Tower of Babel

Kunsthistorisches Museum - Tower of Babel
Kunsthistorisches Museum - Tower of Babel. CC thisisbossi

Definition: The story of the Tower of Babel, from the Book of Genesis, is used to explain why we have so many languages. The essence of the story is that the people of Shinar (Babylonia) decided to build a giant tower that would reach into heaven. It was an enormous enterprise, so it took a long time and lots of cooperation among people who all spoke the same language. After a while, God disrupted the project.

To make it impossible for the workers to communicate, he forced everyone to speak a different language.

Genesis 11 (KJV) Tower of Babel

1And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.

2And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.

3And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.

4And they said, Go to, 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 face of the whole earth.

5And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.

6And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

7Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.

8So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.

9Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

Traditionally, Nimrod has been held responsible for building the Tower of Babel.

Go to Other Ancient / Classical History Glossary pages beginning with the letter

a | b | c | d | e | f | g | h | i | j | k | l | m | n | o | p | q | r | s | t | u | v | wxyz