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Bible Dictionaries

Charles Buck Theological Dictionary

Confusion of Tongues

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A memorable event which happened in the one hundred and first year, according to the Hebrew chronology, and the four hundred and first year by the Samaritan, after the flood, at the overthrow of Babel, Genesis 11:1-32 : Until this period there had been but one common language, which formed a bond of union that prevented the separation of mankind into distinct nations. Writers have differed much as to the nature of this confusion, and the manner in which it was effected. Some think that no new languages were formed; but that this event was accomplished by creating a misunderstanding and variance among the builders without any immediate influence on their language; and that a distinction is to be made between confounding a language and forming new ones. Others account for this event by the privation of all language, and by supposing that mankind were under a necessity of associating together, and of imposing new names on things by common consent.

Some, again, ascribe the confusion to such an indistinct remembrance of the original language which they spoke before, as made them speak it very differently: but the most common, opinion is, that God caused the builders actually to forget their former language, and each family to speak a new tongue; whence originated the various languages at present in the world. It is, however, but of little consequence to know precisely how this was effected, as the Scriptures are silent as to the manner of it; and after all that can be said, it is but conjecture still. There are some truths, however, we may learn from this part of sacred writ.

1. It teaches us God's sovereignty and power, by which he can easily blast the greatest attempts of men to aggrandize themselves, Genesis 11:1-32 .

2. God's justice in punishing of those who, in idolizing their own fame, forget him to whom praise is due. ver. 4.

3. God's wisdom in overruling evil for good; for by this confusion he facilitated the dispersion of mankind, in order to execute his own purposes, ver.8, 9.

See Henry and Gill in loc. Stillingfleet's Orig. Sac. 1. 3: 100: 5: $2-4; Shuckford's con. vol. 1: p. 124-140; Vitringa's Obs. vol. 1: diss. 1.c.ix. LeClerc's Diss. No. 6: Hutchinson on the Confusion of Tongues; Bp. Law's Theory of Religion, p.66.

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Bibliography Information
Buck, Charles. Entry for 'Confusion of Tongues'. Charles Buck Theological Dictionary. https://www.studylight.org/dictionaries/eng/cbd/c/confusion-of-tongues.html. 1802.

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