Strongholds of False Religion Established Worldwide from Babylon
THE TIME: somewhat more than a hundred years after the Flood. THE PLACE: somewhere in Mesopotamia. A large crowd of people stand, as it were, at the threshold of a vast unpopulated earth. A marvelous opportunity is open before them. Their forefathers, under the leadership of Noah, who is still with them, had been brought by Jehovah God safely through the destruction of a “world of ungodly people” into a cleansed earth. All false worship had been destroyed. True, clean worship had been reestablished by Noah and the other seven Flood survivors as they offered up sacrifices of thanksgiving to Jehovah for his marvelous deliverance.—Gen. 8:20, 21; 9:28.
Chief among this now-expanded population are seventy family heads who have enjoyed the opportunity of living and growing up under the direction of God’s servant and prophet Noah. They have had the opportunity of becoming well acquainted with the righteous God-ordained laws and precedents that Noah has established to govern human society and with the outcome of the disobedience of the pre-Flood world. They are equipped to maintain clean worship in the earth.
Now Noah informs them it is time to carry out an important command of God. They are not to stay in the one vicinity, but must spread out over the earth, people it with righteous worshipers of Jehovah God and establish his worship earthwide. If these seventy family heads act in obedience, they can establish strongholds of true worship all over the earth. Such must serve as centers for the dispensing of knowledge of God and of the requirements of true religion to all the yet-unborn nations. What a fine legacy for their children! These strongholds must stand firm against Satan the Devil, who would, if possible, reintroduce false religion. How wisely Jehovah provided for their protection from the repetition of the pre-Flood condition in which a world was enslaved in false religion and ignorance of the great Creator and Life-giver!—Gen. 4:26; 6:5, 13.
Persons familiar with the Bible account know that the majority of these seventy family heads and leaders lacked faith in God. They did not have God’s name and worship uppermost in their hearts. They did not have in mind the welfare of the children of future generations. They let fear and selfishness lead to opposition to God and to a defeat of the carrying out of their commission. Instead, they had to be forcibly scattered, by a language change, to many parts of the earth. There they established strongholds of false religion through which the nations of earth have been directed away from the true God, bringing great sorrow and distress to mankind.
BABYLON THE CENTRAL STRONGHOLD
As we examine the Bible account, the evidence reveals the adversary of God, the Great Serpent, Satan the Devil, lurking unseen for a chance to instill his spirit into mankind as he had done with Adam and Eve originally. He knew that if he could control this concentrated nucleus of the human race at this point by bringing in false religion he would go far in his effort to control later generations earthwide. He played upon their fear and reluctance to go as pioneers for God’s worship into the vast unpopulated areas of the earth. Moreover, he appealed to their selfishness, inducing in them a desire to make a name for themselves. Nimrod had just the right spirit to be used as Satan’s tool to encourage them in this direction. Under him as self-constituted king they began to make great boasts in their opposition to God and his faithful servants Noah and Shem. They were led to believe that one great stronghold, the city of Babel with its tower, would empower them to break the restraints imposed on their selfish activities by God’s laws and free them from his judgments. They thought that they could, by this united effort, blot out true worship from the earth, along with those who stood for God’s worship.—Gen. 11:2-4; 10:8-10.
Did God command Noah and Shem to engage in warfare and destroy their tower and city? No. As God said, the builders would have been able to do what they had in mind to do, unless he himself took action. Jehovah himself, by confusing their languages, forcibly scattered them in various directions. The language of Noah and Shem, who stood firm for true worship of Jehovah, was not confused and their households were not scattered. Shem’s descendants, for the most part, settled in the general area of Mesopotamia, but the sons of Japheth and Ham moved into other parts of the earth.—Gen. 11:5-9.
Consequently, we find that true religion was practiced by Shem and a faithful line of descendants such as Abraham in the Mesopotamian area, despite much opposition from the Babylonians and others who settled in that vicinity, while false religion was spread to all parts of the earth. So these scattered ones, instead of going out and establishing strongholds of true religion in the earth, from which their descendants would have had great blessings, carried with them the false religion of Babylon (Babel). Although they expressed their thoughts in different languages, they had the same Babylonish ideas, thereby establishing strongholds of false religion wherever they settled. This was the beginning of the worldwide empire of false religion. And while later on it developed variations, yet it was actually one religion in opposition to Jehovah God and under the control of his adversary Satan the Devil.—Gen. 10:32.
As evidence of this spread of false religion into a worldwide empire, exercising tremendous influence on every phase of the lives of the people under it, we quote from The Americana Annual 1962:
The noted Assyriologist, Prof. Samuel N. Kramer of the University of Pennsylvania, suggests that the Indus River civilization of 2500 to 1500 B.C. originated from a more ancient Mesopotamian (pre-Sumerian) civilization which had fled to the Indus Valley when the Sumerians went to Mesopotamia in strength. He suspects that the Indus civilizations were established by the people sometimes referred to as Ubaidians, after Al Ubaid, a site in southern Mesopotamia (Iraq) to which their culture has been traced.
In India, government archaeologists have been excavating the 3d millennium B.C. seaport city of Lothai, on the west coast north of Bombay. . . . Moreover, ties with distant Assyria and Egypt are shown, . . . The city, which was built on brick platforms, reveals an advanced sense of town planning and sanitation.—Under “Archaeology,” page 44, paragraphs 24.
NIMROD MADE A GOD AND FALSE “SEED”
Nimrod remained the first king of Babylon. He would be held in high regard as the great hunter and king in opposition to Jehovah and organizer of the old original Babylonian Empire. Having refused to recognize Jehovah as the true God, the Babylonians would be inclined to worship Nimrod. When he died, they would deify him, making him a god, the guardian god of the city of Babylon.—Gen. 10:9.
More than 1500 years later, when Babylon reached its greatest glory in the days of King Nebuchadnezzar II, who is mentioned in the Holy Bible, the chief god of the imperial city was Marduk. His temple there was called E-sagila (meaning “Lofty House”), the tower of which was called E-teme-nanki (meaning “House of the Foundation of Heaven and Earth”). In connection with the god Marduk, who is called Merodach in the Bible (Jer. 50:1, 2), it is interesting to read the following comments:
Nimrod has been identified with Merodach, the god of Babylon . . . He has been identified with Gilgamesh, the hero of the epic which contains the Babylonian Deluge story . . . with various historical kings of Babylonia, . . . The Encyclopaedia Britannica, Volume 19, edition of 1911, page 703.
Two theories are now held in regard to Nimrod’s identity: . . . Those who identify Nimrod with Marduk, however, [say] that . . . the [cuneiform] signs which constitute the name of Marduk, who also is represented as a hunter, are read phonetically “Amar Ud”; and ideographically they may be read “Namr Ud”—in Hebrew “Nimrod.”—The Jewish Encyclopedia, Volume 9, page 309.
Alexander Hislop, author of The Two Babylons, although deriving the name Nimrod from Nimr, a “leopard,” and rada or rad, “to subdue,” does identify Nimrod as the god Merodach. “There is no doubt,” says he, “that Nimrod was a rebel, and that his rebellion was celebrated in ancient myths; but his name in that character was not Nimrod, but Merodach, or, as among the Romans, Mars, ‘the rebel;’ or among the Oscans of Italy, Mamers . . . , ‘The causer of rebellion.’”—Page 44, footnote, of The Two Babylons.
In man’s original garden of Eden God made a promise. This promise is found at Genesis 3:15, where God sentenced to death the Great Serpent, Satan the Devil, for inducing the perfect human couple, Adam and Eve, to join him in rebellion against their Creator. He said: “I shall put enmity between you and the woman and between your seed and her seed. He will bruise you in the head and you will bruise him in the heel.” Unlike men of today who claim that the garden of Eden account is only a myth, men back there in the days of Nimrod were well acquainted with this event of history and knew full well that God did make that promise. Therefore, rather than saying that no such promise was ever made, they had to twist the meaning of the promise and apply it to themselves wrongfully. When Nimrod became “a mighty one in the earth,” displaying himself as a mighty hunter and setting himself up as the first king of Babylon, it became easy for the Babylonians to seize upon this circumstance to run ahead of the Edenic prophecy’s actual fulfillment. In harmony with their selfish desire to make a name for themselves, it became patriotic, yes, nationalistic, for them to apply the prophecy concerning the woman’s seed to Nimrod. Such a view would naturally be encouraged by Nimrod, because it would bind the people more firmly to him and his successors in office. Noah’s blessing had shown that the seed would come through the line of Shem and not through the line of Ham, the grandfather of Nimrod. So the application of the prophecy at Genesis 3:15 by the Babylonians to Nimrod would be saying, falsely, that the woman’s seed would be Hamitic, a Cushite. Also, if legends are correct about Nimrod’s meeting a violent death, this would be explained by the Babylonians as the foretold act of the Great Serpent in bruising the heel of the woman’s seed.—Gen. 9:18, 24-27.
“MOTHER AND SON” WORSHIP ORIGINATES
It would follow that Nimrod’s mother would be looked upon as the “woman,” the mother of the seed that was to bruise the Great Serpent in the head, though the Bible does not even mention her. She would thereby share the glory of her son, Nimrod. Almost certainly she would be revered and possibly exalted to a goddess. This would lead to the worship of the mother and son. It may be for this reason that Cush’s wife came to be called Semiramis, or Z’emir-amit. The name means “The Branch Bearer.” The symbolic branch would be Nimrod as the one to bring peace and to make the world calamity pass away.
In regard to this, The Two Babylons, pages 20, 21, says:
The Babylonians, in their popular religion, supremely worshipped a Goddess Mother and a Son, who was represented in pictures and in images as an infant or child in his mother’s arms . . . From Babylon, this worship of the Mother and the Child spread to the ends of the earth. In Egypt, the Mother and the Child were worshipped under the names of Isis and Osiris. In India, even to this day, as Isi and Iswara; in Asia as Cybele and Deōius; in Pagan Rome, as Fortuna and Jupiter-puer, or Jupiter, the boy; in Greece, as Ceres, the Great Mother, with the babe at her breast, or as Irene, the goddess of Peace, with the boy Plutus in her arms; and even in Thibet, in China, and Japan, the Jesuit missionaries were astonished to find the counterpart of Madonna and her child as devoutly worshipped as in Papal Rome itself; Shing Moo, the Holy Mother in China, being represented with a child in her arms, and a glory around her, exactly as if a Roman Catholic artist had been employed to set her up.
The original of that mother, so widely worshipped, there is reason to believe, was Semiramis, already referred to, who, it is well known, was worshipped by the Babylonians, and other eastern nations, and that under the name of Rhea, the great Goddess “Mother.”
Nimrod’s mother, being the wife of Cush, was a granddaughter of Noah’s wife, who survived the great flood, the same as the fishes. Note how the Babylonish pagan religion made use of this fact in deifying Semiramis:
Of this we already have evidence in [the ancient Greek historian] Herodotus, who ascribes to her the banks that confined the Euphrates (i. 184) and knows her name as borne by a gate of Babylon (iii. 155). . . . according to the legends, in her birth as well as in her disappearance from earth, Semiramis appears as a goddess, the daughter of the fish-goddess Atargatis, and herself connected with the doves of Ishtar or Astarte.—The Encyclopœdia Britannica, Volume 24, edition of 1911, page 617.
It is easy to see how false religion further developed and built upon the original Babylonish ideas doctrines that are found in all the religions of the world today. We find an outstanding example of this in the doctrine of the trinity, later made a pillar of the false-religious stronghold of Christendom. Nimrod, as the first mortal man after the Flood to be deified, would become “the father of the gods” in the Babylonian system of false worship. Likewise, the so-called Semiramis would become “the mother of god,” or “the mother of the gods.” So, in the religion of Cush and his wife and Nimrod, more glory and prominence would be given to the son Nimrod, just as in the trinity doctrine of “God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost,” Christendom gives more attention to the Son than to the Father. But in some sections of Christendom more honor and adoration are given to the Virgin Mother than to the Son or the Father; and it is taught that the Mother is the one who will actually bruise the Great Serpent in the head, and she is exalted as the Mother of God.—Gen. 3:15, Douay.
What a bad start was given to the nations! Instead of an inheritance of truth from strongholds of true worship, they inherited falsehood and ungodly practices from false-religious centers, due to the selfish, faithless disobedience of their forefathers. Did this outcome of events thwart Jehovah God in his purpose? Would there be a way by which Jehovah would cope with these false-religious strongholds and eventually deliver righteously disposed persons from their grip? Would he carry out his purpose as originally stated to have his name made great and his worship established throughout the earth without a rival? Listen to what he says: “For just as the pouring rain descends, and the snow, from the heavens and does not return to that place, unless it actually saturates the earth and makes it produce and sprout, and seed is actually given to the sower and bread to the eater, so my word that goes forth from my mouth will prove to be. It will not return to me without results, but it will certainly do that in which I have delighted, and it will have certain success in that for which I have sent it.”—Isa. 55:10, 11.
It is most important, since all nations have been greatly affected, to see what steps God has taken to break the power of these strongholds of false religion and to liberate people right out of the midst of them. We shall observe, in succeeding issues of this magazine, the progress of his purposes side by side with the development of false religion.
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Plan of BABYLON
SUMMER PALACE OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR II
OUTER WALL OF NEBUCHADNEZZAR
OUTER CITY WALL
TOWER OF BABEL