Genesis 11:7
Parallel Verses
New American Standard Bible
"Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another's speech."

King James Bible
Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.

Darby Bible Translation
Come, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.

World English Bible
Come, let's go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another's speech."

Young's Literal Translation
Give help, let us go down, and mingle there their pronunciation, so that a man doth not understand the pronunciation of his companion.'

Genesis 11:7 Parallel
Commentary
Barnes' Notes on the Bible

Here is announced the means by which the defiant spirit of concentration is to be defeated. From this and the previous verse we learn that the lip, and not the stock of words, is the part of language which is to be affected, and hence, perceive the propriety of distinguishing these two in the introductory statement. To confound, is to introduce several kinds, where before there was only one; and so in the present case to introduce several varieties of form, whereas language was before of one form. Hence, it appears that the one primitive tongue was made manifold by diversifying the law of structure, without interfering with the material of which it was composed. The bases or roots of words are furnished by instinctive and evanescent analogies between sounds and things, on which the etymological law then plays its part, and so vocables come into existence. Thus, from the root "fer," we get "fer, ferre, ferens, fert, ferebat, feret, ferat, ferret;" φέρε phere, φέρειν pherein, φέρων pherōn, φέει pherei, ἔφερε ephere, φέρῃ pherē, φέροι pheroi, etc.; ברה perēh, ברה pāroh, פרהo poreh, שפרה pārâh, יפרה yı̂preh, etc., according to the formative law of each language.

It is evident that some roots may become obsolete and so die out, while others, according to the exigencies of communication and the abilities of the speaker, may be called into existence in great abundance. But whatever new words come into the stock, are made to comply with the formative law which regulates the language of the speaker. This law has been fixed as the habitude of his mind, from which he only deviates on learning and imitating some of the formative processes of another tongue. In the absence of any other language, it is not conceivable that he should on any account alter this law. To do so would be to rebel against habit without reason, and to put himself out of relation with the other speakers of the only known tongue.

The sacred writer does not care to distinguish the ordinary from the extraordinary in the procedure of Divine Providence, inasmuch as he ascribes all events to the one creating, superintending, and administering power of God. Yet there is something beyond nature here. We can understand and observe the introduction of new words into the vocabulary of man as often as the necessity of designating a new object or process calls the naming faculty into exercise. But the new word, whether a root or not, if engrafted into the language, invariably obeys the formative law of the speech into which it is admitted. A nation adds new words to its vocabulary, but does not of itself, without external influence, alter the principle on which they are formed. Here, then, the divine interference was necessary, if the uniform was ever to become multiform. And accordingly this is the very point in which the historian marks the interposition of the Almighty.

Philologists have distinguished three or four great types or families of languages. The first of these was the Shemitic or Hebrew family. It is probable that most of the Shemites spoke dialects of this well-defined type of human speech. Aram (the Syrians), Arpakshad, (the Hebrews and Arabs), and Asshur (the Assyrians), certainly did so. Elam (Elymais), succumbed first to the Kushite race (Κίσσιοι Kissioi, Κοσσαῖοι Kossaioi) and afterward to the Persian, and so lost its language and its individuality among the nations. Lud (the Lydians) was also overrun by other nationalities. But this type of language was extended beyond the Shemites to the Kenaanites and perhaps some other Hamites. It includes the language of the Old Testament.

The second family of languages has been variously designated Japhetic, Indo-Germanic, Indo-European and Arian. It is spoken by the great bulk of the descendants of Japheth, and embraces a series of cognate modes of communication, extending from India to the various European colonies of America. It includes Greek, the tongue of the New Testament.

A third class, including the Kushite (Babylonian), Egyptian, and other African languages, has been termed Hamitic. Some of its stocks have affinities both with the Shemitic and Japhetic families.

It is probable that the congeries of unclassed languages (Allophylian, Sporadic, Turanian), including even the Chinese tongues, have relations more or less intimate with one or other of these three tolerably definite families. But the science of comparative philology is only approaching the solution of its final problem, the historical or natural relationship of all the languages of the world. It is evident, however, that the principle of classification is not so much the amount of roots in common, as the absence or presence of a given form. The diversity in the matter may be brought about by assignable natural causes; but the diversity in the form can only arise from a preternatural impulse. Forms may wear off; but they do not pass from one constituent law to another without foreign influence. The speech of a strong and numerous race may gradually overbear and annihilate that of a weak one; and in doing so may adopt many of its words, but by no means its form. So long as a national speech retains any of its forms, they continue to be part of that special type by which it is characterized.

Hence, we perceive that the interposition of Providence in confounding the lip of mankind, is the historical solution of the enigma of philology; the existence of diversity of language at the same time with the natural persistency of form and the historical unity of the human race. The data of philology, indicating that the form is the side of language needing to be touched in order to produce diversity, coincide also with the facts here narrated. The preternatural diversification of the form, moreover, marks the order amid variety which prevailed in this great revolution of mental habitude. It is not necessary to suppose that seventy languages were produced from one at the very crisis of this remarkable change, but only the few generic forms that sufficed to effect the divine purpose, and by their interaction to give origin to all subsequent varieties of language or dialect. Nor are we to imagine that the variant principles of formation went into practical development all at once, but only that they started a process which, in combination with other operative causes, issued in all the diversities of speech which are now exhibited in the human race.

That they may not understand one another's lip. - This is the immediate result of diversifying the formative law of human speech, even though the material elements were to remain much the same as before. Further results will soon appear.

Genesis 11:7 Parallel Commentaries

Library
He Does Battle for the Faith; He Restores Peace among those who were at Variance; He Takes in Hand to Build a Stone Church.
57. (32). There was a certain clerk in Lismore whose life, as it is said, was good, but his faith not so. He was a man of some knowledge in his own eyes, and dared to say that in the Eucharist there is only a sacrament and not the fact[718] of the sacrament, that is, mere sanctification and not the truth of the Body. On this subject he was often addressed by Malachy in secret, but in vain; and finally he was called before a public assembly, the laity however being excluded, in order that if it were
H. J. Lawlor—St. Bernard of Clairvaux's Life of St. Malachy of Armagh

The Book of the First Generations of Man, and the Glory of the Cainites.
I. THE BOOK OF THE FIRST GENERATIONS OF MAN, AND THE GLORY OF THE CAINITES. A. THE BOOK OF THE FIRST GENERATIONS OF MAN. 1. The reasons why Moses records the generations of Adam 1. 2. Why he so particularly gives the years, and in the case of each patriarch adds "and he died" 1-2. 3. Why Enoch is placed in the records of the dead 3-4. * Was Enoch a sinner, and do sinners have hope of eternal life 4. * Of death. a. How we are to comfort ourselves against death 5. b. How reason views death, and how
Martin Luther—Commentary on Genesis, Vol. II

Cross References
Genesis 1:26
Then God said, "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."

Genesis 42:23
They did not know, however, that Joseph understood, for there was an interpreter between them.

Exodus 4:11
The LORD said to him, "Who has made man's mouth? Or who makes him mute or deaf, or seeing or blind? Is it not I, the LORD?

Deuteronomy 28:49
"The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, as the eagle swoops down, a nation whose language you shall not understand,

Isaiah 33:19
You will no longer see a fierce people, A people of unintelligible speech which no one comprehends, Of a stammering tongue which no one understands.

Jeremiah 5:15
"Behold, I am bringing a nation against you from afar, O house of Israel," declares the LORD. "It is an enduring nation, It is an ancient nation, A nation whose language you do not know, Nor can you understand what they say.

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