Nimrod was a mighty hunter “in God’s face.” Once we put him into a “Tabernacle” context, we can understand his motivation and role on the cultic stage.
The fact that the builders of the Tower of Babel “had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar,” is a reference to sacred architecture. Here it alludes to the process of building an altar as a sacrificial substitute for the earth.
The houses of God throughout the Bible demonstrate increasing degrees of glory, and so do the altars upon which they are founded (as symbols of the earth, altars are “foundational” to worship).
The altars of the patriarchs were made of unhewn stones. This deliberate, earthy “roughness” is Adamic. These Adamic altars were then glorified as the Bronze Altar in the Tabernacle, a “serpentine” or wise Adam. Its smoke was glorified as the Golden Altar of Incense.
The altar in Solomon’s Temple was made of cut stones, as was the entire temple. Solomon’s Temple was “Bridal,” so the sound of a chisel (digging from the Adamic ground) was not to be heard in it (1 Kings 6:7). These stones were brought to the threshing floor of Arunah in the way Eve was brought to Adam.
Cut stones—whether the tablets of Moses or the Temple of Solomon—are refined, holy, heavenly. They represent culture, a union between heaven and earth. But unhewn stones are raw, unfinished, earthy. These stones represent nature, the primeval earth, cursed and demanding atoning blood. The ground cried out as a witness against Cain. Under the Law of Moses, the stones of the ground rose up in judgment to cut murderers and adulterers out of history. If men failed to judge sinners, they would come face to face with the Lawgiver, and call on the rocks and hills to cover them.
Thus, the sin of the Babel builders is apparent even in their building materials as a shortcut to glory. They fashioned Adamic clay and fired it to look “Bridal.” Their “bitumen” is the same word used in Exodus 1:14 for the slime used by Israel under Pharaoh in Egypt.
The city (feminine) and tower (masculine) which they constructed are architectural representations of Eve and Adam.1See James B. Jordan, Babylon and the Babel Project, Biblical Horizons Occasional Paper No. 39, p. 10. Their union was a symbolic marriage of heaven and earth, just as the Shekinah in the Tabernacle was a union of heaven and earth, the “name” of the Lord resting above the Ark.
Instead of serving as cherubim in the Noahic Garden, the Shemites (specifically the sons of Joktan) moved East to glorify their own name. Like the sons of Seth, they “intermarried” with Cushites under a false god.
Ham’s exposure of Noah corresponds to the corporate sin of constructing this city-tower. The Veil is removed and the Shekinah is displayed openly, a glory manufactured in place of that which was to be received as a gift via obedience to God. In seeking a name, the Babel builders unwittingly constructed a giant phallus.
Once again, the refusal to offer the substitutionary blood of blameless animals (cultus) resulted in a bloodthirsty culture. Nimrod (“rebel”) was a mighty hunter “in God’s face” (Genesis 10:9), which makes him, architecturally speaking, a murderer like Cain, an unwilling facebread, or Firstfruits.
Cush fathered Nimrod; he was the first on earth to be a mighty man. He was a mighty hunter [in the face of] the Lord. (Genesis 10:9)
Ascension is the point at which God’s face is against the sinful man until blameless “firstborn” blood is shed. Since the Babel narrative follows the ubiquitous biblical covenant-literary pattern, the placement of the construction of Babel within the passage is extremely significant.
Covenant Structure in the Babel Narrative
THE TOWER OF BABEL (Genesis 11:1-9)
FALSE UNITY – The resting world has one language and a single “confession” (Creation)
COMPROMISE – The priestly sons of Joktan (from Shem via Eber) journey from the east (Division)
FALSE WORSHIP – They decide to build a tower to heaven (false church), and a city (false state) (Ascension)
INSPECTION BY GOD – The Lord – as “two witnesses” – comes down to assess them (Testing)
PROPHETIC WITNESS – He then pronounces curses upon them: confusion (false church) and scattering (false state) (Maturity)
NOAH VINDICATED – The site is named “Babel” which means “gate of God” (Conquest)
SCATTERING – Having divided the nations, God disperses them across the entire world (Glorification)
Tabernacle Structure in the Babel Narrative
Once we put Nimrod into a “Tabernacle” context, we can understand his motivation and role on the cultic (Covenant) stage.
- Creation / Initiation / Sabbath: The sequence begins with the world ruled by the Noahic order of priest-kings. Not only did the people share a single language but they also shared a single “lip” or religious confession (śā·p̄āh).
- Division / Delegation / Passover: Like Adam and Eve, the sons of Joktan moved eastward – from Garden to Land. This inverts the meaning of the sacrificial facet of the Division or Exodus step: instead of separating from the world, these Shemites were uniting with the rebellion of the world.
- Ascension / Presentation / Firstfruits: The motivation behind the construction of Babel is the same as that of Adam and Cain: a seizing of kingdom and a rejection of priesthood. In architectural terms, Nimrod is lifted up from the earth and placed into this “Sanctuary” as Adam was, but here he exalts himself. The Hebrew phrase “the face of the land” describes the lifting up of the firstfruits (bread and strong drink) as pictured in the contents of the Table of Facebread as legal representatives of the harvest of the Altar-Land. For Nimrod, a false messiah, this was not an act of submission but rebellion. The intention behind the rite and the architecture is that Nimrod’s will on earth would be done in heaven.2For more discussion on the significance of the Table of Showbread, see The Missing Lamb.
- Testing / Purification / Pentecost: Just as the Lord’s “lampstand” eyes later watched over the tribes of Israel, so here He observes the offering of this Cainite sacrifice. The unity of these “sons of men” is indeed a source of strength, but it is not the unity of the Spirit. It will be “tried by fire.” The Lord’s unity is demonstrated in the phrase “let us go down.” The glory and unity desired by the Babel builders would only come after Christ sent His Spirit (John 17:20-23).
- Maturity / Transformation / Trumpets: The Incense Altar symbolises the role of the Prophet as the result of the union of Priesthood and Kingdom. The Lord speaks as a single voice to scatter the united hosts of men.
- Conquest / Vindication / Atonement: “Babel” sounds like the Hebrew for “confusion,” so the Oath and the Sanctions are related in a pun. Within the covenant-literary pattern, the destruction of Babel corresponds to the destruction of Jericho (and Achan’s theft of the garment from Shinar) as firstfruits of the Land, and the destruction of Jerusalem as spiritual Babylon as firstfruits of the World.
- Glorification / Representation / Booths: As it was for Adam, there was no glory and no legal representation of God on this particular “Sabbath.” The cloud which descended upon this “holy mountain” brought only blindness. The fire which descended did not dwell within this temple but instead brought darkness. Instead of the “ingathering” of the nations (the Feast of Booths) there was the first scattering of nations.
The End of the Law
God had sheltered Man in Noah and given him a new “Bridal” house, but now even that house was corrupted. This false “Shekinah” or “Day 7” event (Noah’s rest and Babel’s rule) brings us to the end of a negative progression of the “Ten Words.”
(Head – Adam – Priest)
(Body – Eve – People)
Word from God
No false gods
Word to God
No false oaths
Adam and Eve Hide from God
Sabbath / Land
Cain and Abel’s Offerings
Father and Mother
Fruit of Land and Womb
The Death of Abel and City of Cain
Sons of God / Knife
The Kingdom of Lamech
Daughters of Men / Fire
Intermarriage of Priestly and Kingly lineages
Nephilim High Culture and Bloodshed
No False Witness
The Testimony and Rejection of Noah
Ham’s Attempt to Steal an Inheritance
Coveting the Sheltered
Nimrod’s Attempt to Hijack Church and State
If you are new to this method of interpretation, please visit the Welcome page for some help to get you up to speed.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||See James B. Jordan, Babylon and the Babel Project, Biblical Horizons Occasional Paper No. 39, p. 10.|
|2.||↑||For more discussion on the significance of the Table of Showbread, see The Missing Lamb.|