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Religious Pron - The Tower of Babel 3
General Boards - Religion & Philosophy
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Religious Pron - The Tower of Babel 3

emoji_events [8]
May 23, 2022, 12:54 PM
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Long before there were cities and civilization, there was pottery, and pronography.



Mortar and Pestle, 20,000 BCE, from the Jezreel Valley in Israel





And the technologically advanced model, from 10,000 BCE, with a much finer grain.





Hot seggsy time. 11,000 BCE style


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There was so much pottery in antiquity that it’s a primary dating source for what is found around it. It’s almost as common as dirt, being clay and all.


An Italian hill made of 50 million busted pots through the centuries.





All waiting to be sorted by some lucky archaeologist student in training







Shards, shards, everywhere a shard, little broken bits all over my yard…


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Ancient pottery is so specific to the time it was made it can sometimes be dated to within a few generations, and sometimes even to a single lifespan.
Green tinted Han Dynasty pots like this one were only made during one 20-year period in all of history.


x
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And, if you happen to stumble on a Qing Dynasty vase like this one, you just got $84 million richer. That’s some expensive pot!


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Back in Mesopotamia there was tons of the stuff, too.





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The bottom line is, though some people in antiquity may have been poor, NO one in antiquity was so poor he didn’t have a pot to pixx in.


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Last time, we were investigating the deceptively simple 9-verse Tower of Babel story, which could be about arrogance, or maybe more...



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We established a location in southern Mesopotamia, but were still working on a time and a why. Let’s dig deeper into the second half of verse 4, because it’s really the key to all of this. And actually, it says the exact opposite of what most folks think it says, which is a little upside-down.



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Gen 11:4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens,...

“...so that we may make a name for ourselves...”


Now that’s very interesting, because making a name for yourself implies impressing someone, or establishing your eminence, or credibility, or legitimacy.

If you were a Mesopotamian, you didn’t really make a name for yourself to your gods. You served them and hoped they don’t kill you just because they were having a bad day, or because they were bored, or just because you were too noisy and they wanted some peace and quiet.


From the Babylonian flood story, the Atra Hasis…

9 [Then man] made new picks and spades,
10 [And] made big canals,
11 To feed people and sustain the gods.
12 600 years passed,
13 The country was as noisy as a bellowing bull
14 The gods grew restless at their racket,
15 [The god] Enlil had to listen to their noise.
16 He addressed the other great gods,
17 The noise of mankind has become too much,
18 I am losing sleep over their racket.

And we all know what happened next.



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But not all of the gods were in favor of flooding mankind to death. The mother of man, Nintu, did what any grieving mom would do when her children were being drowned.

“Nintu wept over the destruction of her children. She was sated with grief, and she longed for beer in vain…”



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Whoa kid, don’t endanger my alcohol!


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Marduk, the patron man/god of Babylon. As a man, he failed at immortality when a snake thwarted him...not unlike a snake thwarted Adam and Eve getting to the Tree of Immortality.

Over time he rose to become a god as Babylon changed from being a small town to being the center of an empire. He’s got a nice wristwatch, but I guess his alien overlords weren’t smart enough to invent an iphone.


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Marduk also had a cool snake-headed, lion-footed, eagle-clawed, dragon-tailed pet named Mushussu.


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So anyhow, the gods owned you, and you were their slave, and so making a name for yourself to them doesn’t really make any sense.
And the Mesos certainly couldn’t care less about making a name to the author’s Hebrew god.

So who is left to make your name to? Let’s go on in verse 4.



“...otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”



Wait. What? Otherwise?
Who exactly is going to do this scattering if you DON’T build a tower, and why? That sounds completely backwards from the usual interpretation of the story.



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Hey I’m with you. That certainly isn’t how my Sunday School teacher, Mrs. Janecke, explained it to me at all.



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Now we’re really in cuckoo land. So paraphrased, verse 4 says “if we don’t build a tower and impress someone we are going to get scattered.”
Let’s hit that again just to be sure.



4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”


Yep. That’s what it says.
Well, if they aren’t talking about impressing gods (and as Mesos they wouldn’t be) they must be talking about impressing man. And for a man to scatter city and tower builders, he’d have to command a pretty powerful nation himself. And with that, I think we’ve finally got enough information to wrap this mystery up, because there was a cataclysmic historical event in which all this makes sense.


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Let’s recap our assumptions.

We’ve got a Hebrew author (because the story is in the Hebrew Bible), writing about a Mesopotamian people (in Shinar), concerning a big tower (the Etemenaki), built by a culture the author doesn’t fully understand (because he attributes the tower height to arrogance, not the Mesopotamian fear of gods), and he’s got a bigger beef against the Mesos than the Egyptians who enslaved his own forefathers. Check.

And the people in this story are concerned that if they don’t impress and awe their neighbors, they are going to get smashed and scattered to the corners of the earth.
And they were right to worry, because that’s exactly what happened.



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In the history of ancient Israel (which we’ll get into in a few weeks), there are three dates that that are eternal raw wounds.

1) 70AD, when their country and the Second Temple was razed to the ground by Rome.

2) 722 BCE, when the northern half of their country was eradicated by Assyria (scattering the Ten Lost Tribes).

And 3) 586 BCE, when the southern remains of their country, Judah, was destroyed. That included the total destruction of the First, or Solomon’s, Temple. The survivors of that debacle were carted off into captivity and exile, to a city called Babylon. It’s called the Babylonian Exile, and you might have heard them lament about it on occasion, while they were being tormented by a bunch of a-hole Babylonian thugs.

Psalm 137
1 By the rivers of Babylon we sat and wept when we remembered Zion.
2 There on the poplars we hung our harps,
3 for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy; they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”



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While it is a famous Exile, it’s not quite as famous as this one.


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The Babylonian Exile only lasted about 50 years, till about 536 BCE. Then Babylon itself was smashed and scattered to the winds by the Persians under Cyrus the Great. He released the Jews back to Judah, and even commissioned their Temple to be rebuilt. The Jews, naturally, considered him a messiah. A military champion and hero who saved them and their nation from enslavement and complete destruction.


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Cyrus. The Persian one. Not the Billy Ray one.


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The possible tomb of Cyrus the Great in Pasargade, Iran. It fits ancient written descriptions to a “t”, but of course, you never really know.


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Cyrus (Coresh) even has a street named for him in Jerusalem. Not many Iranians can claim that.


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And similarly, since their subsequent destruction by Rome in 70AD, the Jews have awaited another military messiah to save them yet again.


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Simon Bar Kokhba could have been a messiah like Cyrus. He led an impressive Jewish revolt against the Romans in 132 AD, but he died in combat and didn’t deliver the Jews from anything.


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But even with national salvation by Cyrus, things still weren’t all hunky-dory in the Land of Milk and Honey. Because not everyone got exiled, only the skilled intelligentsia who could be of use to the Babylonians.

A lot of people were left behind in occupied Judah. And so when the exiles came home, it was like big brother triumphantly coming home from college to find out that his little brother had moved into his bedroom, scratched a lot of his best albums, and had been j’ing off in his bed – hypothetically, I mean. Something like that could never actually happen, of course. But we’ll get to all that good drama down the line.



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But for now let’s wrap up our Tower story.

What I think is happening here is that a Hebrew author, being held captive in Babylon, is trashing his captors with words. Just like his descendants trashed Rome 500 years later by secretly referring to Nero as Mr. 666 (his name in gematria) and calling him a “beast.”



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Gematria is a big deal over there. To this day the number 18 is a lucky number for the Jews because the letters in the word “alive” add up to 18.

So this Hebrew author is looking at the Etemenaki every day (and like the Eiffel Tower, how could you miss it on the skyline?), with Babylonian priests carrying food to the top of it for their gods, wondering where his god is. He’s longing for his home, trying to reckon why all this is happening to him and his people, and why his god abandoned him to foreign captivity.


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And what’s worse, his Babylonian captors are mocking him, just like in Psalm 137.



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3 “for there our captors asked us for songs, our tormentors demanded songs of joy;
they said, “Sing us one of the songs of Zion!”



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But our author is a smart guy. Really smart. That’s why he got hauled off to Babylon in the first place, instead of being left behind in Judah. And politically, he sees what’s going on, and he calls the Babylonians out on it.



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In his mind, the Babylonians are building their religious towers for political prestige to impress and awe other nations who might try to conquer them, rather than to worship their gods. Mesopotamia was a dangerous place, and the only thing more deadly than Mesopotamian gods were Mesopotamian neighbors.


“...so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”



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As Machiavelli said, it’s best to be both feared and loved, but if you can only be one, be feared. And in the rough and tumble world of Mesopotamian geo-politics, you definitely wanted to be feared.



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Prisoners of war and forcibly relocated populations had a lot to fear too.


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And “scattered” doesn’t mean just set loose to the wind for you to determine your own fate. Mesopotamian nations at this time had well-documented relocation policies that deported captives to all parts of their empires. Need a copper smith over here? Here’s one. Need a seamstress over there? Ditto. You slaves pack up your shid and go where you are told. Which could be anywhere in the Empire.


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Forced deportation will get folks all kinds of riled up. And that would be a reason to hate the Babylonians WAY more than even the Egyptians. Egypt may have enslaved the author’s ancestors, but the Babylonians were enslaving HIM.



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Relocate, or die. This siege tower hasn’t even been backed away from the walls and this family and their cart is already the property of the highest bidder, headed for who knows where? Sorry kid, at least you get to see the world with your mom and pop– as slaves.


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And when he was finally freed from Babylon in 536 BCE, the author naturally attributed Babylon’s downfall to the Hebrew god Yahweh, through the messiah Cyrus.

So Yahweh turned out to be superior, and what what better way to dis your mocking, b***ard captors than to say their religion is a fraud perpetrated by their priest class? A fraud for political power to both control their own people and frighten their national neighbors? Basically saying the Babylonian religion and their gods were all hat and no horse. “Marduk and his pet dragon are a joke!” And their downfall was proof to the author.

That’s a bioch-slap even worse than being called arrogant. A nasty, nasty, critique and condemnation of the boys from Shinar and their gods. At least, from an angry Hebrew’s perspective.



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Settle down. You’ll get your country back. It might take 50 years, but Yahweh hasn’t completely abandoned you. Temporarily, sure, but not completely.


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So that’s one possible meaning of the story, above and beyond the face-value “arrogance” interpretation. But we can go even further, because I even have an idea for who this mystery author might be.
A man hidden by 2500 years of time, and I’ll break down the history and the why of all that next time.









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Till then, enjoy some more cups.


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Even before folks were throwing pottery and baking it, they were hollowing out containers from natural materials. These are about 10,000 years old, before cities even existed. Cortesy of the Louvre in Paris.



A granite cup





An aragonite vase





An alabaster pot


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Containers were in such demand that it’s believed the wheel was not invented for transportation,







but to facilitate the mass production of pottery on potters wheels.




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And the Mesos got really good at pottery really fast. This plate is about 8000 years old, and already decoration is a big deal. Stoneware was for barbarians.
Civilized folk ate off only the finest baked mud.


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By 6000 BCE the detail is becoming even finer, with pictograms of gazelle, or whatever


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And the shapes are much more complex by 5000 BCE


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By 3000 BCE Mesos were using multiple colors, shapes, images, and graphics. You can even see the influence of ancient Nazi-ism on some of these bowls.


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At their apex, before the Greeks and Persians brought their own pottery to the region, the Mesos were mixing colors and glazes to make pottery you can only obtain through Sotheby’s today. Cha-ching!


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And finally, building on the techniques used by the ancient craftsmen, the pinnacle of container storage was reached in the America’s in the 1960’s.
















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flag link

So I can find later

[2]
May 23, 2022, 1:45 PM
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Thanks

2022 orange level memberbadge-donor-15yr.jpgringofhonor-cu85tiger.jpg flag link


“When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir?”
John Maynard Keynes
“Anti-intellectualism has been a constant thread winding its way through our political and cultural life, nurtured by the false notion that democracy means that my ignorance is just as good as your knowledge.”
Isaac Asimov


Read 3 before I read 1 or 2

[1]
May 24, 2022, 3:17 PM
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2022 orange level memberbadge-donor-15yr.jpgringofhonor-fatherg-110.jpg flag link

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