1 And the whole earth [kol HaAretz] was of one language, and of one speech [devarim achadim (common words)].
People who have grown up together all speak one way. Noah's family would speak Noah's tongue, and their families the same, and their successors the same, as population multiplied. What tongue this was, we may gather to have been the Hebrew tongue.
There does not seem any room for doubt upon this point in view of the simple fact that the names of men from the beginning, even commencing with Adam, are all Hebrew. The Creator's own name is expressed in Hebrew. The Elohim talked with Adam in Hebrew; and the language which he acquired from them was like theirs.
God's communications with Moses were in Hebrew; the nomenclature of the service of the tabernacle (that "pattern of things in the heavens") was all in Hebrew. The prophets spoke and wrote in Hebrew. Jesus, after his ascension, in his communication with Saul of Tarsus, "spake unto him in the Hebrew tongue."
The primitive language of the Adamic race is thus, without doubt, the Hebrew tongue, and the same evidence proves that this is the divine language. That the Eternal Father should have a language may startle those whose notions of divinity are of the loose and superstitious order reflected in mere popular tradition.
In the exercise of reason and in the light of the evidence, it will only appear natural and fitting that the speech of God should have structure and identity. The Father holds converse with the highest intelligences, the angels of His power, as He has done with Israel through the prophets; and is it not a matter of course that speech should be the vehicle of communion?
True, He can commune by Spirit-impulse, but is not the very idea of language rooted in this? Strong idea seeks expression, and expression is a universal phenomenon. God is the archetype of every excellence we see manifested in the universe: the Giver of every good and perfect gift; and if David, with logical power, enquires:
"He that hath formed the eye, shall he not see?"
may we not with equal force ask: "He that had endowed man with the faculty of speech, shall He not speak?" He is not a man that He should be imperfect. He is not confined within the boundaries of any gift; for He has received no gift. "Who hath given unto him?" He is not, therefore, like man, bound by laws of speech. Eternal Corporate Wisdom is not confined to any sounds or signs, in the conveyance of ideas He may wish to express.
Nevertheless, among all sounds and signs, there must be those which are best (judged by whatever standard), and it seems reasonable therefore to conclude that those in which Yahweh chooses to express Himself are the best. And He has chosen to do so in Hebrew.
Jesus has spoken in Hebrew since his glorification, whence it is no unnatural effort of logic to conclude that this is the language of that state of nature-likeness to Jesus to which men are invited in the gospel. This conclusion brings with it also the other conclusion that Hebrew will be the official language of the age to come, and finally, the language of all the earth.
It is noteworthy, in passing, that amidst all their vicissitudes and corruptions, Israel should preserve Hebrew as the language of their worship throughout the world. There is probably in this a providential preparation for the political revolution that is to ensue on Christ's reappearing-in the establishment of the Hebrew monarchy as the government of the whole world.
The Visible hand of God Ch 6.
4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, (which could therefore be seen from great distances all round and form a rallying centre of social organization) whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
The descendants of Noah were beginning to tread in the foot steps of the antediluvians. They became ambitious of making "a name" for themselves, irrespective of the name of the Lord. This, their way, was their folly, yet their posterity approved their endeavour. Idolatry was beginning to prevail, and they proceeded to build a city and a tower whose top should reach to heaven, in honour of their god. But the Lord came down and put a stop to their enterprise by confounding their language and scattering them abroad over the earth.
Elpis Israel 2.2.
The Bounds of Their Habitation
Why hath God made of one blood all nations of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and determined the previously appointed times, and the bounds of their habitation?
The answer is, He created a human pair and subjected them to the law of procreation, that they might so multiply as to refill the earth.
He divided their posterity into nations by the confusion of tongues, determined the times of their self-dominion, and set limits to their territorial extension -- that, in the fulness of time, materials of A KINGDOM AND EMPIRE OF NATIONS might exist, which He would confer upon a King, and such other regal associates, as in His own good and sovereign pleasure He should think proper to appoint.
The segregation of mankind into nations, then, is not accidental, or the result of mere human policy. It is a divine appointment. Human wisdom was opposed to it in the beginning; and if socialists, peace-movement men, and such like, could carry out their schemes, they would commingle the nations into one indiscriminate "universal brotherhood," and abolish all times and bounds of habitation. The projectors of the city and tower of Babel announced in their programme that the enterprise was intended to secure to the patrons of the scheme "a name;" and to prevent them from being "scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth."
They were opposed to nationalization; they preferred a fraternal communism, and proceeded to build a temple of social fraternity for all mankind. But God and His purposes were in none of their thoughts. They were concocting schemes utterly subversive of them; therefore He interfered.
Elpis Israel 1.6.
The Royal Kingdom
The developement of this imperio-regal constitution of nations is the one grand idea of the divine writings.
It is the subject matter of the gospel of the kingdom, and peace of God. All other divine arrangements concentre in this as the great focal truth of human redemption, and terrestrial regeneration. The needle is not more true to the pole, nor planetary attraction to the sun's centre, than are the things of the prophets and apostles to this idea of an Israelitish kingdom and empire of nations.
To lose sight of this is to remain in hopeless ignorance of the faith and hope which God has graciously set before us in His word, and to lay ourselves open to every species of delusion that the carnal mind, so fertile of evil fruits, may enunciate in opposition to the "mystery of the divine will."
Enlightened, then, by the Scriptures of truth we are enabled to reply, that the present system of the world is but the aggregate the means through which God purposes to accomplish two grand developments -- the one near, and the other a thousand years more remote.
The creation of the six days, and the peopling of the earth with nations of mortal men, is the mere preparation and collection together of the raw materials for a great, glorious, and magnificent display of wonders upon the earth. Hitherto, these materials have been shaped, or reduced from chaos into form, by the modifying influence of truth and divine judgment.
But for these agencies "an universal brotherhood" of savages, such as we behold in the vast howling wildernesses of Africa and America, would have shared the globe with the nobler beasts of the forest; unmitigated socialism after this type would have effectually superseded all ecclesiastical and civil association; or, if this extreme had given place to another, the world would have groaned under the ferocious despotism of a "brother of the sun and moon," a Nero, or of a pope Alexander VI.
Elpis Israel 1.6.
God's plan was to employ the descendants of the first Adam in populating, subduing, and developing the face of the globe generally, in preparation for the time fixed in the counsels of His own will, when He should hand it over to the constituents of the last Adam (developed during this process), as a fit and garnished dominion, to be administered by them for the glory of His Name, and the well being of its countless inhabitants.
This plan required that they should be scattered in all directions over its surface. Here, they were planning to concentrate-not to scatter..
...If they separated themselves they would lose the advantages and comforts and pleasures of society. They were comfortable while living in one community. There was a sense of power and honour in association. But there was a tendency on the part of some to separate and depart to the wilds. They therefore formed a scheme to prevent disintegration.
5 And Yahweh came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
... they had begun to carry out their plan. The city and tower were commenced, and the work was going on prosperously.
6 And Yahweh said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
What was to be done? The angelic consultation revealed apprehensions of the success of the communistic scheme...
7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.
This was done with the most signal effect.
8 So Yahweh scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
No work of cooperation can be carried on without a constant mutual understanding; and the workmen ceasing to be intelligible to one another, "left off to build the city." The few who did understand one another were unequal to the carrying on of the work.
For a time confusion would prevail, but by degrees, those who spoke the same tongue would get together, and after a vain attempt to battle with the extraordinary impediments suddenly placed in their midst, they took themselves off in various directions.
Here was a great and needed intervention of the visible hand of God. It is a rule of the Divine Government that there is no peace to the wicked. Mankind, in a state of sin, are not permitted to realise the blessedness that comes from unity and peace. They were by this event broken up into sections and parties, that soon became hostile.
Difference of speech compelled difference of land habitation, and the two circumstances together created rival interests which destroyed sympathy and bred strife and war. Thus the circumstance that impelled the human race into the path of exploration and emigration, and laid the foundation of the future habitable world, also established a condition of things that furnished a source and means of that retributive evil which is the providential dispensation to our age of sin.
Visible Hand of God Ch 6
9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because Yahweh did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did Yahweh scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
It was of course what is considered a great miracle-a definition to which there can be no objection when a miracle is understood to be a work of power beyond human achievement...the elohistic teachers of language, while imparting a new language, obliterated the memory of the original tongue so that the subjects of their operations not only learnt a new language, but forgot the old.
This is beyond the power of any human teacher.
The Visible Hand of God Ch 6