisha found—the waters were bitter‚ the waters of Marah—and Elisha by a miracle sweetened the waters of Marah by casting in some kind of a branch or something. Perhaps it was a chemical miracle of some kind that God showed him what to do. Miracles are not always supernatural: they're simply following God's Laws that we're not familiar with which God revealed to some of His ancients in their day. He sweetened these waters‚ and since that time this has always been a very famous sweet fountain or spring. It burst forth right from the foot of the Jordan Hills here. This great sweet spring was very likely bitter in the time of Abraham, when he was there, because it was bitter later when Elisha was there.
39. This is the Valley of Achor, where the fellow hid the golden wedge later on in the Bible story, and he was stoned to death right here in this valley for stealing. I tell you, people didn't steal or do a lot of things in those days that they get away with today—because they don't expect to get punished very much today!—They just get very light punishment.
Punishment was very severe in those days! There were 23 sins for which you could be put to death! I counted one time‚ I think there were 23 crimes in the Bible for which there was a death penalty, think of that? God was trying to show His people that He really meant business, that He really didn't want them to misbehave. You could get stoned to death even for cursing your father or mother‚ or for striking your father and mother; you could get stoned to death for all kinds of things. It was a very terrible death, but the reason for it was as a deterrent of crime and disobedience and sin. It evidently worked pretty well, to a certain extent, because they were usually a little better than the people around them—later on they got much worse.
40. This is a Bedouin camp around the site of Sodom and Gomorrah in the Jordan Valley—very much like Lot probably did in his day.
41. I'm going to end this story now at the River Jordan flowing, cutting a deep slot through the bottom of the Jordan Valley and emptying into the Dead Sea. It washes a lot of good soil from upper reaches of the Jordan down into the Lower Jordan.
The Israelis are learning to pump water out of the Jordan and using it to irrigate the land and causing the desert to blossom as the rose, even as the prophet Isaiah prophesied that it would in the Last Days—the days in which we now are living! Israel is blossoming like the rose in fulfillment of those prophecies, and as a result of the hard labour and work and ingenuity and industriousness of the Jewish people there in Israel.