Have you ever had an “Ah ha!” or a “Eureka!” moment where something that has always baffled you finally made sense?
I had that experience while reading about the Tower of Babel in the Bible. As a kid, I was told the story a certain way and I always believed it; but as an adult, I started to have questions. Stop laughing Leo! (Leo is a man I work with who always kids me about my many questions.) Anyways…
I was told that God kept telling the people to be fruitful, multiply and fill the earth. They had no problem with the being fruitful and multiplying part, but they didn’t want to move. They kind of liked it in Babylon. If fact, they thumbed their nose at God and decided they didn’t need Him. They would build a tower and just walk right on into heaven by their little ol’ lonesomes.
Well, God had a plan and He has a timetable too. He kept telling them to fill the earth and they wouldn’t, so he came down to earth and confused their language; meaning that now instead of everyone having the same language, they all had different languages and couldn’t communicate. The building of the tower ceased and the people spread out on their own. I’m guessing the people speaking French ended up in what is now called France and the people speaking German ended up where Germany is, etc.
It could have happened that way, but that doesn’t explain what happened hundreds of years ago. When the explorers went out to look for other lands, they found North America and there were already people there. Lots of them! Hundreds of tribes all over the continent. I started to ask questions. How did they get there? One explanation I received was that people crossed over on the Bering Straits when it was frozen. Okay, but…
Why weren’t they speaking Russian, Greek, Hebrew or Latin, etc.? They were speaking their own languages – not one that already existed. Again, my questions.
One answer I got was that languages change and evolve over time. I agree with that. I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s. No one says groovy or far-out any more. Also, we still speak English but it is far different than the English that Shakespeare spoke.
That explanation might explain people living in North America and even Central and South America, but what about Australia and all the islands in the Pacific and Atlantic? How did people get there? And they had their own languages!
Finally, one day, I had my “Ah ha!” or “Eureka!” moment. I had always been told that God confused their language and caused them to scatter. That means they scattered on their own because they couldn’t understand each other. However, one day, I noticed something I never noticed before. I don’t know if I was reading a different translation, finally paying attention or if God decided I had wondered long enough and He opened my eyes, but I noticed that the translation I was reading said “So the lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth.” The word “caused” was not in there. That one little word changed the whole meaning of the story. One little mistake in a translation can cause so-called “contradictions” and misunderstandings in the Bible.
Wow! Now everything made sense. Every continent and big island was already occupied with people with their own languages when the explorers went out and ‘discovered’ these lands because God put them there a long time ago. What’s also interesting is that all these people, even though they didn’t have God’s written word, believed in good and evil spirits. They also believed in a God or gods. The Native Americans tell of their ancestors having visions and of a Great Spirit. God made us all and loves all of us. Even though He scattered people all over the earth, He kept communicating with all of them through chosen people, just like He did with the Israelites.
Amazing. I have questions; many, many of them, but I don’t let that stop me from believing in the Bible. God gave us His Word in complete truth. Now, man has been translating it and sometimes people make mistakes; and, unfortunately, some people intentionally translate the Bible wrong to make it fit their beliefs and agendas. When in doubt, go right to the source. Ask God to give you understanding and help you to find the answers. He will answer you when the time is right.
I love searching the Bible and finding little gems to answer some of my questions. Often, I just think of 100 more to replace those questions, but that’s not a bad thing. It keeps me searching, reading and discovering; and that makes the Bible a book that never gets boring.
God’s Word is still pretty groovy, if you ask me!