The Tower of Babel

7:00 AM

The Tower of Babel, 1563, Pieter Bruegel
By REID GUEMMER

Language is and always will be an essential part of human existence. Your first words are your entry fee to the world and with them you begin to build your life.

Genesis 11.1-9, the inspiration behind Bruegel's painting The Tower of Babel, recounts the origin of the diverse and numerous languages spoken around the world. The story goes something like this: after the great flood there was a group of people left who all spoke one language. All other languages were whiped out. This group decided to migrated eastward and build a tower tall enough to reach the heavens. Although God wasn't huge on this idea and to punish them he changed each of their known languages.

The technical aspects of the painting are just as interesting as the story itself. The movement of the building which spirals upwards only adds to the chaos of the scene. Bruegel had to have known a thing or two about architecture, for his work on the building is far too complex for him not to have.

As I was writing this, I sat by a man at a coffee shop reading the Bible. It made me wonder, if God is capable of such destruction why do people put such extreme amounts of faith in him? I have never been a particularly religious person, but I've always been intrigued by religion. I'm not sure the people of Babel meant to aggravate him by building the tower, it's entirely possible they just wanted to be closer to the man they admired. Although if God is capable of such destruction, he is also capable of the most amazing creations. Analyzing this painting only strengthened my confidence in my life philosophy; that everything works itself out at some point or another. In this story, God's destructive actions led to the creation of the vibrant cultures we see around the world today.
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