Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Confounded Language! --Genesis 11:7

"Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech."

This confounding did not consist of splitting one language into multiple languages, and thus rendering only small groups comprehensible to each other. When the Gods confounded the language, it was by replacing the pure Adamic language with a more fallen one, which failed to reliably express meaning the way the old language had. And to this very day, our language is still such that two people speaking the same language often only believe that they are actually understanding one another.

(I have a strong testimony of at least the last sentence of this midrash.)


  1. Wasn't it George Bernard Shaw that said the greatest problem with communication is the illusion that it had been achieved?

    I like your take on the confounding of languages.


  2. I am still thinking about this. Described this way, the confounding of languages is almost like a second Fall. In the first, people lost the ability to communicate directly with God. To overcome that, we must draw close enough to Him to communicate effectively with Him. In the confounding of languages, people lost the ability to understand one another readily. To overcome that, we must become close enough to one another that we can understand and be understood.

    Sheila (yes, again)

  3. Wow. I think you're onto something there. Maybe part of the importance of charity/love is that it's the most reliable way to communicate.

    Thanks for the comment!



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