11:9 Babel. The Hebrew word babel means “mixed” or “confusion.” It was associated by the writer with the “babble” of sounds which was the last memory held by all who scattered from the city. The word “babble” is an example of onomatopoeia, a word that imitates an actual sound, and thus is essentially the same in all languages. The name Babel, therefore, does not really mean “gate of God,” as its later apologists claimed, but “confusion.”
11:9 all the earth. As the people scattered, each family gradually became a tribal unit, and each had to develop its own distinctive culture as best it could. Each for a time would have to live by hunting and gathering, residing in caves or temporary shelters. The stronger families would occupy the best nearby sites (e.g., the Nile valley), while others would be forced farther away. Although they were all familiar with the arts of agriculture, animal husbandry, ceramics, metallurgy, construction, navigation, etc., each family would require time, population growth, and discovery of sources of metals and building materials. They all had known how to write, but now, with a completely new speech, each tribe would need to invent an entirely new written language, and this would require still more time and ingenuity. Within a few generations, however, all these attributes of “civilization” had surfaced all over the world, even on distant continents. As populations grew, some tribes eventually reached into every part of the world. In some instances they traveled by land bridges (e.g., Bering Strait, Malaysian Strait) which existed for perhaps a millennium during the Ice Age which followed the Flood. In other cases, they established colonies through sea exploration (e.g., the Phoenicians). All carried essentially the same Babylonian culture and religion with them, unfortunately, so that Babylon is called in the New Testament “the mother of harlots and abominations (that is, “idolatries”) of the earth” (Revelation 17:5). At the same time, they also carried a faint remembrance of the true God and His promises, especially remembering the divine judgment of the great Flood in their traditions. Each retained knowledge of God, and could see enough evidence of Him in both the creation and their own natures (Romans 1:20; 2:13-15; John 1:9) so they were inexcusable in their almost universal descent into the religious morass of evolutionary pantheism, astrology, spiritism, polytheism and, finally, atheistic materialism.