From Adamic or the language of the Garden of Eden until the Tower of Babel: the confusion of tongues and the earliest dialects attested

No, I didn’t have a revelation today. I am just offering a little support exactly to what Dawkins and his Brights dislike, to show them extreme action causes extreme (re)actions. I’d like to play their radical game, too, offering some help in linguistics to those who have only naïve theories on the language of Eden.

These are the statements about the Adamic language and the Tower of Babel as Abrahamic texts, beliefs and traditions show:

  • Adamic was the language spoken by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden. Adamic is typically identified with either the language used by God to address Adam, or the language invented by Adam (Book of Genesis 2:19).
  • The Genesis is ambiguous on whether the language of Adam was preserved by Adam’s descendants until the confusion of tongues (Genesis 11:1-9), or if it began to evolve naturally even before Babel (Genesis 10:5), into what is usually called Chaldaic:
    1. Dante in his De Vulgari Eloquentia argues that the Adamic language is of divine origin and therefore unchangeable.
    2. In his Divina Commedia, however, Dante changes his view to the effect that the Adamic language was the product of Adam. This had the consequence that it could not any longer be regarded immutable, and hence Hebrew could not be regarded as identical with the language of Paradise..
  • Also, the nature of that original language remains controversial, interpretations showing many nationalist flavours:
    • Traditional Jewish exegesis such as Midrash (Genesis Rabbah 38) says that Adam spoke Old Hebrew or rather its linguistic ancestor Proto-Canaanite, because the names he gives Eve – “Isha” (Book of Genesis 2:23) and “Chava” (Genesis 3:20) – only make sense in Hebrew.
    • Traditional Christians based on Genesis 10:5 have assumed that the Japhetite, or Indo-European, languages are rather the direct descendants of the Adamic language, having separated before the confusion of tongues, by which also Hebrew was affected.
      1. Early Christian fathers claimed that Adam spoke Latin to explain why God would make it the liturgical language of his Church, although “Latin” here would be a loose way of referring to its ancestor, Proto-Italic or older Europe’s Indo-European.
      2. Modern traditional Catholics follow Anne Catherine Emmerick’s revelations (1790), which stated that the most direct descendants of the Adamic language were Bactrian, Zend and Indian languages (i.e., the Indo-Iranian languages), associating the Adamic language with the then-recent concept of the “common source” of these tongues, now known as Proto-Indo-European:

        This language was the pure Hebrew, or Chaldaic. The first tongue, the mother tongue, spoken by Adam, Shem, and Noah, was different, and it is now extant only in isolated dialects. Its first pure offshoots are the Zend, the sacred tongue of India, and the language of the Bactrians. In those languages, words may be found exactly similar to the Low German of my native place.

    • Many Muslim scholars, following the traditional Jewish identification of Pre-Hebrew as the Adamic language, hence classified within the Semitic language family (which includes the Ge’ez language used in the Book of Enoch), claim that Pre-Arabic – hence Proto-(West-)Semitic – is the original Adamic language. Most of them do not believe the Semitic languages were the direct descendants of the Adamic language, but rather trace them back to Abraham, instead of Noah and Adam.
  • The confusion of tongues is the initial fragmentation of human languages described in the Book of Genesis 11:1–9, as a result of the construction of the Tower of Babel.

    And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all 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: and they left off to build the city.

    The language spoken by Noah and his descendants – whether the original Adamic language (either of divine origin or not) or the derived Chaldaic – split into seventy or seventy-two languages, according to the different traditions. The existence of only one language before Babel in Genesis 11:1

    And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech

    has sometimes been interpreted as being in contradiction to Genesis 10:5

    Of these were the isles of the nations divided in their lands, every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.

    1. This issue only arises, however, if Genesis 10:5 is interpreted as taking place before and separate from the Tower of Babel story, instead of as an overview of events later described in detail in Genesis 11.
    2. It also necessitates that the reference to the earth being “divided” (Genesis 10:25) is taken to mean the division of languages, rather than a physical division of the earth (such as in the formation of continents).

So, to sum up, these are the facts known to us from comparative linguistics, related to those Abrahamic beliefs and interpretations and the biblical chronology:

  • Mainstream linguists – without any links to religion, just based on comparative grammar – have accepted some form or other of language superfamilies, from Eurasiatic and Afro-Asiatic < Nostratic < Borean < Proto-World language, which would correspond loosely to that common language of the Genesis that was spoken before it was (instantly?) “confounded” into different languages, hence the similar (or even worse) results obtained in reconstructing subgroupings (say Indo-Uralic, Ural-Altaic) than with a more global Nostratic or even Proto-World language.
  • Most of the earliest attested, reconstructed or (generally accepted) hypothetic languages, like Old Egyptian; (Semitic) Akkadian, Pre-Proto-Canaanite; (Indo-European) Europe’s Indo-European, Proto-Indo-Iranian, Proto-Greek, Common Anatolian; (Uralic) Proto-Finno-Ugric; (Sino-Tibetan) Proto-Sinitic; (Pre-)Proto-Dravidic; etc. can be traced back – depending on the archeological findings and linguistic theories, inherently inexact – to ca. 2500 BC.
  • It is therefore odd that before that date everything is ‘more blurred’ (so to speak) in linguistic findings and reconstructions of older linguistic ancestors – as e.g. the hypothesized laryngeals (or their phonetic output) in Late Proto-Indo-European, or the difficult reconstruction of Proto-Semitic, not to talk about Proto-Uralic or Proto-Sino-Tibetan. This is the strongest argument to support a theoretical instant split of a common (Chaldaic or Adamic) language into 70 or 72 derived languages, which we know from attested inscriptions, reconstructions or hypothesis, or which disappeared without a trace.
  • About their classification into language “families”, they might be related to the families based on consanguinity as described in the Bible, but identifications of those families by modern scholars have blurred the possible links (if any) between older language superfamilies and Noah’s sons; cf. Japhetic‘s simplistic identification with Indo-European, or Semitic‘s with “Semitic” languages. However, the more traditional identification of Japheth’s sons with “European” peoples (and therefore Eurasiatic languages), and Shem’s sons with (the old concept of) “Asian” peoples (hence with Afro-Asiatic languages) is more reasonable, leaving Ham’s sons with (at least) Austric and Dené-Caucasian languages (see Borean language tree).
  • Many biblical interpretations of the Adamic language share therefore mistakes inherent to the culturally-biased and simplistic views of many scholars, hence the identification of the original tongue as Proto-Semitic by Jews and Muslims, Proto-Indo-European by many Christians (since Rasmus Rask‘s first description of it as “Japetisk”), Sanskrit or Indo-Iranian (Aryan) by Hinduism, etc. That has hindered a more rational interpretation of the Bible and other sacred texts in light of the newest academic findings.

To sum up, we cannot know if the Adamic language existed, or its nature; we don’t know if Chaldaic (the common language before Babel) was the same as Adamic, or if not, if it was global (Proto-World language) or local to the Middle East (Nostratic?) according to Genesis 10:5. We can, however, defend mainstream Abrahamic beliefs on the confusion of tongues and the Tower of Babel as possible (“probability” based on extrapolation has little to do with religion and even with social events happened more than 4000 years ago) and that the descendants of Noah might have spoken a common language until the centuries on either side of 2500 BC:

All that nonwithstanding any possible interpretations of Adamic or Chaldaic from Old Earth Creationists, who usually take the historical accounts of the Genesis (its literal interpretation) as real facts just from the Tower of Babel on, dismissing the rest of the biblical data from the Flood backwards, and indeed any timeline calculated with genealogies by Young Earth Creationists.

7 thoughts on “From Adamic or the language of the Garden of Eden until the Tower of Babel: the confusion of tongues and the earliest dialects attested

  1. how could it be Hebrew!!!!
    Hebrew and Arabic languages are the sister language of the Assyrian (Aramaic) ancient Akkadian and Babylonians where the Tower of Babel was build .

  2. Anne Catherine Emmerich clearly states:

    About NEW-TEMPORARY confused Hebrew:

    “Upon Heber who, as we have said, took no part in the work, God cast His eyes; and amid the general disorder and corruption, He set him and his posterity apart as a holy nation. God gave him also a new and holy language possessed by no other nation, that thereby his race should be cut off from communication with all others. This language was the pure Hebrew, or Chaldaic.”

    About OLD-ETERNAL unconfused Adamic:

    “The first tongue, the mother tongue, spoken by Adam, Sem, and Noe, was different, and it is now extant only in isolated dialects. Its first pure offshoots are the Zend, the sacred tongue of India, and the language of the Bactrians. In those languages, words may be found exactly similar to the Low German of my native place. The book that I see in modern Ctesiphon, on the Tigris, is written in that language.”

    More here:

  3. Because all languages grew from the original language, Adamic, there are sufficient traces of it in your head to allow you to understand parts of it.

    If you would like some examples that English speakers will be able to understand instantly, you can see some at

    More interestingly, they are very much part of prophecy that was fulfilled in the Gospels and that will be fulfilled again, beginning in a language of the Gentiles.

  4. Taking the intellectual, reasoning approach of the human mind to perceive the possible language spoken by our first parents before the fall is limited in its approach because our human understanding is flawed. Don’t misunderstand me, its good but can only take us so far in our perception to acquire true knowledge. I believe that we must look intently at the order and manner in which we were created and use the perception of that order to reach any true conclusion on any topic or doctrine. With that, let me emphatically state that I am an early creationist believer in the biblical account of genesis and all we need to know and perceive of our Creator has been recorded in scripture. I also believe in “solo scriptoro” (the bible and the bible alone) over all traditions solely invented by man. The Order: God said, Let us make man in our own image, in our Likeness and let him have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air…so God formed man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul. Body plus spirit equals soul. Picture it, God, knelt down and began fashioning the first man from the dirt, no doubt He added water to fashion Adam into claylike substance, and our bodies are 70% water, at least. GOD, THE CREATOR of all things, did not just speak us into existence, He became intimately involved in making every part of our body. This was personal for Him!!! This was one of His expressions of True Love toward us. Now, if God had stopped there and said, isn’t that magnificient! Look at that awesome, wonderful and fearfully made body of clay!! Isn’t he godlike in his form? All that would be true but Adam would have been lifeless-or dead-or less than living, just a blob of clay nicely formed. But God, breathed into Adam’s nostrils and Adam “became” a living soul or Adam “became” living, existing, like his Creator. What gave or should i say who gave Adam life? Adam’s Life-Force was birthed out of God’s Spirit. God is Life, True Life. God is Spirit, and those that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth.John4:4. “It is the Spirit that gives Life the flesh profits nothing, the words that I speak to you they our Spirit and they our Life. John 6:63&ff. When we fell in Eden, we died a real spiritual death. Cut off from our Creator but isn’t it interesting to note that even after Adam and Eve disobeyed God they could still hear Him. It is recorded in Gen3:8 And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God amongst the trees of the garden. Question, How does a voice walk? We live in a voice activated system! Though Adam and Eve could still hear God’s voice, they heard it in fear now, not in Faith because their fallen nature spirit and mind and body became subject to a new unauthorized authority, one who did not create them but they gave their once freewill to, satan. stay with me, i promise i will get to the point. Everything Created was created by sound, A Language, the language of God. The Spirit is likened unto the wind, you can’t see it with the natural eye but you can hear it and feel it whether its moving or not. You can only see the reaction to the wind; leaves moving, waves of sea motioning back and forth. But what about lanuage, literal tongue moving communication. Words are spirit. Words are produced by our lifeforce, our spirit which keeps our bodies alive. I do believe that there was a literal first language spoken by the first living, earthly being. That language was God’s spirit language, pure, good and undefiled. I am curious to know the first words Adam spoke when he became a living being or the meaning of the first words in Gods language, probably, God’s name in God’s language, “the language of Love. The bible says we have the mind of Christ. It says we must be renewed in the spirit of our minds. Jesus also told His disciples that one of the signs that would follow them would be that they spoke with new tongues. If when we become born again believers in Christ, If we are born of God’s Spirit, could it be that The Spirit of God comes with a Spiritual language as well? A language that only persons who are born of God’s spirit possesses and can communicate directly with God through? Don’t get me wrong, I believe that the Doctrine of speaking in tongues has been extremely abused by the charismatics. However, this does not make it altogether false or non-existent. For every true doctrine of Christ the enemy always has a counterfeit to deceive. Also, if this gift of God, of speaking with new tongues only refers to existing languages, unlearned languages to be able to preach the gospel in all nations, we can solve that problem ourselves by just studying different languages in our day, there were also scholars in the days of the disciples and apostles who could train individuals in different languages of their time and day. Why would God give us a gift that we could learn on our own by studying it. I would give much thought to the Kind of God we serve. Look at His creation, even in its fallen state, it speaks of God’s handiwork, beauty and character. No mere mortal could create, creation like God did. Man can only do as they were commanded by their Creator to do in the Beginning: multiply, subdue and replenish-have dominion. The gift that God gives us is His Spirit and His Spirit in us gives us abilities by God’s grace, to manifest these abilities in different ways. If this gift extends to a Holy, Godlike language, I would say that it deserves more study. Some say its demonic, but I have never heard an unsaved person speaking in tongues. Think about it, in the flesh a new born baby is trained in the language of the parents native tongue, is it so ludicrous to believe that our Father God who has adopted us into His Holy Family would possess a spiritual language, “His Own” which He, through His own eternal Spirit teaches us so that we can communicate with Him in a pure manner? According to 1 coriintians 14, when a person speaks in an unknown tongue, he speaks to God not man, he speaks mysteries in the spirit. Let me sum this up before the fall in Eden man had pure Godly language to communicated with his creator and being made in the same image as his creator, came with every ability to fellowship with his creator in unbroken communion, which sin and death caused. God who is love and because of that love wanted nothing more that to have His children back in unbroken fellowship with Him. He, who is LOVE, did only what love by its very nature does: Gives! He came himself looking for those created in His image. Though He knew they were blinded by sin and pride and self-sufficiently and kidnapped by the thief and the liar, He purposed in Himself that He would redeem His fallen sons and daughters and restore them to the place from whence that had fallen and even higher. But how would He do this without breaking His own Word, for He gave the earth to man and man created High treason and gave it to the enemy of God. God would Himself become as one of us, divinity clothed in humanity and demonstrate Who Love is and what Love does. Love lays down its very own existence. Love is stronger than death. Love is the LANGUAGE OF THE SPIRIT OF GOD!!! In the meantime while we are waiting for our glorified body and this earth to be made knew, through God’s Spirit in our born-again spirit we have fellowship with Him, we are one Spirit, joined to Christ Spirit and His Spirit teaches us all things. How to hear His voice and How to communicate with Him in Spirit and in Truth. We fellowship with God through Our born again spirit and in through God’s written Word, which is truth.

  5. What about Joktan? He and his descendants were no where near the Tower when the confusion ensued and had no part in it. Was his people’s language changed? He is the father of the Oriental people in the FAR east.

    If his language was not changed, and he spoke his father’s and grandfather’s and great grandfather’s language (all the way back to Noah, then to Adam), then what language were they speaking?

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