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Why so Many Languages?

line Why so Many Languages?

Pause and Consider

0620

11.15.17

‘Why so Many Languages?’

 

And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.  (2)  And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.    (Genesis 11:1-2)

After taking the past two weeks to give thought to the Protestant Reformation, we return our attention to the first 11 chapters of Genesis.  As you can see, today we begin Genesis 11.

According to Bibles International, there are 6809 living/spoken languages in the world.  What would you guess are the five most spoken? According to Ethnologue, they are: Mandarin, Spanish, English, Hindi, Arabic (honorable mention goes to: Portuguese).  Sadly, of these close to 7000 languages, more than 4500 are without any written Scripture.

Just over four thousand years ago, God “confused the language,” and the various major language groups were created.  Genesis 11 took place before much of Genesis 10.  Chapter 11 explains the genealogies of chapter 10.  This event continues the message in chapters 1-9 that when mankind disobeys God, the LORD will judge sin, and then His grace makes a new beginning.   In Eden, man sinned, and death came.  God gave coats of skin by grace.  Later, man became so corrupt that God sent the Flood, but Noah found grace in God’s eyes.  Now man, given the gift of human government, is in rebellion, and God must come down to judge.  He will also show His grace as we shall see in Gen 12.

We are first presented with man’s rebellion.  This centers on man’s language (1).  And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.  For about 1800 years, from the time of creation until about 300 years after the flood, all the people in the world spoke one language: the same language with the same set of words.  No one knows, of course, what that language was, but since so many of the early men had names that correlate to Hebrew, that would be the best guess. (Though perhaps some readers would claim it was Norwegian, Danish, German, etc.)

Next, we see the location (2).  And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. Mankind moved as one to a plain in the land of Shinar (ancient Babylon, present day Iraq).  Perhaps they thought they could there establish their own Garden of Eden since they named the two rivers (Tigris and Euphrates) after two of the rivers that flowed out of Eden (Gen 2:14).

Third, there is the timing. As noted, this likely occurred within 300 years of the Flood.  This would have been just towards the end of Noah’s time on earth.  Whether he was alive then or not, we do not know.

Fourth, there is the plan (3, 4). And they said one to another, ‘Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.  (4)  And they said, ‘Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, 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.’  It is an involved plan on the part of mankind, and space forces us to consider it another time.  We will come back to this in two weeks after we give some thoughts next week to Thanksgiving.


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