Tower of Babel Bible Story Summary

by David Peach · Print Print · Email Email

After the flood God gave Noah and his family the same command He had given to Adam and Eve: be fruitful and multiply so as to replenish the earth (Genesis 9:1). Since the beginning God wanted the earth filled with people with whom He could have a relationship. This is why He gave the same command to the first man and woman, and also to Noah and his family after they survived the flood.

One Language, One Home

In Genesis 10 we are told about the descendants of Noah. The Bible says that they all had one language (Genesis 11:1). The people sought to have a permanent home. They traveled eastward to Shinar (in modern day Iraq) to establish a civilization where all humanity could live together. But God did not want them to stay together in one place. He wanted them to spread out and inhabit the whole world.

These were not cavemen like many evolutionists would like us to think. God created man with an incredible mind. These people had the ability to make bricks and mortar and build a city. They knew they could build a stronger and more knowledgeable community if they gathered together and shared their learning.

They had begun to ignore God’s commands to inhabit the whole earth. They even created their own interpretation of who God was. They said they wanted to build a tower to reach to heaven. The belief was that God, or other deities they had invented, lived just above the surface of the earth and they could inhabit the space of God if they built a tower. It is thought that the tower they ultimately built was so that their gods could travel between the spiritual world to the physical one using these great ladders.

The Tower of Babel. In Hebrew, the word that is used for this city is “balal”; which means “confusion” or “mixing.”

The Tower of Babel. In Hebrew, the word that is used for this city is “balal”; which means “confusion” or “mixing.”

The Bible also says that they wanted to make a name for themselves (Genesis 11:4). Who were they trying to impress? Besides the family of Noah, who else was there to make a name for themselves for? They knew God. The story of the Tower of Babel took place about 100 years after the flood. Their grandfather had a personal relationship with God. They had heard stories of how God operated. They knew what His commands were. Yet they wanted to make a name for themselves that would make them equal with God.

This was a people who wanted the same thing that Satan tempted Adam and Eve with: they wanted to have the knowledge of God. They felt like they could elevate themselves to the same level as God. Romans chapter one speaks very clearly to this fallacy:

Romans 1:21-23 “Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.”

God’s Visitation

God came down for a visit (Genesis 11:5). He said to Himself (God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) that man was capable of accomplishing anything he set out to do when they were all gathered together. It was not that God did not want man to increase in learning, but that their sinful nature caused them to swell with pride and think that they could elevate themselves to be like God. This combined learning and knowledge would continue to grow. God knew the volume and depth of sin would continue to increase in a large combined population.

God confounded their language (Genesis 11:7, 8). The Bible does not indicate how many language groups there were, but they were diverse enough that the people were not able to communicate with others outside their language group. Noah’s descendants needed to find others with whom they could communicate. They could not stay and build the city.

The name of the city that they abandoned is called Babel in our Bibles today. This word means “the gate of God.” However, in Hebrew, the word that is used for this city is “balal”; which means “confusion” or “mixing.”

God’s Desire

God wants to have a relationship with us. He has given us His Word so that we can see how He has dealt with man in the past. Many times man tries to do what he can to rise up to the level of God. It seems odd to us today to build a tower for the purpose of reaching heaven. Yet, people try to put themselves on equal footing with God when they throw out what the Bible tells us about creation and the history of man and try to formulate their own model of the beginning of the world.

Allow God to speak to you through His Word. He has created a way to come to us and lift us to His level through His Son. We can’t reach God by the things we try to do or build. We can only go to Him through Jesus Christ.

Here is another Bible story summary by David Peach that you might like:

Gideon Bible Story Summary with Lesson

Resource – The Holy Bible, King James Version

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