Why did the Lord make the people at the tower of Babel have different tongues?

Hello T,

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This story of confusion of tongues is found in Genesis 11:

6   And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

7   Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.

8   So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.

9   Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

Many generations after Noah, when the whole earth still spoke the same language, people traveled to a plain in the Middle East and settled there. Then they said to one another, “Let’s build a city and a tower, and let’s make a name for ourselves, so we won’t be scattered around the whole earth” (Genesis 11:4). The people made a tower designed for worshiping the sun and the heavenly bodies. Mankind had chosen to worship God’s creations instead of the Lord Himself.

By centralizing around the tower of Babel, the people refused to obey God’s command to go out and fill the earth. God had told Noah to replenish, or fill, the earth (Genesis 9:1) and not centralize. The concentration of human beings has always encouraged immorality and vice. Cities have ever been hotbeds of crime, for in such an environment Satan finds less resistance to his attacks than in smaller communities where people live in close touch with nature.

Men wanted to build the tower of Babel in the hope of finding security through the works of their hands. They chose to forget that true security comes only in trusting and obeying God. Such a citadel would protect them against attack, and enable them, they believed, to escape another flood—which God had promised should never be (Genesis 9:11). The Tower of Babel represented doubt of God’s word and defiance of His will. This was but the first step in an evil master plan to control the world.

God did not wish again to destroy mankind. Wickedness had not as yet reached the limits to which it had gone before the Flood, and the Lord determined to halt it before it should again reach that point. By confusing their language and thus forcing them to separate, God designed to forestall future united action. Each of the groups might yet pursue an evil course, but the division of society into many groups would prevent concerted opposition to God.

So, the Lord mixed up their language, causing them to stop building the city. The Lord wanted His faithful children to have the freedom of worshiping Him without being forbidden to do so by the centralized government. The confusion of tongue at the tower of Babel caused the builders to be scattered far and wide, with the result that afterwards the human family were to be found in most parts of the world.

In His service,

The BibleAsk Team

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