Tower of Babel

(redirected from The Tower of Babel)
Also found in: Dictionary, Thesaurus.

Tower of Babel

The computer industry in the 20th and 21st centuries. There are countless arbitrary names made up every day for products and functions in this fast-paced field, which is changing constantly, even as you read this paragraph. See naming fiascos and standards.

The Biblical Tower
Babel is the biblical story in Genesis about people building a steeple to reach heaven, wherein God split their single spoken language into many to confuse and scatter them across the world.
Enlarge picture
The book of Genesis tells how a king built the Tower of Babel—depicted here in an illustration from a circa 1300 German publication—in an attempt to reach heaven. Some believe the legend is based on the construction of an actual Babylonian ziggurat. Getty Images.

Tower of Babel

(religion, spiritualism, and occult)

One of the most well known biblical stories is related in Genesis 11. It tells of an ancient people who built a city with a tower that reached to the heavens. In the face of such hubris, God confused their language so that the people spoke many different tongues and could not understand one another. They thus scattered to the corners of the earth. The site of this tower, Babel, recalls the ancient city of Babylon and is the origin of the modern word “babbling.”

In the nineteenth century, many questioned the story, dismissing it as a baseless fable. However, archeologists exploring ancient Babylon, located in modern Iraq, uncovered the ruins of a ziggurat, a temple in the form of a stepped pyramid. It was soon discovered that for several thousand years the people of the Tigris and Euphrates Valleys had centered their town on one or more ziggurats. The Babylonian ziggurat had a square base, each side being some 300 feet in dimension. It honored the deity Marduk and is believed to be the source of the biblical story.

Ziggurats were made of mud bricks, and even in the dry climate they have not fared well over time. Babylon, as an urban center, disintegrated after the fifth-century Persian conquest. Only the base of the Tower of Babel now exists, though a few other small examples of ziggurats have survived. The largest surviving ziggurat is found at Elam in southwestern Iran. The best preserved is at Ur, in modern Iraq, a ziggurat dedicated to the the moon god Nanna.

In the contemporary world, the discovery of ziggurats has been used as evidence for the historical accuracy of the biblical text. However, critics have pointed out that while the Tower of Babel story probably refers to a real historical building, the myth itself is not a believable explanation for the origins of the world’s languages. Not to be outdone, a small group of conservative Christians has attempted to argue that ancient Hebrew was the original human language and other languages descend from it. Such arguments have met with little positive response from linguists.

The Tower of Babel story might also have derived from an ancient Sumerian belief in a distant age during which everyone worshiped Enlil, the main Sumerian deity, until Enki, the god of wisdom, confused the people’s speech.


George, Andrew R. House Most High: The Temples of Ancient Mesopotamia. Winona Lake, IN: Eisenbrauns, 1993.
Kramer, Samuel N. The Sumerians: Their History, Culture, and Character. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1963.
Oppenheim, A. Leo. Ancient Mesopotamia: Portrait of a Dead Civilization. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1964.
Pennock, Robert T. The Tower of Babel: The Evidence against the New Creationism. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999.
Walton, John H. “The Mesopotamian Background of the Tower of Babel Account and Its Implications.” Bulletin of Biblical Research 5 (1995): 155–175.
References in periodicals archive ?
Archaeological discoveries consisting of inscriptions which seem to identify the location of the Tower of Babel have been excavated.
The story of the Tower of Babel offers an explanation for how the world moved from one common language to a multiplicity of languages.
Voices coming from inside, around and above Syria take us back millennia to the years of the tower of Babel. The noises, spoken with forked tongues and hinting at delusions of grandeur, create a surreal picture, yet as macabre as could be.
(9) Even though the pericope of the Tower of Babel as such is a self-sufficient story (as indeed is its biblical predecessor), it is clearly linked to its wider context in providing the reason for the wars mentioned afterward.
At the end of the first paragraph above, I made a reference to the Tower of Babel, something that still has meaning to many of us, but the awareness of Mount Sinai and Moses receiving the Ten Commandments was already gone from this journalist's generation.
How does the Tower of Babel relate to the present situation in the political arena of Sri Lanka today?
This time we will focus on how Jubilees dealt with the narratives connected with the Tower of Babel, as compared to the rabbinic Midrash.
Washington, Nov 29 ( ANI ): Whether the Great Pyramid of Giza or the Tower of Babel, humankind has always been reaching for the sky.
The idea of a universal human language goes back at least to the Bible, in which humanity spoke a common tongue, but were punished with mutual unintelligibility after trying to build the Tower of Babel all the way to heaven.
He writes of a 'colossal administrative and organisational task' which threatened to become 'an amalgamation of the Tower of Babel and the Eurovision Song Contest', but was driven by the idea that poetry as much as sport can bring nations together and, in addition, provide a forum for exchanges of cultures and ideas.
"with its hundreds of different nationalities, the Gulf has accomplished what wasn't possible at the Tower of Babel," he writes, "...despite the many horror stories about each other, you should acknowledge who owns most of the wealth, as well as who makes everything run.
Also, like the Vertical Pier, the Tower of Babel was a pointless gesture of no use to man or God.

Full browser ?