Re: The Tower of Babel - Less Confusing

From: Dick Fischer (
Date: Tue May 13 2003 - 08:53:48 EDT

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    Paul wrote:

    >In a message dated 05/06/2003 11:03:31 AM Pacific Daylight Time,
    > writes:
    >>Genesis 11:1: "The whole earth was of one language, and of one speech."
    >>By understanding the Hebrew erets as "land" and saphah literally as
    >>"lip," the meaning is easier to comprehend. The whole land was of one
    >>lip. There was a topic of conversation that was all the buzz at the
    >>time. Probably, the discussion was of the ziggurats being built in
    >>cities across Mesopotamia as altars to pagan gods. Not to be outdone,
    >>God's chosen intended to out-build the competition.
    >This is part of Dick Fischer's education of the YECs, an aggressive
    >campaign which I approve of; but, I do not approve of distorting
    >Scripture. The above is the concordist understanding of Gen 11:1. It is
    >not the historic interpretation of the Church nor is it the consensual
    >interpretation of Old Testament scholars. It bears the same relationship
    >to professional biblical scholarship that "creation science" bears to
    >professional scientific scholarship.
    >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, [19] "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."
    >Gen 11:1 is accommodated to the primeval history of the times wherein all
    >mankind was destroyed by the Flood, so that these descendants of Noah were
    >naturally all speaking the same language. The "whole earth" of Gen 11:1
    >(kol haarets) is following up the "whole earth" (kol haarets) of Gen 8:9
    >and 9:19 which is the earth that the sons of Noah populated, and that
    >earth is the entire known earth as delineated in Gen 10. It stretched from
    >c. Sardinia to Afghanistan and from the Black Sea to the Gulf of Aden,
    >i.e., the greater Near East. The context thus shows us that the "whole
    >earth" in Gen 11:1 was much greater than just Mesopotamia.
    >Nor does being of "one lip" mean that the land was abuzz with some
    >particular topic. Parallel passages show that the meaning of this phrase
    >is that everyone on earth spoke and could understand the grammar (Isa
    >19:18) and words (Ezek 3:5, 6) of everyone else. That is, all the earth
    >spoke one and the same language.

    One could argue either that the writer of Genesis had no clue or that the
    interpreters have no clue. You have chosen the former, I have chosen the

    Would you not agree that the same authors cited above also think that a
    global flood obliterated all the humans and all the animals in the entire
    world? Are you arguing for that also?

    Let's review the facts. Both the Sumerians and the Accadians can be traced
    to roughly 4000 BC. The flood can be dated at about 2900 BC. Since we
    know the Accadians and Sumerians spoke unrelated languages, and both
    cultures were living at the same time at the same approximate location
    after the flood, then there were two different languages spoken right there
    in southern Mesopotamia at the time of the tower of Babel. The entire rest
    of the world at around 2300 BC notwithstanding.

    Is your argument that the writer of Genesis was too stupid to know that?

    Dick Fischer - Genesis Proclaimed Association
    Finding Harmony in Bible, Science, and History

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