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dispersion. Hence we must conclude that it took place during the life of Noah, and under his direction, according to a divine appointment. This is intimated in several places of scripture. We read Deuteronomy xxxii. 8, 9, “When the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel. For the Lord's portion is his people, Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.” This refers to the dispersion of mankind after the flood, and represents God as alloting the places of the several nations, in reference to Judea, the land of his chosen people. This agrees with what God says by Ezekiel. “Thus saith the Lord God, This is Jerusalem : I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her." And Paul, speaking of the general dispersion of mankind, represents its taking place, according to the will and direction of the Deity, “who hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation.” This plainly intimates that God appointed the time when, and the places where mankind should be dispersed. The time was probably just before Noah's death. And this, Eusebius says, was the case. The places were these, according to the best accounts given us in history. The posterity of Japheth were sent into Europe ; the posterity of Shem into Asia; and the posterity of Ham into Africa. The land of Judea was not divided among the nations ; but reserved by God for his own use, to be given at a future time to his own people, the seed of Abraham.
But if this be a just account of the general dispersion of mankind, which took place in the life time of Noah, and under his direction; the question will naturally arise, Who were those, that lived on the plains of Shinar, built the tower of Babel, and were scattered over all the earth ? It is evident they could not be the whole of mankind; for they had before been sent to the various places of their divine destination. Some had gone to one quarter of the world, and some to another. Who then could the builders of Babel be, that after the general dispersion of mankind were scattered over the earth? The scripture history will inform us upon this subject. They were the sons of Ham ; for the sacred historian tells us, “ The sons of Ham were Cush, and Misraim, and Phut, and Canaan. And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtecha : and the sons of Raamah, Sheba, and Dedan. And Cush begat Nimrod : he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, “Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel.” But how came Nimrod, the son of Ham, and his posterity at Babylon where Babel was built ? This portion of the earth was alloted to Shem; and Nimrod, with all the posterity of Ham, was appointed to go to Africa. What right then had Nimrod, or any of the sons of Ham, to take possession of the plains of Babylon? Undoubtedly they had no right at all. But this is the scripture account of the event. “ The whole earth was of one language, and one speech. And it came to pass as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they dwelt there. And they said one to
another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city, and a tower, whose top may reach unto the heaven, and let us make us a name, 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 children of men builded. And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they all have one language ; and this they begin to do : and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.--Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech. So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth.” In the first verse
. in this account it is said, the whole earth was of one language ; and that as they journeyed, they found a place, &c. But the original word, translated whole or all, may be translated every; and the original word translated earth, may be translated'a land or province. With this criticism, the two first verses may be read thus ; " And every region was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass in the journeying of the people from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar.” The people, then, who journeyed from the east, were not all the people of the earth, but only the posterity of Ham and especially Nimrod and his posterity. This is a very rational account. But it is absurd to suppose that all the posterity of Noah, who consisted of an hundred and twenty or an hundred and thirty thousand, should all move in a body from the rich and fertile country around mount Ararat, where they first settled after the flood, without any divine direction,
or natural necessity. Hence it is natural to conclude, that the people, who journeyed from the east to the plains of Shinar, were Nimrod and his posterity. Especially when we reflect, it is expressly said, that “the beginning of Nimrod's kingdom was Babel.” But how came Nimrod to pitch upon the plains of Shinar, after the general dispersion of mankind, and after he was directed to go into the parts of Africa, a country far distant, from Babylon ; To this I would answer, there seems to be no account given of his conduct, but the following. When the posterity of Shem and Japheth obeyed the divine direction to separate, and go to the places alloted them, the posterity of Ham, or at least Nimrod and his descendants refused to obey the divine command. In open defiance to God, they moved from the east, and came to the pleasant land of Babylon, and there by force of arms, took the plains of Shinar out of the hands of the children of Shem. This is agreeable to the character of Nimrod," he was a mighty hunter :" a man of a bold, enterprizing spirit, and destitute of the fear of God and every principle of humanity. Having taken possession of this pleasant spot, by violence, he viewed himself exposed to be molested by the posterity of Shem. And to guard himself, his family and his followers, and to prevent being scattered any further, he formed the scheme of building a great tower ; at once to display his great strength, and to be a centre of union among his future offspring. This is agreeable to the account, which the builders of Babel give of their design. “ And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven ; and let us make us a name,” or as it may be rendered, a mark or sign,“ lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of
the whole earth.” They determined not to disperse, as God had required, and as the other branches of Noah's family had done. This shows, that they built Babel in rebellion against God; and that God had just cause to come down and defeat their impious design, by confounding their language. What is to be understood by this, interpreters are divided in their opinion. Some suppose, that the builders of Babel entirely lost their language, and had to get a new language, in order to converse together. But others more naturally suppose, the confusion of language happened only to the builders of Babel ; and that by loosing their pronunciation, until they were dispersed. This seems highly probable ; for we find that different nations could converse together after the dispersion, without an interpreter. And it is supposed by many, that all the different languages now in the world may be accounted for, by those variations, which would naturally arise, from the dispersion of mankind into different and distant countries. But be this as it may, it is very evident that the confusion of language happened only to the builders of Babel ; and that these were the children of Ham, and especially in the line of Nimrod. It is not likely that all the children of Ham were concerned in the building of Babel ; but it is more probable, that Nimrod and his posterity, with some of the children of Shem, whom Nimrod subdued, were the only people who built Babel, and were scattered over all the face of the earth. At least, it seems very certain that the people, who were scattered at the destruction of Babel, were not the whole of mankind, but only the children of Ham, and a few others, who joined in their rebellion and shared in their punishment. I now proceed,