Babel, tower of : the name given to the tower which the primitive fathers of our race built in the land of Shinar after the Deluge (Genesis 11:1-9). Their object in building this tower was probably that it might be seen as a rallying-point in the extensive plain of Shinar, to which they had emigrated from the uplands of Armenia, and so prevent their being scattered abroad. But God interposed and defeated their design by condounding their language, and hence the name Babel, meaning "confusion." In the Babylonian tablets there is an account of this event, and also of the creation and the deluge. (See CHALDEA.)
The Temple of Belus, which is supposed to occupy its site, is described by the Greek historian Herodotus as a temple of great extent and magnificence, erected by the Babylonians for their god Belus. The treasures Nebuchadnezzar brought from Jerusalem were laid up in this temple (2 Chronicles 36:7).
The Birs Nimrud, at ancient Borsippa, about 7 miles south-west of Hillah, the modern town which occupies a part of the site of ancient Babylon, and 6 miles from the Euphrates, is an immense mass of broken and fire-blasted fragments, of about 2,300 feet in circumference, rising suddenly to the height of 235 feet above the desert-plain, and is with probability regarded as the ruins of the tower of Babel. This is "one of the most imposing ruins in the country." Others think it to be the ruins of the Temple of Belus.