The Tower of Babel

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Who built the tower of Babel? Why was it constructed? How soon after Noah's Flood was the massive project undertaken? Why did its builder vow to take revenge on God? Other study materials in this series on early Biblical history are listed at the bottom of this article.

Tempting God with tower

Now it was Nimrod (the creator of the tower of Babel) who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah, a bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God, as if it was through his means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness. He also gradually changed the government into tyranny, seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence on his power.

Nimrod also said he would be revenged on God, if he should have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would build a tower too high for the waters to be able to reach and that he would avenge himself on God for destroying their forefathers!

Now the multitude were very ready to follow the determination of Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God; and they built a tower, neither sparing any pains, nor being in any degree negligent about the work. By reason of the multitude of hands employed in it, it grew very high, sooner than any one could expect; but the thickness of it was so great, and it was so strongly built, that thereby its great height seemed, upon the view, to be less than it really was.

It was built of burnt brick, cemented together with mortar, made of bitumen, that it might not be liable to admit water. When God saw that they acted so madly, he did not resolve to destroy them utterly, since they were not grown wiser by the destruction of the former sinners. He, however, caused a tumult among them, by producing in them divers languages, and causing that, through the multitude of those languages, they should not be able to understand one another.

The place wherein they built the tower is now called Babylon (Babel), because of the confusion of that language which they readily understood before; for the Hebrews mean by the word Babel, confusion (Strong's #H894).

The Little Tower of Babel

Confusion

The Sibyl also makes mention of this tower, and of the confusion of the language, when she says the following.

"When all men were of one language, some of them built a high tower, as if they would thereby ascend up to heaven; but the gods sent storms of wind and overthrew the tower, and gave every one his peculiar language; and for this reason it was that the city was called Babylon."

But as to the plan of Shinar, in the country of Babylonia, Hestiaeus mentions it, when he says the following.

"Such of the priests as were saved, took the sacred vessels of Jupiter Enyalius, and came to Shinar of Babylonia."

Our Notes

The Biblically recorded reason for building the tower of Babel was, "And let us establish a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered upon the face of the whole earth" (Genesis 11:4). This act was in direct defiance of God who wanted man to disperse and populate the whole planet (Genesis 9:1, 7). The tower could also have been man's attempt to save himself should another flood cover the earth.

Biblestudy.org's research places Noah's birth in 2913 B.C. and the great flood taking place in 2313 when he is 600 years old (Genesis 7:6). Because he lived 350 years after the flood (Genesis 9:28), Noah almost certainly lived to see great-grandson Nimrod born and supervise the tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1 - 9).

Japheth (Josephus spells it "Japhet"), Noah's firstborn son, was one hundred years old at the time of the flood (Genesis 5:32). Shem, the second oldest, was ninety-eight years old when the flood took place (see Genesis 11:10). Ham, the youngest, was almost certainly in his 90s when he entered Noah's ark (based on Genesis 5:32), meaning he was likely born between 2410 and 2403 B.C.

Although it is difficult to pin down the exact year the tower of Babel was built, it was likely erected around 2233 B.C.

Recommended Articles
How Many Died in Noah's Flood?
Is There Only One Race?
Meaning of Babel in the Bible
How Big Was Noah's Ark?
When Did the Continents Separate?
List of Greatest Old Testament Events!
Neo-Babylonian Empire at its Peak Map
Map of Migration after the Flood

Biblical History by Josephus
with Background Notes!
The Tower of Babel
Saul Is Made Israel's King
Solomon Builds Jerusalem's Temple
Babylon Destroys Jerusalem and Temple
Alexander the Great Visits Jerusalem!
Herod the Great Conquers Jerusalem
Herod Rebuilds the Temple

References
Excerpts taken from
Antiquities of the Jews by Josephus
Book 1, Chapter 4
Edited, expanded and © Biblestudy.org



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