The Origin of Tongues
By S M Chen, posted Sept. 9, 2015
Based on Genesis 11:1-9
There was a time, after the Great Deluge, the likes of which no one had witnessed before or (thank God) since, when we spoke one language. This was convenient, to say the least. To say the most, it was most convenient, and facilitated, in an equable manner, communication and interaction.
Looking back, this is the way it should have remained. But it was not to be. For, ever since the Fall darkness lay in the heart of man.
The conflict between light and dark, day and night, good and evil was to be a hallmark of Earth. Man had tasted the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and thought it good. With more than a touch of irony, his natural tendency ever thereafter was to seek evil. Like a moth to a flame, he would be drawn to that which would initially entice but ultimately destroy.
The serpent in the Garden, through whom Satan spoke, did utter one truth (so beguiling but deadly is the lie that contains some truth): he claimed that Eve’s eyes would be opened if she partook of the forbidden fruit. And they (and Adam’s) were. After partaking, they saw that they were naked. The protective veil that cloaked their nakedness disappeared when they chose Satan’s lie over God’s truth.
It was on the plain of Shinar that we hatched a plan that we thought would forestall a future flood. We didn’t believe in the Almighty’s promise to Noah, signified by a rainbow, that Earth would never again be visited by a deluge.
At first, all went well.
Bricks are not difficult to make. One needs a mold, into which wet mud is poured/placed and allowed to dry. Addition of straw strengthens the brick.
Alternatively, bricks can be fired in a kiln, in which event heat results in a stronger end product. This is the method we used.
Many men make much mortar. And many bricks.
So the construction of a city, including a tower, proceeded apace. The tower grew taller and taller, ever skyward, making Earth, as it were, ever smaller.
Then it happened. I witnessed it myself, with my own eyes and ears.
One man who was hauling brick from the kiln asked, “Where are these to go?”
Another answered, “Tutaj.”
First: “Qué dijo?”
Second:, “Dixi illic.”
First: “Spreken onze taal.”
Second: “Ne dedin?”
First: “Nem ´ertelek.”
Whereupon he threw up his hands, dropped the bricks in disgust and walked away.
Variations on this played out everywhere on the building project.
As the sun beat down, one fellow wiped his brow and commented, “Sure bu gün isti.”
Fellow worker (FW): “Beth wnaethoch chi ei ddweud?”
First: “Oh yekela.”
FW: “Ich fühle mich gleich.” He stopped what he was doing.
At another site, this conversation took place:
Worker (motioning to man with bricks): “Onlari buraya getir.”
Brickman (puzzled): “Co?”
1st man: “Esan nion: ‘Ekarri itzazu hemen.’”
2nd man: “Nî maith liom leat an oiread.” And threw a brick at the first man, who ducked and quit what he was doing.
Work halted. Men walked away, never to return.
I marveled. Surely the hand of God must be in this, I thought. Or the devil. Either way, work was not going to continue. Babel was finished.
In 460 B.C., the Greek historian Herodotus visited the tower, which had been crumbling for a long time. Despite that, he was impressed, and wrote: “It has a solid central tower, one furlong square, with a second erected on top of it and then a third, and so on up to eight. All eight towers can be climbed by a spiral way running around the outside, and about halfway up there are seats for those who make the journey to rest on.”
Archaeologists exploring the Mesopotamian plain between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers in modern day Iraq have found what appears to be the tower’s foundation. King Nebuchadnezzar II (605-562 B.C.) rebuilt the tower to stand almost 300 feet high. A royal inscription indicates the tower was constructed of “baked brick enameled in brilliant blue.”
Today all that remains of the fabled city of Babylon, including the tower, is a mound, or tell, of broken mud-brick buildings and debris.
As the Wise Man wrote (Ecclesiastes 12:7), “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was…”
There are now close to 6500 spoken languages throughout the world. Had it not been for the Tower of Babel, how many would there be?