The Tower of Babel | O Le ‘Olo o Papelu

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What happens when a prosperous people become prideful? They might decide to build a tower all the way up to heaven. The Tower of Babel is a classic, Biblical story about the time God changed everybody’s language because they tried to get to heaven the wrong way. This story is told here in the Samoan language with audio and English translations. Learn a few relevant Samoan words first to help you follow along. 

Samoan Words to Know

‘olo [AUDIO] tower
lolo [AUDIO] flood
fesili [AUDIO] question
gagana [AUDIO] language
‘a’ai [AUDIO] city
lalolagi [AUDIO] world
galue / galuega [AUDIO] work (v) / work (n)
malamalama [AUDIO] understand
fau [AUDIO] build
maualuga [AUDIO] high / tall
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O le ‘Olo o Papelu

Ina ua mae’a le lolo na ufitia atoa ai le foga’ele’ele, na o atu loa Noa ma lona aiga – fa’atasi ma meaola uma na fa’asaoina i luga o le va’a – ma ua nonofo i luga o le foga’ele’ele.

[ English ]

After the big flood that covered the whole earth, Noah and his family – with all the animals they saved on the ark – settled back on to the land.

O atali’i o Noa ma ō latou ta’ito’alua na maua ni ā latou fanau, ma na maua foi fanau a fanau, ma i ni augātupulaga mulimuli ane, na toe fa’atumulia le lalolagi i tagata.

[ English ]

Noah’s sons and their wives had children, and they had children, and then several generations later, the world was full of people again.

O nei tagata na fa’aauau pea ona maua ni ō latou aiga, na ō latou tausia lelei le lau’ele’ele ma na galulue malosi e fausia ni ‘a’ai lelei tele. Na faigofie mo latou le galulue fa’atasi aua e tasi i latou ma na ō latou tautalaina le gagana e tasi.

[ English ]

These people continued to have families and they took good care of the land and they worked hard to build great cities. It was easy for them to work together because they were all one people and they all spoke the same language.

E le’i pine ae amata loa ona mau’oloa ma fiafia tagata, ae o nisi taimi ina ua maoa’e le tamao’aiga o tagata, na ō latou fa’apea foi ona maua i le mimita vale.

[ English ]

Soon the people became wealthy and happy, but sometimes when people are successful, they can also become prideful.

I se tasi aso, na filifili loa tagata e fauina se ‘olo. Na o latou manana’o e fau se o’o sili lona malosi ma maualuga ia fa’apea ona o’o atu lona tumutumu i le lagi. Aisea? Ua sili nei ona mimita vale tagata ma ua manana’o e a’ea lo latou ‘olo ia o’o atu i le lagi ma avea i latou e pei o le Atua.

[ English ]

One day, the people decided to build a tower. They wanted to make their tower so strong and tall that it could reach the sky. Why? The people were so prideful now that they wanted to climb their tower into the heavens and become like God.

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Na ō latou amata fauina le ‘olo ma na ō latou fa’aigoaina o le ‘Olo o Papelu. Na galulue fa’atasi tagata e atia’e ma’a i luga o ma’a, fa’ata’oto piliki i luga o piliki, ina ia fauina lo latou ‘olo ia maualuga ma maualuga tele.

[ English ]

They began to build what they called the Tower of Babel. So many people worked together to place stone on stone, to lay brick on brick, to make their tower taller and taller.

Na silasila mai le Atua i le mea na faia e tagata, ma na Ia silafiaina o le mimita vale ua i ō latou loto aua o le fausiaina o le ‘olo e lē o se auala sa’o lea e alu atu ai i le lagi.

[ English ]

God saw what the people were doing, and He knew that pride was in their hearts because building a tower is not the right way to get into heaven.

Ae na silafia foi e le Atua se auala faigofie e taofia ai i latou.

I se tasi taeao, a’o amata ona galulue tagata i lo latou ‘olo, na i ai se mea mata’utia na tupu. Na fesili atu se tasi tamaloa mo se samala, ae na le malamalama le isi tamaloa i le mea lea e fai atu ai. Na taumafai le isi tamaloa e fai atu se tala, ae leai se isi na malamalama ia te ia. 

[ English ]

But God also knew a simple way to stop them.

One morning, as the people began to work on their tower again, something strange happened. One man asked for a hammer, but the other man couldn’t understand him. This second man tried to say something, but no one else could understand him either.

Na le’i pine ae iloa loa e tagata ua ‘ese’ese gagana ua ō latou tautala ai ma ua le mafai nei ona ō latou toe talanoa atu le isi tagata i le isi tagata. Na mafua ai le tele o le ita, ma na amata loa ona fa’amisa solo ma isi tagata – ma ua le toe mafai ai foi ona toe fausia le ‘olo.

[ English ]

Soon the people realized they were all speaking different languages and they could not communicate with each other. It caused a lot of anger, so the people started to fight with each other – and no one could continue to build the tower.

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I le i’uga, na taofia loa e tagata ona taumafai e galulue fa’atasi. Na ō latou tu’ua le ‘Olo o Papelu e le’i mae’a, ma ō latou tu’ua foi ō latou ‘a’ai matagofie ma ua salalau atu solo i le lalolagi.

[ English ]

Finally, the people stopped trying to work together. They left the Tower of Babel unfinished, and they even left their great cities and spread out around the world.

Na ave atu e tagata a latou gagana fou ma fausia ai ni tu ma aganu’u fou i atunu’u ‘ese’ese. O le tele o nei gagana o lo’o fa’apea lava ona i ai i le lalolagi i le taimi nei. O le fa’amanatuga o le mana o le Atua ma fa’amanatu foi le mea e ono tupu pe ‘ā fa’atumuina tagata i le loto fefete ma le mimita vale.

[ English ]

The people took their new languages with them and created new civilizations in different countries. Many of those languages are still in the world today. They are a reminder of God’s power and also what could happen when a people are filled with pride.

This Bible story was adapted by L T Arp and translated by Taimalietane Siioloa Arp, who also reads it here. Music from https://www.bensound.com/.

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