“Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.”
King James Version (KJV)
11:7 Go to, let us go down and there confound their language - This was not spoken to the angels, as if God needed either their advice or their assistance, but God speaks it to himself, or the Father to the Son and Holy Ghost. That they may not understand one another's speech - Nor could they well join hands when their tongues were divided: so that this was a proper means, both to take them off from their building, for if they could not understand one another, they could not help one another; and to dispose them to scatter, for when they could not understand one another, they could not enjoy one another. Accordingly three things were done, Their language was confounded. God, who when he made man taught him to speak, now made those builders to forget their former language; and to speak a new one, which yet was the same to those of the same tribe or family, but not to others: those of one colony could converse together, but not with those of another. We all suffer hereby to this day: in all the inconveniences we sustain by the diversity of languages, and all the trouble we are at to learn the languages we have occasion for, we smart for the rebellion of our ancestors at Babel; nay, and those unhappy controversies, which are strifes of words, and arise from our misunderstanding of one another's languages, for ought I know, are owing to this confusion of tongues. The project of some to frame an universal character in order to an universal language, how desirable soever it may seem, yet I think is but a vain thing for it is to strive against a divine sentence, by which the languages of the nations will be divided while the world stands. We may here lament the loss of the universal use of the Hebrew tongue, which from henceforth was the vulgar language of the Hebrews only, and continued so till the captivity in Babylon, where, even among them, it was exchanged for the Syriac. As the confounding of tongues divided the children of men, and scattered them abroad, so the gift of tongues bestowed upon the Apostles, #Acts 2:4 |- 11, contributed greatly to the gathering together of the children of God, which were scattered abroad, and the uniting of them in Christ, that with one mind and mouth they might glorify God, #Rom 15:6|. (The imagination of a late writer, that God did not confound their tongues, but their religious worship, is grounded on criticisms concerning the meaning of the Hebrew word, which are absolutely false. Beside, would God confound their religious worship? Surely, He is a God of order, and not of confusion. Their building was stopped, they left off to build the city - This was the effect of the confusion of their tongue's; for it not only disabled them from helping one another, but probably struck a damp upon their spirits, since they saw the hand of the Lord gone out against them. The builders were scattered abroad from thence upon the face of the whole earth - They departed in companies after their families and after their tongues, #Gen 10:5|,20,31, to the several countries and places allotted to them in the division that had been made, which they knew before, but would not go to take possession of, 'till now they were forced to it. Observe The very thing which they feared came upon them; that dispersion which they thought to evade. That it was God's work; the Lord scattered them; God's hand is to be acknowledged in all scattering providences; if the family be scattered, relations scattered, churches scattered, it is the Lord's doing. That they left behind them a perpetual memorandum of their reproach in the name given to the place; it was called Babel, confusion. The children of men were now finally scattered, and never will come all together again 'till the great day. when the Son of Man shall sit upon the throne of his glory, and all nations shall be gathered before him, #Mt 25:31|,32.