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.”

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  1. So, ... there were no different cultures or languages prior to YHWH dispersing the people from a single city in Mesopotamia? Really? There's significant quantities of archeological and linguistic evidence this is, in fact, not the case. Are you closing your eyes to this evidence?
    • It seems as though this IS the beginning of those separate and distinct “cultures”. What are these profound evidences archaeologically that have definite dating to the times of Babylon in the first days of that city being formed? I see evidence of new languages being formed but no proof of the timing for when it started happening archaeologically ...please share..
    • Closing eyes to evidence? What evidence? Cheap talk sir! Can you present at least one? I happen to be both a linguist and historian and I can't find none. All we have so far are only bits and tatters of information from that distant time, and most definitely no solid evidence, except the Scripture which testifies to the opposite. You must be an Atheist mocker of the Word of God.
    • Torah does not make such claims at all. And as a student I would never close my eyes to the evidence. But I would also wonder (and question) how accurate is the dating of Babel event in relation to the dates of the civilizations and cultures of this distant antiquity. Our knowledge of those distant days is so fragmental.

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    • Let God be truth and all men a liar. Archeological evidence does not support your claim . Languages are ancient but they were not always in being. Deuteronomy tells you of the dispersion of mankind at Babel as well as Genesis. At pentacost that was reversed
  2. Wow! I can see my mistake in associating "speaking in tongues" with language. I have to wonder, now, what made the tongue different the the lip in the ancient Hebrew mindset!
    • That is interesting Kat, it made me think of how people who are deaf " lip read" from the movement of the lips without sound the words are discerned! So the ancient Hebrew would be right to associate words and language with the "lips" .

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    • If scripture alone is the standard then we have to believe in one hebraic language. The purpose of the confusion is so there would be repopulation and no 1 world government which would be the Antichrist's purpose.
    • English can do that too. Meanings are contextual. The difference is that Hebrew is a root-based language and so the meanings can be a bit more prolific, but if you learn roots you will have a base understanding of many words and their possible variety of meanings.
    • Hmm, I am not familiar wit this world for a city you propose. I can see that v. 4 uses the standard Hebrew word for "a city and tower" עִיר וּמִגְדָּל (ir umigdal). In fact the entire passage uses these terms. In addition El (God) is spelled with Alef which is not a part of the Hebrew word Bavel. That may work in English, but not in Hebrew.

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  3. Hi Professor Shir
    Can babel also convey the meaning 'gate of God'?
    Again the Jerusalem Bible I use states babel is derived from the verb - to confuse and then states 'in fact the name means gate of God'


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