The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire BibleGenesis 11:7
Go to, let us go down, [and] there confound their language,
&c.] These words are not spoken to the angels, as the Targum and Aben
Ezra; for, as Philo the Jew observes F8, they are said to some as
co-workers with God, which angels could not be in this work of
confounding the language of men; it being above the power of creatures
so to work upon the mind, and on the faculty of speech, as to make
such an alteration as was at the confusion of tongues, when men were
made to forget their former language, and had another put into their
minds, and a faculty of speaking it given; or, however, the first
language was so differently inflected and pronounced, that it seemed
another, and various; all which could not be done but by him who is
almighty, even that Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit, said (Genesis 11:8)
to confound man's language; and the first of these speaks to the other
two, with whom he consulted about doing it, and with whom he did it.
Not that every man had a new and distinct language given him, for then
there could have been no society and converse in the world, but one was
given to each family; or rather to as many families as constituted a
nation or colony, designed for the same place of habitation; how many
there were, cannot be said with any certainty. Euphorus, and many other
historians F9, say they were seventy five, according to the number of
Jacob's posterity that went down into Egypt; others say seventy two:
the Jewish writers generally agree with the Targum of Jonathan in
making them seventy, according to the number of the posterity of Noah's
sons, recorded in the preceding chapter; but several of them spoke the
same language, as Ashur, Arphaxad, and Aram, spoke the Chaldee or
Syriac language; the sons of Canaan one and the same language; and the
thirteen sons of Joktan the Arabic language; Javari and Elisha the
Greek language; so that, as Bochart F11 observes, scarce thirty of the
seventy will remain distinct: and it is an observation of Dr. Lightfoot
F12 not to be despised, that
``the fifteen named in (Acts 2:5-11) were enough to confound
the work (at Babel), and they may very well be supposed to
have been the whole number.''
The end to be answered it was,
that they may not understand one another's speech;
or "hear" F13,
that is, so as to understand; the words were so changed, and so
differently pronounced from what they had used to hear, that though
they heard the sound, they could not tell the meaning of them: hence,
as Jarchi observes, when one asked for a brick, another brought him
clay or slime, on which he rose up against him, and dashed his brains
F8 De Confus. Ling. p. 344.
F9 Apud Clement. Alexandr. Strom. l. 1. p. 338.
F11 Phaleg. l. 1. c. 15. col. 55.
F12 See his Works, vol. 1. p. 694.
F13 (wemv) "audiant", Pagninus, Montanus…
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.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855
Gill, John. "Commentary on Genesis 11:7". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". <http://classic.studylight.org/com/geb/view.cgi?book=ge&chapter=011&verse=007>. 1999.