RE: [asa] A question on Genesis

From: Jon Tandy <>
Date: Tue Mar 24 2009 - 13:39:02 EDT

I was going to answer similarly, the statement that Japheth's descendants
populated various places "according to their languages" could easily be
explained from a post facto vantage point. They had their language
confused, and were subsequently dispersed, which was reported later by the
Biblical writers.

The more interesting analysis is to consider who was actually referred to in
the beginning of chapter 11, and whether it was even meant to include
Japheth or Shem -- even just considering the Biblical text, without getting
into the historical authority of Jubilees quotes that Dick gave. (Gen 11:2
speaks of Shinar, which was the dwelling of Nimrod, only one branch of Ham's
line, Gen 10:6-10; also, Gen 10:10 and 11:9 mention the city of Babel which
was Nimrod's domain.)

As to the "one lip" versus "one language", without requiring a possibly
dubious translation as you say, could it not instead be simply referring to
the people in the limited region being considered ('erets' as land, instead
of the whole planet "Earth") as being of the same language? This could
still fit a concordist view, simply by limiting the scope of the people
referred to. (I do recognize that Dick has already addressed this, with
mention of Akkadian and Sumerian being spoken in the region. I don't have
enough background to judge this based on either geography or time sequence,
in relation to what is considered the "tower of Babel" chronology, at least
according to a concordist view.)

A more serious question for a concordist point of view, I think, is the
whole premise of the story of the tower. The people want to build a tower
that will reach heaven. This is an accommodation to ANE cosmology (we know
that heaven isn't a place you can reach by building a sufficiently high
tower, and you wouldn't reach God's domain anyway). And God is concerned
that if they do build such a tower, "nothing will be restrained from them,
which they have imagined to do." What was God concerned with, since they
couldn't reach His heaven as they intended to do? Obviously, there's more
at work here in the text than a strictly literal reading would reveal,
regardless of whether or not it was a historical event.

Jon Tandy

-----Original Message-----
From: [] On
Behalf Of George Murphy
Sent: Sunday, March 22, 2009 6:17 AM
To: ASA list; Preston Garrison
Subject: Re: [asa] A question on Genesis

Preston -

1st, I don't think there's any reason to expect strict temporal order here.
Gen.10 is a summary (or summaries - see later) of what Israel later knew of
the distribution of various peoples in their known world, "the table of
nations." It's clearly written from a standpoint later than the events
spoken of in Ch.11. Note the language of v.5 - the "coastland peoples" had
already "spread."

2d, critical scholars have assigned different parts of chapters 10 & 11 to
different sources. In Ch.10 vv.1a, 2-7, 20, 22-23, 31-32 are supposed to be
from the P source & 1b, 8-19, 21 & 24-30 from J. 11:1-9, the story of the
tower of Babel, is from J. (For this breakdown see, e.g., von Rad's
_Genesis_. So the verse you mention and the Babel story are from different
sources & it wouldn't be surprising if they speak of things somewhat


----- Original Message -----
From: "Preston Garrison" <>
To: "ASA list" <>
Sent: Saturday, March 21, 2009 11:54 PM
Subject: [asa] A question on Genesis

> All,
> This may be off topic, unless Biblical studies can be considered
> something of a science, but such things have been discussed here
> before, so here goes.
> Has anyone else noticed that multiple languages are already mentioned
> among the descendants of Jephthah in Genesis 10:5, nearly a full
> chapter before the story of Babel, which concerns Nimrod, a descendant of
> From the NASV:
> "From these [the descendents of Jephthah], the coastlands of the
> nations were separated into their lands, EVERY ONE ACCORDING TO HIS
> LANGUAGE, according to their families, and into their nations."
> The rest of chapter 10 concerns the descendants of Ham, one of whom
> was Nimrod. His kingdom and the Babel story are described in chapter
> Then the descendants of Shem are described in 11:10-32.
> It starts to look like to me that Genesis 11 didn't originally refer
> to a univeral unity of language - the unity described was something
> that was imposed by the conquests of Nimrod.
> It was the working out of the curse on Ham. They were cursed by
> getting an able, effective and violent leader who unified them,
> conquered surrounding tribes and imposed the same language on all of
> them, which was followed by unified rebellion against God and the
resulting judgement.
> Insert the usual admission that I haven't been to seminary, and I have
> no idea what I am talking about.
> Let the expertise commence.
> Preston
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Received on Tue Mar 24 13:39:50 2009

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