Babel

This is the true story of the tower of Babel from Genesis 11:1-9. The kids love this lesson as it is presented here. Do not feel you must do EVERY activity with this lesson. There is more than you will need for one class period.

This lesson is designed for grades 4-6 but may be adjusted for younger children.

Review – I teach the Old Testament chronologically. This lesson is a continuation of our study so far from Creation through Noah. Review the following with the children:

  • At Creation, God gave a command to Adam and Eve after they were created.
    • Genesis 1:28 NAS, “God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.”
  • God gave the same command to Noah and his family after the flood. Genesis 9:1 and 9:7.
    • Genesis 9:1 NAS, “Then God blessed Noah and his sons, and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.'”
    • Genesis 9:7 NAS, “As for you, be fruitful and multiply. Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it.”
  • Let’s see if the people obeyed God’s commands in our new lesson today.

Lesson Readiness – You may introduce this story two ways. You may do one activity or both of them.

Begin speaking in Spanish (or another language you may know. You may also use Google translate. My daughter then “speaks” back to me using American Sign Language. We will not “understand” each other and “get frustrated” after a minute or two of trying to communicate.  Samples of what to say in Spanish might be the following:

  • “Ola Clase.” – Hello class.
  • “Por favor abre tus Biblias a Génesis 11:1-9.” – Please, open your Bibles to Genesis 11:1-9.
  • “Esto es muy importante a fin de escuchar cuidadosamente. Bueno?” – This is very important so listen carefully. Okay?
  • “Puedes entenderme?” – Can you understand me?
    • No, they cannot understand me.
    • Have a little fun with the children not understanding what all is happening and what we are saying.

Stop and ask children (in English) what just happened. Ask children if I sound like I am “babbling”?  Young children babble. It can be hard to understand what they are trying to say. Discuss how hard it is to understand another person who speaks a different language than you do.

WITHOUT FURTHER EXPLANATION continue to the next activity. This activity will leave a strong imprint of the concept of needing to communicate when you are working together. Do NOT discuss that concept during this activity. Let them simply experience the frustration of not being able to communicate and the difficulty it causes. The concept will be fully revealed and discussed later in the Bible lesson.

  • Pass out surgical masks to kids and ask them to put them on. (This used to be fun for the kids before Covid. Hah! It is no longer a novelty.)
    • With no speaking or writing they must divide into small groups of 2 to 5 and “BUILD something” as a group. Give no more instructions to them.
      • See photo below.
      • Let them use Legos, dominoes, blocks, Tinker Toys or any building toys that you have. If you don’t have any, ask your congregation for their no-longer-needed items. Or you may check secondhand stores.
    • After about 5 minutes, stop them and DISCUSS what it is like working together when you cannot talk together.  Ask what they built, what it was called and maybe what it does. Each child in each group will have a different idea since they could not TALK or COMMUICATE with their group about it.
      • Discuss with the kids whether this was easy, hard, or frustrating not being able to communicate?
  • Once they understand the difficulty of working together WITHOUT being able to communicate, they will more fully comprehend the concept for why the people scattered abroad after God confused (changed) their languages in the new Bible story.

Lesson – The Tower of Babel

This activity to read the Bible account of the tower of Babel is an alternative idea. It is a way to introduce the Bible lesson by having the children read it. You do NOT need to do this activity. It is just an option because the children will read for themselves the account of the tower of Babel.

  • Children may pair up in groups of 2 or 3 with at least one child who is a good reader.
  • Have them move to a quiet place in the room or outside of the room with their small group to read aloud. Sitting on the floor is okay too.
  • Each group will read Genesis 11:1-9. This only takes a few minutes.
  • Bring the children back together and use the attached PowerPoint presentation to teach Genesis 11:1-9.  The PowerPoint download is here: Babel PP 2022 pptx
  • You may download a PDF file here if you don’t have PowerPoint. Babel PP 2022 pptx

If you did not do the previous activity, simply begin the Bible story here using the PowerPoint presentation.

Below is the script I use with each image.

Slide #1 – Genesis 11:1, “Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words.”

Slide #2 – Genesis 11:2, “It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.”

  • Wait! Didn’t God tell them scatter and fill the whole earth?
  • Are they disobeying God?
  • Yes! They are!
  • Their faith in God is not what God wants it to be, so they are disobeying God.

Slide #3 – Genesis 11:3, “They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.”

Slide #4 shows making mud bricks with a mold.

Slide #5 – Genesis 11:3, “And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar.” We will talk about the tar used as a mortar in a minute. This is a picture of someone making bricks as they did long ago. They still make bricks this way in some parts of our world.

Slide #6 – Genesis 11:4, “They said, ‘Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, . . .,”

Slide #7 – Genesis 1:4, “. . . and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.'”

  • ‘Notice how many times they talk about themselves in these 2 verses.
  • What does that tell us about their faith in God? Their faith was in themselves and not in God.

Slide 8 – And so the people worked together to make the great city and high tower.

Slide #9 – Did you know there is a building in this area of the world that is very old. It was made from mud bricks. It also used tar as mortar between the bricks. Mortar holds the bricks together. Do you see the black tar between the bricks?

Slide #10 – This is a very old picture of a Ziggurat in ancient Ur. It was made of mud bricks with tar as mortar.

Slide #11 – This is the same building after it was restored.

Slide #12 – This is a picture from high above the structure. You can see that another layer was built on top of the first layer. It is possible there were more layers on top, but they are gone now.

Slide #13 – It is possible that the biblical Tower of Babel is the ziggurat found at the site of ancient Ur. There is a large ruin of an ancient city and large building made of mud bricks that were fired in a kiln. The structure also uses tar for mortar. It may not be the actual Tower of Babel, but it is built with similar ancient technology. For more information, see the bottom of this article.

Slide #14 – God saw how they were working together to make such proud plans and decided to put a stop to their building by confusing their language, so they could not understand each other or work together.

 Slide #15 – Is it confusing to work together when you cannot talk to each other? Do you remember how hard it was to build something a few minutes ago? It would have been much easier to build it if you could talk to each other. Right?

Slide #16 – Genesis 1:5-7, “The LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built.  The LORD said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.'”  So, the workers started babbling in different languages. They could not understand each other.

  • This concept just below is optional depending on the age of the children:
    1. Who is “Us” in verse 7? It is the Trinity – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
    2. Remind the children that the same “Us” was used when God said “Let Us make man in Our image” at creation.

Slide #17 – So, the Lord scattered them over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.​

Slide #18 – Genesis 11:9, “Therefore, its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth.”

Lesson Follow Up

These people decided they wanted to live only in one area and become a great and very famous people. They did not ask God to guide them in building the great city and tower up to heaven. God wanted them to scatter and fill the earth. The people did not have enough faith in God to obey His commands.  They only thought of themselves and what they wanted to do. So, God had to act. He chose to change their languages. This forced them to scatter to other places.

An excellent song to sing with this lesson is Trust and Obey.

You may also sing or recite in rhythm this Tower of Babel song. It is found in Sing a Story, 1975, by Jewel Kendrick.

Tower of Babel  (Sing to the tune of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star) 

God told men to scatter far. 

They only moved to the Plain Shinar. 

Built a tower, there they stayed. 

God’s command they disobeyed. 

God was not pleased with their plan. 

He changed their language, every man. 

Assign a new memory verse – Hebrews 11:6 NASB 1995. “Without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.” This verse may be shortened to only the first half. It is your choice based on the kids you have in your class.

Hebrews 11:6 (Speak with a steady beat.) 

Without faith it’s impossible to 

Please God, because – – – –  

Anyone who comes to Him 

Must believe that He exists and 

That – – – – He rewards those who

Earnestly seek Him. 

If you want, you may introduce a learning center for the children to work on in the future.  Children work on learning centers as they enter my class before we actually begin. It is a simple match game and may be downloaded here: Tower of Babel Match Game – Kids Bible Class Ideas. This may also be used as a small group game before class begins.

Here is another learning center for the Tower of Babel that can also be used by the children in future classes: Tower of Babel – Kids Bible Class Ideas

For additional teacher study about the “one language” you may read:  http://apologeticspress.org/AllegedDiscrepancies.aspx?article=760&utm_source=3%2F30%2F2020&utm_campaign=3%2F30%2F2020&utm_medium=email

For additional teacher study on the ruins of ancient Ur which may or may not be the biblical Babel, read this information:

“The Ziggurat at Ur and the temple on its top were built around 2100 B.C.E. by the king Ur-Nammu of the Third Dynasty of Ur for the moon goddess Nanna, the divine patron of the city state. The structure would have been the highest point in the city by far and, like the spire of a medieval cathedral, would have been visible for miles around, a focal point for travelers and the pious alike. As the Ziggurat supported the temple of the patron god of the city of Ur, it is likely that it was the place where the citizens of Ur would bring agricultural surplus and where they would go to receive their regular food allotments. In antiquity, to visit the ziggurat at Ur was to seek both spiritual and physical nourishment.” Ziggurat of Ur – Smarthistory

 

 

 

 

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