What Happened at Babel?

When a person thinks about Babel, they almost always think about language. 


language families throughout the world
Figure 1. Colors/shading reflect the many distinct language families throughout the world.

There were Earth-changing events that preceded Babel that need to be understood. Let us consider the Seven C's of history: 1

  1. Creation: God created in six days and everything was perfect; then He rested for a day.
  2. Corruption: the fall from perfection due to sin
  3. Catastrophe: Noah’s Flood is the origin of most fossil layers.
  4. Confusion: The rebellion at Babel is key to understanding the world today.
  5. Christ: The Creator became a man, our “Kinsman Redeemer.”
  6. Cross: Christ’s resurrection shows He has conquered death.
  7. Consummation: The fulfillment of all things

The Creation was an Earth-shifting event in the fact that the Earth went from nonexistence into existence, from nothing into something. The creation was a physical reflection of God’s character and was perfect. The world as created probably did not last very long before the next Earth-shifting event took place. God created time, in the beginning, as part of His created universe and exists at all points in time already.

The Corruption or the Fall of Man changed the Earth catastrophically in ways we do not even know. We cannot comprehend a perfect world; it was now a cursed world, and we are not even aware of all the changes that took place from perfection to imperfection. Humanity now had the propensity to sin; it became our base nature. The whole natural universe was infected by the corruption of sin. This effect was both spiritual and physical. Death and decay became part of the Creation and deterioration of every created living and non-living thing; it was a catastrophic shifting of the universe.

The Catastrophe of Noah’s Flood affected both the earth and the solar system. God pronounced judgment on man and destroyed all but the eight He preserved on the Ark. The corruption of the human genome by fallen angels was halted. Consequently, Satan’s plan to pervert the human genome and thus prevent the coming of the Messiah was stopped. When the fountains of the deep erupted, the super critical water 2 contained therein eroded the rock with tremendous force, causing many huge boulders to be launched into space, forming the comets and asteroids of the solar system. 3 The flood laid down layers of sedimentary rock filled with fossils all over the earth. The geography of the pre-flood world is not known, but the mountains probably were not as tall as they are now, and the land masses were not like they are seen now.

The force of the fountains erupting was a sudden, unrepeatable event: a global flood whose waters erupted from interconnected, worldwide subterranean chambers with a directed energy release—focused upward—that exceeded the explosion of trillions of hydrogen bombs. 4 This force changed the speed of the Earth’s rotation and potentially changed a year from 360 days a year to 365.25 days a year. The hydrologic cycle and weather patterns changed, and we do not have enough data to know if the globe has reached equilibrium from the catastrophe of the flood. Dr. Walt Brown also suggests the flood as the origin of radioactive elements on the earth. 5 This event was the final Earth-changing event before the confusion of Babel.

We have now passed through approximately 1500 years since the Creation of the world and are now looking at the eight people on the Ark as they depart. Things were very different, there was a shifting of predominate plant life, they had to start all over again building homes and raising their food. Noah built an alter and worshiped God. There were born sons and daughters to repopulate the earth.

Now the whole earth used the same language and the same words. It came about as they journeyed east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks and burn them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. They said, “Come, let us build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let us make for ourselves a name, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.” The Lord came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. The Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have the same language. And this is what they began to do, and now nothing which they purpose to do will be impossible for them. Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of the whole earth; and they stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of the whole earth. (Genesis 11:1-9 NASB)

Here is mankind showing his colors in that he defiantly rebelled against God’s commandment to go and subdue the earth. They wanted to make themselves great and not be subject to the Creator and obey His edict. They were in full knowledge that God wanted them to scatter and subdue the earth. Pride and arrogance dominated man.

God responded with grace, He did not punish them harshly, but He put in motion events that would shape the world we know today. First, obviously, He gave the gift of many languages to man. Since God ordains the family group as the foundation of society, it is only logical that He separated the languages by family group. Family units would not be split up because of a language barrier; since He ordained it, He would not destroy it. As families found they could not communicate with their neighbors, they started to leave Babel and deserted the construction project of the city. It is not clear if the tower was complete when the city was abandoned. At the Creation of man, God gave him the gift of language; man and God could communicate.

Because God does all things well, nothing half-heartedly or without complete effectiveness, the languages created at Babel will almost certainly turn out to be radically distinct from each other. That is what the current evidence already suggests. 6

Plenty of time has passed since Babel for the original language families to branch into all of the 6912 known languages. For example, Proto-Indo-European is known to have split into the 449 Indo-European languages of today since approximately the time of Babel. 6

With the changing of language there was also a shift in thought processes. The way different languages are constructed imply this. It is also why it is hard to learn a language far removed from the family group in which you were originally raised. We say “blue car” to describe a car that is blue while other languages say “car blue”; this shift in thinking processes is even more discernable the farther the language families are separated. How much change was made is not knowable, but all men are able to reason and come to know the Creator.

God did not create races of mankind. He created Adam and Eve; that's it. They contained all the DNA information necessary to produce almost infinite number of different offspring. When the confusion of language caused the people to separate by family groups, they migrated and settled into various areas around the globe. These smaller family groups married within their group, and whatever physical characteristics were dominant became more and more pronounced inside that group. The amount of melanin in the skin, hair color, hair texture, eye color and shape all developed in these smaller genetic groups. This led to the rise of ethnic groups, not races, as there is only one race, Human.

As the smaller groups banded together for the sake of communication, they also had to band together for security’s sake. They had to unite to protect against wild animals, natural disasters, and other humans. They had leaders to lead them and became known mostly by their geographical area names, eventually leading to the rise of kingdoms and nations, especially when other human groups had used up resources in their area and went out searching for more. These nations, as now, are willing to fight for the resources they needed.

Weaker groups were replaced by the stronger groups, who either enslaved them or vanquished them from their territory. The weaker/smaller groups migrated even farther until finding a place with resources enough to sustain them as they grew as a civilization. We do not know how long it took mankind to migrate and inhabit the world, but the evidence suggests it was relatively short. Figure 1 is a map showing the dispersal of different language groups. 6