The Double Etymology of Babel in Genesis 11

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Many discussions have been devoted to the etymology of Babylon's name at the conclusion of the Tower of Babel narrative in Gen 11. Many justifiably read this as a polemical etymology against Babylonian texts that explain the name Babylon as «the gate of god». This, however, explains only the first half of the conclusion, the explanation that Babylon is the site of the confusion of languages: «because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth.» The second half of the conclusion relates to the scattering of nations: «from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.» This part does not seem to have anything to do with the name Babylon. This article proposes that the pair of etymologies at the end of the biblical Tower of Babel narrative relates to two individual Babylonian etymologies, both of which can be traced in Enuma Eliš.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)362-375
Number of pages14
JournalZeitschrift fur die Alttestamentliche Wissenschaft
Issue number3
StatePublished - 26 Sep 2017

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • History
  • Religious studies


Dive into the research topics of 'The Double Etymology of Babel in Genesis 11'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this