Date: Mon May 12 2003 - 18:18:56 EDT
In a message dated 5/12/03 5:24:55 PM Eastern Daylight Time, PASAlist@aol.com
> The Church, both Jewish and Christian, has historically understood Gen 11:1
> to mean that everyone on the entire earth spoke the same language. Gen.
> Rab. says,  "All the nations of the world." Sib. Or. 3:105 says, "the
> whole earth of humans." Chrysostom said, "All mankind." Augustine said,
> "the whole human race." Calvin said, "the human race." Luther, "the
> entire earth . . . all the people." John Gill, "the inhabitants of the
> whole earth." Adam Clarke, "All mankind." Even after scientific data made
> such a history of language doubtful, nearly all commentators both liberal
> and conservative have continued to recognize that, nevertheless, this is
> what the biblical text says. Westermann says, "humankind . . . the whole
> world." Sarna, "mankind." Cassuto says, "all the inhabitants of the
> earth." Keil and Delitzsch, "the whole human race." Mathews, "mankind."
> Wenham says, "all the inhabitants of the world . . . mankind." Leupold
> says, "the whole human race."
I have to agree with the translation here, but would like to add that the
Tower of Babel piece is inserted right after the lists of the sons of Noah
and begins with: ONCE UPON A TIME.
Contradicting the text that states the earth had one language is the
statement previous that, "...the peoples of the coasts and islands separated
into their own countries, EACH WITH THEIR OWN LANGUAGE, family by family,
nation by nation." gen 10:5.
and then, "These were the sons of Shem, by families and LANGUAGES with their
countries and nations."
So, when did the Tower of Babel story occur?
It may not have occurred at all the way it is told in genesis. I think it is
a historical reference to the collapse of Babylon which occurred as a result
of uncontrolled immigration and bad banking practices. Olmstead records it in
The History of the Persian Empire. The Hebrews were rewarded by Cyrus for
acting as a 5th column to weaken Babylon for Cyrus' advance. Else, why reward
them so well and pay for their temple to be rebuilt? By the time of Darius,
Olmstead reports that in addition to Arameans and Jews of the exile, there
are other "new ethnic strains in Babylonia," and its economy is collapsing.
It is a story told to teach that cultural cohesion maintains a society's
strength and cultural Balkanization weakens a society. The Jews may have read
the story right and understood it correctly even though they translate it the
way we do. According to Paul Johnson, Kevin MacDonald, Paul Hartung and
others, the Jews are the most religiously and culturally cohesive people in
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