The Tower of Babel

I hope I’m not asking too many questions here… but what is the church teaching regarding the tower of Babel?

[quote=Genesis 11:1-10]1 And the earth was of one tongue, and of the same speech. 2 And when they removed from the east, they found a plain in the land of Sennaar, and dwelt in it. 3 And each one said to his neighbour: Come, let us make brick, and bake them with fire. And they had brick instead of stones, and slime instead of mortar. 4 And they said: Come, let us make a city and a tower, the top whereof may reach to heaven: and let us make our name famous before we be scattered abroad into all lands. 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of Adam were building.

6 And he said: Behold, it is one people, and all have one tongue: and they have begun to do this, neither will they leave off from their designs, till they accomplish them in deed. 7 Come ye, therefore, let us go down, and there confound their tongue, that they may not understand one another’s speech. 8 And so the Lord scattered them from that place into all lands, and they ceased to build the city. 9 And therefore the name thereof was called Babel, because there the language of the whole earth was confounded: and from thence the Lord scattered them abroad upon the face of all countries. 10 These are the generations of Sem: Sem was a hundred years old when he begot Arphaxad, two years after the flood. (Douay-Rheims)

I can’tspeak for the Church’s teaching (as I’m Protestant and I’m not familiar enough with the Catholic Church position on this - although that’s why I’m here, to get better understanding :slight_smile: ), but I believe this story illustrates the sin of mankind’s pride and thinking they could become like God’s by building the tower of Babel on their own.

This is the same sin that Eve had when she ate the apple/fruit at the serpant (Satin’s) promise it would make her wise with knowledge, like God.

Interestingly, at Pentacost, the Holy Spirit caused the disciples to speak in tounges that all could hear as their native language - the reverse of the Babel story when God confused mankind’s speach. This is a powerful verse to me as just as illustrative of the forgiveness of our sins upon faith in Christ and being imbued with the Holy Spirit.



You’re close… It would seem that they thought they were going to build a tower that would reach to “Heaven”…an while in the beginning they all spoke a common language…and they got started building the tower…God confused their speech so that they could no longer communicated among themselves…

Check this link for information:

I’ve heard that one of the reasons of the tower was that they felt they could survive a flood if God chose to send one again. The audacity of thinking they could escape God’s righteous judgment is one of the reasons for God’s ire.

If you are interested in shadows, the Tower of Babel and Jacob’s ladder are opposite stories.

At the schematic layer:
Jacob rested his head on the stone (trusted Christ as his authority)
While at Babel they worked with their hands to make bricks (created man-made gods)

The tower was a "heavy burden"
The ladder was a “light” burden

The tower went from earth to heaven, the ladder from heaven to earth.

The tower never reached heaven (God had to come down to see it)
Whereas the ladder bridged the gap.

No one got to heaven on the tower, but angels were ascending and descending on the ladder.

At the double entendre layer:
" And the whole earth was at a deciding point of a certain matter. And it came to pass as they departed a pile of ruins [to the house of God] that they found a breach in the nations of two competing messages and they remained there (undecided).
And they promised every man to his companion, let us make a false god in heaven and on earth and give total devotion to it in heaven and earth. And they made a false god. And they existed for trouble in heaven and on earth."

The Tower of Babel translates very well into our day and age. The story has several levels of meaning. One of which is man and technology. The tower in the story represents technology. Man can become so enamored with techonology and his own wisdom that he challenges God. Taking this story to the modern age one can see how man now uses technology for nuclear weapons, abortion, embryonic stem cell research etc. This story represents the abuse of technology. It amazes me how the Bible is so in tune with our current age and issues!

amen, but not even simply using technology for evil ends. It is that they would even dare to think that with LEGITIMATE uses of technology that they can secure peace and prosperity.

Technology today is used for all sorts of marvel that, in and of themselves, is not evil, and that makes for marvelously easier ways of accomplishing things than in earlier eras.

The Church teaches that secular messianism is the supreme lie of antichrist. Even using computers, science, etc for legitimate means can never secure peace and prosperity in and of itself, for, with the fallen nature, and the total turning from God, believing oneself to be independent, the societies will intrinsically collapse. The only way to have a veritable temporal peace on earth is to have peace with God. No amount of scientific marvels can defend from ourselves, if we think they can replace the knowledge and love of God in our hearts.

I’ll offer a different thought on it though the others I think have said rightly already. I think there are many valid reasons we can contemplate as long as they do not contradict anything before or after.

This story is the nexus between history and faith. The time between Adam and Noah is indeterminate with any real certainty but Abraham’s father is introduced and the next chapter is Abrahams. We can place Abraham between 1850 and 2000 BC and Moses at 1250 BC to Christ to today. Before Abraham human civilizations were just beginning to form in the Middle East, but also in the Far East and even in the Americas; human civilizations seem to have erupted about the same time around the globe and things like pyramid structures are found in many of them. Somewhere between 5000 and 7000 BC an event seemed to have happened which could be the result of :

8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city.

I’m sure some have thought Babel could be Atlantis but I’m not suggesting that, nor does this make me think the Earth is only 6000 years old, but it could be though I don’t think so.

The proclamation:

…now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them.

It is a testament to our ingenuity and accomplishments and why the sky seems to be the limit with technology. The moral of the story is not to worship/replace/rely on our accomplishments, but I think there are also clues to our past in these stories.

This is what convinces me that humans did not evolve from a lower species and from it I also conclude the time of Adam could be/was tens of thousands of years ago. :twocents:

**This story, based on traditions about the temple towers or ziggurats of Babylonia, is used by the writer primarily to illustrate man’s increasing wickedness, shown here in his effort to create an urban culture apart from God. The secondary motive in the story is to present an imaginative origin of the diversity of the languages among the various peoples inhabiting the earth, as well as an artificial explanation of the name “Babylon.”

The tower with its top in the sky is a direct reference to the chief ziggurat of Babylon, the E-sag-ila, signifying “the house that raises high its head.” Babylonian ziggurats were the earliest skyscrapers.

Babel is the Hebrew form of the name “Babylon”; the native name, Bab-ili, means “gate of the gods.” The Hebrew word balil, “he confused,” has a similar sound. Apparently the name referred originally only to a certain part of the city, the district near the gate that led to the temple area.

This seems to be the official Catholic position on the story.**

It seems to me a great many of the answerers find the tale to be not but a fantasy! Whereas I might possibly understand their skepticism in other areas, I see no reason why anyone should have any trouble at all at taking the tower for what it was, a tower. Or a ziggurat, by which the astrologers would ‘reach the heavens’ and divine the future.:shrug:

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