|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:1-4 How soon men forget the most tremendous judgments, and go back to their former crimes! Though the desolations of the deluge were before their eyes, though they sprang from the stock of righteous Noah, yet even during his life-time, wickedness increases exceedingly. Nothing but the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit can remove the sinful lusts of the human will, and the depravity of the human heart. God's purpose was, that mankind should form many nations, and people all lands. In contempt of the Divine will, and against the counsel of Noah, the bulk of mankind united to build a city and a tower to prevent their separating. Idolatry was begun, and Babel became one of its chief seats. They made one another more daring and resolute. Let us learn to provoke one another to love and to good works, as sinners stir up and encourage one another to wicked works.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech,.... Or had been (w), before the flood, and from that time to this, and still was, until the confusion took place; the account of which, and the occasion of it, are given in this chapter: by the whole earth is meant the inhabitants of it, see Isaiah 37:18 and so the Jerusalem Targum paraphrases the words,"and all the generations of the earth were of one language, and of one speech, and of one counsel, for they spoke in the holy tongue in which the world was created at the beginning;''and to the same purpose the Targum of Jonathan: all the posterity of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, used the same language, though it does not appear that they were all in one counsel or consultation, or of one mind about building a city or tower, which the Targum seems to suggest; for it is not likely that Shem and his sons were in it: nor by "one lip" and "the same words or things" (x), as these phrases may be rendered, are we to understand the same simplicity of speech and business, and likeness of manners; for it appears there was a difference with respect to these in the immediate sons of Noah, and it may be supposed to be much more in their remote offspring; nor as if they were all of the same religion, embraced the same doctrines, and spoke the same things; for as idolatry and superstition obtained in the race of Cain before the flood, so Ham and his posterity soon fell into the same, or the like, afterwards: and it may be observed that the same distinction was made of the children of God, and of the children of men, before the confusion and dispersion, as was before the flood, Genesis 11:5 from whence it appears they were not in the same sentiments and practice of religion: but this is to be understood of one and the same language, without any diversity of dialects, or without any hard and strange words, not easily understood; and perhaps it was pronounced by the lip and other instruments of speech in the same way; so that there was no difficulty in understanding one another, men, women, and children, all the people in common, princes and peasants, wise and unwise, all spoke the same language and used the same words; and this the Targumists take to be the holy or Hebrew language; and so Jarchi and Aben Ezra, and the Jewish writers in general, and most Christians; though some make a question of it, whether it might not be rather the Syriac, or Chaldee, or Arabic; but there is no need of such a question, since these with the Hebrew are all one and the same language; and no doubt it was the eastern language, without giving it any other name, which now subsists in the above dialects, though not in anyone alone, which was first spoken; though more purely and without the difference of dialects it now consists of, or without the various different inflexions now made in it; for nothing is more reasonable to suppose, than that the language Adam spoke was used by Noah, since Adam lived within one hundred years and a little more of the birth of Noah; and it is not to be questioned but Noah's sons spoke the same language as he did, and their posterity now, which was but little more than one hundred years after the flood: there are various testimonies of Heathens confirming this truth, that originally men spoke but one language; thus Sibylla in Josephus (y), who says,"when all men were of the same language, some began to build a most high tower, &c.''so Abydenus (z) an Heathen historian, speaking of the building of the tower of Babel, says,"at that time men were of the same tongue;''in like manner Hyginus (a), speaking of Phoroneus, the first of mortals, that reigned, says,"many ages before, men lived without towns and laws, "una lirgua loquentes", speaking one language, under the empire of Jove.''
Keil and Delitzsch Biblical Commentary on the Old Testament
"And the whole earth (i.e., the population of the earth, vid., Genesis 2:19) was one lip and one kind of words:" unius labii eorundemque verborum. The unity of language of the whole human race follows from the unity of its descent from one human pair (vid., Genesis 2:22). But as the origin and formation of the races of mankind are beyond the limits of empirical research, so no philology will ever be able to prove or deduce the original unity of human speech from the languages which have been historically preserved, however far comparative grammar may proceed in establishing the genealogical relation of the languages of different nations.
Barnes' Notes on the Bible
- The Confusion of Tongues
Clarke's Commentary on the Bible
The whole earth was of one language - The whole earth - all mankind was of one language, in all likelihood the Hebrew; and of one speech - articulating the same words in the same way. It is generally supposed, that after the confusion mentioned in this chapter, the Hebrew language remained in the family of Heber. The proper names, and their significations given in the Scripture, seem incontestable evidences that the Hebrew language was the original language of the earth - the language in which God spake to man, and in which he gave the revelation of his will to Moses and the prophets. "It was used," says Mr. Ainsworth, "in all the world for one thousand seven hundred and fifty-seven years, till Phaleg, the son of Heber, was born, and the tower of Babel was in building one hundred years after the flood, Genesis 10:25; Genesis 11:9. After this, it was used among the Hebrews or Jews, called therefore the Jews' language, Isaiah 36:11, until they were carried captive into Babylon, where the holy tongue ceased from being commonly used, and the mixed Hebrew (or Chaldee) came in its place." It cannot be reasonably imagined that the Jews lost the Hebrew tongue entirely in the seventy years of their captivity in Babylon; yet, as they were mixed with the Chaldeans, their children would of course learn that dialect, and to them the pure Hebrew would be unintelligible; and this probably gave rise to the necessity of explaining the Hebrew Scriptures in the Chaldee tongue, that the children might understand as well as their fathers. As we may safely presume the parents could not have forgotten the Hebrew, so we may conclude the children in general could not have learned it, as they did not live in an insulated state, but were mixed with the Babylonians. This conjecture removes the difficulty with which many have been embarrassed; one party supposing that the knowledge of the Hebrew language was lost during the Babylonish captivity, and hence the necessity of the Chaldee Targums to explain the Scriptures; another party insisting that this was impossible in so short a period as seventy years.
Geneva Study Bible
And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
11:1 And the whole earth was of one language - Now while they all understood one another, they would be the more capable of helping one another, and the less inclinable to separate.
King James Translators' Notes
language: Heb. lip.
speech: Heb. words
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
Ge 11:1-32. Confusion of Tongues.
Genesis 11:1 Parallel Commentaries
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible