“The Tower of Babel” (Genesis 11: 1-8) by Bro. Darrell W. Brown


The desert sands of Mesopotamia are the backdrop for one of the most mysterious stories of God’s word, the story of the “Tower of Babel.” It’s construction is said to be the reason why so many languages are spoken around the world today.

So what exactly was the Tower of Babel? Modern archaeology has given us some answers. Scholars believe the Tower of Babel was actually a ziggurat, a pyramid-like structure that played an important role in early-Mesopotamian civilization. Nearly 30 ziggurats have been found in this area, and nearly as many theories exist as to what exact purpose they served.

What is known about ziggurats from ancient texts is that they were typically dedicated to a city’s patron god or goddess. Beyond that, scholars disagree on their specific purpose. It was once thought that ziggurats were tombs of the kings or the gods. Others believe that they were towering altars, whose great height protected against floods or siege from enemies. However, this can hardly explain the massive size and height of some of these structures. One ziggurat thought to be dedicated to the Babylonian god, Marduk, stood in the City of Babylon and reached the height of a 30 story building!

A more plausible theory is that the ziggurats served as the “dwelling place” for the local god or goddess. If this is true, then that would indicate that the ziggurats served a profoundly religious purpose. They were an attempt to draw deity down to Earth. This may be why God was so furious about the building of this tower, as it attempted to reduce the deity to the level of humanity. The people’s trust in themselves had surpassed their trust in the one, almighty God.

Two things are very interesting in this passage-- one is the use of the word, “we” in verse 7. This is one of the first indications of the Holy Trinity, as God the Father is speaking to God the Son (Jesus) and God the Holy Spirit. Also the reason for the land being called “Babel” (and later Babylon) is given in verse 9. Babel is the ancient Hebrew word for “confusion,” for that is exactly what occurred when God confused their language!