“And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And 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. And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And 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. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city. Therefore 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.”
Genesis 11:1-9 (KJV)
This is a quickie. Genesis 10 goes on another rant about who begat whom, then Genesis 11 is a rewind to what happened after the flood. Everyone came down off the mountain and tried to build a city. The center piece was a tower, that would “reach unto heaven.” Remember from the creation story that the word “heaven” can mean he sky, outer space, or “God’s house.” God then states that “nothing will be restrained from them, which the imaged to do.” In other words, mankind will literally be unstoppable unless he takes immediate action! Then, we get another “us” quote, as God says “let us go down.” (Being monotheistic is hard if you read the Bible). This has three implications. One, the “heaven” in question is God’s house. This would mean God was worried the humans would reach him in heaven. This is absurd, even by Old Testament standards. Two, heaven is outer space. This also can be discounted out of hand. That leaves us with the third option. Mankind was just building a really tall building and God didn’t want them to. This has to be the case, yet, it is such a petty little thing to be concerned about. Regardless of the reasoning, God gave everyone a new language and they could no longer understand each other, and wandered off to every corner of the Earth.
It is often taught that God was mad at humans (again) because he told them to “populate the earth.” It was felt this implied every corner of the earth, and building a city would slow mankind’s expansion. This is not what the text says. It’s very clear God is blocking mankind’s intellectual growth.
How Big Was It?
That’s what she said. Now that that’s out of the way, the book of Jubilees says he t was 8150 feet high, which would make it far larger than anything built in history. Being is it was made with fired brick, the crushing weight of a tower that large would literally be impossible. As a comparison, the Ziggurat of Ur, which is also made with mud bricks, is only about one hundred feet high, and was made one or two hundred years after the flood.
This story falls apart in so many ways. First, mankind (well,except Americans) simply learned each others languages. Now we even have apps for that! Our buildings today reach high as 2717 feet, which is much, much higher than any tower that can be made out of bricks. Even taking the book on face value, we now routinely travel far above 8000 feet in aircraft, we have reached outer space, and have build great cities. It would seem God’s plans have failed him yet again. OR, maybe this was a story you told children when they asked, “Daddy, why do some people speak other languages?”
Did you miss the story of Noah? Check it out here.