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Ante-Nicene Fathers, Vol II:
THEOPHILUS: Chapter XXXI.—The History After the Flood.

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Chapter XXXI.—The History After the Flood.

After the flood was there again a beginning of cities and kings, in the following manner:—The first city was Babylon, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. And their king was called Nebroth [Nimrod]. From these came Asshur, from whom also the Assyrians receive their name. And Nimrod built the cities Nineveh and Rehoboth, and Calah, and Resen, between Nineveh and Calah; and Nineveh became a very great city. And another son of Shem, the son of Noah, by name Mizraim, begat Ludim, and those called Anamim, and Lehabim, and Naphtuhim, and Pathrusim, and Casluhim, out of whom came Philistin. Of the three sons of Noah, however, and of their death and genealogy, we have given a compendious register in the above-mentioned book. But now we will mention the remaining facts both concerning cities and kings, and the things that happened when there was one speech and one language. Before the dividing of the languages these fore-mentioned cities existed. But when men were about to be dispersed, they took counsel of their own judgment, and not at the instigation of God, to build a city, a tower whose top might reach into heaven, that they might make a glorious name to themselves. Since, therefore, they had dared, contrary to the will of God, to attempt a grand work, God destroyed their city, and overthrew their tower. From that time He confounded the languages of men, giving to each a different dialect. And similarly did the Sibyl speak, when she declared that wrath would come on the world. She says:—

“When are fulfilled the threats of the great God,
With which He threatened men, when formerly
In the Assyrian land they built a tower,
And all were of one speech, and wished to rise
Even till they climbed unto the starry heaven,
Then the Immortal raised a mighty wind
And laid upon them strong necessity;
For when the wind threw down the mighty tower,
Then rose among mankind fierce strife and hate.
One speech was changed to many dialects,
And earth was filled with divers tribes and kings.”

And so on. These things, then, happened in the land of the Chaldæans. And in the land of Canaan there was a city, by name Haran. And in these days, Pharaoh, who by the Egyptians was also called Nechaoth, was first king of Egypt, and thus the kings followed in succession. 612 And in the land of Shinar, among those called Chaldæans, p. 107 the first king was Arioch, and next after him Ellasar, and after him Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, and after him Tidal, king of the nations called Assyrians. And there were five other cities in the territory of Ham, the son of Noah; the first called Sodom, then Gomorrah, Admah, Zeboiim, and Balah, which was also called Zoar. And the names of their kings are these: Bera, king of Sodom; Birsha, king of Gomorrah; Shinab, king of Admah; Shemeber, king of Zeboiim; Bela, king of Zoar, which is also called Kephalac. 613 These served Chedorlaomer, the king of the Assyrians, for twelve years, and in the thirteenth year they revolted from Chedorlaomer; and thus it came to pass at that time that the four Assyrian kings waged war upon the five kings. This was the first commencement of making war on the earth; and they destroyed the giants Karnaim, and the strong nations that were with them in their city, and the Horites of the mountains called Seir, as far as the plain of Paran, which is by the wilderness. And at that time there was a righteous king called Melchisedek, in the city of Salem, which now is Jerusalem. This was the first priest of all priests 614 of the Most High God; and from him the above-named city Hierosolyma was called Jerusalem. 615 And from his time priests were found in all the earth. And after him reigned Abimelech in Gerar; and after him another Abimelech. Then reigned Ephron, surnamed the Hittite. Such are the names of the kings that were in former times. And the rest of the kings of the Assyrians, during an interval of many years, have been passed over in silence unrecorded, all writers narrating the events of our recent days. There were these kings of Assyria: Tiglath-Pileser, and after him Shalmaneser, then Sennacherib; and Adrammelech the Ethiopian, who also reigned over Egypt, was his triarch;—though these things, in comparison with our books, are quite recent.



But the Benedictine editor understands the words to mean, that the succeeding kings were in like manner called Pharaoh.


Theophilus spells some of the names differently from what they are given in our text. For Tidal he has Thargal; for Bera, Ballas; for Birsha, Barsas; for Shinab, Senaar; for Shemeber, Hymoor. Kephalac is taken to be a corruption for Balak, which in the previous sentence is inserted by many editors, though it is not in the best mss.


[St. Paul seems to teach us that the whole story of Melchisedek is a “similitude,” and that the one Great High Priest of our profession appeared to Abraham in that character, as to Joshua in another, the “Captain of our salvation” (Heb. vii. 1-3; Josh. v. 13-15). We need a carefully digested work on the apparitions of the Word before His incarnation, or the theophanies of the Old Testament.]


[Certainly a striking etymon, “Salem of the priest.” But we can only accept it as a beautiful play upon words.]

Next: Chapter XXXII.—How the Human Race Was Dispersed.

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