Hello Guys. Having calculated the dates of the flood and creation there’s one more I want to take a stab at, the date of the tower of Babel. I plotted the flood date to 3232 BC so the tower incident has to be later than that. I used the fall of Ur to get a date for Abram’s rescue of Lot at 1984 BC give or take about ten years. So the tower incident must have happened sometime between those two events. I have found one and only one verse in the old testament that gives us a shot at dating the tower. This is from the table of nations in Gen 10.
Gen 10:25 And unto Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg; for in his days was the earth divided; and his brother’s name was Joktan.
I Peleg’s day the earth was divided. Divided in what way? The bible doesn’t say any more about it. When I read this I get the impression that the writer assumed that any reader would know what he was talking about. I think this division must be the division of the earth among different language groups after the confusion of languages at the tower of Babel.
Let’s have a look in the Strong’s concordance and see what it has to say about the original Hebrew. The word peleg brings up three references in Strong’s. I will list them here.
H6389 Peleg peh’-leg the same as 6388; earthquake; Peleg, a son of Shem:–Peleg.
H6388 peleg peh’-leg from 6385; a rill (i.e. small channel of water, as in irrigation):–river, stream.
H6385 palag paw-lag’ a primitive root; to split (literally or figuratively):–divide.
The first two do not fit if this is referring to the division of the earth after the tower incident but H6385 does. I believe that division, the third option is the correct understanding of the word used for the name.
If you use Strong’s to look at the rest of the sentence. ‘in his days was the earth divided‘.
When you get to the word ‘divided‘ take a guess which Hebrew word is used.
It’s H6385 ‘palag’ a primitive root; to split or divide. By this we can be sure that H6385 is the correct understanding of the name.
A quick note about names in ancient times. They did not have an established pool of names that they chose from like we do today. People were named after something that they were saw doing or something that was associated with them. Very much like the way American Indians gave names. There’s more I could say about this but it’s a subject for another essay. If the Bible translators had translated the name Gen 10:25 would read like this.
‘the name of one was Divide; for in his days was the earth divided’
Okay now assuming that the confusion of languages happened in Peleg’s time we can use that and the dates from my previous two posts and get an approximate date for the tower incident. We can assume that the division of the land started shortly after the confusion of languages. We don’t know how long it would have taken but today people gather with others who speak the same language so there’s no reason to assume that people back then didn’t start doing the same thing right away. If I take the dates and times from my ‘dating the flood’ post. Peleg was born 529 years after the flood. That would make the year of Peleg’s birth 2703 BC. Gen 11:18-19 gives us Pelegs life span.
Gen 11:18 And Phaleg lived and hundred and thirty years, and begot Ragau. 19 And Phaleg lived after he had begotten Ragau, two hundred and nine years, and begot sons and daughters, and died. (Septuagint text)
Peleg died at 339 years old in 2364 BC. That gives us a 339 year range for the tower incident and the division into nations.
Sometime between 2703 BC and 2364 BC.
The earth was divided in Peleg’s time so the confusion of languages must have happened early in Peleg’s life. Otherwise there would not be time for the division of nations in Peleg’s lifetime. Remember Peleg was not named for the confusion at the tower but for the division that followed.
A likely time frame for the tower incident is 2700-2600 BC.
This date range fits rather nicely with a lot of what scholars and archaeologists have found in the ancient near east. 2700 BC is about the time when the Sumerian king Enmerkar was ruling Uruk (the biblical Erech). Archaeologist David Rohl makes a very good case for Enmerkar being the biblical Nimrod. The name ‘Enmerkar’ means ‘Enmer the hunter’ in Sumerian. The bible says Nimrod built Erech. The Sumerian kings list says that Enmerkar built Uruk. 2700 BC puts Nimrod/Enmerkar ruling Erech/Uruk 532 years after the flood. This is well within the possible lifespan of a great grandson of Noah. The most likely candidate for the Tower of Babel is the Eridu ziggurat. There is evidence that it dates to the early third millennium BC and it was never finished.
This date range also matches nicely with the appearance of several language isolates in the ancient near east. See my previous essay about language isolates and the tower of babel below.
A quick note about using scholarly material to study with.
When you look at scholarly dates keep in mind that scholars are indoctrinated into a fairy tale world view in which the earth is millions of years old so they tend set early dates artificially far back in time. From about 2000 BC and forward there are a lot of ways to cross check dates and there is a lot of written material. Most in the form of cuneiform on clay. So from 2000 BC and forward scholarly dates are not going to be too far off. They also can get stratigraphy right. That is archaeologists often know what came before what as long as they have sites with demolition and rebuilding on top of each other to study. But from the early third millennium BC and older, scholarly dates are going to be projected artificially far back in time. What I do is keep their data and ignore their conclusions. Use the data to draw your own conclusions within a biblical framework.
I’ve had a lot of fun with this dating project.