In the one stood the palace of the kings, surrounded by a wall of great strength and size: In the other was the sacred precinct of Jupiter (Zeus) Belus, a square enclosure two furlongs [402 m] each way, with gates of solid brass; which was also remaining in my time. The Tower of Babel was the subject of three paintings by Pieter Bruegel the Elder.The first, a miniature painted on ivory, was painted while Bruegel was in Rome and is now lost. The center of each division of the town was occupied by a fortress. The passage mentions that the builders spoke sharp words against God, not cited in the Bible, saying that once every 1,656 years, heaven tottered so that the water poured down upon the earth, therefore they would support it by columns that there might not be another deluge (Gen. R. | Donate, Jan Christian Gertz is professor of Old Testament at Heidelberg University, Germany, where he holds the Chair of History of Ancient Israel, Literature and Religion of the Old Testament. 2 As people moved eastward,  they found a plain in Shinar  and settled there. Of or relating to ancient lower Mesopotamia and its empire centered in Babylon. Here, the tower can help us. 6 And the Lord said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. The story of its construction, given in Genesis 11:1–9, appears to be an attempt to explain the existence of diverse human languages. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah, a bold man and of great strength of hand. 72), but without the tower: Humankind were swept together by winds into the plain that was afterwards called "Babil," where they were assigned their separate languages by Allah, and were then scattered again in the same way. 8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth,(O) and they stopped building the city. Twenty-five gates are situated on each side, which make in all one hundred. It is not specifically mentioned in the Bible that he ordered the tower to be built, but Nimrod is often associated with its construction in other sources. Many Kabbalists believed that the ancient peoples possessed magic knowledge of the Nephilim, which allowed them to construct such powerful devices. Others answer this claim with the fact Genesis is listing the descendants of Noah's son, Japheth, not stating a time period as much as referring to separate cultures. Both José de Acosta in his 1576 treatise, De procuranda indorum salute, and António Vieira a century later in his Sermão da Epifania, expressed amazement at how much this "number of tongues" could be surpassed, there being hundreds of mutually unintelligible languages indigenous only to Peru and Brazil, respectively. The Tower, notwithstanding what had been said as to its destruction, remained, and when, as happened from time to time, its condition became ruinous, some energetic Babylonian king would restore it. Professor, Heidelberg University. An ancient Mesopotamian temple, taking the form of a stepped pyriamid. Some, however, see an internal contradiction between the mention already in Genesis 10:5 that "From these the maritime peoples spread out into their territories by their clans within their nations, each with his own language" and the subsequent Babel story, which begins, "Now the entire earth was of one language and uniform words" (Genesis 11:1). The tower was named The Tower of Babel because the word Babel means confusion. Moreover, according to some commentaries, some Talmudic sages possessed a manual for building such a flying tower. It is sad because it reveals the widespread rebellion in the human heart. 117-129) do state the tradition that God overturned the tower with a great wind.
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