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The Confusion of Tongues, and Dispersion of Mankind1.


1 AND the whole earth was of one *language, and of one A.C. 2234. + speech.

1 Our attention is now directed to an event, on which it has ever been more easy to write volumes than paragraphs. Though it is but briefly related by the sacred historian, its effects are still to be traced in the destinies of the sons of Noah, who even to this time retain the character impressed upon them at the time of the apostasy at Babel. They are still the sport of ambition and religious error. Separated by a variety of languages, which but for this event would not have existed; they seem by their numerous divisions to labour still under that curse, which was inflicted upon them as a punishment for their impious attempt to frustrate the decree of Providence, which had assigned to each of the principal families the boundaries of their inheritance.

That the whole world was of one language, and that their language was that of Noah and his three sons, is acknowledged by all: and Josephus informs us, that mankind long remained together as one family, inhabiting the tops of the mountains, in the country round Ararat. While they were thus united, it is likewise generally allowed, that their future destinations were assigned to them by Noah, speaking under the influence of divine inspiration. Moses mentions this division of the earth, (Deut. xxxii. 7, 8.) when the Israelites were in sight of the Holy Land, and reminds them, as of a thing well known, that Canaan had been from the beginning the lot of their inheritance.

So far then all are agreed. With respect to the emigration of mankind from Armenia, (for there, according to the best evidence, the ark rested), Mr. Bryant (with others) is of opinion, that some of the families of Noah dispersed in an orderly manner to their respective settlements. This was the first dispersion; and this event he supposes to be related in that most invaluable of all ancient records, the tenth chapter of Genesis. Other families were not, however, equally obedient to the divine will. The sons of Cush, under the command of Nimrod, marched off through the defiles of the lofty Tauric range; passed round the southern extremity of the Caspian Sea, and then turning to the south-west, reached the plain of Shinar. There they built the city and the tower of Babel. Thence they were dispersed by miracle, and scattered over the whole earth. The confusion of tongues, Mr. Bryant supposes, to have been merely the confu

Heb. lip. + Heb. words.


A.C. 2234.

* Or, east-
ward, as
chap. xiii. 11.

2 Sam. vi. 2.

with 1 Chron. xiii. 6.


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.

sion of the lip, or a change of pronunciation only. After this second dispersion, the Cuthim or Hammonians, as they were called, wandered over the earth; established their idolatry, which consisted chiefly of the worship of fire, and of the sun, with the arkite rites; carried every where science, arts, and commerce; conquered their brethren, planted flourishing colonies, and founded powerful kingdoms.

Mr. Faber supposes, that mankind continued in Armenia till after the death of Noah and his three sons; and endeavours to confirm this position by adopting the chronology of the Samaritan Pentateuch. In the year 559 after the deluge, according to this learned and ingenious author, the whole of the descendants of Noah, under the influence of Nimrod and the family of Cush, who had gradually obtained great influence among their brethren, moved in one large body from Armenia, and, following the course of the Euphrates, at length arrived in Shinar. At this place idolatry, which had insensibly commenced in Armenia, and proceeded till it had almost superseded the worship of the one true God, was perfected. As the human mind never tolerates any violent or sudden change in received and well confirmed opinions, the ancient idolatry is supposed to have originated in slow and imperceptible innovations, alterations, and perversions of the pure patriarchal religion; till it became a strange and monstrous compound of Demonolatry, Sabianism, Materialism, Polytheism, and cruelty. The outward forms of Patriarchism were studiously copied: even the doctrine of the Incarnation was perverted to hero worship: each of their ancestors who had been eminent or useful, was considered as an incarnation of the Deity; and there is abundant reason to believe, that the influence of Nimrod was obtained from this circumstance; that he assumed the title of "the Son;" he named himself, and was believed to be, the expected Incarnate, the angel Jehovah, who sometimes appeared to mankind.

Had this state of things continued, religion would have been again in danger of perishing from off the earth. Mankind continued at Shinar, Mr. Faber endeavours to prove, about seventy-one years. During this period, the whole body of mankind were divided into castes, under the influence of Nimrod, the Maha-Bad, or Maha-Bel, or the great Belus of the Hindoos; and every effort which human wisdom could contrive was exerted, to continue the influence of the sacerdotal, and military family of the Cuthim; and to perpetuate against the commands of God, the unholy union of a corrupt, and idolatrous empire.

While the tower, which they intended to be the monument of their glory, was still building, the true Incarnate, the angel Jehovah, appeared to them from heaven; overthrew their tower (according to general tradition) with thunders and lightnings; and confused their language, “so that they left off to build the city."

The Jewish writers believed that seventy-two languages were spoken upon the dispersion from Shinar, corresponding with the number of the heads of families. The learned Joseph Mede supposes there were but sixteen, corresponding with the heads of nations. Sir William Jones, however, seems to have demonstrated that three languages only succeeded to the one language spoken at Shi

3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make A.C. 2234. brick, and + burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.

Heb. a man said to his neighbour.

them to a


4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, Heb. burn 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.

nar: after this event, he is of opinion that the primitive language was entirely lost; others with great probability affirm, that the Hebrew was the primitive and sacred language.

Language was at first the gift of God. The various disquisitions of learned men, have proved that it could not have been the invention of man. It was given by miracle and inspiration.

As the primitive language was thus given, so the three languages to which, according to Sir William Jones, all the dialects of men are to be traced, were three underived, unconnected languages. All mankind is divided into three races, corresponding with the three languages. The three races are denominated by Sir William Jones (speaking generally) Hindoos, Arabs, and Tartars: the three languages, Sanscrit, Arabic, and Sclavonic.

The Indian race comprehends the ancient Persians; the Asiatic and African Ethiopians; the Greeks, Phenicians, Tuscans; the Scuths, or Goths; the Celts; the Chinese, Japanese, Egyptians, Syrians, Burmans, Romans, and Peruvians.

The language of the Indian race was Sanscrit; the parent of the Gothic and Celtic, though blended with another idiom, the Persian, the Armenian, and the old Ethiopic. Sanscrit too is undoubtedly the fountain of the Greek and Latin. The traditions of Homer are to be found in Sanscrit Poems; the idolatry of Greece and Rome was brought into those countries by the Pelasgi, who were but a branch of the Cuthic shepherds, whose language was Sanscrit.

The Arabic race comprehends those who occupy the country between the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf. From the Arabic spring the dialects used by the Jews, Arabs, and Assyrians.

The Tartar race comprehends those who occupy the wide regions of Tartary; who have spread themselves into Russia, Poland, and Hungary. Their language was the Sclavonic, from which originated, so far as Sir William Jones could decide, the various dialects of Northern Asia, and North Eastern Europe.

Bryant, Sir William Jones, and Mr. Faber, are thus more particularly mentioned, because they are not only the best, but the last, of the more eminent writers who have discussed this subject: and they are all intimately acquainted with the learned labours of their predecessors. Our knowledge of the circumstances of the dispersion, and of the manner in which Idolatry was established in the several countries where it most flourished has been much encreased by these authors; particularly by Mr. Faber. But the general conclusion at which they, and the earlier writers arrived, is the same: and the question is for ever set at rest, whether all the races of men were descended from one stock: the dark Negro, the white European, and the swarthy Asiatic, being plainly traced to their respective ancestors of the family of Noah. Vide Bryant's Analysis; Faber's Origin of Pagan Idolatry, chiefly B. 6; Papers of Sir Wm. Jones, in the three first volumes of the Asiatic Researches; Mede; Lightfoot; Stillingfleet.

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