The Confounding of Languages at the Tower of Babel

Every time I decide what to write about, it is a tough decision. I want to read and think about all of the scriptures. I know I’ll eventually get to it all but it’s hard to take those baby steps. Looking back though on what I have done has been worth it.

The book of Ether is the record of the Jaredites, taken from the 24 plates found by the people of Limhi in the days of King Mosiah. Moroni is going to be in and out of the story as he is abridging and writing commentary. Let’s get started, shall we?

The Location of the Jaredite Nation

Moroni is giving an account of the people who were destroyed by the hand of God upon the face of this North country. The word on this verse is very interesting. According to the “Exploring The Book of Mormon in America’s Heartland” book, the land of the Jaredites was in the Northern United States. In Michigan and the Great Lakes area. This same place was called Desolation after the Jaredites passed on. I’m of the opinion this took place in North America. Maybe though “north country” isn’t referring to an actual country (country boundaries hadn’t been established) but rather a description of the land? In which case, wherever Moroni was, the Jaredites had previously lived. I’m going off the word, “this”, referring to the place he was at rather than merely saying, “north country”.

Where is Babel?

The first part of the record of the Jaredites speaks concerning the creation of the world and of Adam on all the way down to the tower of Babel. Cross reference Genesis 11:1-9. This is the story of the tower of Babel. The first part of the plates covers the equivalent of the first 10 chapters of Genesis and starts on chapter 11.

The tower of Babel is an interesting story because people wanted to build a tower up to Heaven. The entire Earth spoke the same language. That’s hard to imagine. God sees this and confounds the language of everyone. The tower is left unfinished (that we know of) and probably at some point is destroyed and crumbles.

I just looked up Babel in the Bible Dictionary. Really great stuff. I’ll share some here. Babel is actually Babylon, the capital of Babylonia. It was founded by Nimrod, one of the oldest cities in the land of Shinar.

Shinar is the “lower part of the district between the Tigris and Euphrates.”

Babylon was an enormous city. The ruins are still with us today. The city was square and the Euphrates ran through the middle of it. According to Herodotus, the walls were 56 miles in circumference. That means it was 14 miles by 14 miles. The walls were 335 feet high and 85 feet wide. For an idea of how high that is, it’s like being on the 33rd floor of an apartment building. A large part of the city consisted of parks and gardens.

The chief building of Babylon was the temple of Bel. Inscriptions that have been deciphered show that the Babylonians had accounts of the creation and the Deluge (flood). In many ways, similar to the one we have in the Bible. I would say the point is confirmed because Moroni said they did. The people of Jared were Babylonians.

Moroni isn’t going to give a full account from the very beginning. He is only giving us the tower onward. But he refers us to the other accounts of the creation down to the tower for the full account. I wish I had the year this all took place. Maybe like 3000 B.C.?

About the Author

The author of this book was Ether. He isn’t alive until the end of the 11th chapter and beginning of the 12th chapter. He was the son of Coriantor. Cross reference Ether 11:23 for that info. Also cross reference Ether 12:2. He was the kind of prophet who couldn’t be restrained because of the spirit that was with him. We’ll probably learn more about Ether and Coriantor when we get later in the book.

Genealogy

The genealogy of Coriantor (Ether’s dad) is set out before us and we find out that he is the however many greats grandson of Jared, who had a brother that saw God. We’ll learn a little more about his line later in the story, including Kib and Orihah.

The Scattering of the Inhabitants of Babel

At the time of the tower of Babel, the people who left were Jared and his brother (Mahonri Moriancumr), their families, and some other people and their families. Who do you think those other people were? Maybe family friends? People they met on the way out? What other story does this remind you of? Lehi! He left with his family and some of their family friends.

The Lord swore in his wrath that they (the inhabitants of Babel) should be scattered upon all the face of the Earth. This wasn’t them fleeing, was it? The Lord told them to go? It sounds like the Lord was scattering everyone and then confounding their language. Oh no! Maybe it wasn’t happening all at once! The Lord slowly confounding all the languages of the people every day. Like a disease would spread. So Jared and all the other families are getting away from the tower but still haven’t left Babylon. Maybe the confounding is centered around the tower like a plague. Those who had their language confounded, maybe they took others who could speak their language and left of their own accord? No sense in staying in Babylon if the people don’t speak the same language.

This must have been terrifying for the inhabitants of Babylon. Everyone speaking the same language and then one day, you wake up and realize what you only speak is by all accounts gibberish and nonsense. If this happened in our day, it would definitely be scary. There may be a higher chance though of identifying the language we all spoke because of how many languages we already know about.

Their Language is Not Confounded

The brother of Jared was asked by his brother, Jared, to ask the Lord not to confound their languages. The brother of Jared was a large and mighty man, highly favored of the Lord. He’s like a Nephi! Nephi was not only a physically strong man but also a spiritually strong man, highly favored of the Lord.

The brother of Jared prays to God not to confound the languages and it’s not. However, only between the two brothers. He then asks God if he will spare their family and friends as well. Both times the Lord has compassion on them and does not confound their language.

There is a footnote under 35a that references Ether 3:24. In that verse, God tells the brother of Jared of Jared that the language he is writing in is confounded. but will be able to be read through two stones the Lord has given him. I think in this case, “confounded” means lost. No one knows what language these people spoke. Maybe it was Babylonian, maybe it was the Adamic language. In Exodus 11 it says that the entire Earth was speaking the same language. Presumably the Adamic tongue. Since that language is completely gone, maybe the Lord confounded the Jaredites’ language together? Maybe he changed their language so they could still understand each other? Or maybe they continued to write and speak in the Adamic language? Cross reference Zephaniah 3:9. The language the Jaredites spoke was a pure language. Probably the Adamic language.

Where will the Lord Take Them?

Jared asks his brother to talk to the Lord again, this time, he wants his brother to ask if the Lord is going to drive them out of the land. And if so, where will they go? A land choice above all the Earth? If so, let us be faithful so they can receive it.

A few things here. What is the brother of Jared’s position that his brother asks him to pray to the Lord on their behalf? Probably prophet. Second, the family and friends with the brother of Jared and Jared must be aware of the Lord driving people out of the land if they are asking Him if the same is going to happen to them. I wonder what form that driving away is taking. As soon as the language is corrupted, are they kicked out of the city? Do they leave of their own accord? Are they led away by the Lord through a prophet? I don’t know. Maybe it was something unpleasant that made them ask the Lord if the same was going to happen to them. The answer is still, I don’t know. The last thing I wanted to say about this request is they ask the Lord about a land, “choice above all the Earth.” Why did they assume that this type of place was where the Lord would take them? That phrase and saying they should be faithful so they could receive it for their inheritance is very familiar. Was this phrasing a coincidence? Was it on purpose? I’m not entirely sure how many generations after Adam this took place but Adam wasn’t around I think.

Cross reference Genesis 11 again. Actually, 10 too. Chapter 10 of Genesis is the first chapter after the flood. There is a massive amount of begetting going on to replenish the Earth. Cities are built all over. Once the world population gets back up to a reasonable size, that is when Babel is built. After that story, there are a lot more generations after before Abraham is born. To recap and put this timeframe in perspective, Ether’s book is starting many generations after the flood but many generations before Abraham.

Do you think that each people that were driven out of Babel were led by the Lord to their own, “choice land above all the Earth?” This would explain the reasoning behind their questioning the Lord. They see all these righteous people being led out of Babel and wonder when and IF it will happen to them. If this is indeed the case, we are lacking in many scriptural records. Unless those were eventually lost and corrupted through unrighteousness. We know that there is more than one promised land. For the Jews, it was the land of their inheritance, Canaan. For Lehi’s family, the Mulekites, and the Jaredites it was America.

The brother of Jared goes and asks of the Lord. The Lord hears the prayer and has compassion on him and answers him. Is the phrase, “had compassion on him.” just a poetical way of saying the Lord heard his prayers and answered? Or did he really have compassion on him? Personally, I think the latter. This phrase has already been used before when the brother of Jared prayed not to have their languages confounded. I think that the reason it says that the Lord had compassion is because all this bad stuff was happening around them. The Lord wants to spare them so that is why he is doing all these things for them.

The People of Jared Prepare to Leave

The Lord’s reply was to gather together your flocks (fowls, fish, honey bee, and four-legged animals), make male and female of every kind and also the seed of the Earth (fruit and grain) in addition to your families and all your friends’ families. Go into the valley northward and I will meet you there and take you into the promised land. I will raise you and your seed up there and you will be a great nation, none greater than you. All because of this long time you have called unto me. Again, there is a lot of stuff packed in here.

Gathering together the animals, male and female, in addition to the seeds sounds a little like what Noah had to do before the flood. I wonder if the thought ever crossed his mind that God was going to flood the Earth again. Honestly, I don’t think so. I imagine these people would know of God’s promise to Noah not to flood the Earth again. But I want you to look for the parallels in this story between Noah and the Brother of Jared. There are many.

Also, the language of gathering the animals and seeds reminded me of the same language used in the creation. Just a gentle reminder that the God who is currently speaking to the Brother of Jared (Jesus Christ) is the same God who created this Earth.

Different Descriptions of the Promised Land

The next thing I wanted to say was on promised lands again. While there may be more than one, they are described in different ways. I’m pulling this description from Exodus vs. the one given here. In Exodus, God tells Moses from the burning bush that he is going to lead the people to a land flowing with milk and honey. To the brother of Jared, this land choice above all the lands of the Earth.

Lastly, God says he will bless their seed in America and raise up a great nation and that there will be none greater than it. Look at the parallels with what would become the Jaredite nation and what would become the United State of America. Like the Jaredites in America, our seed has been blessed and raised up by the Lord in America. Like the Jaredite nation, the U.S. has become a great nation. Like the Jaredite nation, there is no nation greater than the U.S. What comes next though in Jaredite history remains to be seen in American history. The complete and utter destruction through secret combinations and wars. Whether or not this will come to pass is a matter of opinion. Personally, I think it will. Whether bullet and fighting wars or political wars within America, I couldn’t say here. It would be a long detour from the story. Therefore, let’s continue with Ether.

Continuous Prayer Brings Blessings

Lastly, lastly, I wanted to briefly talk about why the Lord is granting these things unto the Jaredites. It is because of the long time the brother of Jared had called unto the Lord. These prayers to the Lord did not begin as soon as the people’s language started being confounded. I’m sure the brother of Jared was constantly calling upon the Lord, praying for his safety as well as that of his family and friends. If you want something, specific blessings, weary the Lord’s ear with your requests. Do good, be righteous, and all will be ok.

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One thought on “The Confounding of Languages at the Tower of Babel

  1. Pingback: The Jaredites’ Journey Into the Wilderness | Towards a Greater Light

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