The Tower of Babel

Posted by admin on 7 July 2013 in Genesis |

Genesis 11:1 - 9
    1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.

There was one language & one common vocabulary in the world (1). People moved and found a large & flat surface of the land in Shinar (=Babylonia) and settled there (2).

   3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 

They communicated & cooperated together to develop & produce bricks & tar (3). Bricked building is stronger and built higher than wooden building. Mortar is a mixture of sand, water, lime and cement.  They used tar, which may be better for taller building because it is sticky black material obtained from coal. Basically they found better materials so that they might build taller building than before.

4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”

They decided to build a city with a tower reaching the heavens so that they may not be scattered everywhere over the face of the whole earth (4).

“A tower reaching the heavens” means “very high tower”. But literally “reaching the heavens” is impossible, which shows their ambition.

In fact, a tall tower is an unnecessary thing at that time in practical point of view. So, this construction was driven by their ambition & pride in their heart.

Let’s assume they could succeed in their impossible mission & reach the heavens in their generation. Scientifically speaking, there is not enough air in high altitude causing altitude sickness. And then they will be exposed to radiation from Sun if they go higher than Ozone layer (20 – 30 km above the earth). Lack of air and exposure to radiation both will lead them to death.

Proverbs 14:12 says

12 There is a way that appears to be right, 
   but in the end it leads to death.

And the tower reaching the heavens does not make them near or like God. Instead the tower symbolizes their ambition, pride, and rebellion against God.

No one can come to the Father without through the Son Jesus (John 14:6).

What is your religion? Do not join a Babel tower, which can’t reach God.

Acts 4:12 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”

The purpose of building the tower is shown as “so that we may make a name for ourselves” in verse 4. They wanted “to get fame from people”.

Proverbs 25:27b says nor is it honourable to seek one’s own honour.

It is clearly wrong focus. It is human-centred and not God-centred. Jesus called Peter ‘Satan’ when Peter did not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns in Mark 8:33:

But when Jesus turned and looked at his disciples, he rebuked Peter. “Get behind me, Satan!” he said. “You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns.”

Therefore, we can call this human-centred focus as “satanic”.

Then, what should be our focus? See Ecclesiastes  12:13b:

 Fear God and keep his commandments, 

   for this is the duty of all mankind. 

It was God’s command to fill the earth as shown in Genesis 1:28 & 9:1.

“…. otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” (4)

They tried not to be scattered over the face of the whole earth.

People of the Babel tower might want them to be in centralised place. The problem was that it was for their ambition, pride and rebellion against God.

I pray that any one of us may not be involved with a wrong project like this in his/her life time.


We have tendency not to be scattered.

Even the early church gatherings had the similar tendency but they were scattered by persecution, leading them to the better - the Gospel was spread to more places of the world.

Let us obey to the Great Commission from our Lord Jesus Christ:

18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18 – 19)

Here “go” means obviously not going vertically but going horizontally over the surface of the earth.

See verse 5 – 9. What did God do about this?

 5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”

   8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9That is why it was called Babel[c]—because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.

The LORD scattered them from there over all the earth by confusing their language so they will not understand each other (5 – 9).


From the story of the Babel tower, we see people chose to live on their own way of pride, ambition and rebellion against God. They pursued fame from human beings. They tried to draw people to the central city through their fame. This was disobedience to God.

Trust God. Obey God. Live the life obedient to God. God can achieve greater things through you than what you can do through your own way.

Check whether you have similar tendency shown in people building the tower of Babel. Are you making a lot of effort to achieve something practically unnecessary for wrong purposes like your own ambition? Repent your sins and follow the way of God.

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