These are the families of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations; and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood. (Genesis 10:32)
[Genesis 10 seems to imply that after the flood the descendants of Noah on their own migrated all over the earth and this separation of humanity led to the natural rise of other languages (see 10:5, 20, 31). However, Genesis11:1-9 tells a different story (the tower of Babel) in which all the humans were living together and it is God who imposes the multitude of languages on humans as a punishment and then scatters the people across the globe. The Bible never reconciles these two versions of the development of languages. The two very different versions gives support to the Source Theory of the Bible in which it is thought that different people at different times wrote irreconcilable narratives that found their way into the bible, and the unknown editors of the bible simply placed the versions side by side with no comment. It suggests that some of these narratives were not meant to be read as factual, historical accounts but rather offered different spiritual insights which were never intended to be harmonized.]
Now the whole earth had one language and few words. And as men migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”
And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; and nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth; and from there the LORD scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth. (Genesis 11:1-9)
Biblical scholar N.T. Wright comments on the Babel story by first having God comment:
“Oh, so you’ve built a tower, have you? Whatever will you think of next?” That’s the tone of voice we find in Genesis 11, when God comments, sardonically, on the pathetic little efforts of human beings to make themselves big and important. The story has gone from bad to worse: from rebellion in the Garden of Eden (chapter 3) to the first murder (chapter 4) to widespread violence (chapter 6), and now to the crazy idea of building a tower—what we now call the Tower of Babel—with its top reaching right up to heaven (chapter 11). Those who were supposed to be reflecting God’s image into the world—that is human beings—are instead looking into mirrors of their own; and they both like and are frightened by what they see. Arrogant and insecure, they have become self-important. God scatters them across the face of the earth, confusing their languages so that they can no longer pursue their grandiose projects.
The story of the Tower of Babel is an account of a world given to injustice, spurious types of spirituality (trying to stretch up to heaven by our own efforts), failed relationships, and the creation of buildings whose urban ugliness speaks of human pride rather than the nurturing of beauty. It all sounds worryingly familiar. (SIMPLY CHRISTIAN, p 73)
[In the Orthodox Church, Babel is a sign of the divisions in humanity, all that which separates us into opposing groups. The opposite and undoing of Babel is Pentecost in which a healing takes place between humans reuniting all into one family. In my opinion, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine is related to the Old Testament’s Babel. Since Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill defends and supports the war and the killing of people, including Orthodox Christians (over whom he claims to be patriarch, so he is blessing the murder of his own family members), one has to think that his spirituality and that of the Russian Orthodox patriarchate belongs more to Babel than to Pentecost. His support of Putin’s war is a rejection of Pentecost and an embrace of the divisions of Babel. It is a spirituality that rejects Orthodoxy itself and should be condemned by Orthodox bishops around the world. After much delay, the Synod of the Orthodox Church in America finally spoke out against the war and the evil aggression of Russia because of the death and suffering it is inflicting on so many people. You can read the Synod’s Statement on Ukraine. To stand with Christ is to stand with the refugees and all those made homeless by the war, as well as all those injured and those who have lost loved ones. To stand with Christ is to see Russia’s war against Ukraine as evil and to reject those supporting the war, including the Patriarch Kirill. Not only is Kirill not helping the least of Christ’s brothers and sisters, he is supporting the effort to make them homeless, injured, imprisoned, and to take away their food, water and clothes. It is ungodly and a sign of who has the spirit of the antichrist.]