Tower of Babel

Gen. 11:1-2:
1 "Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words.
2 It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.


The whole world, that known to the ancient world, was using the same language. This language was most likely Hebrew. Remember, the lineage of Nimrod was corrupt. Noah had Ham who had Cush who had Nimrod. Ham was the son of corruption in Noah's family (see Gen. 10 also). The "land of Shinar" is not absolutely defined in the Bible. However, it is thought to be in the Mesopotanian area ("area" between the rivers" - the Tigris and the Euphrates.) Many believe it refers to the land north of Palestine (Syria). Some consider Shinar to be Babylon. Scripture says they traveled from the east to the land of Shinar. Shinar is southeast of Mt. Ararat. Therefore, they must have traveled from the mountain into, perhaps, Persia or Afghanistan; then, they traveled westward ("from the east") into the land of Shinar.

Gen. 11:3:
3 They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar.


The people said to one another to make bricks for constructing a new building. Some emphasis is made on the making of bricks. They were to be burned (kiln baked and dried). They were to include "slime" (KJV) or tar-like material to hold the brick together and be strong and long lasting. There were asphalt pits in the Mesopotanian valley. The Babylonians were known for their high quality bricks. For example, Egypt and Assyria bricks were only sun-dried. They did not have the tar-like binder. Nimrod's main objective at this time is to develop the technique and to have many bricks made for the establishment of his new buildings he was planning.

Gen. 11:4-9:
4 They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.”
5 The LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.
6 The LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them.
7 “Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.”
8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city.
9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.


Now Nimrod was ready to start building the magnificent city. He built many buildings. However, he was building one very high and very prominent in the city. One would be able to see it from a long distance away. Building the building to heaven ("reach into heaven") was obviously known even to Nimrod to be an impossibility. In fact, the original text did not have "to reach" in it. It was to "reach unto heaven". In other words, the tower was to be dedicated to heaven and its angelic host.

The size and height of the building would probably be second to none. It would dominate the city. I would serve as the focal point of political and religious of the people. It would show strength and unity. The people, especially Nimrod, were not interested in God's plans. They only wanted to be known for themselves, to make a name of themselves. They did not want or need God. They did not want to spread all over the earth and populate (be fruitful and multiply). They purposely defied that order from God.

God came and looked at this building that the people had built. He said they were one people and one language. This is the way is has been since the beginning. Because of the buildings, especially the tower, they built, they thought there was nothing they could not do.

God said there had to be some brakes put on this kind of live and society. So he came down and miraculously changed the people's communications. They all had different languages. This, of course, would confound the communications. Now no one could follow instructions or obey the king.

Now the spreading of the people all over the earth was not as difficult. That was because there was no reason to stay with the unity of the people. God supernaturally intervened and changed their language and then sent them out. The people left and spread out. The construction of the city of Babylon stopped. For some reason, people did not want to take the risk.

In verse 7, there is the "let US go down" still leaves some with some scepticism about multiple gods. To informed Christians, the "US" refers to the triune of the God. Some try to make that term mean multiple gods are available. That is not true. This is the same US of the first chapter of Genesis.

God called this city Babel (reflects into the common American term of "babble". After some effort, people learned to learn other languages. When they did, they learned they COULD communicate after all.


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