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Babel

Babel (bāˈbəl) [key] [Heb., = confused], in the Bible, place where Noah's descendants (who spoke one language) tried to build a tower reaching up to heaven to make a name for themselves. For this presumption the speech of the builders was confused, thus ending the project. The story was perhaps originally an etiological tale explaining the diversity of languages and cultures, but, due to Israel's experience of the exile, now contains significant polemic against the presumption of Babylon, which is Babel in Hebrew.

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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