Why the Book of Jasher Doesn’t Get the Account of the Tower of Babel Right

ANNOUNCING:  REBOOTING THE BIBLE, PART 2, IS NOW AVAILABLE ON AMAZON.

FINALLY, the book is published and available.  For now, it’s the printed version only (Kindle is about one month, in time for the 4th of July).  The format is 8.5″ by 11″.  I had to make the difficult decision to go with a larger format.  The reason, there are over 90 photographs and charts, many with tiny details you’ll want to see.  This would only be plain to see in the larger format.  (I’ll eventually have to redo RTB-Part 1 to the same size format, when I do an update which won’t be too far away. I will want them to be a matched set).

The book is 170,000 words, 25,000 words more than RTB-Part 1. It’s 400 pages in the 8.5×11 format. Because of its size and its length, the price for this book is $25.00.  Prime members can get it mailed free. Order today and it should arrive by Tuesday, June 9th, 4 days hence.

I won’t have the book in stock at my web store for two weeks.

I believe the book might be revolutionary, because of the new insights that become apparent when we accept the Septuagint’s timeline and see how that influences the sequence of events in the accounts of Genesis 1-11. It will most certainly rock the boat. I don’t look good in tar and feathers, but that might be my fate very soon!

The first example I’ll draw upon in this article, is how the Tower of Babel story should be understood. It’s far different than today’s popular belief.  Today, our view of Babel is heavily influenced by the Book of Jasher.  When you do the analysis (which I did and share with you here), you’ll be surprised how much Jasher wanders off course.  This is a taste of how I address the topics and show why “recasting” the stories from the first few chapters of Genesis is essential to appreciate what the Bible really teaches about what happened.  To get the real story of the early-on Genesis accounts, you will want to read this book.  You will encounter lots of surprises and build your faith.

AND NOTE: DEREK GILBERT WROTE THE FOREWORD!

“You’ll find that Doug’s research supports a plausible solution for many mysteries of the Bible. For example: What does it mean in Genesis 10:25 when we read that Abraham’s ancestor Eber named his son “Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided”? The single scrimpy line offered as an explanation for his name surely meant something to Moses and his readers 3,400+ years ago. Still, we’ve lost whatever oral tradition or cultural context would explain why the Holy Spirit prompted Moses to include this “one-liner” in the Book of Genesis.  However, one thing is sure—since “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16), the line isn’t there to fill space. It means something – and it probably is essential.

“In Part 2 of Rebooting the Bible, to his credit, Doug doesn’t shy away from the weird parts of the Torah either—Nimrod, Noah, and the “sons of God” from Genesis 6:1-4, progenitors of the monstrous, giant Nephilim—are all considered and addressed with scholarly analysis. And for an encore, he tackles how to reconcile alternate history, made familiar in best-selling books, YouTube, and the History Channel, with Genesis Chapter 1.”

From the Foreword by Derek P. Gilbert, Host, SkyWatchTV and a View from the Bunker and author of Bad Moon Rising and 4 other books.

Rebooting the Bible, Part 2, Now Available on Amazon.

(CLICK ON THE PICTURE OR TITLE ABOVE TO GO TO AMAZON)

From Chapter 5 of Rebooting the Bible, Part 2

The Book of Jasher – How it Confuses the Confusion of Babel

In contrast to how most people recall the account, God didn’t knock down their tower with a mighty wind, nor burn up their city like he would Sodom and Gomorrah. Here the Book of Jasher adds to the confusion by stating that, “And as to the tower which the sons of men built, the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up one-third part thereof, and a fire also descended from heaven and burned another third, and the other third is left to this day, and it is of that part which was aloft, and its circumference is three days’ walk.” (Jasher 9:38-39) However, the Bible does not indicate that God, nor the heavenly host with Him, did any such thing. Just confusing human language was enough to send everyone in different directions. Moses (whom I believe wrote the account perhaps in part from oral traditions of the Hebrews and the rest from the revelation given him by God directly), states this event led to dispersion from the land, scattering humanity all over the globe. And the Tower of Babel was abandoned (probably only for a time) along with the city that was ‘round about it.

When assessing why God chose to break up the party, based upon my research, various sources assert five explanations for Babel: (1) Humanity was prideful and wished to demonstrate its power in defiance of God’s; (2) Humanity was unwilling to obey the command of God to replenish the earth – they wanted to stay put, but not necessarily slowing population growth; (3) Violence was already escalating post-Flood again and some portion of humanity (not all) built the Tower as a means to fortify themselves against others not among their kin. Plus, there are two explanations proposed from a more progressive point of view: (4) God wished to separate humanity to encourage cultural diversity; (5) God wanted to divide humans to promote religious pluralism.[1]

When we take a step back and look at the story, it’s hard to see support for any of the last three rationales. A lot gets read into the story, as we shall see. But first, let’s consider what the Bible says. Make note that it presents a “minimalist” account with limited explanation:

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words.  And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.  And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar.  Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”  And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built.  And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.  Come, let us go down and confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.”  So, the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.  Therefore, its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth. (Genesis 11:1-9)

The Tower of Babel, On the Banks of the Euphrates?

However, when we compare this straightforward account, the Book of Jasher does its best to assert many things that go well beyond the reach of any hint the Bible gave regarding the suppositions from this non-canonical account. Let’s recount them, one-by-one:

  1. The incident occurred in 1988 AM – that is, approximately 2000 years after Adam was created (circa 2016-2012 B.C.). (LXX contradicts this chronology.)
  2. The event occurred after Abraham had lived with Noah for 39 years (Jasher 9:6). (LXX contradicts this chronology.)
  3. Humanity was already caught up in idolatry, worshipping the sun and moon and made stones and wood their gods.
  4. Nimrod reigned securely, and all the earth was under his control, using one tongue and “words of union.” (9:20)
  5. It was not all of humanity. However, that rebelled against YHWH. It was the princes of Nimrod and Phut, Mitzaim, and Canaan – the Hamites – along with Nimrod being a “special son” of Cush, his father. (9:23)
  6. Then the rationale: “Come let us build ourselves a city and in it a strong tower, and its top reaching heaven, and we will make ourselves famed, so that we may reign upon the whole world, in order that the evil of our enemies may cease from us, that we may reign mightily over them, and that we may not become scattered over the earth on account of their wars.” (9:21) (Only partially explicit in Scripture.)
  7. Six hundred thousand men gathered together to build a city, and the tower (9:23).
  8. And then even more fantastic details are supplied – which is where many erroneous beliefs arise about the Tower, the men who built it, and the God who created humankind:

27 And when they were building they built themselves a great city and a very high and strong tower; and on account of its height the mortar and bricks did not reach the builders in their ascent to it, until those who went up had completed a full year [day], and after that, they reached to the builders and gave them the mortar and the bricks; thus was it done daily. 28 And behold these ascended and others descended the whole day; and if a brick should fall from their hands and get broken, they would all weep over it, and if a man fell and died, none of them would look at him. 29 And the Lord knew their thoughts, and it came to pass when they were building they cast the arrows toward the heavens, and all the arrows fell upon them filled with blood, and when they saw them they said to each other, ’Surely we have slain all those that are in heaven.’ (Jasher 9:27-29) [2]

  1. God descended with seventy angels (from which the seventy nations are distinguished and assigned) and confused their tongue.
  2. This mass of humanity began to fight one another, and many died. (9:34)
  3. Then God judged the “three divisions” of rebels – the first that asserted they would ascend to the heavens becoming like apes and elephants; the second that pledged to shoot arrows and kill God; and the third that proclaimed they would ascend to heaven to fight against Him. (9:35)
  4. The Lord God scattered most, but not all, for “those who (remained) amongst them, when they knew and understood the evil which was coming upon them, they forsook the building, and they also became scattered upon the face of the whole earth. (9:36)
  5. They ceased building the city and the tower. Thus, the Lord confounded the “Language of the whole earth.” (9:37)
  6. Then more astounding details are provided that adds to the mythical quality of the story of the Book of Jasher:

“And as to the tower which the sons of men built, the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up one third part thereof, and a fire also descended from heaven and burned another third, and the other third is left to this day, and it is of that part which was aloft, and its circumference is three days’ walk. And many of the sons of men died in that tower, a people without number.”

Finally, two years later, we read that Peleg dies when he is, according to the Masoretic Text and Jasher, 239 years old (Recall: The LXX states Peleg was 339 years old). Unfortunately, many sincere believers today talk as if these details are what the Bible teaches. Not so. We have no less than 14 distinct facts about the Tower of Babel.  How many of these does the Bible echo?  Only one and one-half (1 ½ ).  Number 6 and part of 13. That’s it.

Consequently, after misleading many of us, we now must wash away Jasher’s mythic imaginings while holding fast to the truths explicit in Scripture. We should trust what secular history and archeology seem to confirm that’s in the Bible, once we examine all the evidence. And this we do in the pages that follow.

NOTES

[1] M. Alroy Mascrenghe provides a study (from a conventional perspective for the most part), “The City, the Ship, and the Tower: Reading the Babel Story Theologically and As a Narrative in its Context” that recaps these respective points of view and their origin.  This article was published in the Journal of the Colombo Theological Seminary 10 (2014), p. 240-244. One of the keen insights in the article was that the purpose of the Tower of Babel was to provide security in the same way that Cain sought security by building a city (rather than trusting that God’s “mark” would protect him). A Tower reaching to the Heavens was to safeguard humanity from destruction again by flood,

[2] Johnson, Ken. Ancient Book of Jasher, p. 36-37, n.d., Kindle Edition.