XXXVIII. (190) This, now, is our opinion upon and interpretation of this passage. But they who follow only what is plain and easy, think that what is here intended to be recorded, is the origin of the languages of the Greeks and barbarians, whom, without blaming them (for, perhaps, they also put a correct interpretation on the transaction), I would exhort not to be content with stopping at this point, but to proceed onward to look at the passage in a figurative way, considering that the mere words of the scriptures are, as it were, but shadows of bodies, and that the meanings which are apparent to investigation beneath them, are the real things to be pondered upon. (191) Accordingly, this lawgiver usually gives a handle for this doctrine to those who are not utterly blind in their intellect; as in fact he does in his account of this very event, which we are now discussing: for he has called what took place, confusion; and yet, if he had only intended to speak of the origin of languages, he would have given a more felicitous name, and one of better omen, calling it division instead of confusion; for things that are divided, are not confused, but, on the contrary, are distinguished from one another, and not only is the one name contrary to the other, but the one fact is contrary to the other fact. (192) For confusion, as I have already said, is the destruction of simple powers for the production of one concrete power; but division is the dissection of one thing into many parts, as is the case when one distinguishes a genus into its subordinate species so that, if the wise God had ordered his ministers to divide language, which was previously only one, into the divisions of several dialects, he would have used more appropriate expressions, which should have given a more accurate idea of the case: calling what he did, dissection, or distribution, or division, or something of that kind, but not confusion, a name which is at variance with all of them. (193) But his especial object here is to dissolve the company of wickedness, to put an end to their confederacy, to destroy their community of action, to put out of sight and extirpate all their powers, to overthrow the might of their dominion, which they had strengthened by fearful lawlessness. (194) Do you not see that he also who made the parts of the soul did not unite any one part to another in such a way as to enable one to discharge the duties of the other? But the eyes would never be able to hear, nor the ears to see, nor the lips of the mouth to smell, nor the nostrils to taste; nor, again, could reason ever be exposed to those influences which operate upon upon the outward senses, nor again, would the outward senses be able to develop reason. (195) For the Creator knew that it was desirable that each of these parts should not hear the voice of its neighbour, but that the parts of the soul should each exert its own peculiar faculties without confusion, for the advantage of living animals, and should, with the same object, be deprived of any power of exerting themselves in common, and that all the powers of vice should be brought to confusion and utter destruction, so that they might neither in confederacy, nor separately, be injurious to the better parts. (196) On which account Moses tells us, “The Lord scattered them from thence;” which is equivalent to, he dispersed them, he put them to flight, he banished them, he destroyed them; for to scatter is sometimes done with a view to production, and growth, and increase of other things; but there is another kind which has for its object overthrow and destruction: but God, the planter of the world, wishes to sow in every one excellence, but to scatter and drive from the world accursed impiety; that the disposition which hates virtue may at last desist from building up a city of wickedness, and a tower of impiety; (197) for when these are put to the rout, then those who have long ago been banished by the tyranny of folly, now, at one proclamation, find themselves able to return to their own country. God having drawn up and confirmed the proclamation, as the scriptures show, in which it is expressly stated that, “Even though thy dispersion be from one end of heaven to the other end of heaven, he will bring thee together from Thence.”{60}{#de 30:4.} (198) So that it is proper that the harmony of the virtues should be arranged and cherished by God, and that he should dissolve and destroy wickedness; and confusion is a name most appropriate to wickedness, of which every foolish man is a visible proof, having all his words, and intentions, and actions, incapable of standing an examination and destitute of steadiness.