Biblical Paleoarcheology

Children Built Babel

Article 42

“And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.” Genesis 11:5 (KJV)

Every word of the Bible is inspired by God and profitable for doctrine. (2 Timothy 3:16) It is therefore important to ask why God says that the city and tower of Babel were built by the children of men, rather than just men. The Hebrew word “ben”, in the plural, is translated mostly “sons” but also “children”. The expression “sons of men” is used 7 times in Psalms and 8 times in Ecclesiastes. The expression “children of men” is used 14 times in Psalms but only once in Genesis. This is its first use in the Bible. This particular combination of words invokes the image of God looking down from heaven to evaluate how people have developed in the generations after Noah. God might be saying, “Let’s see how my kids are doing”.

I would propose that “children” also refers to a younger generation as opposed to the generation of the parents. That would mean that young people did the actual work of building. We know from Genesis 10:10 that Nimrod’s kingdom began with the city of Babel, but he didn’t build it all alone, if he built it at all. Our opening verse says that children built the city and the tower; Nimrod organized them and ruled over them. As we look at the actual demographics, it will help us understand the far-reaching implications of this fact. We need to eliminate from our thinking the idea that a bunch of men got together, all having about the same age, and they built a city in Shinar. That’s not the way it happened.

In order to have a more detailed understanding of the demographics of the world at the time of Babel, I created a population calculator. This software starts with 8 people and steps through the first hundred years of history, adding the appropriate number of babies to the population each years. As seen below, I set the age for women to start having babies at 15, having a child every two years, and stopping at 40. This would not be unrealistic in a peaceful world where “being fruitful and multiplying” was the top priority.

The total world population at the time of Babel comes out to be 365,869. Perhaps 10% were actually living in Babel at its zenith, which would have made a very large city. When we break down the population into age groups, we get a more detailed look at life in the post-Flood century.

Age group

Years old

proportion

babies

0-5

40%

children

6-14

36%

parents

15-39

22%

elders

40-

1.8%

40% of the population consisted of babies under the age of 6, that needed much close care, which would have fallen to the mothers and women in general. Children from 6 to 14 would have been expected to work, and their education would have consisted of doing the menial tasks. They made up 36% of the population. At 15, young men became parents, which added to their maturity as well as their responsibility in the workforce. They made up 22% of the population. The elders, over 40, were only 1.8% of the population. Since 98.2% of the population was under the age of 40, it makes sense to say that Babel was built by the children of the elders.

The story of Rehoboam helps explain what this demographic meant at the time of Babel. In 1 Kings 12, we read that Rehoboam consulted with two groups of people, old men that had been with Solomon and young men who grew up with Rehoboam, who was 41 at the time. The elders in their 60’s advised lowering taxes and showing mercy to the people, while the younger men in their 30’s advised raising taxes and increasing punishments. This, of course, divided the kingdom. The young men were naive and immature, as were the children of Babel. When you add in the ungodly leadership of Nimrod, it is easy to see how the city went astray from God in only a few generations.

It doesn’t take long for a faithful generation to forget God. It’s a recurring theme in the Bible. That’s why we read in Deuteronomy 6:6,7: “And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine hears: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children…” Noah’s first few generations of descendants were undoubtedly walking very close to God and fearing his judgement. By the time a century had passed, God took notice and had to slow down the moral hemorrhaging by creating many languages. The children had forgotten the lessons of their parents. My generation had a fairly good knowledge of the Bible and respect for authority. Today, tv and social media are replacing the Bible. A younger generation no longer knows God and will surely make some bad decisions, perhaps leading to the building of Babylon the Great. Today, we can still walk in the steps of Abraham and raise our children and disciples in the knowledge of the Lord, to raise up godly children of men.

2 thoughts on “Children Built Babel

  1. Interesting to think of the youth being so dominant in this culture. I generally think from reading Genesis that many men lived well over 100 years. But apparently not during this time of Babel.

    1. It’s the 5-10% population growth rate that produced many children and fewer adults. Only 8 people were over 100 years old, and everyone else was born after the Flood. The US has a slow growth rate, so we have many elderly people and not so many children. Just the opposite. Good point.

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