A-Z: Famous stories from the Bible: The Tower of Babel


Tower of BabelIn early human history, after the Great Flood but before the birth of Abraham, the whole human race spoke one language. Many people settled on a plain in the land of Shinar. They wanted to leave a memorial of themselves and decided to build a city with a tower higher than any built before, so that their reputation would be established forever.

God noticed what they were doing and realised that they were arrogantly assuming they would now be able to accomplish anything they desired to do, rather than focusing on their relationship with him. So God confused their powers of speech and caused them to speak in different languages so that they could not understand each other. By doing this, God caused them to scatter into separate groupings and so the building of the city and tower was never finished. That is why the city is known as ‘Babel’, a word which means confusion. From there the people scattered over all the earth.

The story illustrates:

  • It is a common failing of humankind to become conceited
  • Humanity’s wish to follow its own desires rather than God is regarded in the Bible as sinful
  • God wants to show humankind that they are fallible and need his help.

Related topics

Big ideas from the Bible: Noah and the flood

Bible References

Genesis 11:1-9
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