Chap. VI.

That the Tower of Babel was erected against a second deluge.

AN OPINION there is of some generality, that our fathers after the flood attempted the Tower of Babel to secure themselves against a second Deluge. Which however affirmed by Josephus[1] and others, hath seemed improbable unto many who have discoursed hereon. For (beside that they could not be ignorant of the Promise of God never to drown the world again, and had the Rain-bow before their eyes to put them in mind thereof) it is improbable from the nature of the Deluge; which being not possibly causable from natural showers above, or watery eruptions below, but requiring a supernatural hand, and such as all acknowledg irresistible; must needs disparage their knowledg and judgment in so successless attempts.

Again, They must probably hear, and some might know, that the waters of the flood ascended fifteen cubits above the highest mountains. Now, if as some define, the perpendicular altitude of the highest mountains be four miles; or as others, but fifteene furlongs, it is not easily conceived how such a structure could be effected. Although we allowed the description of Herodotus concerning the Tower of Belus; whose lowest story was in height and bredth one furlong, and seven more built upon it; abating that of the Annian Berosus, the traditional relation of Jerom, and fabulous account of the Jews. Probable it is that what they attempted was feasible, otherwise they had been amply fooled in the fruitless success of their labours, nor needed God to have hindered them, saying, Nothing will be restrained from them, which they begin to do.

It was improbable from the place, that is a plain in the land of Shinar. And if the situation of Babylon were such at first as it was in the days of Herodotus; it was rather a seat of amenity and pleasure, than conducing unto this intention. It being in a very great plain, and so improper a place to provide against a general Deluge by Towers and eminent structures, that they were fain to make provisions against particular and annual inundations by ditches and trenches, after the manner of Egypt. And therefore Sir Walter Raleigh,2 accordingly objecteth: If the Nations which followed Nimrod, still doubted the surprise of a second flood, according to the opinions of the ancient Hebrews, it soundeth ill to the ear of Reason, that they would have spent many years in that low and overflown valley of Mesopotamia. And therefore in this situation, they chose a place more likely to have secured them from the worlds destruction by fire, then another Deluge of water: and as Pierius observeth, some have conceived that this was their intention.

Lastly, The reason is delivered in the Text. Let us build us a City and a Tower, whose top may reach unto heaven, and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the whole earth, as we have already began to wander over a part. These were the open ends proposed unto the people: but the secret design of Nimrod, was to settle unto himself a place of dominion, and rule over his Brethren, as it after succeeded, according to the delivery of the Text, the beginning of the kingdom was Babel.


* [My or others' notes are in square brackets]; Browne's marginalia is unmarked; {passages or notes from unpublished material by Browne is in curly braces}.

1 [In Antiq. Jud. I.iv. 2; in the Whiston translation: "Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah, a bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God, as if it was through his means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness. He also gradually changed the government into tyranny, seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence on his power. He also said he would be revenged on God, if he should have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would build a tower too high for the waters to be able to reach! and that he would avenge himself on God for destroying their forefathers !"]

2 History of the World.

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