11:3 Then they said to one another, 1 “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” 2 (They had brick instead of stone and tar 3 instead of mortar.) 4
11:9 That is why its name was called 5 Babel 6 – because there the Lord confused the language of the entire world, and from there the Lord scattered them across the face of the entire earth.
1 tn Heb “a man to his neighbor.” The Hebrew idiom may be translated “to each other” or “one to another.”
2 tn The speech contains two cohortatives of exhortation followed by their respective cognate accusatives: “let us brick bricks” (נִלְבְּנָה לְבֵנִים, nilbbÿnah lÿvenim) and “burn for burning” (נִשְׂרְפָה לִשְׂרֵפָה, nisrÿfah lisrefah). This stresses the intensity of the undertaking; it also reflects the Akkadian text which uses similar constructions (see E. A. Speiser, Genesis [AB], 75-76).
3 tn Or “bitumen” (cf. NEB, NRSV).
4 tn The disjunctive clause gives information parenthetical to the narrative.
5 tn The verb has no expressed subject and so can be rendered as a passive in the translation.
6 sn Babel. Here is the climax of the account, a parody on the pride of Babylon. In the Babylonian literature the name bab-ili meant “the gate of God,” but in Hebrew it sounds like the word for “confusion,” and so retained that connotation. The name “Babel” (בָּבֶל, bavel) and the verb translated “confused” (בָּלַל, balal) form a paronomasia (sound play). For the many wordplays and other rhetorical devices in Genesis, see J. P. Fokkelman, Narrative Art in Genesis (SSN).