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answering the conditions neither of Genesis nor of modern philology. If modern science verifies the unity of race and accounts for its diversities as natural results, it must equally protest against any miraculous confusion of tongues, as unnecessary and therefore unphilosophical. While, if races were originally distinct, languages probably were so too.
The plain facts of the case as detailed in Genesis, apart from the theory of language which the writer sustains, appear to be, that as population spread from the hill country into the flat, boundless plain of Chaldæa, they. built a landmark, lest, for want of such a rallying-place, they "should be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” This, at least, was their own plea for what they did. It was a natural thing to do, and not, with that purpose in view, a wicked thing. Scripture critics have indeed imputed purposes to them which are not suggested by the record. In the “tower whose top might reach unto heaven,” some have read the mad scheme of the giants in heathen story, who piled Ossa on Pelion to storm the abode of the gods. There is nothing of the kind hinted in Genesis. Others, and among them Dr. Kitto, consider the wickedness to have consisted in their desire to keep themselves near together, and their refusal to disperse abroad over the uninhabited earth faster than the necessities and convenience of life prompted. A most unworthy assumption, of which Genesis gives not a hint. The whole world was before them for progressive migrations as they increased in numbers; but why disperse faster than their increase dictated? Premature diffusion was then, as now, weakness, not strength. To assume, with these interpreters, that God had commanded such diffusion, and that men resisted it till made to speak different languages, and that they thereupon dispersed as previously enjoined,
is inventing a meaning for the record, and not adopting the theory of the record itself. There has been, indeed, great temptation to do this, as the record itself is so scanty, and its implied theory so unsatisfactory to the religious feeling, in imputing, as it does, to the Divine Being a jealousy of the growing skill and power of His human creatures. The theology of the Tower of Babel is not only anthropomorphic, but unamiable, in its representation of the Divine Being. There is less pleasure in dwelling upon this specimen of primeval religious philosophizing, than upon any that have preceded.
The name Babel (whence Babylon) denotes “confusion.” Did the name suggest the theory? or did the facts implied in the theory really occur and give rise to the name? This is often a curious and difficult question in ancient history, and nowhere more frequently than in the Jewish Scriptures. But Sya (whence Baal and Belus) may as easily have been the root of the words Babel and Babylon, as 532 (to confuse).
With the times of Abraham, the Jewish Scriptures begin to present more of the appearance of regular history; and the life of Abraham is the first of these venerable sketches that has anything approaching to the fulness or completeness of a biography.
This is, in fact, the point at which the history of the Jewish nation really begins. To Abraham they look back as their progenitor and founder. What precedes his history in the book of Genesis, has reference to the human race more at large. What follows, throughout the Jewish Scriptures, is purely national, altogether Jewish, in its direct bearing, and only touches upon the history and fortunes of other nations as they become connected with the descendants of Abraham. It is, indeed, interesting to mankind at large, in so far as the human race have reason to ascribe something of their civilization, and much of their religion, to the remarkable fortunes of the family of Abraham.
Remarkable indeed those fortunes have been and are. The Jews are before us still, a standing monument of their past national history. They are among us now in every country almost of the civilized world ;-a distinct people, however few they be among however many; ---separate from all nations, though dispersed among them ;-keeping up various religious observances peculiar to themselves, with no little difficulty, inconvenience and cost;-abstaining from intermarriage with any but their own people ;-still, as for nearly 4000 years past, a separate and distinct race of men.
Trace back their history, step by step, and ask whence came this marked distinctness. Other nations larger than theirs have lost their nationality in far less time, and gradually become merged in the nations among whom they have respectively dwelt. But not so the Jews. In the various countries of modern Europe, they have, even within recent times, been subject to degradation, insult and wrong,—been denied the protection of the laws, or even made liable by law to confiscation of their goods, or imprisonment or maiming of their persons, simply for their adherence to their nationality as descendants of Abraham. Feeding on the memories of the past, and hoping still for a future in which their nationality shall be restored and their dispersion recalled, they have been faithful-through trials such as would have extirpated anything but a deep religious principle
to their great idea, that the descendants of Abraham are the PECULIAR PEOPLE sacred to the ONE TRUE AND LIVING GOD.
Trace them further back. Go to the time of Christ, who, when he proclaimed a gospel for Jew and Gentile alike, avowed that the origin of his salvation for the world must spring from among the Jews ;-himself of the seed of Abraham “according to the flesh," though revealing a wider brotherhood in a higher parentage “according to the spirit,” by which he taught all men of whatever nation to cry to God, Abba, Father!
In the time of Christ, the Jews were still a nation, in a land of their own. Their independence was indeed already gone, and their polity fast tottering into ruin; but their peculiar religious institutions were at that time in existence,—their national religious worship was still going on, as it could do nowhere else but in “ the one place which Jehovah their God had chosen." Shortly after that time, the utter ruin of their country ensued through the Roman arms under Titus, and their dispersion through all lands followed, from which they have never yet, for nearly 1800 years, rallied, and from which scarcely any but themselves believe they ever will.
Ascending from this point of history—the time of Christ—we read the varied and mostly calamitous fortunes of their country, under the successors of Alexander and the Syrian kings, in the Jewish Apocryphal Scriptures, in their historian Josephus, and in the Greek historians, till we come up to the times embraced in the Old Testament. For the historical parts of the Old Testament leave off with the restoration of the Jews to their own country, under Nehemiah and Ezra (about 430 years before Christ), after their long and sad captivity in Babylon; and from this point, upward along the stream of time, those Scriptures lead us back through events the most remarkable, perhaps, that have ever happened to any people,-shewing at each step characteristics the most remarkable in a religious point of view, till they bring us to the fountain-head in the call of Abraham, about 1920 years before the birth of Christ.
This nation, like every other, had a beginning, though that beginning may be beyond the reach of properly historical times; and when thus read backwards, we may understand its otherwise obscure or doubtful origin by the light of its progressive development in subsequent times. Thus the history of Abraham, though reaching back to such high antiquity as to place it quite beyond the range of contemporary written testimony, receives the strongest corroboration, in most of its particulars, from the subsequent history of his descendants, which becomes clear and consistent only by taking its commencement to have been pretty much as we find it in his recorded life and character; while the intense reverence in which we know they always held him as the head of their tribes, was a feeling that would naturally ensure the careful preservation of his traditionary history until the time (whenever that may have been) when the art of writing came into use among them.
It has been remarked with great propriety and force, in respect to the Jewish records as compared with those of other ancient nations, how free the former are from that mythological mist in which the earliest human heroes seem mixed, if not confounded, with superhuman or fabulous personages. The Greek kings and heroes of earliest renown were gods and demigods. Heathen nations naturally enough traced their origin to their gods, because these were in fact so little raised above men. The Hebrews alone, imbued with a divine theo. logy, and because so imbued, preserved their idea of Deity from this profane admixture; and their national