|Noah Webster's Dictionary|
1. (n.) The state of being mixed or blended so as to produce indistinctness or error; indistinct combination; disorder; tumult.
2. (n.) The state of being abashed or disconcerted; loss self-possession; perturbation; shame.
3. (n.) Overthrow; defeat; ruin.
4. (n.) One who confuses; a confounder.
Int. Standard Bible Encyclopedia
CITY OF CONFUSION
kon-fu'-zhun (qiryath-tohu): A name applied to Jerusalem (Isaiah 24:10 the King James Version).
kon-fu'-zhun (bosheth, "shame, paleness," kelimmah, "blushing," tohu; akatastasia, sugchusis): In the Old Testament bosheth (1 Samuel 20:30 Psalm 109:29 the King James Version) and kelimmah (Psalm 44:15 Isaiah 30:3) are the words most frequently translated "confusion"; tohu, "wastiness," "emptiness" is so translated (Isaiah 24:10; Isaiah 34:11; Isaiah 41:29), also qalon, "lightness," "contempt" (Job 10:15 = ignominy, the American Standard Revised Version) and tebhel, "profanation" (Leviticus 18:23; Leviticus 20:12); ra`ash, "shaking," "trembling," rendered "confused" in Isaiah 9:5 the King James Version; compare the Revised Version (British and American). Greek akatashatasia, "instability" is translated "confusion" (1 Corinthians 14:33 James 3:16); sugchusis, "a pouring out together" (Acts 19:29). In The Wisdom of Solomon 14:26, "changing of kind" (the King James Version) is rendered "confusion of sex." W. L. Walker
CONFUSION OF TONGUES
See BABEL, TOWER OF; TONGUES, CONFUSION OF
TONGUES, CONFUSION OF
1. The Narrative:
According to Genesis 11:1-9, at some time not very long after the Flood, "the whole earth was of one language and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed east" (the "they" is left vague) that they settled in the land of Shinar (Babylonia). There they undertook to build "a city, and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven," using the Bah burned brick and "slime" as building materials. The motive was to "make us a name; lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." This seems to mean that the buildings would give them a reputation for impregnability that would secure them against devastating invasions. "And Yahweh came down to see." And He said, "Nothing will be withholden from them, which they purpose to do. Come, let us go down, and there confound their language." The persons spoken to are not named (compare Genesis 1:26; Genesis 3:22), nor is it explained how Yahweh, who in Genesis 11:5 was on earth, is now in heaven. "So Yahweh scattered them abroad from thence," and the name of the city was "called Babel (babhel); because Yahweh did there confound (balal) the language of all the earth: and from thence did Yahweh scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth."
The purpose of this narrative is the explanation of the diversity of human languages. They originated through an act of Yahweh, in order to destroy the presumptuous designs of the first builders of Babylon.
The section admittedly belongs to J and it has no connection with the matter (mostly P) in Genesis 10. For Genesis 10 explains the origin of the nations "every one after his tongue, after their families" (10:5, 20, 31) as due to the orderly migration and gradual spreading of the sons and descendants of Noah, and names Nimrod (10:10) as the sole founder of Babylon. Nor does 11:1-9 logically continue the J matter in Genesis 9, as too many persons are involved for the time immediately following the Flood. Still, it is quite possible that some J matter was dropped when the J and P sources were united at this point. Another possibility is to see in Genesis 11:1-9 the continuation of Genesis 4:16-24, which it carries on smoothly, with the same distrust of human culture. The murderer Cain went to the East of Eden (4:16), and his descendants brought in the knowledge of the various arts (4:20-22). These descendants journeyed still farther to the East (11:2), attempted to use their skill in building the tower and were punished by the balal catastrophe. No account of the Deluge could have followed, for all the diversities of languages would have been wiped away by that event.
This assumption of a special, early source within J probably best explains the facts. It is indicated by the very primitive, naive theology, which is much less developed than that of J as a whole. And the obscure relation of Genesis 11:1-9 to the Flood narrative is accounted for, for two narratives were combined here, one of which contained an account of the Deluge, while the other did not.
By using the repeated "going down" of verses 5, 7 as a clue, the section can be resolved fairly easily into two narratives, e.g.
(1) The men build a tower, "whose top may reach unto heaven," in order to make a name for themselves as marvelous builders. Yahweh, seeing the work beginning and "lest nothing be withholden from them," etc., goes down and confounds their language.
(2) The men build a city, as a defensive measure, "lest we be scattered abroad on the face of the whole earth." Yahweh goes down to see and scatters them abroad. For other analyses see the commentaries.
But they are hardly imperative. For (2) gives no motive for Yahweh's action, while "city" and "tower," "confusion of tongues" and "scattering," are complementary rather than parallel terms. The supposition that a few words describing Yahweh's return to heaven have disappeared somewhere from verse 6 relieves the awkwardness.
The "historicity" of the narrative will be upheld by very few persons of the present day. Human languages began to diverge (if, indeed there ever was such a thing as a primitive language) tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of years before the building of Babylon and long before human beings had attained enough skill to erect the most rudimentary structures, let alone such an elaborate affair as the brick-built city and tower of Babel. And what is true of languages as a whole is equally true of the languages spoken in the vicinity of Palestine. If Egyptian Hittite, and the Semitic group have any common point of origin, it lies vastly back of the time and cultural conditions presupposed in Genesis 11:1-9. It is needless to enlarge on this, but for the harm done by a persistent clinging to the letter of the narrative, White's History of the Warfare of Science with Theology may be consulted. It belonged to the genius of the Hebrews to seek religious explanations of the things around them. And such an explanation of the origin of languages is the content of Genesis 11:1-9.
This explanation seems, as yet, to be without parallel, for the translation of the fragmentary British Museum Inscription K 3657 is entirely uncertain. Indeed, legends as to how the differences of human speech began seem to be extremely scanty everywhere, as if the question were not one that occupied the minds of primitive people. Comparative folklore still has much work to do as regards this special topic (for a few references see Encyclopedia Brit, 11th edition, article "Babel" and Gunkel Genesis3 in the place cited.). The other features of the narrative, however, are without great significance. Buildings that were unfinished because the builders offended the gods are fairly abundant, and it is quite possible that the writer of Genesis 11:1-9 had some particular Bah structure in mind (see BABEL, TOWER OF). Nor are attempts of men to climb into heaven difficult to conceive, when the sky is thought of (as it nearly always was until comparatively modern times) as a material dome. So Greek Baruch (3:6) specifies that they "built the tower to the height of 463 cubits. And they took a gimlet, and sought to pierce the heaven, saying, Let us see whether the heaven is made of clay, or of brass, or of iron." Closely parallel to the Babel story is the Greek legend of the giants, who piled Pelion on Ossa in their attempt to storm the dwelling of the gods, and, as a matter of fact, the two accounts seem to be combined in Sib Or 3:97-104.
Whether aided by a tradition about some particular Babylonian tower or not, the localization of the story in Babylonia was inevitable. The Babylonians, above all nations in the world, relied on their wisdom and their skill, and so nowhere but in Babylon would this supreme presumption have been possible. Babylon, the embodiment of pride, at the very beginning of her existence was guilty of an act of pride so overwhelming as to call out God's vengeance. The "folk-etymology" babhel-balal (in Aramaic babhel-balbel) may have been suggested by this story or (perhaps more probably) it may have originated separately, perhaps at first as a piece of deliberate irony. Certainly the many languages that could be heard in Babylon were not without significance for the story.
6. Religious Value:
The religious value of the story is dimmed for the modern reader because of the very primitive concepts that it contains. The men are able to build up into heaven. In order to see what they are doing Yahweh is obliged to "come down." He is obliged to take action lest His dwelling-place be invaded (compare Genesis 3:22). And the "let us go down" of Genesis 11:7, while certainly not polytheistic, is equally certainly a polytheistic "remnant." On the other hand, it is to be noted that God's power is never in question and that there is no desperate and uncertain battle as in the Greek legend. Important, also (and often overlooked), is the realization that God's power is just as active in Babylon as it is in Palestine. The primal meaning to the Israelite, however, was this: In Babylon was seen the greatest enemy of the people of God, possessing immeasurable resources. Humanly speaking, there were no limits to this power, and if it had been uncontrolled at the beginning, all the world would have been overwhelmed with the rule of evil. This God had prevented.
Driver in HDB; Cheyne (art. "Babel, Tower of") in EB; the commentaries. on Gen, especially those of Skinner, Driver, Procksch, and Gunkel.
Burton Scott Easton
Confusion (71 Occurrences)
Acts 16:20 When they had brought them to the magistrates, they said, "These men, being Jews, are agitating our city, (See NAS)
Acts 17:5 But the Jews having been stirred up to jealousy, and taken to themselves certain wicked men of the lowest rabble, and having got a crowd together, set the city in confusion; and having beset the house of Jason sought to bring them out to the people; (DBY)
Acts 19:29 The whole city was filled with confusion, and they rushed with one accord into the theater, having seized Gaius and Aristarchus, men of Macedonia, Paul's companions in travel. (WEB KJV ASV DBY WBS YLT NAS RSV)
Acts 19:32 Some therefore cried one thing, and some another, for the assembly was in confusion. Most of them didn't know why they had come together. (WEB WEY ASV NAS RSV NIV)
Acts 21:31 And as they were seeking to kill him, tidings came up to the chief captain of the band, that all Jerusalem was in confusion. (ASV YLT NAS RSV)
1 Corinthians 14:33 for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. As in all the assemblies of the saints, (WEB KJV ASV WBS NAS RSV)
Galatians 1:7 For other "Good News" there is none; but there are some persons who are troubling you, and are seeking to distort the Good News concerning Christ. (See NIV)
Galatians 5:10 I have confidence in regard to you in the Lord, that ye will be none otherwise minded; and he who is troubling you shall bear the judgment, whoever he may be. (See NIV)
Galatians 5:12 I would that they would even cut themselves off who throw you into confusion. (DBY)
James 3:16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition are, there is confusion and every evil deed. (WEB KJV ASV WBS)
Exodus 14:3 Pharaoh will say of the children of Israel,'They are entangled in the land. The wilderness has shut them in.' (See NIV)
Exodus 14:24 It happened in the morning watch, that Yahweh looked out on the Egyptian army through the pillar of fire and of cloud, and confused the Egyptian army. (See NAS NIV)
Exodus 23:27 I will send my terror before you, and will confuse all the people to whom you come, and I will make all your enemies turn their backs to you. (See NAS RSV NIV)
Leviticus 18:23 Neither shalt thou lie with any beast to defile thyself therewith: neither shall any woman stand before a beast to lie down thereto: it is confusion. (KJV ASV DBY WBS YLT)
Leviticus 20:12 And if a man lie with his daughter in law, both of them shall surely be put to death: they have wrought confusion; their blood shall be upon them. (KJV ASV DBY WBS YLT)
Deuteronomy 7:23 But Yahweh your God will deliver them up before you, and will confuse them with a great confusion, until they be destroyed. (WEB NAS RSV NIV)
Deuteronomy 28:20 Yahweh will send on you cursing, confusion, and rebuke, in all that you put your hand to do, until you are destroyed, and until you perish quickly; because of the evil of your doings, by which you have forsaken me. (WEB DBY NAS RSV NIV)
Deuteronomy 28:28 Yahweh will strike you with madness, and with blindness, and with astonishment of heart; (See RSV NIV)
Joshua 10:10 Yahweh confused them before Israel, and he killed them with a great slaughter at Gibeon, and chased them by the way of the ascent of Beth Horon, and struck them to Azekah and to Makkedah. (See NIV)
1 Samuel 5:9 It was so, that after they had carried it about, the hand of Yahweh was against the city with a very great confusion: and he struck the men of the city, both small and great; and tumors broke out on them. (WEB NAS)
1 Samuel 5:11 They sent therefore and gathered together all the lords of the Philistines, and they said, "Send away the ark of the God of Israel, and let it go again to its own place, that it not kill us and our people." For there was a deadly confusion throughout all the city; the hand of God was very heavy there. (WEB NAS)
1 Samuel 14:20 Saul and all the people who were with him were gathered together, and came to the battle: and behold, every man's sword was against his fellow, and there was a very great confusion. (WEB DBY NAS RSV NIV)
2 Samuel 18:29 The king said, "Is it well with the young man Absalom?" Ahimaaz answered, "When Joab sent the king's servant, even me your servant, I saw a great tumult, but I don't know what it was." (See NIV)
Ezra 9:7 Since the days of our fathers we have been exceeding guilty to this day; and for our iniquities have we, our kings, and our priests, been delivered into the hand of the kings of the lands, to the sword, to captivity, and to plunder, and to confusion of face, as it is this day. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS)
Nehemiah 4:8 and they conspired all of them together to come and fight against Jerusalem, and to cause confusion therein. (WEB JPS ASV RSV)
Esther 3:15 The couriers went forth in haste by the king's commandment, and the decree was given out in the citadel of Susa. The king and Haman sat down to drink; but the city of Shushan was perplexed. (See NAS)
Job 10:15 If I be wicked, woe unto me; and if I be righteous, yet will I not lift up my head. I am full of confusion; therefore see thou mine affliction; (KJV WBS)
Job 30:14 They come in as through a wide breach: amid the confusion they roll themselves onward. (DBY)
Psalms 35:4 Let them be confounded and put to shame that seek after my soul: let them be turned back and brought to confusion that devise my hurt. (KJV JPS DBY WBS)
Psalms 35:26 Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that rejoice at mine hurt: let them be clothed with shame and dishonour that magnify themselves against me. (KJV JPS DBY WBS YLT RSV NIV)
Psalms 40:14 Let them be ashamed and brought to confusion together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be turned backward and confounded that take pleasure in mine adversity; (DBY JPS RSV NIV)
Psalms 44:7 But you have saved us from our adversaries, and have shamed those who hate us. (See RSV)
Psalms 44:9 But thou hast cast off, and put us to confusion, and dost not go forth with our armies; (DBY JPS)
Psalms 44:15 My confusion is continually before me, and the shame of my face hath covered me, (KJV JPS DBY WBS YLT)
Psalms 69:6 Let not them that wait for thee be put to shame through me, O Lord Jehovah of hosts: Let not those that seek thee be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (See JPS)
Psalms 69:7 Because for thy sake I have borne reproach; confusion hath covered my face. (DBY JPS)
Psalms 69:19 Thou knowest my reproach, and my shame, and my dishonor: Mine adversaries are all before thee. (See JPS)
Psalms 70:2 Let them be ashamed and confounded that seek after my soul: let them be turned backward, and put to confusion, that desire my hurt. (KJV JPS DBY WBS RSV NIV)
Psalms 71:1 In thee, O LORD, do I put my trust: let me never be put to confusion. (KJV WBS)
Psalms 71:13 Let them be put to shame and consumed that are adversaries to my soul; Let them be covered with reproach and dishonor that seek my hurt. (See JPS)
Psalms 71:24 My tongue also shall talk of thy righteousness all the day; for they shall be ashamed, for they shall be brought to confusion, that seek my hurt. (DBY NIV)
Psalms 74:21 Oh let not the oppressed return ashamed: Let the poor and needy praise thy name. (See JPS)
Psalms 83:16 Fill their faces with confusion, that they may seek your name, Yahweh. (WEB ASV)
Psalms 109:29 Let mine adversaries be clothed with shame, and let them cover themselves with their own confusion, as with a mantle. (KJV JPS DBY WBS)
Proverbs 18:13 He that giveth answer before he heareth, It is folly and shame unto him. (See JPS)
Proverbs 19:26 Whoso is spoiling a father causeth a mother to flee, A son causing shame, and bringing confusion. (YLT)
Isaiah 9:16 And the eulogists of this people are causing to err, And its eulogised ones are consumed. (See NAS)
Isaiah 19:14 The Lord has sent among them a spirit of error: and by them Egypt is turned out of the right way in all her doings, as a man overcome by wine is uncertain in his steps. (See RSV)
Isaiah 22:5 For it is a day of confusion, and of treading down, and of perplexity, from the Lord, Yahweh of Armies, in the valley of vision; a breaking down of the walls, and a crying to the mountains." (WEB NAS RSV)
Isaiah 24:10 The city of confusion is broken down: every house is shut up, that no man may come in. (KJV WBS)
Isaiah 30:3 Therefore the strength of Pharaoh will be your shame, and the refuge in the shadow of Egypt your confusion. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT)
Isaiah 34:11 But the pelican and the porcupine will possess it. The owl and the raven will dwell in it. He will stretch the line of confusion over it, and the plumb line of emptiness. (WEB KJV JPS ASV WBS RSV)
Isaiah 41:29 Behold, all of them, their works are vanity and nothing. Their molten images are wind and confusion. (WEB KJV JPS ASV WBS NIV)
Isaiah 45:16 They will be disappointed, yes, confounded, all of them. Those who are makers of idols will go into confusion together. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT RSV)
Isaiah 45:24 Only in Jehovah, it is said of me, is righteousness and strength; even to him shall men come; and all they that were incensed against him shall be put to shame. (See JPS)
Isaiah 59:4 None sueth in righteousness, and none pleadeth in truth; they trust in vanity, and speak lies, they conceive mischief, and bring forth iniquity. (See NAS)
Isaiah 61:7 For your shame ye shall have double; and for confusion they shall rejoice in their portion: therefore in their land they shall possess the double: everlasting joy shall be unto them. (KJV JPS DBY WBS YLT)
Jeremiah 3:25 Let us lie down in our shame, and let our confusion cover us; for we have sinned against Yahweh our God, we and our fathers, from our youth even to this day; and we have not obeyed the voice of Yahweh our God. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS YLT)
Jeremiah 7:19 Do they provoke me to anger? says Yahweh; do they not provoke themselves, to the confusion of their own faces? (WEB KJV JPS ASV WBS RSV)
Jeremiah 20:11 But the LORD is with me as a mighty terrible one: therefore my persecutors shall stumble, and they shall not prevail: they shall be greatly ashamed; for they shall not prosper: their everlasting confusion shall never be forgotten. (KJV JPS DBY WBS YLT)
Jeremiah 51:34 Nebuchadnezzar the king of Babylon has devoured me, he has crushed me, he has made me an empty vessel, he has, like a monster, swallowed me up, he has filled his maw with my delicacies; he has cast me out. (See NIV)
Jeremiah 51:51 We are confounded, because we have heard reproach; confusion has covered our faces: for strangers are come into the sanctuaries of Yahweh's house. (WEB JPS ASV DBY)
Ezekiel 16:52 Thou also, who hast judged thy sisters, bear thine own confusion, because of thy sins in which thou hast acted more abominably than they: they are more righteous than thou. So be thou ashamed also, and bear thy confusion, in that thou hast justified thy sisters. (DBY)
Ezekiel 16:54 that thou mayest bear thy confusion, and mayest be confounded for all that thou hast done, in that thou comfortest them. (DBY)
Ezekiel 16:63 that thou mayest remember, and be ashamed, and no more open thy mouth because of thy confusion, when I forgive thee all that thou hast done, saith the Lord Jehovah. (DBY)
Ezekiel 32:25 They have set him a bed in the midst of the slain, with all his multitude: their graves are round about him, all of them uncircumcised, slain by the sword, though their terror was caused in the land of the living; and they have borne their confusion with them that go down to the pit: he is put in the midst of them that are slain. (DBY)
Ezekiel 39:26 and they shall bear their confusion, and all their unfaithfulness in which they have acted unfaithfully against me, when they shall dwell safely in their land, and none shall make them afraid; (DBY)
Ezekiel 44:13 And they shall not draw near unto me, to do the office of a priest unto me, nor to draw near to any of my holy things, even to the most holy; but they shall bear their confusion, and their abominations which they have committed. (DBY)
Daniel 9:7 Lord, righteousness belongs to you, but to us confusion of face, as at this day; to the men of Judah, and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and to all Israel, who are near, and who are far off, through all the countries where you have driven them, because of their trespass that they have trespassed against you. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS RSV)
Daniel 9:8 Lord, to us belongs confusion of face, to our kings, to our princes, and to our fathers, because we have sinned against you. (WEB KJV JPS ASV DBY WBS RSV)
Micah 7:4 The best of them is like a brier. The most upright is worse than a thorn hedge. The day of your watchmen, even your visitation, has come; now is the time of their confusion. (WEB NAS RSV NIV)