Article: The Tower of Babel (1/3)April 20, 2007
The Tower Of Babel
The record of the tower of Babel is one of the most well known but most misunderstood passages of the Bible. People remember in general terms the great tower, man’s challenge to God, and the confusion of language, but they usually remember the specific details imperfectly.
It’s a short record, so let’s read it now so we know what it actually says:
1 The whole earth had a common language and a common vocabulary.
2 When the people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
3 Then they said to one another, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” (They had brick instead of stone and tar instead of mortar.)
4 Then they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens so that we may make a name for ourselves. Otherwise we will be scattered across the face of the entire earth.”
5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the people had started building.
6 And the Lord said, “If as one people all sharing a common language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be beyond them.
7 Come, let’s go down and confuse their language so they won’t be able to understand each other.”
8 So the Lord scattered them from there across the face of the entire earth, and they stopped building the city.
9 That is why its name was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the entire world, and from there the Lord scattered them across the face of the entire earth.
It is a surprise to most people to realise that the Bible does not present the narrative of the tower of Babel as an explanation of how all the languages of the world came about, though many people wrongly believe it says this.