Monday, February 1, 2016

Tower of Babel

Archaeological evidences are available at the dig site of Babylon which tends to support that Nebudchadnezzar II had commissioned the Tower of Babel. Carving of the Tower of Babel has been found which dates back over 2,500 years on a stone tablet. The Tower of Babel is an etiological legend in the Book of Genesis of the Tanakh which is referred to as the Hebrew Bible or the Old Testament. It is meant to explain the origin of various languages.

After the biblical Flood of Genesis 7-8, Noah together with his family had come out of the Ark in the mountains of Ararat to begin new lives in a strange world. They settled in a plain in Shinar as per the Jewish historian, Josephus.This was the first place where the growing group of people stayed after leaving the mountains. Everyone on the earth spoke in the same language and as the people migrated from the east, they settled in Shinar. The story of the city of Babel has been recorded in Genesis 11:1-9.The 1st century Jewish interpretation found in Flavius Josephus clarifies the construction of the tower as a hubristicact of defiance of the people against God which was ordered by the arrogant Nimrod.

Rebelled Against God & Build City/Tower

They rebelled against God and began to build a city and tower to make a name for themselves to avoid being scattered all over the world. God came down and looked at the city and the tower and observed that as one people with one language, nothing they would seek would be out of their reach. God then confused their speech in order to complicate them and they could not understand each other and were scattered over the face of the earth.

Eventually they stopped building the city. Thus the city was known as Babel as it appears in the King James Version of the Bible. The story of the Tower of Babel gives details of the confusion of tongues and the variation of human language.According to the scripture, the people built the Tower in Babel on the plain of Shinar which is in Mesopotamia but the precise location of the Tower of Babel is not known.

Shinar – Land of Two Rivers - Hebrew

Shinar means the `land of two rivers’ in Hebrew and is similar in meaning to the Greek word Mesopotamia for the space of the Tigris-Euphrates river system. Traditional view is that Shinar is considered to be the Chaldean region of southern Babylonia in current day Iraq and identifies Babel with Babylon that tends to lie about 50 miles south of present day Baghdad.

The Tower of Babel has been related to known structures as per some modern scholars, especially the Etemenanki, a ziggurat which has been dedicated to the Mesopotamian god Marduk by the king of Babylonia, Nabopolassar. The Great Ziggurat of Babylon is said to have a height of 91 metres. It was said that Alexander the Great had commanded to demolish circa 331 BCE in order to reconstruct though he died prior to it.

A Sumerian story with similar elements is narrated in Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta. Subsequently, several people made attempts to rebuild it in their own images, each time tearing down what had earlier been rebuilt, to start afresh. In the end, no one could ever complete it and it seemed that this place eventually ended up representing humankind’s incapability of working together.