The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire BibleGenesis 11:1
And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech,
&c.] Or had been F23, before the flood, and from that time to this, and
still was, until the confusion took place; the account of which, and
the occasion of it, are given in this chapter: by the whole earth is
meant the inhabitants of it, see (Isaiah 37:18) (1 Kings 10:24) and so the
Jerusalem Targum paraphrases the words,
``and all the generations of the earth were of one language,
and of one speech, and of one counsel, for they spoke in the
holy tongue in which the world was created at the beginning;''
and to the same purpose the Targum of Jonathan: all the posterity of
Shem, Ham, and Japheth, used the same language, though it does not
appear that they were all in one counsel or consultation, or of one
mind about building a city or tower, which the Targum seems to suggest;
for it is not likely that Shem and his sons were in it: nor by "one
lip" and "the same words or things" F24, as these phrases may be
rendered, are we to understand the same simplicity of speech and
business, and likeness of manners; for it appears there was a
difference with respect to these in the immediate sons of Noah, and it
may be supposed to be much more in their remote offspring; nor as if
they were all of the same religion, embraced the same doctrines, and
spoke the same things; for as idolatry and superstition obtained in the
race of Cain before the flood, so Ham and his posterity soon fell into
the same, or the like, afterwards: and it may be observed that the same
distinction was made of the children of God, and of the children of
men, before the confusion and dispersion, as was before the flood,
(Genesis 11:5) from whence it appears they were not in the same
sentiments and practice of religion: but this is to be understood of
one and the same language, without any diversity of dialects, or
without any hard and strange words, not easily understood; and perhaps
it was pronounced by the lip and other instruments of speech in the
same way; so that there was no difficulty in understanding one another,
men, women, and children, all the people in common, princes and
peasants, wise and unwise, all spoke the same language and used the
same words; and this the Targumists take to be the holy or Hebrew
language; and so Jarchi and Aben Ezra, and the Jewish writers in
general, and most Christians; though some make a question of it,
whether it might not be rather the Syriac, or Chaldee, or Arabic; but
there is no need of such a question, since these with the Hebrew are
all one and the same language; and no doubt it was the eastern
language, without giving it any other name, which now subsists in the
above dialects, though not in anyone alone, which was first spoken;
though more purely and without the difference of dialects it now
consists of, or without the various different inflexions now made in
it; for nothing is more reasonable to suppose, than that the language
Adam spoke was used by Noah, since Adam lived within one hundred years
and a little more of the birth of Noah; and it is not to be questioned
but Noah's sons spoke the same language as he did, and their posterity
now, which was but little more than one hundred years after the flood:
there are various testimonies of Heathens confirming this truth, that
originally men spoke but one language; thus Sibylla in Josephus F25,
``when all men were (omofwnwn) , of the same language, some began
to build a most high tower…''
so Abydenus F26 an Heathen historian, speaking of the building of the
tower of Babel, says,
``at that time men were (omoglwssouv) , of the same tongue;''
in like manner Hyginus F1, speaking of Phoroneus, the first of
mortals, that reigned, says,
``many ages before, men lived without towns and laws, "una
lirgua loquentes", speaking one language, under the empire of
F23 (yhyw) "et fuerat", Junius & Tremellius, Piscator; "caeterum fuit
F24 (Mydha Myrbdw txa hpv) "unum labium et verba eadem", Schmidt;
"Labii unius et sermonum eorundem, vel rerum", Clarius.
F25 Antiqu. l. 1. c. 4. sect. 3.
F26 Apud Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 9. c. 14. p. 416.
F1 Fabulae, Fab. 143.
The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
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Gill, John. "Commentary on Genesis 11:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?book=ge&chapter=011&verse=001>. 1999.