Language and Babel

Genesis 11:9
Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

Those of us with a Western-centric background often come across similarities between languages. For example, the second most widely spoken language in the United States is Spanish, and those English-speakers who learn it will often find words that have a similar look and feel to English words. This is because Spanish and English have a common ancestry as languages, together with other Language and BabelIndo-European languages, such as French, German, or Italian. However, there are other language groups in the world, containing languages similar to each other, but not to the Indo-European languages. Therefore, we can surmise that, for example, English has developed from other languages, such as low German, with a large influence of Norman French, but English would appear to have no common ancestry with Cantonese. To add to the confusion, there are highly unusual languages, like Basque. The Basque people live in the North East Spain, and South West France. Their language appears to be unrelated to any other language anywhere in the world.

Evolutionary linguistic historians have no explanation for these unrelated language groups. But those of us who accept the truth of the Bible have a very clear explanation. In Genesis 11, we read about Babel, and the sinfulness of its people, who thought that they could reach the heavens by their own efforts. So God made it impossible for people to work together, by putting confusion into their languages. Because the people could no longer communicate with each other, they were forced to scatter over the whole Earth – which is what God had commanded the people to do.

Help us, Lord, not to neglect the things which You have commanded. Thank You that everything we learn about the world is best explained, by referring to Your inerrant and authoritative Bible. Amen.

Hodge, B. (2013), The Tower of Babel, (Green Forest, AR: Master Books)
Image: The Tower of Babel, by Pieter Bruigel the Elder, Public Domain