The Great Tower, also known as the Tower of Babel, holds significant importance in the lineage and history of the Jaredite nation as depicted in the Book of Mormon. Erected a few generations after the great flood, this structure was born from the pride and idolatry of its builders, who desired to make for themselves a name and prevent being scattered across the earth (Ether 1:33; Genesis 11:4). Located in the ancient region of Mesopotamia, particularly in the land of Shinar, the tower is believed to have been a ziggurat—a type of massive stepped temple-tower common in Mesopotamian civilizations, aimed at bridging the earthly realm with the divine.
The ambition behind this Tower’s construction, “whose top may reach unto heaven,” according to the narrative, was a display of human hubris, and a desire to achieve greatness and perhaps a form of immortality by their own means (Genesis 11:4; Helaman 6:28). The Lord’s intervention frustrated these efforts by confounding the language of the people, thereby causing a cessation of the construction and initiating the dispersion of humanity across the globe (Genesis 11:7-8; Ether 1:33).
The Book of Mormon references the tower in relation to the Jaredites, a group that was led by the Lord away from the region of the tower to the Promised Land. This migration occurred at the time when the languages were confounded, and the scattering of the people ensued (Ether 1:33, 38-43). The account in Moroni2’s abridgment of the Ether record deliberately omits details from the creation of the world to the tower, but it alludes to the events from the building of the tower until the Jaredites’ destruction (Ether 1:3-5).
Theological insights from the Book of Mormon also suggest that the construction of the Great Tower was inspired by adversarial forces, emphasizing a theological explanation for the tower’s purpose and ultimate failure (Helaman 6:28). Through the story of the Great Tower, the Book of Mormon corroborates the essence of the biblical account while subtly emphasizing its own themes of divine guidance, prophetic leadership, and the eventual downfall of societies diverging from righteous principles.