The Tower of Babel 巴别塔

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在挪亚时代,因为人们是如此的罪恶和败坏,上帝用洪水淹没了整个地球。之后,挪亚的整个家庭的人数不断增长,他们的后代也越来越有活动能力。然而在挪亚的后裔中不乏渴望有上帝一样权力的人。很快,那些贪婪的人们很快就要把人们带回到洪水前的情况了。

那时,天下人的口音,言语,都是一样。他们往东边迁移的时候,在示拿地遇见一片平原,就住在那里。(创世记11:1~2)

自从人们懂得了如何建造,他们就决定建造一座城,在城里要建造一座塔,通到天上去。这样就可以传扬他们的名,也把众人聚集起来。

他们说,来吧,我们要建造一座城和一座塔,塔顶通天,为要传扬我们的名,免得我们分散在全地上。耶和华降临,要看看世人所建造的城和塔。(传世纪11:4~5)

上帝已经明白这些人的目的,以祂无穷的智慧祂知道,这个通天的塔只会使人们离弃上帝。

耶和华说,看哪,他们成为一样的人民,都是一样的言语,如今既作起这事来,以后他们所要作的事就没有不成就的了。我们下去,在那里变乱他们的口音,使他们的言语彼此不通。于是,耶和华使他们从那里分散在全地上。他们就停工,不造那城了。因为耶和华在那里变乱天下人的言语,使众人分散在全地上,所以那城名叫巴别(就是变乱的意思)。

上帝就变乱他们本来所说的同一种语言,各人开始讲不同的语言,以致他们都不懂别人在讲什么。这么一来,上帝就阻止了他们的计划。上帝也没有将祂的愤怒如以前祂所做的那样用洪水降灾给人们,上帝就把人们打撒到地球的各地。

这就使世界上有那么多的语言、不同国家的文化,分散在世界的各地,各人讲不同的话,一直到如今。这个故事教导了我们一个重要的功课,就是顺从上帝是最重要的,不要以为我们可以依靠自己的力量,而建立一个没有上帝的生活境界。

根据小约翰奥雷,现在世界上大约有6912种不同的语言。一般的理论认为,因为迁移才造成语言的不同,但是圣经告诉我们,人们的迁移是从巴别塔的时候,上帝使用了祂的大能改变了人们的语言。

所有这一些都引导我们来深思一个问题:为什么世界上的每一种语言都是那么完善?甚至在很原始文化的部落里,他们的语言里都包括抽象名词,诸如:零、无穷、数字、不存在 (人不是无限的)、连接词(祂创造了绵羊和山羊)、转折词(他取了马,但是没有拿骆驼),等等。语言是随着时间而发展的,因此语言学家认为,语言是环境改变的产物。但是这样的解释却与巴别塔的记载不合。


讨论问题:

  1. 当时为什么他们要造那个塔?

  2. 在那个时候有几种语言?

  3. 根据圣经,在他们建造这个塔之前,发生了什么大事?

  4. 为什么上帝决定让人使用不同的语言和到世界各地居住?

  5. 对于你自己的语言,你是否知道是怎么产生的?

  6. 对于这个故事,你有什么问题?

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God had already flooded the earth during Noah’s time because of how sinful and corrupted mankind had become. In the time after the great flood, Noah’s sons and their families began to grow in size and quickly became powerful in passing generations. Still, there were certain individuals who craved having power like God. It was not long before this greed and lust for power began to corrupt the people once more as it had before the flood.

At one time, the whole Earth spoke the same language. It so happened that as they moved out of the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled down. (Genesis 11:1-2)

Since the people of the earth had become skilled in construction, they decided to build a city with a tower that would reach to heaven. By building the tower, they wanted to make a name for themselves and also prevent the people from being scattered.

They said to one another, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower that reaches Heaven. Let’s make ourselves famous so we won’t be scattered here and there across the Earth.”

God came down to look over the city and the tower those people had built. (Genesis 11:4-5)

God perceived their intentions, and in His infinite wisdom, He knew this "stairway to heaven" would only lead the people away from Him.

God took one look and said, “One people, one language; why, this is only a first step. No telling what they’ll come up with next- they’ll stop at nothing! Come, we’ll go down and garble their speech so they won’t understand each other.” Then God scattered them from there all over the world. And they had to quit building the city. That’s how it came to be called Babel, because there God turned their language into “babble.” From there God scattered them all over the world. (Genesis 11:6-9)

When God confused everyone who spoke this one language, it caused them to speak many different languages so they would not understand each other. By doing this, God thwarted their plans. Instead of sending down His wrath like He had done before with the great flood, God decided to scatter the people of the city all over the face of the earth.

As a result, there are many different languages and cultures native to countries scattered around the world. Speaking different languages separates people to this day. This story is a powerful reminder of how important it is to obey God and to not think that we can build a successful but godless life on our own! 

About 6,912 distinct languages exist in the world today, according to John Oller, Jr. Standard theories argue that languages change when people are separated, but the Bible teaches that people were separated at Babel because God miraculously changed the common language. 

All this points us to a deeper question. Why is language such an integral part of every community on earth? Even the most primitive cultures in the world have complex language systems with abstract ideas such as zero, infinity, numbers, negation (“men are not immortal”), conjunction (“he made the sheep and the goats”), and disjunction (“he took the horse but left the camel”). Because languages naturally do change over time, linguists generally suppose that all of today’s languages were produced by changes that we see going on around us now. However, that explanation hits the wall, and fails, at the Tower of Babel.


Discussion Questions

  1. Why did the people want to build a tower?

  2. How many languages were spoken at that time?

  3. What other major event occurred before this story (according to the Bible)?

  4. Why does God decide to scatter the people and confuse their languages?

  5. What do you know from learning about the origin of your native language?

  6. What questions about this story do you have?

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