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words is that of unity of counsel and mon Jarchi explains the words by say. purpose; that the builders of Babel in ing “They entered into the same counthe outset of their undertaking not only sel. A still farther confirmation of this had a common language, but presented sense is drawn from the term (330 the very spectacle of union to which, palag) applied in ch. 10. 25, to this event Paul exhorts the Corinthians, Cor. 1. and of which we have before remarked 10, 'Now I beseech you, brethren, by that it is distinctly paralleled in Ps. 55. the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, 10, ‘Destroy, O Lord, and divide their that ye all speak the same thing, and tongues ;' i. e. distract their counsels. that there be no divisions among you; The view now given of the writer's but that ye be perfectly joined together meaning appears amply accordant with in the same mind and in the same the declared design of heaven in effect. judgment;' and that the confusion con- ing the event. This was to cause a sisted in breaking up this concord and dispersion of the multitudes congregasplitting the multitude into various ted at Babylon; an end which did not contending factions which could no require for its accomplishment the inlonger cooperate together, but were stantaneous formation of new lanobliged to separate and disperse them-guages, but simply such a confusion in selves in different directions over the the utterance of the old, as should natearth ; thus bringing about the very urally lead to misapprehension, discord, purpose of heaven which they had con- and division. The dialectic discrepanspired to defeat. In support of this cies, however, thus originating, though interpretation he appeals to the usage perhaps not very great at first, would of the sacred writers in a number of become gradually more and more passages in which this sense of the marked, as men became more widely terms appears to be involved, particu- separated from each other, and by the larly as it respects the latter 07927 influence of climate, laws, customs, rewords. The office of words is to ex- ligion, and various other causes, till they press the inward thoughts, feelings, finally issued in substantially different and purposes of the speaker ; and to languages. As this is the simplest, 80 say that a company of men were all it is perhaps the most rational account of one kind of words seems equivalent of the confusion of tongues at Babel, to saying that they were all unanimous an event in regard to which historically in their counsels. A somewhat similar considered, it is probable there will almode of diction occurs in other passa- ways adhere some points of obscurity ges. Thus Josh. 9. 2, "They gathered to task and to baffle the researches of themselves together to fight with Josh- the learned. ua and with Israel, with one accord 2. As they journeyed from the East. (Heb. 774 75 with one mouth).' Ex. Heb. Dydia in their breakings-up, or 24. 3, 'And all the people answered removings. The term is peculiar, bewith one voice (777* 370 kol ahad, i. e. ing almost exclusively applied to that nnanimously), and said,' &c. So also kind of progress which is made by 1 Kings, 22. 13. This view of the wri- Nomadic hordes as they alternately ter's meaning we cannot but regard as pitch and strike their tents, and slowly highly plausible, and it is one decidedly advance with their flocks and herdą favoured by several of the ancient par- from one region to another. The idea aphrasts. Thus the Jerusalem Targum, usually attached to the English term And all the inhabitants of the earth to journey,' implying a more or less were of one language, one discourse, rapid passage from one place to anothand the same counsel. Thus too Solo-Ter, and that for a set purpose, is altogether foreign to the genuine sense of the the sea, unless for special reasons they original.—Commentators have found had been induced to take up their residifficulty in satisfactorily accounting dence in some suitable intervening counfor the use of the phrase 'from the try. And that this was the case in the East in this connection. As the moun- present instance is the express assertains of Armenia on which the ark is tion of the text. They stayed their supposed to have rested, are situated to course in the plains of Shinar. Now the north of Babylonia, it might have the country of Armenia, in some part been supposed that the direction said to of which the mountains of Ararat were have been travelled would have been situated, consists of two principal valsouthward instead of westward. To leys or plains of inclination, viz. that this it has been considered by some suf- of the Araxes towards the north and ficient to reply, that Moses may here the east, and that of the Euphrates tohave spoken of these localities in a gen- wards the south and the west; into one eral manner, in reference to the coun- or the other of which flow all the try in which he wrote; from which as streams of the country. In their deShinar lay to the east, and the moun- scent into the plain country, therefore, tains of Ararat were probably conceived the emigrants must have arrived, soonsomewhat vaguely by him to lie stiller or later, on the banks of one of these more remote in the same direction, he two rivers, and they would naturally might have said, without designing to have followed its course downwards, observe strict topographical accuracy, until they reached the point of their that they journeyed from the East. adopted residence. That it was not But we think a still more probable solu- the Araxes on whose banks the compation may be given free from such an ny arrived is clear, the course of that apparent conflict with the letter of the river being not from the east but from text. It is a fact which will scarcely the west ; so that by following its be questioned, that, at all times, popu- stream. they would have been led, not lation has extended into every country, into a plain, but into the mountainous in the first instance, along the courses country of Azerbijan, and ere long to of its rivers. The cause of this is the the banks of the Caspian. It would facility of passage, and the ready means seem therefore that the Noachidæ could of subsistence which are afforded by not have done otherwise than reach the banks of the rivers and the country the banks of the Euphrates, and foladjacent. Wherever, in the present low the course of that river downwards; day, newly-discovered countries are and one has only to look at a map of colonized, we observe the population Asia to see that the direction of the and the cultivation of the land extend- Euphrates, that is, of its eastern branch ing into the interior along the lines of the Morad, or eastern Phrat, is for a the rivers. Regarding Noah and his great distance almost directly from the sons then in the same light as we east,' from its source to the point where should regard any of their posterity, if it turns abruptly to the southward; placed in like circumstances, we may whence passing through a break in the assume, that they descended from the chain of Mount Maurus, it pours its place where the ark rested into the val waters into the plains of Mesopotamia. ley-regions below, and following the Viewed in this light the historian's course of some stream which they words are perfectly reconciled with gewould naturally meet with (as a val- ographical verity, even though it be ley generally supposes a stream), they admitted that the sojourners afterwards would in process of time have reached Itnrned, with the course of the river, to
3 And they said one to anoth-had brick for stone, and slime had er, Go to, let us make brick, and they for mortar. burn them thoroughly. And they
the south-east. Now the Agridagh particular locality in that chain will before mentioned, ch. 8. 4, as is well absolutely answer to the above descripknown, stands in the valley of the tion. Araxes; and is further cut off from all 3. Go to. A mere hortatory inter communication with the Euphrates, by jection equivalent to our idiom 'Come, an intermediate chain of mountains, let us' do so and so.—1 Let us make and also by a tributary of the former brick, and burn them thoroughly. Heb. river. Its claims, therefore, to the hon-1170923 1972. burn them to u'burnour of being regarded as the place where ing. The practical remark of Calvin the ark rested after the flood are far on these words is peculiarly appropriinferior to those of some elevation with-ate. Moses would ir.timate that they in the plain of inclination drained by were not prompted to the work by the the Euphrates. This precise spou it is facilities that offered themselves; but now indeed difficult, if not impossible, that they were disposed to contend with to identify. But that such a situation great and arduous obstacles-a circumwas chosen for its resting-place as was stance that went to enhance the greatbest suited to accomplish the endsness of the crime. For how could it of the Most High in regard to the fu- be that they should thus wear and ex. ture settlement of the earth, is an infer- haust themselves in this laborious enence which we cannot well help draw- terprise, unless because they had set ing from the tenor of the whole narra- themselves in a frenzied opposition to tive. It is not difficult to suggest a God? Difficulty often deters us from number of reasons to show that the necessary works; but they, without land of Shinar was the centre stones or mortar, do not scruple to atwhence a thorough and entire distribu- tempt an edifice that should transcend tion of the human race over the face of the clouds! Their example teaches us the whole earth could be most readily to what lengths ambition will urge men and conveniently made; and as the val- who give way to their unhallowed lustley of the Euphrates was the route ings.'-As to the material itself it is which, of all others, was the best suited notorious that stone quarries are and to conduct the founders of post-diluvi- ever have been utterly unknown an society to the place so peculiarly fit throughout the whole region of Babyted for their subsequent dispersion, we lon while the soil, even to this day, is are warranted in supposing that the remarkably well fitted for making brick stranding of the ark occurred at some and abounds with bitumen, both solid spot in the vicinity of that valley and liquid, to a degree unparalleled in whence the descent was easy and free any other quarter of the globe. "The from the immense difficulties that must soil of ancient Assyria and Babylon,' have impeded the passage down the says Mr. Keppel, (Travels in the East, declivities of the lofty Agridagh. Some p. 73.) consists of a fine clay mixed with part of the range of the Taurus along sand, with which, as the waters of the which the Euphrates runs would seem river retire, the shores are covered. This to include the spot likely to fulfil this compost when dried by the heat of the condition; but only by personal inves- sun, becomes a hard and solid mass tigation can it be determined what land forms the finest materials for the
4 And they said, Go to, let us / en; and let us make us a name, build is a city, and a tower, lest we be scattered abroad upon * whose top may reach unto heav- the face of the whole earth.
a Deut. 1. 28.
beautiful bricks for which Babylon was the most inflammable of known min80 celebrated. We all put to the test erals. In its most fluid state it forms the adaptation of this mud for pottery, naphtha ; and in its most solid, asphalby taking some of it while wet, from tum, the word by which the Septuagint the bank of the river and then mould- renders the Heb. man hhemar, the ing it into any form we pleased. Hav- term answering to slime' in our transing been exposed to the sun for half an lation. It is usually of a blackish or hour it became as hard as stone'. So brown hue and hardens more or less firm and durable were these bricks, that on exposure to the air. Herodotus the remains of ancient walls which states that the Babylonians derived have been thrown down for centuries, their supplies of this substance from a have withstood the effect of the atmos- | place called Is, the modern Hit, a small phere to the present day, and still re- mud-walled town inhabited by Arabs tain the inscriptions with which they and Jews on the western bank of the were impressed--a species of arrow- river. In its present state, the princiheaded character, which has of late pal bitumen pit has two compartments greatly excited the attention of the divided by a wall, on one side of which learned. "The text will be best under- bitumen bubbles up and oil of naphtha stood by observing what materials are on the other. As it requires to be employed in those masses of ruin which, boiled with a certain proportion of oil whether belonging to the original city before it can be used as a cement it is and tower or not, are undoubtedly not much employed in building at the among the most ancient remains in present day. The inhabitants of that the world. These bricks are of two region make use either of pure clay or sorts, one dried in the sun, the other mud for mortar, or certain kinds of calburnt by the fire. When any consid-careous earth found in great abundance erable degree of thickness was required, in the desert west of the Euphrates. the practice in the Babyloni
4. And they said, Go to. We have tures seems to have been, to form the here, if we mistake not, an instance of mass with sun-dried bricks, and then that trajection, or inverted order which invest it with a case of burnt bricks. is of such perpetual occurrence in HeThe ruins exhibit evident traces of this brew. As they would naturally counmode of construction, although, in the sel first respecting building the city becourse of ages, the external covering of fore they thought of making bricks for burnt bricks has been taken away for the purpose, it cannot well be doubted use in building. - Slime had they that the verb here should be rendered for mortar. Or more properly, “bitu- | in the pluperfect tense; ‘For they had men had they for cement;' as the said,' &c. - Let us build us a city word in this place undoubtedly denotes and a tower, whose top may reach unto that remarkable mineral pitch to which heaven, &c. Heb. 202 28 77 and the name of bitumen is given, and his heud in the reavens. A common which is supposed to have been formed hyperbolical expression denoting an in the earth from the decomposition of exceedingly high tower—a sense that animal and vegetable substances. It is exonerates the builders from the imputed stupidity of attempting to scale the the tops of the mountains. Nor is heavens. Such phrases are found there any sufficient evidence that it in every language and their meaning was designed as an idol's temple or a can scarcely be mistaken. In the sa- mere monument of architectural skill cred writers they occur repeatedly. like the pyramids of Egypt. The words Thus when the messengers whom Mo- clearly show that their primary object ses employed to espy out the land of was to transmit a name illustrious for Canaan returned and made their report, grand design and bold undertaking to they described the cities which they succeeding generations. In this sense had visited as 'great and walled up to the phrase 'to make one's self a name,' heaven;' and Moses himself in his is used elsewhere in the Scriptures. farewell address to the nation Deut. 9. Thus 'David gat him a name when he 1, repeats it; 'Hear, O Israel, thou returned from smiting the Syrians in art to pass over Jordan this day to go the valley of Salt,' 2 Sam. 8. 13; and in to possess nations greater and might- the prophet informs us Is. 63. 12, that ier than thyself, cities great and fenced the God of Israel 'led them by the up to heaven ;' implying simply that right hand of Moses with his glorious the walls of those cities were uncom- arm dividing the waters before them to monly strong and lofty. It can scarce- make to himself an everlasting name.' ly be doubted that the ancient heathen But in connection with this they seem fable of the attempt of the giants to also to have cherished the design of climb the heavens owes its origin to founding a uuiversal monarchy of some distorted traditions relative to which Babel was to be the metropolis, this fact. The memory of the design and to which all the families of the earth of the builders of Babel being handed were to be in subjection. As a tower down, in its native boldness of express is but another name for a citadel, or sion, to nations unacquainted with the place of defence, the project appears Mosaic history and with eastern lan-evidently to have had reference to some guage, who were also fond of the mar- warlike movements, such as they vellous and skilful in fable, would very should deem necessary for defending naturally give rise to the story of the themselves against insurrections and Titans' war with heaven and the dis- enforcing the despotism which they comfiture which followed. Let us proposed to establish. For the mere make us a name, lest, &c. A variety purpose of preventing dispersion it is of fanciful conjectures as to the real not easy to see how such a building design of this erection is cut off by this should have been required. Again, as plain declaration of the inspired page. this event in all probability took place It could not have been, as Josephus in the life-time of Nimrod, the first inand others suppose, to guard against a dividual who is recorded to have aspired future flood; for this would have need to dominion over his fellow-men, and ed no divine interposition to prevent its as it is expressly said of him that the having effect. God knew his own in- beginning of his kingdom was Babel, tention never to drown the world any nothing is more natural than to supmore; and if it had been otherwise, or pose that he was the leader in this darif they, froin a disbelief of his promise, ing enterprise, and that it was in great had been disposed to provide against it, measure a scheme of his for obtaining they would not have been so foolish as the mastery of the world. A grasping to build for this purpose upon a plain, for universal dominion has been charwhen the highest tower they could acteristic of almost all the great na. raise would have have been far below I tions and conquerors of the earth in