Genesis 11

Greetings!

Be sure to read Rebecca’s comment, as she provides some excellent background and analysis.

This chapter explains how different languages got started.  It also provides a good illustration of what happens when we build monuments to ourselves and not to God’s glory.

Genesis 11 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building.

I always wondered if the next line was the first example of sarcasm in the Bible. 

The Lord said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.” So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth. This is the account of Shem. Two years after the flood, when Shem was 100 years old, he became the father of Arphaxad. And after he became the father of Arphaxad, Shem lived 500 years and had other sons and daughters. When Arphaxad had lived 35 years, he became the father of Shelah. And after he became the father of Shelah, Arphaxad lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters. When Shelah had lived 30 years, he became the father of Eber. And after he became the father of Eber, Shelah lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters. When Eber had lived 34 years, he became the father of Peleg. And after he became the father of Peleg, Eber lived 430 years and had other sons and daughters. When Peleg had lived 30 years, he became the father of Reu. And after he became the father of Reu, Peleg lived 209 years and had other sons and daughters. When Reu had lived 32 years, he became the father of Serug. And after he became the father of Serug, Reu lived 207 years and had other sons and daughters. When Serug had lived 30 years, he became the father of Nahor. And after he became the father of Nahor, Serug lived 200 years and had other sons and daughters. When Nahor had lived 29 years, he became the father of Terah. And after he became the father of Terah, Nahor lived 119 years and had other sons and daughters. After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. This is the account of Terah. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth. Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milcah and Iscah. Now Sarai was barren; she had no children.

The next passage is a lead in to the story of Abram (later called Abraham) and his family.

Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and together they set out from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan. But when they came to Haran, they settled there. Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Haran.

Please post any comments or questions you have.

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2 Responses

  1. Side History of Interest – They typical Mesopotamian temple-tower, known as a ziggurat, was square at the base and had sloping, stepped sides that led upward to a small shrine at the top. Other Mesopotamian ziggurats were given names demonstrating that they, too, were meant to serve as staircases from earth to heaven: “The House of the Link between Heaven and Earth” (at Larsa), “The House of the Seven Guides of Heaven and Earth” (at Borsippa), “The House of the Foundation-Platform of Heaven and Earth” (at Babylon), “The House of the Montain of the Universe” (at Asshur). (I don’t know what was built first, but this could only mean one of two things. Either those at Babel saw these other ziggurats and were so egotistical that they had to make one bigger to establish some sort of power over other men, or they didn’t learn their lesson from Babel and continued to make these to reach heaven, but on a smaller scale.)

    Ur of the Chaldeans – Possibly in northern Mesopotamia, but more likely the site on the Euphrates in southern Iraq excavated by Leonard Woolley between 1922 and 1934. Ruins and artifacts from Ur reveal a civilization and culture that reached high levels before Abram’s time. King Ur-Nammu, who may have been Abram’s contemporary, is famous for his law code.

    Haran – In Hebrew the name of the town is spelled differently from that of Abram’s brother. The moon-god was worshiped at both Ur and Haran, and since Terah was an idolater (Joshua 24:2) he probably felt at home in either place. (Makes one wonder how Abram could be so different than his father in terms of their faith in God.) Haran was a flourishing caravan city in the 19th century B.C. In the 18th century it was ruled by Amorites, which means “westerner” (west from the Babylonian perspective).

  2. I appreciate this bit of history. Historical fact brings the thinking of that time to light and therefore gives greater insight into the Biblical Stories we love.

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