The Tower of Babel

Babel templeThe Old Testament-Tower of Babel takes on a charge higher than its magnificent structural design. Becomes a symbol of the perplexity that pervades the man when he can not communicate with their peers, because each uses its own language. This state of affairs was initially chaotic (according to the Bible) deliberately caused by God to punish the pride unlimited human beings who wanted to get to touch the sky with their hands.

“Everybody was of one language and identical words. When moving humanity from the East found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there (…) Then they said, ‘Let us build a city and a tower with its top in heaven (…)’ And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of Adam and said:

‘Here the populaces are one and all have the same language, and have build this factory, and will not desist from their ideas to carry them out. Then go down and confuse their language so that you do not understand the other.

And Thus the Lord scattered them from that place all lands, and they ceased building the city. From this it gave it the name of Babel, because there was confused the language of all the earth … “(Genesis XI, 1 to 9).

To try to unravel the mystery thrown around the Babylonian tower must start from the assertion of its existence. No doubt it was a concrete monument. It gained great importance to the point of joining the folklore of peoples, in response to concerns about the use of many languages. Etymologically the name “Babel” comes from two roots. The Babylonian “Bab-ilu” (Gate of God) and the Hebrew “balal” (confusion). The two perfectly acceptable within the context value.

The famous and always sought tower rose in the city of Babylon, south of Baghdad in the middle of the river Euphrates. There, in the region known as Mesopotamia (land of Shinar), was developed over 26 centuries (2900 BC aC/330), a civilization that knew times of great prosperity and wisdom, crucial to the development of populations of the Near East .
The town is considered the element Sumerian civilization of this region. Tradition says that the Sumerians came from the east. According to archaeological studies states that constitute a branch of the Indo-European race. It seems that his native country was mountainous. This is plausible and is deducted by the fact that their gods are always represented standing on a mountain. The Sumerians worshiped in high places. When migrated to the Euphrates valley, they found natural elevations suitable for worship. Everything was flat. Hence his fondness for tall buildings, as they believed that the higher came closer to god they were. So these buildings with the religious order called “ziggurats” (hill or mountain of heaven from God). Were stepped pyramidal tower with a shrine on the terrace and oriented towards the four cardinal points by their angles. They served as temples and observatories at once. In every major city had at least one of these towers. The first ziggurat of Babylon was built by Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC), sixth king of the dynasty Semitic. He dominated the whole of Mesopotamia and Babylon under his reign saw a great flowering of culture. At first, the same Hammurabi promulgated a legal code that inspired the famous Hebrew law of retaliation: “Eye for an eye. Tooth for tooth. ”

One of the most fabulous descriptions of the city of Babylon is the Greek historian Herodotus, “surpasses in splendor any city in the known world,” Herodotus wrote about 460 BC But it is the city of Hammurabi to which he is amazed. This is the Babylon of Nebuchadnezzar II, who gave this city the most magnificent legendary within the Babylonian Empire, in 604 BC, the largest temple in Babylon was the Esagil, devoted to “Marduk,” the chief deity of the city . With its dependencies formed a ring of 550 m by 450 m. The entrance to Esagil (high-top house) for the “Street of Processions”, 19 meters wide avenue paved with tiles of white limestone and red divide.

Near the ziggurat temple was erected, 90 feet high, called “Etemenanki” (house of the foundation of heaven and earth), renamed by the Hebrews as the tower of Babel. Beyond the reference to the material fact of union of heaven and earth through the ziggurat, there is a spiritual union between two parts of the world organized according to the belief of the time.

But the tower of Babylon was completely destroyed. Even today, thanks to descriptions contained in ancient texts, you can make a delineation of its architecture. Herodotus described as the size of a stadium, in its lower part. Over this seven overlapping terraces, which are accessed by an external spiral path. It should be remembered that what the Greek philosopher was not the original building, which had been previously destroyed by order of Xerxes (479 BC), but the remodeled building to suffer damage by the various wars and invasions. During the excavations in 1899-1917, by a German expedition led by the architect Robert Koldewey, they found the lower floors of the tower. In the table shown Esagil dimensions thereof. This document says that the base was just over 89 meters (91.50 meters measured archaeologists) that the height, width and length were equal, the terraces of unequal dimensions, there were seven in total. According to figures from the table, the height should be 90 meters. The building was crowned with a sanctuary in which (Herodotus was told) was a bed and a table of gold. No one slept there, but one woman in the country chosen by the god. This sanctuary would have been destined for the sacred marriage of the god.

Historical tradition recognizes this ziggurat as the prototype of the biblical Tower of Babel.

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