The timing of the tower of Babel is very heavily guess work, and there is no good reason for putting it in the exact position we have placed it on the time line. However there are a few assumptions we can make:
1) The Tower of Babel was probably within the life span of Salah (1693 to 2126 AM)
It is believed that Nimrod was responsible for the Tower of Babel. Genesis 10:10 states that Babel amongst other cities was the start of Nimrod’s kingdom. Nimrod was the son of Cush (Genesis 10:8), and Cush was the son Ham (Genesis 10:6). Ham was the son of Noah (Genesis 5:32), and therefore Nimrod was three generations from Noah. Our time line however does not go through the line of Ham, but the line of Shem, and therefore the best assumption we can make is to assume it happened during the life span of the person in our time line that is three generations from Noah. The first generation from Noah through the line of Shem, is obviously Shem. The second generation is Arphaxad (Genesis 11:10), and the third generation is Salah, and therefore the assumption can be made that it happened during the life span of of Salah, which is anywhere between 1693 to 2126 AM. However, Nimrod could have been born earlier or later than Salah, or could have died earlier or later than Salah, so these dates can ever only be approximate.
2) The Tower of Babel likely happened after the earth was more populated that it was at the end of the flood
There were only 8 people that exited the ark, and the story of the Tower of Babel indicates that God mixed up the languages and then those living on the Earth spread themselves out all over over the face of the earth. It doesn’t make sense that it happened when the earths population was only 8 people, as to spread 8 people over the earth would mean that the four families all went and lived by themselves which would be a pretty lonely existence.
Of course we know for sure that the Tower of Babel was not built when there was only 8 people living on the earth, as all our other points knock that option out. However the point is that the story makes more sense when the earth was somewhat populated, and therefore the longer the period between the tower of Babel and the flood, the more sense the story makes, and therefore it doesn’t make sense to place the story as occurring too close to the flood.
3) The Tower of Babel occurred before Abraham and probably before Abraham’s grandfather was born or in the period between the birth of Abraham’s Grandfather and the birth of Abraham.
It can also be assumed that Genesis told the story of the Tower of Babel in a Chronological order, and therefore it must be noted that the story of Abraham starts at the end of Genesis 11 or the start of Genesis 12, while the story of the tower of Babel is told in Genesis 11. For this reason it is probable that the Tower of Babel happened before Abraham left Ur, and or before Abraham was born, depending on whether one considers the story of Abraham to start in Genesis 12 or at the end of Genesis 11. Therefore I will go into detail as to where I believe the story of Abraham starts.
Notice that Genesis firsts tells of Creation, then the fall, then Cain and Abel, and then tells us that Seth was born. There is then no more information on anything that happened between Seth and Noah except the genealogy of Genesis 5. Therefore the genealogy proceeds the story of Noah to fill in the gap between stories that otherwise happened in Chronological order. So if we take out the genealogies of Genesis 10 and 11, and take the other stories in Chronological order we have the flood (Genesis 6 -
4) The tower of Babel occurred before people divided themselves up and created the various cities
The context of Genesis chapter 11 in regards to the Tower of Babel seems to indicate that after the flood people were dwelling together until the Tower of Babel, and then God caused them to move to various parts of the earth. So the idea of creating the various cities probably came in after the Tower of Babel (although Genesis 10:10 may suggest otherwise unless the cities mentioned there were created after the Tower of Babel). The cities that were built throughout these times were clearly named after the person from which the people of that city descended. For example Moses fled to Midian when he Escaped Egypt, and the Midianites were probably the descendants of Midian Abraham’s son (Genes 25:2). The Canaanites were the descendants of Canaan, who was Ham’s son (Genesis 10:6,19)
In Genesis 24:10 we find that the Servant of Abraham went to the city of Nahor to find a wife for Isaac. This city would have either been the descendants of Abraham’s brother (Genesis 11:26) or the descendants of Abraham’s grandfather (Genesis 11:24). Whatever the case we know those dwelling in the city were related to Abraham because Abraham asked his servant to go to his country and to his kindred to find a wife for Isaac.
The question then is whether the city contained descendants of Abraham’s grandfather or Abraham’s brother. It seems more likely that it was the descendants of Abraham’s Grandfather on the basis that Abraham called it his country (It wouldn’t have been as much his country if it was his brothers descendants than if it were his grandfathers descendants), and Abraham’s brother probably didn’t have enough sons to make a city, so at that time it is more likely that the city contained descendants of Abraham’s grandfather.
On this basis then we see that the descendants of Nahor congregated in a city, and the idea of congregating into a city may not have happened until after the Tower of Babel, and therefore the assumption is made that the Tower of Babel probably happened before the birth of Nahor, which is the reason we put it in the spot we did on the time line
However, this is logic that may not necessarily be correct, and there is no reason to have placed the event after the birth of Serug, other than trying to place the event as far away from the flood as possible based on assumption number 2.
5) Genesis 10:25 appears to indicate that the Tower of Babel happened during the life of Peleg
This is a point I discovered after writing the above. Genesis 10:25 states that Peleg was given his name because in his time the earth was divided. While this may not necessarily refer to the Tower of Babel, it probably does given that Genesis 11:1-
In any case Point 1 narrows the probable timing down to between 1693 AM to 2126 AM. While point 5 Narrows the probably timing down to between 1757 AM to 1996 AM. From here the best guess would be a date that is as far away from the flood as possible based on Point 2. Point 3 brings us to the same conclusion as point 5 anyway, so point 4 being the only point remaining would appear to indicate the best guess is before the birth of Nahor. However, the city of Nahor was probably built sometime after Nahor’s birth anyway, so I do not claim that this guess is necessarily accurate.
When was the Tower of Babel Built