The tower of Babel

Gateway to the Heavens: The Assyrian Account to the Tower of Babel

(Read the article on one page)

The story of the construction of a tower in Babel, which resulted in the confounding of language has also confounded modern scholars. The Book of Genesis tells of a time in which all of the world’s population migrated eastward to the plain of Shinar. Shinar (Hebrew for “ [land of the] two rivers ”) is considered by most to be what the Akkadians referred to as Shumer or Sumer, in what is today Mesopotamia; that is modern day Iraq. The Hebrew etymology is most likely referring to the rivers of the Tigris and Euphrates. In fear of being scattered across the whole face of the earth, the inhabitants of the plain decided to build a city and also a tower to reach the heavens. This city would be referred to as Babel (Akkadian: bab-ili or “ gate of God ”) which was also a play on the Hebrew word balal or “to confuse” (i.e. the language).

The following excerpt is from the Jewish Publication Society translation of Genesis 11:

1 And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech.

2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.

3 And they said one to another: ‘Come, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.

4 And they said: ‘Come, let us build us a city, and a tower, with its top in heaven, and let us make us a name; lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.’

5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.

6 And the Lord said: ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is what they begin to do; and now nothing will be withholden from them, which they purpose to do.

7 Come, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.’

8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth; and they left off to build the city.

9 Therefore was the name of it called Babel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth; and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

The Tower of Babel

Marten van Valckenborch the Elder - The Tower of Babel. Source: Wikipedia

While most of us are familiar with the Hebrew account of the dispersal of peoples and the introduction of new languages, archaeology has shown that the concept of a spreading of tongues is not as unique as we believe. We much divert our attention to George Smith, the very same George Smith who first translated the Epic of Gilgamesh in the 19th century, and provided the world with the earliest documented reference to a Great Flood.

Following his translation of Gilgamesh, Smith was sent to the site of Nineveh where he was to continue excavations in the hopes of unearthing additional inscriptions that paralleled or showed some relation to the Old Testament. Archaeology at the time was a new science, founded on validating the writings of the Bible. Smith was fortunate, in that the excavation did yield additional tablets (from the Royal Library of Ashurbanipal) and upon further research, he did discover a story likely to have inspired the Biblical account of the Tower of Babel. Catalogued and hidden in the inventory vaults of the British Museum, the fragmentary piece of text reads as follows:

[…] them? The father […]

Of him, his heart was evil,

[…] against the father of all the gods was wicked,

[…] of him, his heart was evil,

[…] Babylon brought to subjection,

[small] and great he confounded their speech.

[…] Babylon brought to subjection,

[small] and great he confounded their speech.

Their strong place (tower) all the day they founded;

to their strong place in the night

entirely he made an end.

In his anger also word thus he poured out:

[to] scatter abroad he set his face

he gave this? command, their counsel was confused

[…] the course he broke

[…] fixed the sanctuary

George Smith provides a commentary to his translation briefly summarizing what the inscription meant to him, along with highlighting key words that emphasize the type of construction that took place.

…we have the anger of the gods at the sin of the world, the place mentioned being Babylon. The building or work is called tazimat or tazimtu, a word meaning strong, and there is a curious relation, lines 9 to 11, that what they built in the day the god destroyed in the night.

Comments

Shabda's picture

Regardless of the opinions of any religionists here, the fact of te matter remains that civilization absolutely did NOT begin in Sumer. Civilizations of the conservative age of 7500 years old have been found in India,namely Krishna's city, the original Dwarka, now under the ocean. Articles have been found there and dated, as I said, at least 2000 years older than anything in Sumer, not to mention Gobekli Tepe which dates to around 12,000 B.C.. The entire Sumerian, Jewish, or Christian viewpoints are inaccurate at best. Some also draw conclusions about Abraham as having originally been a story about the one Hindu God, Brahma. Any will have whatever opinions on any of that that they find most comfortable to hold, and that is fine, but what this shows ver clearly is that ALL religious teachings have a far older history on earth than any of their own histories illustrate.

On the part of the Babel story having to do with the world's at one time having spoken only one language, and by whatever means arriving at having many different ones, actually looks as if that might actually have been the case. There was a BBC documentary on the subject that used to be available on youtube called "Before Babel” that showed that certain linguists (who are still a mere minority, which may or may not necessarilymake any difference about the truth of their theories) began by determining that in the Americas,the native languages from the souther tip of South America, all the way north to roughly the southern two-thirds of the United States, all originated from and were related to, a single language.

Then this group of linguists went on to look at every region and language around the globe, and found that much the same thing was true, that all of the languages had a great deal in common with each other, one of the most surprising commonalities being found between Hindustani and English. The point of this seriously suggests that at one point early in humanity's history, all humans might have literally spoken a single language, having nothing to do with any God or any tower of Babel. I just checked and that video is no longer available on youtube, however, I did copy and save it and can produce it for any interested in seeing more about this.

 
tiyohistud9's picture

Interesting. Will it be a reason for the unrest in the middle east, in particular Iraq? Searching for 'heavens'?

sww

Satan,and his demons;knowing what would happen, influenced many cultures throughout the ages and gave them stories to hand down. he did all of this in order to make unbelievers deny the true Word of God.
He made sure that many similar events were recorded into ancient human history. It's as simple as that.

The original story of the Bible is in both epiques Gilgamush / Balgamush (meaning Bal man) and the clay tablettes of Assyrian lands. This one prehistoric common language of humanity is Ancient Bulgarian language still spoken in Today Bulgaria. Bulgarian language can be found in the base of all ancient toponyms and states and continents. Ancient Balgarians the people of God Sun Bal were spread around the world after the Biblical flood in Black Sea 7500 years ago. With their spreading around the globe Balgarian language started being modified and changed. However many common Balgarian words especially those related to past people and events are preserved in all the world languages. For instance Sumer is the name first given to an ancient Bulgarian village still existing today. Sumer means out of the sea and refers to the first dry land appearing out of the water. Babilon means God Bal Door

hmm...

I'm guessing that if they are all from the same family of Noah that made it through the deluge then they all might have similar stories. And their personal slants (YH good or YH bad) would arise out of how they felt about being thrust into such an earth-changing situation; some resentful that things had changed so drastically; some grateful for deliverance; some indifferent; or a combination of the three.

It never ceases to amaze how many are so willing to dismiss that the Japhetite, Hamite and Shemite families could all have similar stories not because one arose from another but because of a shared experience. But perhaps my take is the elephant in the room most are trying to ignore.

Pages

Register to become part of our active community, get updates, receive a monthly newsletter, and enjoy the benefits and rewards of our member point system OR just post your comment below as a Guest.

Top New Stories

An ancient skull (public domain). Note: This image is representational only, and is not a photo of one of the skulls recently-discovered in Mayo, Ireland. Photos have not yet been released of the Neolithic Mayo bones.
The remains of at least ten adults, adolescents and children that were positioned in a 5,500-year-old cave-like structure over the course of 1,200 years during the Neolithic Period, have been found in Ireland. All of them show signs of having their heads smashed in after death, as part of a mysterious funerary ritual.

Human Origins

Silhouettes (Public Domain) in front of blood cells (Public Domain) and a gene.
Most people who have the Rh blood type are Rh-positive. There are also instances, however, where people are Rh-Negative. Health problems may occur for the unborn child of a mother with Rh-Negative blood when the baby is Rh-Positive.

Ancient Technology

Roman glass (not the legendary flexible glass). Landesmuseum Württemberg, Stuttgart.
Imagine a glass you can bend and then watch it return to its original form. A glass that you drop but it doesn’t break. Stories say that an ancient Roman glassmaker had the technology to create a flexible glass, ‘vitrium flexile’, but a certain emperor decided the invention should not be.

Our Mission

At Ancient Origins, we believe that one of the most important fields of knowledge we can pursue as human beings is our beginnings. And while some people may seem content with the story as it stands, our view is that there exists countless mysteries, scientific anomalies and surprising artifacts that have yet to be discovered and explained.

The goal of Ancient Origins is to highlight recent archaeological discoveries, peer-reviewed academic research and evidence, as well as offering alternative viewpoints and explanations of science, archaeology, mythology, religion and history around the globe.

We’re the only Pop Archaeology site combining scientific research with out-of-the-box perspectives.

By bringing together top experts and authors, this archaeology website explores lost civilizations, examines sacred writings, tours ancient places, investigates ancient discoveries and questions mysterious happenings. Our open community is dedicated to digging into the origins of our species on planet earth, and question wherever the discoveries might take us. We seek to retell the story of our beginnings. 

Ancient Image Galleries

View from the Castle Gate (Burgtor). (Public Domain)
Door surrounded by roots of Tetrameles nudiflora in the Khmer temple of Ta Phrom, Angkor temple complex, located today in Cambodia. (CC BY-SA 3.0)
Cable car in the Xihai (West Sea) Grand Canyon (CC BY-SA 4.0)
Next article