The Tower of Babel and the Confusion of Tongues
the uninitiated, Babel is composed of two words: baa, meaning gate, and el
meaning god. The confusion of
tongues is the initial fragmentation of human languages in the Book of Genesis,
as a result of the construction of the tower of Babel.
There is one interpretation that alludes that humanity at one time had
one language and therefore understood each
other. The Tower of Babel and the
smugness of those who built it challenged the Lord.
Lord said: Let us go down and there confuse their language, that they
may not understand one another’s speech.”
They were scattered abroad over the face of
the earth and the builders of the Tower left without building the city.
Therefore the place was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the
language of the land and scattered
its inhabitants over the face of all the earth.
is a great deal of meaning to this Bible story. We are a people who do not understand one another.
Not only do we have different languages, different cultures, different
beliefs, different goals and different values.
Our common human needs are the same.
We all want to eat, to be well to be comfortable, to be recognized, to be
important. How we accomplish these
needs differs depending on the culture into which we were born and raised, the
upbringing that we had, our ancestors with their beliefs, our intelligence, our
capabilities and much more. It depends on how we want to live our life, what
makes us happy, how can we reach that which is important to us.
Do we live for immediate gratification or do we live for the future?
Do we believe we will be rewarded by killing those who are unlike us and
who have different belief systems, or none at all?
Do we strife to excel through attaining material goods or through
prestige, knowledge and recognition? Do we receive gratification through force
or peaceful means? We all to some extent have choices.
There is importance in how we choose.
Choice plays a large part in our lives.
It is, however, not the entire story.
There are times when fate takes over.
No one knows exactly what tomorrow will bring. Our choices are not those
of our neighbors. How the public
votes may not be what we as individuals want or do.
We may find negative surprises which was not part of our goal, not of our
wishes or beliefs. We may be
falsely persecuted as a people for things that did not happen and that has
nothing to do with us or our ancestors. One
of those basic persecutions of us the Jewish people are the alleged killing of a
Jesus. We are scapegoated for this
belief. It is a way of
scapegoating a whole people without documented proof for no factual rhyme
or reason. Another example is attaching hatred to current Americans for transporting the black man out of
Africa and turning them into slaves. These
acts are documented, yet the white population of today is not responsible for
their possible ancestors who participated in this atrocity.
Holding on to these long ago actions give our “black brothers” an
excuse for engaging in the high crime rate; for scapegoating other hard working
minorities who have succeeded; for envy, for a lack of initiative or willingness
to engage in strenuous work. There is a great deal of misunderstanding between
all nations, all peoples and all of humanity.
We speak a different language from one another.
Whether it is in our belief system, our ancestors and their
indoctrination of those who came after them; their achievements or lack thereof,
the lessons they did or did not learn. We
don’t know what the proverbial “language” of another person is.
All cultures have their special speech with differing intonations,
allusions, insinuations, etc. Even
the different specialties have “lingo” that we cannot appreciate.
We frequently cannot understand another person’s tastes, actions or
even ethnic groups do not live peacefully together. We as the “chosen people” must try to stand together; to
respect one another, to adhere to the ten commandments, in all aspects, to
respect our non-Jewish neighbors as well as all of humanity, to stand up for one
another, against anti-semitism and those who would annihilate others and to
remember the words “Kol Yisroel
Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the co-author, with Dr. Gerhard Falk, of Deviant Nurses & Improper Patient Care (2006).