Hi, I'm Tim Coombs, co-pastor of Trinity Presbyterian Church in Scotia, NY and a member of the network of biblical storytellers. To learn more about its mission, go to nbsint.org.
The story of the Tower of Babel occurs in Genesis XI. Now the word ""babel"" comes from originally a Babylonian word ""balal"" which means ""gates of god,"" but the Jews would play with the word, and you would get the word babel. It is a political satire of the Babylonian people. You see the story begins with the people saying we need to make sure that we stay one language. So they decide that the way to assure this is to build a tower to the heavens, and by building this tower they will make a name for themselves. Which we can affirm that they are seeking to equate themselves to God, and so as they are building this tower, God is displeased. And rather than destroy the tower, what God does is confuse their languages to basically do what they feared. And the people spread out all over the earth. Partially as an explanation to why there are all these different people and all these different languages. It's interesting, the Tower of Babel perhaps is a reminder of the Ziggurats that the Babylonians would build these tiered buildings that would reach up to the heavens. That the Jews kind of thought, ""That's not what we're supposed to be doing."" God is God, and we are who we are. So the Tower of Babel is a reminder to keep our place before God. And that is the story of the Tower of Babel.