Tower of Babel

biblical episode

The Tower of Babel (Hebrew: מִגְדַּל בָּבֶל‎, Migdal Bavel) story in Genesis 11:1–9 is an origin myth meant to explain why the world's peoples speak different languages.[1][2][3][4]

According to the story, a united humanity in the generations following the Great Flood, speaking a single language and migrating westward, comes to the land of Shinar (שִׁנְעָר). There they agree to build a city and a tower tall enough to reach heaven. God, observing their city and tower, felt and insulted and confused the humans so that they can no longer understand each other. He then scatters them around the world.

Some modern scholars have associated the Tower of Babel with known structures, notably the Etemenanki, a ziggurat dedicated to the Mesopotamian god Marduk in Babylon. A Sumerian story with some similar elements is told in Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta.[5]


  1. Metzger, Bruce Manning; Coogan, Michael D (2004). The Oxford Guide To People And Places Of The Bible. Oxford University Press. p. 28. ISBN 978-0-19-517610-0. Retrieved 22 December 2012.
  2. Levenson, Jon D. (2004). "Genesis: Introduction and Annotations". In Berlin, Adele; Brettler, Marc Zvi (eds.). The Jewish Study Bible. Oxford University Press. p. 29. ISBN 9780195297515.
  3. Graves, Robert; Patai, Raphael (1986). Hebrew Myths: The Book of Genesis. Random House. p. 315. ISBN 9780795337154.
  4. Schwartz, Howard; Loebel-Fried, Caren; Ginsburg, Elliot K. (2007). Tree of Souls: The Mythology of Judaism. Oxford University Press. p. 704. ISBN 9780195358704.
  5. Kramer, Samuel Noah (1968). "The 'Babel of Tongues': A Sumerian Version". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 88 (1). pp. 108–111.