It would have been nice to see what the tower of Babel (at Shinar) would look like.
Would it have been taller than the Burj Khalifa? Would it have had up to a thousand floors?
These questions will only remain in our imaginations because that grand idea never materialized.
God ended it.
But why would God be so bothered about the plan of mere mortals to erect a lofty structure, to the extent that he scuttled it altogether, leaving no trace?
There are two common reasons people give for this. But we’ll have to find out if they really reflect what the bible suggests.
A Jealous God Didn’t Want to Be Spied Upon
Could it be that God dispersed the people because He feared they’d reach His palatial residence? Was God worried that if they succeeded, they’d be able to stroll in and out of heaven, spying on him and intruding into His privacy?
Well, maybe not so.
In the first place, heaven where God’s throne is, is a spiritual place. It cannot be accessed physically. Otherwise, we’d all be able to cram ourselves in some rockets (that would be invented someday) and zoom off to meet God! There would be no need to wait to die to go to heaven?
Besides, the word “heaven” also refers to the sky or outer space. And you will be right to say that the people’s imagination, was a structure merely reaching far into the sky and not a building impinging into God’s presence.
In other words, their original intent was to build a city, with a tower that soars into the sky as defining structure. They wanted to be gathered in one place with a mighty tower as signature and fortress. They were not concerned, in the least about God, or His abode!
Talking about outer space, humans are yet to develop technology that would erect an edifice that penetrates right through the entire outer space. So, even if Heaven was physically accessible, God still couldn’t have bothered about them knocking on his doorsteps.
The Creator Wanted to Initiate Languages
Genesis is the book of beginnings, remember? Perhaps, God wanted to establish the world’s languages. So, He needed to confound their speech to bring forth new dialects.
This will be true if the bible had not hinted that the language confusion was to disunite them and make their mission impossible.
“Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. Come let us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” (Genesis 11:6-7)
Nowhere here and through the entire account, is it stated that God wanted to disrupt their plan to bring new languages to the fore.
Now, if these two don’t cut it, then what exactly prompted God to interfere in their business?
God Wanted People Across the Earth, Not in One Spot
One of the things God told Adam and Eve at their inauguration was “Fill the earth” (Genesis 1:28). Several years after, He repeated it to Noah, “Fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1). But then, these people came along and said, “Come let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” (Genesis 11:4)
See, the city and a tower was a means to an end!
They did not want to be scattered all over the earth. But God wanted the earth to be filled with people dispersed everywhere. So, He showed up.
To affirm that the real reason God confused their speech was to get them dispersed all over, the bible mentions it twice!
“So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city.” (Genesis 11:8)
Then in the next verse, it goes,
“There the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.” (Genesis 11:9)
Now you think about it, is it not possible that their language would be confused and they would still stay together – at least within that region? People stay together within a territory, even if they speak different languages.
It would have been enough to confuse their language and leave them where they were – or at least scatter them not too far away.
But God dispersed them all over in an obvious commitment to ensuring they fill the earth.
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Ogaga Eruteya is a Nigerian Christian minister, writer and speaker. He writes on Faith, Personal Development, Youth Development, and Life Realities. With his words, he seeks to inspire, motivate, propagate life’s truths and represent a sincere Christian voice. Learn more about Ogaga here.