WAS THERE A TOWER OF BABEL?   (Posted 18 April 2011)

Perhaps no other story in the Bible has caused as much “babbling confusion” as has the story of the “tower of Babel.”  The story occurs in Genesis, chapter 11, verses 1-9, and comes immediately after the flood story.  It starts out by saying “And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.”  Verse 2 then says:  “And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.”

Stop and think about that passage for a moment and as you do, have a map of the Near and Middle east before you because this passage negates the veracity of the entire flood story.  In the flood story we learn that Noah and his family landed their ark on top of Mount Ararat (Gen. 8:4).  Mount Ararat is in eastern Anatolia, hundreds of miles to the northwest of the plain of Shinar which is in lower Mesopotamia.  But now in Gen. 11:2 we see them coming out of the east to reach Shinar.  It is as if Mount Ararat has suddenly been transported to Persia or India.


Actually what has happened here is that the authors of Genesis are inserting part of the old Sumerian Dilmun legends into their own corruption of the Babylonian flood story.  Sumerian legend has the founders of civilization coming from Dilmun, which was to the southeast of Mesopotamia, but since coming “out of the east” sounds a lot more exotic than “out of the southeast” (especially since the Sun and the Moon both rise out of the east), the authors of Genesis went with “from the east” as a literary device.

All of these mixed elements tell us that the Book of Genesis in its current form was probably not written until the 5th or 4th centuries B.C. at the earliest—in other words at some point after the events depicted in the trilogy The Last King of Babylon.  www.lastkingofbabylon.com


There are some items in Genesis that show such a strong Babylonian influence that they could not possibly have been written prior to the time of the exile.  And, yet, there are other elements that show a much more ancient tribal (or racial) memory of things perhaps thousands of years in the past (in this regard please refer to the previous essay on the location of the Garden of Eden).  Genesis 11:3, for example, says:  “And they said one to another, ‘Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly.’  And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.”  This passage implies a certain degree of knowledge about how the Babylonians made their bricks.  For mortar they generally used mud with a touch of lime mixed in (and therefore “slime?”).


Genesis 11:4 then says:  “And they said, ‘Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven . . .’”  This is an obvious reference to the Ziggurats, or temple towers, that Mesopotamians were famous for.  The Sumerians began building Ziggurats (of a sort) perhaps as early as the late 4th millennium B.C., but the one that the Bible seems to be referring to is the largest Ziggurat of all, and that was the one in Babylon.  The Ziggurat in Babylon, which was built by Nebuchadnezzar in the early 6th century B.C., was called the "hay temeni anki" or “the house where heaven and earth intersect,” and referred more specifically to the temple on the top of the Ziggurat.  But that does sound pretty close to the Biblical description of a tower reaching unto heaven--at least in a figurative sense.


Genesis 11:5 then says:  “And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the children of men built.”  Stop and think about that passage for moment.  If God is all powerful and all knowing, why would he have to “come down to see” the city and the tower?  Couldn’t he just see it, and know about it from the far heavens, or where ever he resides?  So, that passage is a clear negation of the concept of an all-powerful deity.


Genesis 11:6 then has God trembling in fear because mankind is getting too clever, and this might threaten his own position.   This passage smacks of strong pagan, particularly Greek, influence.  Greek polytheistic mythologies were rife with the gods being fearful of mankind making too much progress.  The Prometheus myth, for example is based on that concept.  The Garden of Eden and “tree of knowledge” myth is another incarnation of the same idea.  When man begins to gain too much knowledge it “threatens” God’s position so he has to kick man out of the Garden of Eden, or do some other dastardly deed to punish mankind.  This passage in Genesis is itself another refutation of an all-powerful God because if God were all powerful he would have no need to fear mankind’s puny progress.


Genesis 11:7 then says:  “. . . Let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”  Okay, now stop again and think about that passage.  The phrase “Let us go down” is a refutation of the supposed Judaic monotheism and was borrowed directly from the polytheistic mythologies of the surrounding cultures—or else Judaism was a polytheistic religion until after the exile as many scholars believe.  The following phrase about confounding their language is a possible reference to the city of Babylon itself because being a polyglot metropolis dozens of languages were spoken there.  It is also another incarnation of “the Gods must punish, and obstruct mankind when he begins to make progress towards a more god-like state.”


Genesis 11:8 says that the people were then “scattered upon the face of all the earth:  and they left off to build the city.”  While it is true that human beings were living all over the face of the earth by the time this passage was being written, it had nothing whatsoever to do with the “tower of Babel,” and in fact had been accomplished tens of thousands of years before there ever was a Babylon much less a tower.  Furthermore, it is not true that the Babylonians stopped building their city because so many different languages were spoken there.  On the contrary, the greatest building spree of all took place during the reign of Nebuchadnezzar at precisely the time in which the maximum variety of ethnic groups and languages co-existed there in the city.   They did not stop building their city until AFTER the fall of Babylon to the Persians in the late 6th century B.C. over half a century after the greatest building spree—which in turn confirms that this passage was written AFTER the fall of Babylon to the Persians as most scholars suspect.


It is also interesting to note that after the fall of Babylon when the great building projects ceased, the plethora of languages used also came to an end.  During the Persian era Aramaic (a language closely related to Hebrew) became the language spoken by everyone on the street and in the shops while Persian was the official language of the state.  Many of the other languages fell out of use.  In other words, the historical progression was the exact opposite of what the Bible says.  First the tower of "Babel" was built, and then the plethora of languages was replaced by most of the known world all speaking Aramaic.


Genesis 11:9 then says:  “Therefore the name of it is called Ba-bel; because the Lord did there confound the language of all the earth:  and from thence did the Lord scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.”  This passage needs some explanation.  Let’s start with the word “Babel.”  That is the standard Hebrew word for the city of Babylon, since it appears in that form throughout the Old Testament wherever “Babylon” is intended.  The Hebrew word “Babel” was derived originally from the Akkadian term for the city, namely:  "bab ilii," or “Gateway of the Gods.” 

Babylon came to be a major sanctuary for the Babylonians having dozens of major temples in addition to the Ziggurat, so in their mind the city truly was the “Gateway of the Gods,” and it was the home of the great Ziggurat, or "hay temeni anki" “the house where heaven and earth intersect.”   In Hebrew "bab ilii" became "bab el," or “God’s gate” and originally only referred to the city of Babylon itself.  Bible translators have rearranged the syllables of the word from Bab-el to Ba-bel, in order to fit their preconceived notions of the origin of the word.


Because of all the languages spoken in the city (Hebrew, Aramaic, Arabic, Persian, Greek, Phoenician, Egyptian, Scythian, and God knows what all, in addition to the Babylonian and Assyrian dialects of Akkadian) the word “Babel” in time acquired a secondary meaning of “a confusing plethora of languages.”  However, in Hebrew dictionaries “babel,” or BBL is never listed as a verb and has no real connection to the meaning of “to confuse,” or “plethora of languages.”  In fact in the Hebrew version of Genesis 11:9 the verb meaning “to confuse” is BLL,  not BBL.  A word such as BBL would violate the basic rules of Grammar for all Semitic languages and could not exist, as the writers of Genesis well knew (except as a noun borrowed from another language, or by mashing two words together as in this case).  I think they were just trying to be cute, or trying to coin a pun, by trying to equate BLL (confusion) with BaB eL (the city of Babylon).

Nonetheless, because of that poor attempt at a pun inserted by the writers of Genesis, the term “Babel” itself has come to imply a “confusion of languages,” and from that mistaken interpretation the modern English term “to Babble incoherently” was derived.


To sum up then, yes, Virginia, there really was a “tower of Babel” or more properly a tower in the city of Babylon.  And, yes, it was conceived as a way to bring Heaven and Earth closer together; it was the place “where Heaven and Earth intersected.”  However, it was never conceived as an affront to God, but rather was only a way for the king and certain priests and priestesses to get closer to the higher powers “which art in heaven.”  It was also thought to have been used as an observatory so the Babylonian priests/scientists could learn more about the heavens and the movements of the stars and the planets in hopes of being able to read the will, and the intentions, of the Gods from those observations.

And, yes, a confusing plethora of languages were spoken in Babylon during the time of the “Jewish” exile (when parts of Genesis were being composed, recopied, and edited), but the “tower of Babel” had nothing at all to do with the reason all those languages were spoken in Babylon.  The passage “and from thence did the lord scatter them abroad upon the face of the earth” (Gen. 11:9), might well have come from some racial memory from the distant past, or a prevailing belief in the Ancient World, that civilization began in lower Mesopotamia, and from there spread across the face of the earth.  So, we see, as is the case in most of the stories in Genesis, in the tower of Babel story there are little tidbits of historical truths sprinkled in amongst an awful lot of myths, both from the Hebrew and “Jewish” traditions and from the traditions of their neighbors.

For more on the great Ziggurat, or “tower” of Babylon, its dimensions and uses, please read the novel The Last King of Babylon.  www.lastkingofbabylon.com

There will also be a subsequent essay on the Wonders of Babylon which will include an account of the Ziggurat.


Now Available on www.amazon.com in the trade paperback version and the kindle version.  The Nook version is also available on www.barnesandnoble.com

What are the long-term, overarching historical laws and trends that tell us the West is doomed?

Why is "Climate Change" not a national security issue, but the hysteria over it is?

What intelligence failures, if any, led to 9/11, the Boston Marathon bombing, San Bernadino, and other terrorist acts on our soil?

Why did we turn Iraq over to Iran?

Why did we go into Iraq in the first place?

Did we create ISIS?  If so, why?

Why do virtually all Middle Easterners across the board think that the U.S. is a major sponsor of terrorism?

Is Islam truly a "religion of peace?"

Why does Washington exert such Herculean bipartisan efforts to misunderstand these issues?

What are the Islamic prophecies driving recruitment for groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda?

Why driving ISIS from the battlefields of the Middle East will not be the end of the war on terror, no matter what our government says.

All these issues and much more are discussed in this, the only counter terrorism book on the planet that pulls it all together and connects all the dots.

Also Available:


Faced with cratering poll numbers, a U.S. president agrees to a plot having Islamic radicals kidnap an ambassador so he can "negotiate" his release in turn for the "Blind Shaykh," currently in prison for the 1993 World Trade Center bombing.  The president  hopes that the Blind Shaykh's return to Egypt will strengthen the hand of the Muslim Brotherhood to corral Islam's more radical terrorist groups and unite all Sunni Muslims with Turkey in a resurrected Ottoman Empire aimed at keeping the Russian bear caged.  But when the kidnap operation falls apart and four Americans are killed at the U.S. consulate in Aleppo, the administration goes into full cover-up mode.  Only undercover agent Matt Nolan knows the full truth of what happened in Aleppo--placing him number one on the Administration's enemies list.  As Russia threatens war over the Ottoman Empire plot, Matt has to dodge numerous assassination attempts in his desperate effort to return to the U.S. to testify before Congress, put a stop to the Ottoman Empire plot, and defuse WWIII.

For more information please visit the book's webiste at: www.thealeppofile.com

The glossy trade paperback version of the book can be purchased at www.amazon.com

Kindle and Nook versions are also available.



What if an ancient table was discovered that undermined the foundations of both Christianity and Islam while giving instructions for re-awakening an older god, a god who exacts frightful revenge while promising a utopia of eternal life, peace, and vast knowledge—in return for absolute devotion and loss of free will?

What if that “god” was an artifact buried just under the surface of the moon supposedly by an ancient space-faring race?  What if the president of the United States had a Messiah complex and staged his own “assassination” and “resurrection” three days later in order to become the “son” of that new/old “god” on the moon?

Matt Nolan and his colleagues in the U.S. Intelligence Services have only a limited amount of time to uncover the secrets of the resurrected artifact and find a means for destroying it and corralling the president—before they themselves are destroyed.

Is it the rapture that Evangelicals have been praying for?

Is it the new heaven and the new earth prophesied in both the Bible and the Qur’an?

Or, is it the anti-Christ?  The Beast of Revelations?  The great blaspheme?  The abomination that maketh desolate?

Or, is it something else even more sinister?

THE JERICHO TABLET serves up a captivating mixture of ancient Near Eastern history, religion, and linguistics to go along with its modern day spy craft, political intrigue and corruption, media collusion, and science—while entertaining the reader with a fast-paced plot.

For more information, please visit the book's website at: www.thejerichotablet.com 

To purchase, please click on: www.amazon.com   / Books / The Jericho Tablet

What reviewers are saying:


 Highly original thriller by author with richly relevant background 

This thriller has movie written all over it. An ancient tablet is discovered that undercuts the foundations of both Christianity and Islam. That in itself is a gripping and original idea: imagine such a discovery in today's world, which in fact is the story's setting. But there's more. The tablet gives instructions for reawakening an older, vengeful god, who offers all humanity a kind of Faustian bargain: live forever, in peace, enjoying vast knowledge--but only in return for unquestioning devotion and surrender of free will.  This "god" is an artifact buried on the moon by ancient space travelers.

The Jericho Tablet does what a thriller is supposed to do, which in my view is: (1) keep you up all night reading, and then (2) keep you trying to mind-cast the movie.
Janis Weisbrot, copy editor for Seven Stories Press


A Great Read 

The Jericho Tablet is a fast-paced novel that is a genuine page-turner. The author uses his extensive background in archaeology, languages, Middle East cultures, and the NSA to tell a contemporary (although set in 2020) and original story that both entertains and educates. The Jericho Tablet is filled with believable characters and incidents in the USA, Russia, and the Middle East. The ending both surprised and worked for me. The author also deftly interweaves simultaneous events taking place in different locales. The Jericho Tablet has all the ingredients to make a great film.

Donald Michael Platt, former script writer and author of the award-winning novel Rocamora




Government conspiracies, religious fanatics, ancient myths, global intrigue and science fiction spice this thriller. Barry Webb has used his knowledge of ancient history, near eastern culture and US government agencies to write a fast-moving story that is peopled with believable characters. I was caught up immediately and stayed captive until the end. Recommended reading!

Fran Marian, author of Carved in Stone and The Rug Broker

“This is one Exciting Read.  The Jericho Tablet is a thriller that has many parallels and similarities between our present world and what could very well happen in the future. Rich in history and understanding of the Middle Eastern mind renders this work extremely educational as well.  I learned a lot. The tempo never slackens and the author’s masterful ability to switch scenes on a global stage while retaining plot continuity at a heated pace keeps the reader wanting more.  Like a proverbial “literary box of chocolates,” after one or two chapters of this page-turner, I can assure you that you’ll be hooked!”   

Col. Richard F. "Dick" Brauer Jr. USAF (Ret.) Co-Founder of Special Operations Speaks.