The Bible Icon

Institute for Biblical & Scientific Studies

Site Map | Contacts | Links | Newsletter |  

The Tower of Babel

Palistrophic Structure

A The whole earth had one language (v.1)
  B There (v2)
    C each other (v3)
      D Come let us make bricks (v.3)
        E Let us build for ourselves (v.4)
          F a city and a tower
            G the Lord came down (v5)
          f the city and the tower
        e which mankind had built
      d come let us mix up (v.7)
    c each other's language
  b from there (v.8)
a the language of the whole earth (v.9)

There are many word plays, chiasmus, paronomasia, and alliteration that are used in this story (Wenham 1987, 234). Words seem to rhyme with babel. The Babylonian story Enuma Elish celebrates the building of Babylon and its temple tower which was a ziggurat. The Tower of Babel was most likely a ziggirat. The Sumerian epic Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta tells of a golden age when everyone spoke in one language, then the god Enki changed their speech (Wenham 1987, 236; COS 1997, 547).

In those days, there being no snakes, there being no scorpions, there being no hyenas, there being no lions, there being no dogs or wolves, there being no(thing) fearful or hair-raising, mankind had no opponents-in those days in the countries Subartu, Hamazi, bilingual Sumer being the great country of princely office, the region Uri being a country in which was what was appropriate, the country Mardu lying in safe pastures, (in) the (whole) compass of heaven and earth the people entrusted (to him) could address Enlil, very in but a single tongue. In those days, (having) lordly bouts, princely bouts, and royal bouts-(did) Enki, (having) lordly louts, princely bouts, and royal bouts-having lordly bouts fought, having princely bouts fought, and having royal bouts fought, did Enki, lord of abundance, lord of effective command, did the lord of intelligence, the country's clever one, did the leader of the gods, did the sagacious omen-revealed lord of Eridu estranged the tongues in their mouths as many as were put there. The tongues of men which were one (COs 1997, 547-8).

Next - Genesis 11-12 - Where was Abraham's Ur?