The story of the tower Babel in Genesis 11 informs readers about how such a wide variety of different languages came to be upon the earth.
“…its name was called Babel because there the LORD confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth” (Gen 11:9).
In Hebrew, the word בָּבֶל (bavel) refers to a city, better known as Babylon. Sometimes we get very fortunate and the Bible itself explains the terminology it uses. The passage in Genesis says that the city was called Babel because God בָּלַל (balal) “confused,” “mingled,” or “mixed” the languages of the earth. The original Hebrew says שְׂפַת כָּל-הָאָרֶץ (sfat kol haaretz); literally, “lip of the entire land.” Up until today in the modern State of Israel, the Hebrew word for “language” is safa and plural is sfataim:”lips.”
If you have come to the realization that every responsible interpreter of the Bible must learn the basics of Hebrew, click here to begin your journey of exploration!