Babel pix

‘Learning from past mistakes’ is often the explanation provided by those who advocate close examination of individual events and incidents that occurred thousands of years ago. To this effect, for anyone who is curious as to how the earth came to be inhabited by so many different tribes with each speaking a unique dialect of its own, Tower of Babel is an apt reference.

At one point of time in Bible when Noah departed from the Ark along with his family subsequent to the great flood, God’s instructions to mankind were to multiply and populate the planet. Little did He know that while carrying out his instructions, they would also become conceited along the way and this in turn would translate into arrogance. Something that acted as a catalyst was the then monarch Nimrod’s tyrannical leadership and the result was gathering of people at Babel followed by their decision to build a tower.

Prior to the flood, society comprised of strong and muscular men who were a law unto themselves and used their physical strength to intimidate their weaker fellow beings and enjoy an aura of supremacy. Violence was the weapon that they used to perpetrate their dominance and each person lived in his own selfish world without giving as much as a thought to others. All of this changed after the flood when the survivors decided to adopt a social code of living and built a community.

In its new form, society was accorded the highest priority and every member was expected to put the community’s interest before his personal objectives. As a result, the social fabric gained in strength and it soon became apparent that unity was instrumental to success and progress as compared to individual existence. People began to gain confidence in their collective ability and soon this transformed into pride and arrogance, culminating into the Tower of Babel.

Having decided to build a tower that was high enough to touch the heavens and powerful enough to act as a binding force that would prevent the society from disintegrating, people wanted to prove their might to God and demand an equal status. As the story goes, God realized that their act was more an attempt of proving their own strength rather than offer an ode to the divine power. He also realized that the language that they shared was the most important weapon which had caused them to attain such a high degree of arrogance.

Sensing a rebellion in making, God realized that it was important to disperse the group and He accomplished this objective by metamorphosing their dialect into as many as seventy branches. Unable to understand each other, people were so confused that they decided to migrate to different parts of the world and lead their own separate lives. This was the first time when society was segregated into various groups in terms of language and profession and apart from memories of flood and Babel, they had little in common.

Over a period of time, every group emerged as a distinct ethnic identity and this is how the concept of race came into being. Taking a retrospective view, God used a single but incisive instrument to create a divide amongst people that was more effective than any man-made structure and thus caused the earth to be populated with multiple tribes and languages.