How technologically developed the people were at this time is sketchy. The Great Pyramid of Giza, whether built before or after the Flood, is evidence of a high degree of technology. Whatever the case, God's statement that "nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them" implies the builders of Babel were at least on the verge of great technological leaps. How much can a person discover and develop in a seventy-year life span? Yet these people lived hundreds of years! Since knowledge accumulates from generation to generation, imagine how it would build in a person over 500 years!
Consider what man has accomplished in the last 150 years. He has learned how to harness the power of mighty rivers by building dams to produce electricity. He has built soaring bridges across great chasms. He has drilled deeply into the earth to tap its stores of oil and gas to transport ourselves from place to place, heat our homes, and fuel our factories. Man has put satellites hundreds of miles into the heavens and placed men on the moon. We can watch the astronauts on television though they are 240,000 miles away!
The list of our technological accomplishments seems endless. Technology, though, is not the answer to mankind's problems. By the time the Millennium begins, the world will have realized that knowledge of physical things cannot solve our problems, especially those of the spirit. Each new technological stride merely titillates us for a while, failing miserably to give a sense of meaning to our lives. Technology cannot rid us of competition and inordinate desire. Instead, it only seems to accelerate the plunge toward oblivion and meaninglessness.
John W. Ritenbaugh
Preparing to Rule!
The city and the tower, taken together, represent the cohesion-imparting structure we call community. Babel's builders believed that her bricks would provide economic and social stability, ensured by shared religious and military establishments. To them, Babel meant survival. The city and tower were, then, the first post-Flood comity of nations. Babel failed, of course, because God's response—dividing mankind's language—so thoroughly forced dispersion that man could never unite long enough to rebuild a single Babel.
Yet how he keeps trying! In one sense, the empire builders throughout history have merely relived the story of Babel. Its successors have been many and great: societies deemed by their inhabitants to be stable, indeed insuperable—Thebes, Tyre, Babylon, Nineveh, Rome, Paris, London, Washington. Babel just gets bigger and bigger—from city, to city-state, to nation-state, to empire, to world. Globalism, representing as it does mankind's desperate response to his fear of death due to scattering, is today's version of Babel.
Globalism (Part One): Founded on Fear and Faithlessness
How people feel about ambition is plain in the way they say, "I'm a go-getter" in a tone of pride and self-satisfaction. Many people greatly admire this expression of self-will. However, people often frustrate themselves when they try to accomplish and acquire things through their own will. In seeking security and prestige, self-will frequently develops into conformity to a social status, a peer group, or an organization. In reality, it is slavery to sin.
Martin G. Collins
Overcoming (Part 4): Self-Will
Other Forerunner Commentary entries containing Genesis 11:4: