Tuesday, January 27, 2015

“Into that Quarter Where Never Had Man Been – Part IV

Continuing from the last three posts regarding the two important issues involved in the Lord’s statement: “that quarter where there never had man been” (Ether 2:5). Following is the continuation of the spread of Noah’s sixteen grandsons and their impact on the Jaredite travel and why the quarter the Lord speaks of is not between Mesopotamia and China. 
Using the same dates as listed for Shem’s descendants (see last post), we can place Ham’s grandson, Nimrod, as being born somewhere around the time of Salah (Arphaxad’s son, Shem’s grandson), they being of the same generation from Noah—making it 2306 B.C. or so. Thus, Nimrod would have been around one hundred years old by the time Jared was born. Over that time, Nimrod became “a mighty one in the earth” (Talmud: “a hunter of the souls of men”) and “a mighty hunter in the land” (Genesis 10:8-9, I.V.), and his kingdom, which he built or controlled (probably around 2265 B.C.), included the cities of Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar. It should be kept in mind that the Hebrew word gilor, translated as “mighty one,” literally means “tyrant”—a tyrannical leader of men—and the term “mighty hunter” did not mean hunting wild beasts, but that he hunted men to bring them under his tyrannical control and enslave them. That is, Nimrod set out to hunt and capture men to bring them under his control in order to establish his own dominion of rebellion against God through them.
In the Book of Jasher (known as the Book of the Upright One in the Greek Septuagint and the Book of Just Ones in the Latin Vulgate, was a collection of ancient Hebrew songs and poems praising the heroes of Israel and their exploits in battle, the original mentioned in Joshua 10:12-13, and 2 Samuel 1:18-27), states: "And Nimrod dwelt in Babel, and he there renewed his reign over the rest of his subjects, and he reigned securely, and the subjects and princes of Nimrod called his name Amraphel, saying that at the tower his princes and men fell through his means.”
    Nimrod was the first “mighty” man, or “mighty hunter,” who Martin Luther referred to as a hunter of men—a warrior through whose ability to fight and kill and rule ruthlessly his kingdom of Shinar was consolidated. He was an arrogant tyrant, defiant before the Lord, and from his base of city states along the Euphrates invaded the kingdom of Asshur, and built Nineveh, and Rehoboth-ir, and Calah, and Resin—all of which became a great city (Genesis 10:12).
    Nimrod’s city was great, not as Jerusalem became great as God’s city, but great in its defiance of God—a man’s city, a secular city, and was for man’s glory, the city of Babylon being constructed for Nimrod’s glory, to make a name for himself and his followers (Genesis 11:4). Moses tells us that Nimrod and his people came out of the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there (Genesis 11:2). That is, Nimrod moved away from the homeland Noah had settled after the Ark landed. He crossed the Tigris River, coming from the east (side) and into the Plain of Shinar, which ran between the rivers (Mesopotamia).
    To place this in context, when Noah and his family left the Ark, they evidently made there home in the foothills of the mountains near the Tigris River. Evidence of Noah and his family in their post-Flood community, which modern local tradition places on the southern slope of Mt. Cudi, may actually exist, including the location of Noah’s tomb. In the Book of Jubilees, it states: "Noah slept with his fathers and was buried on Mt. Lubar in the Land of Ararat" (10:13-17). One of the region's major cities lies just north of the mountain, called Sirnak, which comes from Sehr-i-Nugh—which translated means the "city of Noah."
Left: Noah’s tomb on Mt. Cudi; Right: Façade of the entrance
    In 1911, British explorer Gertrude Bell recorded the location of Noah's tomb (left) on the mountain, claiming: "Noah's grave lay far down upon the southern slopes of Judi Dagh” (Cudi Dagh), meaning Mount Judi. It might be of interest to know that according to early Christian and Islamic tradition (Qur’an sura 11:44), Mount Judi was the location where the Ark came to rest after the Great Flood, which persisted in both Syriac and Armenian writing and belief throughout Late Antiquity  but was abandoned for the Bible tradition that the Ark landed on the highest mountain of the region, which came to be known as Mount Ararat. Mount Judi is a peak near the town of Jazirat ibn Umar (modern Cizre), at the headwaters of the Tigris, near the modern Syrian-Turkish border. The tradition can be traced to Arab historian (956 A.D.), who reported that the spot where the ark came to rest could be seen in his time, which he located 80 parsangs from the Tigris (240 miles). During a 1973 trip to Mt. Cudi, Dr. Charles D. Willis, who had made several climbs of Mount Ararat and found no evidence of Noah, claimed he could see from his accomodations the ruins of Heshton ("Village Of The Eight"?) site of the first Noahic village according to local tradition. The site identified as Noah's tomb is in a solitary location on a gentle slope of the mountain's south side. It is overgrown and undisturbed. Cut out of solid rock as a horizontal cave, it has a facade of built stone.
    Along these slopes, Noah became a husbandman, and planted among other things, a vineyard (Genesis 9:18). This location is confirmed by a town there named Zama, from Zam or Shem. This is also where Arphaxad, grandson of Noah through Shem, father of Salah, grandfather of Eber, and great-grandfather of Joktan and Peleg, settled—an area where there is an ancient town named Phalga, undoutbedly named for Peleg or Phaleg. Josephus claims that the southern part of Mesopotamia lying on the east of the Mount Mesha, or Masius, was first inhabited by the descendants of Arphaxad, considered to be the father of the Chaldeans, and on eastward as far as to Sephar, a mount in the East, which mount is probably the mountain adjoining to Siphare, a city in Aria, and which lies directly east from Mesha, which is a large area of land, no doubt occupied by Joktan’s thirteen sons. It is a tradition of the ancients, that Eustathius Antiochenus and Eusebius, that Sela the son of Arphaxad, seated himself in Susiana where there is an ancient town named Sela, and part of the ancient area called Shinar, where Arphaxad settled, from which his descendants, Terah and Abraham, later emerged (Genesis 11:31)—a land referred to as Ur of the Chaldeas, which Josephus claimed that those who were called Chaldeans in his day (around 100 A.D.) were originally called Arphaxadeans. The name Arphaxad itself is said to signify the boundary of the Chaldeans.
    There were other settlements of man at the time—Japheth’s children going northward from the Ark, Shem’s children going southward—but all spoke the language of Noah. By the time Nimrod came along, he saw the value of gathering men to him for his own glory and was opposed to the scattering of Noah’s family over the earth. Because of his charisma, strength and brutal fierceness, which made him a hunter of men, he drew men to him. His goal in Babylon was to resist further scattering and to create a city where the achievements of a united and integrated people under his control would be centralized.
He appealed to both their vanity and to their most recent fearful knowledge of the Flood by saying, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4). He had three things in mind in this invitation: 1) a vision for the city, 2) a desire for a name or reputation for himself and his followers, and 3) a plan for a new religion in opposition to, and replacement of, God. The city was to be man’s city, not God’s. Like Satan before him, he wanted the glory—the name he wanted to make for themselves was his name, making him and his followers independent from God. Along this line, Martin Luther suggested that the Tower was to represent not in height, but in a center for their worship. Paul said that when man turns away from God, he inevitably turns to false gods, making them like “mortal man, and birds and animals and reptiles” (Romans 1:23). 
    From Nimrod’s time down through history, Babylon and that area became the seat of Godlessness and the beginning and continuation of man fighting against God, “The mother of harlots and abominations of the Earth” (Revelation 17:5). In the Greek, it reads, “Babylon, the great whore, the Mother of Prostitutes and abominations of the Earth…made drunk with the wine of her idolatry/harlotry.”
    The point of the story of Nimrod is that he altered the spreading of man upon the Earth that had already begun with Noah’s grandsons, who spread to the northwest, north, east, south and west. Thus, when the Jaredites left the Valley of Nimrod to go into the wilderness, this wilderness and much of the surrounding area for some distance could not have been the area the Lord noted as “that quarter where there never had man been”—for after the Flood, it was beginning to fill by the spreading of Noah’s grandsons in large numbers and to numerous areas in every direction. Nimrod, a hundred years before the Jaredites, tried to stem that tide, but ultimately failed when the Lord “scattered them abroad...upon the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:8), and “therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth; and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth” (Genesis 11:9).
    Thus, that quarter where neer had man been was not along any wilderness area where the Jaredites traveled to the Great Sea. But it was beyond that sea in which they journeyed in their barges--that area the Lord called "the promised land" (Ether 6:5), a "land which is choice above all the land of the earth" (Ether 1:42). A land where never had man been since the Flood.

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