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Meaning and etymology of the name Babel, Babylon

Babel Babel Babylon Babylon

Babel is the beginning of the kingdom of Nimrod:

"The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city." - Genesis 10:10-12

Both HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament and BDB Theological Dictionary point at this name in Sumerian, Bab-ilim, meaning Gate Of The Deity. But both also refer to the common Hebrew verb balal balal (248) meaning mix, mingle and used in the scene were the name Babel is explained, "On account of this its name is called Babel - Babel - because YHWH balalled the speech of all the earth there" (Genesis 11:9).

HAW Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament says about the use of the Hebrew verb balal in the Bible: "A ritualistic term used of mixing oil into the flour or meal of the cereal offering until every particle of flour was mingled or anointed with oil."

The word Babel is used for various large empires, starting from the people that built the famous tower (Genesis 11:1-9), to the empire of Babylon that exiled the Jews (2 Kings 25:1), to the world-wide empire that marks the latter days (Revelation 18:10). As with Israel, these nations are as often praised as cursed. And although the verb balal indicates a mixing, it does not suggest chaos. Both Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names and NOBS Study Bible Name List read Confusion, but if this name was derived of the verb balal it much rather means Anointment or Consecration.

We may even note that the text in Genesis 11:9 does not at all suggest that the word bbl was derived from the word bll. Frankly, all it says is that the place was called Gate Of The Deity because YHWH anointed the languages there.



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