Language is “the method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way” (OED 2014). When we refer to speech, then it is “the expression of or the ability to express thoughts and feelings by articulate sounds” (OED 2014). When we refer to writing, then it is “a sequence of letters, words, or symbols marked on a surface” (OED 2014).
The Bible introduces us with the idea that G-d was capable of expressing His thoughts and feelings by means of verbal and written communication. He too was able to communicate to the Israeli people by writing out The Ten Commandments with His own finger. Though all of Israel both saw and heard the Creator performing such marvelous things, they oftentimes opted not to have this form of communication with the Creator; however, the Heavenly Father was still willing to recall them.
In like manner, the Bible introduces us with the notion that the Heavenly was not limited in expressing His thoughts and His feelings by means of either verbal or written communication. Yes, He has the ability to utilize a sequence of letters, words and symbols as well as mark them on a surface of some sort to express His ideas and thoughts.
Provided that many wish to understand the manner by which the Heavenly Father communicates with His creation, this study discusses this, the manner by which we identify as being a stammered and slurred speech.
Search Isaiah’s writings and you’ll soon discover that the Heavenly Father promised to speak to the children of Israel with a stammering tongue, a manner of speech.
“Indeed, with a stammering tongue and another language, I will speak to this people (i.e., Israel)” (Isaiah 28:11).
Now, some are under the impression that a stammering tongue is a spiritual language used by a person who is believed to be under the influence of the Holy Spirit. They may even reason that a stammering tongue is their spiritual prayer tongue, a miraculous event believed to be mysteriously given to them by the Holy Spirit that only the Heavenly Father himself can understand. Some may even say that a stammering tongue is a holy, heavenly language that no other human being can comprehend less the Spirit himself reveals it. However, a closer inspection into defining a stammering tongue will reveal just what exactly biblical authors, like Isaiah the Prophet and the Apostle Peter, were trying to say pertaining to the matter; but first, allow us to identify the meaning of a stammering tongue.
The Oxford English Dictionary defines a stammer as being an event that transpires when people “speak with sudden involuntary pauses and a tendency to repeat the initial letters of words,” the act of “say[ing] something with difficulty” The example that the Oxford English Dictionary provides us with is, “‘I ... I can’t,’Isabel stammered” (OED 2014). Quite simply, a stammer is a stutter and it is synonymously identified as such, an inability to speak out plainly.
According to the National Institute of Deafness And Other Communication Disorders, they explain a bit further the meaning of a stammering tongue.
Stuttering is a speech disorder in which sounds, syllables, or words are repeated or prolonged, disrupting the normal flow of speech. These speech disruptions may be accompanied by struggling behaviors, such as rapid eye blinks or tremors of the lips. Stuttering can make it difficult to communicate with other people, which often affects a person’s quality of life (NIDCD 2010).
Speech Language Pathologists continue to express the root causes of such dysfunctional speech patterns as being more commonly diagnosed by medical professionals to either being a developmental stuttering or a neurogenic stuttering, better known as disfluent speech. In reference to developmental stuttering and neurogeic stuttering, they express quite reasonably as to why these pathophysiological disorders occur. In other words, a stammering speech is a physiological disorder that can result from either a developmental or as a result of neurogenic reasons.
In reference to developmental stuttering, they express,
Developmental stuttering occurs in young children while they are still learning speech and language skills. It is the most common form of stuttering. Some scientists and clinicians believe that developmental stuttering occurs when children’s speech and language abilities are unable to meet the child’s verbal demands. Developmental stuttering also runs in families. In 2010, for the first time, NIDCD researchers isolated three genes that cause stuttering (NIDCD 2010).
In reference to neurogenic stuttering, they express,
Neurogenic stuttering may occur after a stroke, head trauma, or other type of brain injury. With neurogenic stuttering, the brain has difficulty coordinating the different components involved in speaking because of signaling problems between the brain and nerves or muscles (NIDCD 2010).
In short, a stammer is specifically a disfluent speech that can result from either a developmental occurrence among children, more prominent in boys than girls, or the result of a brain injury of some sort. It is very much a language. It takes a cognitive process and the physical ability to express such thoughts. It just so happens that suffers have some sort of impediment in expressing those cognitive processes that they themselves create within their very minds.
After identifying the meaning of a stammering tongue, this study will now focus its attention to what Isaiah the Prophet said when he penned, בְּלַעֲגֵי שָׂפָה (Hebrew for b’la’agei safáh) (Isaiah 28:11) and why define just a little further the meaning of a stammering tongue.
In order to appreciate fully Isaiah’s writings, it’s rather important to review the prophet’s writings and ensure we didn’t leave out any significant information; then, attempt to understand contextually the message that he wrote long ago (reference Isaiah 28:1 – 13).
Upon reading these verse, we notice that the prophet was denouncing the northern tribes of Israel for their behavior and attitude towards the Heavenly Father’s commandments. “What sorrow awaits the proud city of Samaria— the glorious crown of the drunks of Israel” (Isaiah 28:1 & 3). Provided that The Prophet does identify the proud city of Samaria as the glorious crown of the drunks, certain questions arise. Was the stammering of speech mentioned in Isaiah 28:11 the result of developmental or neurogenic stutter? Is it possible that the stammering tongue that The Prophet was speaking about was similar to that of the sluggish speech more common among drunks than the disfluent speech that were more common among children and older adults? If The Prophet Isaiah is talking about the sluggish speech that was more common among drunks, what are the mechanical processes that cause these effects?
Hence, we will review the effect alcohol has on the basic mechanism of the speech process that results in becoming sluggish and slurred at another time; however, we'd now like to present a better understanding of slurred speech.
Upon understanding that The Prophet is identifying the northern tribes of Israel as drunks, this very same prophet starts utilizing the drunkard’s folly as the means by which the Heavenly Father will correct the erroneous ways of Israel for following after false idols. He planned to do so by having Israel relearn each precept after precept as contained in Torah. The Heavenly Father planned to speak to Israel with a stammering tongue in the sense that He would repeat to them Torah's commandments a line at a time, a little here and a little there, as the children of Israel would relearn His ways.
9 “Who does Hashem think we are?” they ask. “Why does he speak to us like this? Are we little children, just recently weaned? 10 He tells us everything over and over—one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there!” 11 “Indeed, with a stammering tongue and another language, I (i.e., Hashem) will speak to this people (i.e., Israel).” 12 Elohim has told his people, “Here is a place of rest; let the weary rest here. This is a place of quiet rest.” But they (i.e., Israel) would not listen. 13 So Hashem will spell out his message for them again, one line at a time, one line at a time, a little here, and a little there, so that they will stumble and fall. They will be injured, trapped, and captured (Isaiah 28:9-13).
In other words, the Heavenly Father has planned to confound the Israelis’ language by dispersing them into the Assyrian Kingdom. Then, after being enslaved into a very foreign culture, the Israeli people were expected to return to the ways of Elohim by committing themselves to praying in the Hebrew tongue and learning each word, each line, each mitzvah like a stuttering bar-mitzvah student who is trying to understand the prophetic message that was given under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Granted, many do not perceive a stammering to be such, but it is what the Prophet wrote. Any one can read this information for themself in the Word.
Even though The Prophet Isaiah stated that the Heavenly Father would speak to the nation of Israel in such a manner of speech, so too he made mention of yet another prophecy towards the Israeli people who were dispersed among the Gentile nations.
17 Your eyes will see the King in His beauty; They (i.e., Israel) will behold a far-distant land (i.e., Judah). 18 Your heart will meditate on terror: “Where is he who counts? Where is he who weighs? Where is he who counts the towers?
19 You will no longer see a fierce people, a people of unintelligible speech which no one comprehends, of a stammering tongue which no one understands. 20 Look upon Zion, the city of our appointed feasts (i.e., moadim); Your eyes will see Jerusalem, an undisturbed habitation, A tent which will not be folded; Its stakes will never be pulled up, Nor any of its cords be torn apart. 21 But there the majestic One, Hashem, will be for us a place of rivers and wide canals on which no boat with oars will go, and on which no mighty ship will pass— 22 For Hashem is our judge, Hashem is our lawgiver, Hashem is our king; He will save us— (Isaiah 33:17-22)
What, then, was the Heavenly language that the people of Israel expected to communicate in with the Heavenly Father? What stammering speech was they expected to hear? The Apostle Peter affirms,
18 We (i.e., Israel) ourselves heard that voice from heaven when we were with him on the holy mountain. 19 Because of that experience (i.e., hearing that voice from heaven), we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Messiah the Morning Star shines in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding, 21 or from human initiative. No, those prophets (i.e., in the Hebrew Bible) were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from Elohim. (2 Peter 1:18-21, NLT).
What, then, do we learn about a stammering tongue? Firstly, a stammering speech was a description that the Heavenly Father used to mock
Israel’s ways of spiritual drunkenness with false idols. Secondly, the people of Israel realized themselves that they were being spoken to as little children
when they learned Torah as a result of their disobedience to His ways. Also, Israel realized that those who mocked them would stutter foreign languages at them as they learned the commandments of Elohim in an oppressive, foreign land.
In this study, we appreciate that the voice Israel heard coming forth from heaven was Hebrew, the Heavenly language that Moses used under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to pen Torah, the very same language that Isaiah spoke to pen his warnings, as well as the very same writing that the Apostle Peter informed his Israeli readers NOT to ignore. Lastly, Isaiah The Prophet gave Israel the assurance that they would no longer have to deal with these people who spoke to them with a stammering tongue; rather, they would be able to one day learn the ways of Elohim in their then distant land of Jerusalem as they continued to hope for a return to the land of their ancestors.
© 2014 by Nehr HaOlam Publications.
Winslow, New Jersey, USA
All Rights Reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scriptures were taken from the New Living Translation of the Bible.
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