Unraveling the Mysteries of the Tower of Babel

Tower of Babel

One of the stories in the Bible is the Tower of Babel. Chapter 11 of Genesis, chapters 1-9, tells the story of the tower, which begins after the flood. Its location is said to have been on the east bank of the Euphrates River. Experts believe that the tower actually refers to a type of step pyramid, known as a ziggurat. Many such ziggurats were built in ancient Babylonia.

The new humanity

According to the Bible, the Great Flood occurred around 2,300 BC. The survivors came to Mesopotamia to build new civilizations. Here a man named Nimrod, a direct descendant of Prophet Noah (pbuh) in Islam, settled in Shinar with a group of people (Genesis 10:9-10). They were skilled in construction. They decided to build a high tower whose head would reach heaven.

Genesis tells us that when all the people spoke the same language, they came to Shinar and made their home. Then they said to each other, ‘Come, let us make some bricks and burn them to strengthen them.’ When everything was ready, he said, ‘Now build a city, in the center of which will be a tower whose height will reach to heaven’. As a result, our name will spread! (Genesis 11:1-9).

According to the first-century Roman-Jewish historian Josephus, Nimrod was the mastermind behind the construction of the Tower of Babel to prevent the second flood from reaching him. Again, he was angry with God for flooding the earth, so he wanted to go to heaven and commune with Him.

God’s punishment

God himself came to see this amazing tower. He looked into people’s hearts and saw that if he succeeded in this feat, they would deviate further from the path of religion. They are not doing it to please God, they are doing it for their own fame and pride. As a result God decided to defeat them.

Mankind used to speak the same language at that time. So God changed the language of their mouths, each of them began to speak in a different language. As a result, the work of the tower collapsed because no one understood anyone.

It is said in Genesis, and God said, Now the people are all together, and they have one language. So whatever they are doing they will be successful very easily. So different languages will be put in their mouths, so that they will not understand each other. Then mankind will be scattered, those who remain will build a new city, Babel, because God messed them up there. (Genesis 11:6-9).

Babel is said to derive from the Hebrew balal, meaning to confuse. As this is where people were confused by adding different languages to their mouths, hence the name of the city. Sumerian Babel, however, has a different meaning, the gate of God.

Akkadians were called Babylonians. We, however, know Babel by its Greek name Babylon. According to Genesis, Babylon was the center of the kingdom that Nimrod built. Some say that the Tower of Babel actually refers to the name of the city, Babylon.

Historical Babylon

Babylon is an ancient city on the Euphrates River in Mesopotamia. It was located near Akkad, the capital of the Akkadian Empire, about three thousand years before the birth of Christ. After the fall of the Akkadians in 1900 BC, a nation called the Amorites established a kingdom there and made Babylon their capital. The story of the city’s prosperity begins from their time.

Babylonian rulers built ziggurats for the gods at various times. A Sumerian king also undertook the construction of a ziggurat in Babylon, but was unable to complete it. Some suggest that the story of Babel may have originated from the ziggurat, which remained half-built for centuries. Nebuchadnezzar later actually built a tower here, but its height was only 325 feet.

Other myths include the Tower of Babel story

There is some resemblance to the Sumerian myth of Enmerkar of Babylon and the king of Aratta. According to the Sumerians, this event dates to 2,100 BC, several hundred years after the Great Flood. The complete story is not available from the broken tablets, but a tower is mentioned.

It is said that, many years ago, all mankind was united, worshiping the god Enlil in the same language. But Enki, the god of abundance, gave them various bullies and as a result they were scattered.

The British Museum houses an ancient Assyrian script, which researchers believe is about 3,000 years old. Let’s see what Babylon is mentioned there.

The god of gods was angry with Babylon, because the thoughts of wickedness were in their hearts. Due to his curse the holy mound collapsed. The city walls they had built in the daylight turned into ruins in the darkness of the night. At the behest of the angry god they began to speak in different languages, resulting in chaos.

If we look beyond Mesopotamia to the Americas, we find similar stories in Aztec mythology. A giant named Xelhua survived the flood and began building a great pyramid. He wanted to go to the land of clouds, so that the flood would never touch him again. The gods were worried. They created different languages among construction workers. Xelhua’s plan failed because he couldn’t understand what someone was saying.

An Indian myth tells of a giant tree, which wanted to touch the gates of heaven. It’s purpose was not evil, but to bring all mankind under the shadow, that they may live together forever. But that is not what the gods intended. As a result, Brahma cut down the tree and from his cut branch various languages were born.

Polynesian stories tell of Rata and her three sons. After surviving a terrible flood, they decide to build a giant tower to meet Vatea, the god of creation. But before the tower was completed, Vatea mixed it with earth. Under his orders, the workers who had been using the same language for so long suddenly started speaking different languages. In the final chaos, tower construction was no longer possible.

In mythology, the story of the Tower of Babel, like the story of the Great Flood, is found in many forms. According to the researchers, the possibility that all these fables originated from one incident cannot be ruled out. But when, where it happened or what its true nature was, still remains as a matter of debate.

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Author: Sadia Khanam Tonni

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