11:7 Come, let’s go down and confuse 1 their language so they won’t be able to understand each other.” 2
11:9 That is why its name was called 3 Babel 4 – 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 The cohortatives mirror the cohortatives of the people. They build to ascend the heavens; God comes down to destroy their language. God speaks here to his angelic assembly. See the notes on the word “make” in 1:26 and “know” in 3:5, as well as Jub. 10:22-23, where an angel recounts this incident and says “And the
2 tn Heb “they will not hear, a man the lip of his neighbor.”
3 tn The verb has no expressed subject and so can be rendered as a passive in the translation.
4 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).