Can someone explain to me the story of the tower of Babel?

by tippysock 80 Replies latest watchtower bible

  • tippysock

    In Genisis 11:6 Jehovah appears to be worried that mankind will be able to do anything they desire. Did Jehovah scatter men and use different languages as a controlling measure to make us dependent on him? What happened to freewill?

  • heathen

    I think Gods purpose was for them to be filling the earth and subduing it but instead they were staying together and following a false God , that's how I see what nimrod was trying to do ,put himself in the heavens . Good question tho .

  • MungoBaobab

    Oh, no! Suddenly I speak a different language than everyone else. Instead of learning a second language (too much work, you know), I think I'll find a few strangers who still speak the same as I and forsake my home and family and mount a trek to the other of the planet. Then, when we're far enough away from people who speak other languages, I'll forsake all the other aspects of my old Babylonian culture as well: dress, grooming habits, methods of writing, architecture, art, etc. Well, maybe I'll keep some remnants of "Babylonish" religion as well. Unless these beliefs coincide with Judaism, in which case I will corrupt them. Maybe I'll embellish details of the global flood that occured just a few generations ago to start out.

    Oh, really! You know this story never made sense to me, not even as a little kid. I wouldn't be surprised if it was authored by the same person or group who wrote The first creation account and the Fall of Man. God is paranoid of mankind and determined to stunt their progress, first by making false death threats to keep humans from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Bad, second by throwing them out of Eden to keep them away from the Tree of Life, and finally by disrupting the building project to keep man from entering heaven itself. Also note Genesis 11:7:

    Come now! Let us go down and there confuse their language that they may not listen to one another's language.
    Who is the "us?" It's the same "us" from Genesis 1:26 and 3:22; the plural "gods" from Genesis 1:1 who created the heavens and the earth. For some reason they always get omitted, and we hear that "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth."
  • peacefulpete

    It is an origin legend to explain the languages and cultures around Palestine.

  • czarofmischief

    This is one of the most interesting fables and has spawned a huge amount of theological thought.

    This is also the earliest Biblical reference to a god / man combination in the form of Nimrod. His name, as the society pointed out once, is probably a reference to his character. "Let us rebel" is the literal meaning of Nimrod, ergo, his character is the personification of human rebellion.

    He founded cities, like Cain did before the Flood. Apparently founding cities is a step away from God's plan.

    There is some highly circumstantial evidence supporting the idea of a single culture that fragmented at some point in the past. Pyramids are either a genetic burp or a sign of cultural origin. (Aztec, Egyptian, etc.)

    There is a certain sect of the Freemasons that worship Nimrod and want to rebuild a single world culture with a single religion. Hence, the pyramid with the eye above it - the assault on heaven and it's plans.


  • blondie

    Genesis 11 :: The Message (MSG)
    Copyright Info.: © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson
    Publisher Info: The Message from NavPress | NavPress Genesis 11

    "God Turned Their Language into "Babble""
    1 At one time, the whole Earth spoke the same language.
    2 It so happened that as they moved out of the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled down.
    3 They said to one another, "Come, let's make bricks and fire them well." They used brick for stone and tar for mortar.
    4 Then they said, "Come, let's build ourselves a city and a tower that reaches Heaven. Let's make ourselves famous so we won't be scattered here and there across the Earth."
    5 GOD came down to look over the city and the tower those people had built.
    6 GOD took one look and said, "One people, one language; why, this is only a first step. No telling what they'll come up with next--they'll stop at nothing! 7 Come, we'll go down and garble their speech so they won't understand each other." 8 Then GOD scattered them from there all over the world. And they had to quit building the city. 9 That's how it came to be called Babel, because there GOD turned their language into "babble." From there GOD scattered them all over the world. If you believe the story above, these points might be of note: It could be that the people were trying to build some place high enough and safe enough when the next flood came. Nimrod would have wanted the people to stay in one place and not spread out to build a power base. As a child I found this story hard to explain. I knew that building something did not require so much communicationn by words as understanding of building procedures which are fairly universal. I have heard individual JWs speculate that there would be no towns or cities in the "new world" based on this scripture account. Many JWs think that God is going to do the reverse in the "new world" and re-wire everyone's brains to understand only one language and that the other languages will be forgotten. That the only books, music, art will be that which is created in the "new world." Sounds like Fahrenheit 451 to me. There are too many holes in this story to take it literally. Blondie

  • gumby

    I'd like ta know why Jehovah thought it was cute to give some a damn New York accent. Talk about a sense of humor!


  • MungoBaobab
    As a child I found this story hard to explain. I knew that building something did not require so much communicationn by words as understanding of building procedures which are fairly universal.

    Hehe, good point! All those Polish and Hispanic contractors can work together just fine. Those of you with experience in the home improvement and construction field know what I'm talking about!

  • candidlynuts

    i heard a talk once where a brother speculated that they were becoming technologically advanced and Jehovah wanted that to wait till the time of the end..

    i have a bird brain.hence i try not to think too much .. it hurts!

  • a Christian
    a Christian

    What are reasonable Bible students to make of the Bible's story of the tower of Babel and the confusion of languages which there took place shortly after the flood? I believe that in order to correctly answer this question we must first deal with another confusion of tongues, the translation of ancient Hebrew into modern English.

    Genesis 11:1 tells us that when the Tower of Babel was being built, "The whole earth was of one language, and of one speech."

    As has often been pointed out in discussions of Noah's flood having been far less than global in its scope, the Hebrew word that is often translated in Genesis as "earth," giving readers the idea that its writer was referring to our entire planet, is much more often translated in the Old Testament as "land." In fact, we find this to be the case in the very next verse (Gen. 11:2) which refers to the "land" of Shinar. I believe that Bible translators who chose to translate the Hebrew word "erets" as "earth" rather than as "land" in the Bible's historical accounts of Noah's flood and the tower of Babel are mainly to blame for many people's misunderstandings of both the Bible and the history of mankind.

    The traditional interpretation of the flood and the dispersion at Babel has been that the total population of the entire world was confined to the land of Shinar in the post-flood era. It is said that these people, who supposedly amounted to all people living on earth, all spoke the same language and were all involved in building a tower. Then it is said that God confounded them, and off they went in all directions muttering Aztec, Mandarin, Swahili, and the like. They crossed oceans and reached far distant continents and changed their skin colors along the way.

    This interpretation of Genesis has continued in spite of much extrabiblical evidence that has long been available which proves that it cannot be correct. To see that the JW and Christian "fundamentalist" interpretations of the events which transpired at the Tower of Babel must be incorrect, all their advocates have to do is count the mud brick ziggurats in Mesopotamia. Any number that exceeds one kills their interpretation. And the remains of over thirty such "towers" have been found all over the region, in twenty-seven different cities, hundreds of miles apart. Had the entire earth been devoid of humanity except for Noah's descendants who all lived in the land of Shinar where the tower of Babel was built, what would explain all the additional towers?

    All those other ziggurats at all those other widely scattered sites could not have all been built at the exact same time as the tower of Babel. Thus they had to have been constructed either before or after the tower of Babel. If they were constructed before Babel, it would mean that Noah's descendants (if everyone then alive were Noah's descendants) had already begun to spread out and settle in widely separated communities, precluding them from all being at one place, which was the case according to Genesis 11:1,2. On the other hand, if the many other ziggurats were constructed after Babel, it would mean that after the Lord made clear to Noah's descendents that He didn't like them building such towers and after He prevented them from completing such a building project, they soon banded together again for the same purpose and successfully completed the building of many other such towers with no opposition from God. This makes no sense.

    What does make sense is to understand that building ziggurats was very much the thing to do in those days. The tower of Babel was simply one of many Mesopotamian worship centers. Clearly, the building of the tower of Babel and the confusion of the participants' languages which then occurred seemed like a gigantic event to those who were there and passed the story down to their descendants. But the fact of the matter is that the tower of Babel was only one such tower among many which then existed. It was probably not even the biggest. And it was almost certainly neither the first nor the last.

    So then, what did happen at Babel? Apparently some of Noah's descendants saw some of the fantastic places of worship built by their Sumerian neighbors, which were devoted to pagan gods. They then decided to follow suit and build just such a tower in an effort to reach their God. Due to their ignorance, the God of Noah's descendants tolerated the actions of the worshippers of false gods when they erected such structures in their foolish efforts to reach nonexistent pagan deities. However, God expected His chosen people to exercise better judgment. He was not pleased with their pagan copycat building project. So He put an end to it by confusing their speech. This action on God's part successfully brought an end to the spiritually misguided building project which Noah's descendants had begun and His doing so resulted in their being dispersed throughout their land.

    As a final note, judging from the writings of Noah's descendants, some of which predate the time of Babel, the confusion of speech which took place at Babel does not appear to have been a permanent one.

    Some may wonder why God said, concerning those who were building the tower of Babel, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them." (Gen. 11:6)

    Obviously no one can say for sure exactly what God meant. But I'll take a guess.

    I suspect that God thought that, if He allowed His people to copy the religious building practices of their pagan neighbors, they might then begin copying other religious practices of those same pagan neighbors. Such as burning their children in sacrifice to Him. Or forcing their young men and women to work as temple prostitutes to raise money for Him. Or who knows what else? If God's people wanted to be like their pagan neighbors so badly, that they were willing to go to all the trouble of building a copy of one of their giant ziggurat temple towers, who knows what things they might have collectively done in an effort to be like their pagan neighbors? For them, as God watched them building that tower, anything seemed possible.

  • one

    all i can say is Bin Landen is god right hand on earth

    people dont learn, tall towers are not good, period.

    btw Bin is more effective than his boss in getting people confuse and make them flee from tall towers

  • Valis


    "god turned dare lingo into "babble"" 1 hat one bells, da whole earth spoke da same lingo. 2it so happened dat as dey moved hout hof da east, dey came upon da plain in da turf hof shinar an' settled down. 3they said to one anotha, "come, let's make bricks an' fire dem well." dey used brik fe stone an' tar fe mortar. 4thun dey said, "come, let's build ourselves da turf an' da towa dat reaches heavun. let's make ourselves famous so we won't be scattered in da house an' dere across da earth." 5god came down to chek ova da turf an' da towa those peeps had built. 6god took one chek an' said, "one peeps, one language; why, dis iz only da first step. narr tellin wot they'll spitz up wiv next--they'll stop hat naffink! 7come, we'll go down an' garble dare speech so dey won't feel each uva." 8thun god scattered dem from dere all ova da world. an' dey had to quit buildin da turf. 9that's how hit came to be called babel, coz dere god turned dare lingo into "babble." from dere god scattered dem all ova da world.

  • Satanus

    Well you see, there was a great challenge raised in eden that man could do ok without god. In this place, it looked like people would actually succeed. 'Course that would have made god the loser. He can't have that. So he sabotaged the human race. When you are god, you see, you can play it the way you want, to make sure that you win.


  • noko59

    Paul writtings reflects the almighty nature as this:

    For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all chruches of the saints. 1Cor 14:33

    Seems a bit contrasting from Genesis does it not? Then again who is God of this world? The US in chapter 1 of Genesis and Jehovah in chapter 2 is also reveiling.

  • Leolaia

    There is some evidence, both in terms of Sumerian/Akkadian sources for the story and the structure of the story, that Genesis 11 conflates two originally separate traditions: one in which men build a city to keep the world's population together in one place, and another in which men build a tower to reach heaven. The exilic period would have been a time when both traditions could have merged, as Babylon was both the capital of a world empire and home to an enormous ziggurat.

  • googlemagoogle

    However, God expected His chosen people to exercise better judgment.

    there's no talk about "chosen people" in the torah prior to israel...

    those legends simply try to explain things people then didn't understand - why doesn't a snake have legs, why do we die, why do rainbows appear, why do other people have another language...

    other cultures have explainations why monkeys exist, why rabbits have short tails, whatever...

    before the invention of science, fables explained everything!

    like someone else on this board said before: as soon as you see the bible (at least genesis) as what it is - a book of legends - everything makes perfect sense.

  • xjw_b12

    If god had not confused the languages, would we have all of the turmoil and suffering that has resulted from centuries of cultural, religious and political differentiation?

    Blame god.

  • gumby

    God seperated people with language barriers,,, yet look what has resulted anyway.

    We have massive cities, skyscrapers taller than what was started at babel, languages being taught to any who wish to learn, calculators that translate into our own language. Damn.....What's god gonna do when he steps in this time.......seperate us to different planets?


  • Frannie Banannie
    Frannie Banannie

    Yes, I can explain it. The Tower of Babel story is a legend (story) used to explain the difference in spoken and written forms of communication, since some ppl couldn't figure it out for themselves. It's been entered in the "holy" scriptures as the God's honest truth, when it's simply a myth or legend passed off as the truth. Most nationalities and/or religions have their own legend which differs from this one, which is peculiar to the Christian nations.

    Does it really make sense to think that an omnipotent deity would actually worry about its creation gaining power because they spoke the same language? We humans learn other languages and have translators today and things are progressing toward world peace, believe it or soon as they can get rid of religious differences it will come. Medical science all over the world is working to cure fatal diseases and debilitating diseases, hunger and famine and aging. This, of course, is with the almighty dollar in mind, but the end result will be the same. Whoever has the most power (money/favors owed) will have the control over these things.

    If a supreme deity were worried about abuse of power or the usurpation of its own, it would have thought of a way to destroy our means of trade (money/finances/authority over one another).

    More than likely, the whole of the bible was gathered from ancient scrolls and banded together, translated in a way to please whoever was doing the translating or transcribing, in order for those in authority, remain in authority........of course, that's men.....are we surprised?

  • funkyderek

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