The Tower of Babel
11 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
These are the generations of Shem. When Shem was 100 years old, he fathered Arpachshad two years after the flood. And Shem lived after he fathered Arpachshad 500 years and had other sons and daughters.
When Arpachshad had lived 35 years, he fathered Shelah. And Arpachshad lived after he fathered Shelah 403 years and had other sons and daughters.
When Shelah had lived 30 years, he fathered Eber. And Shelah lived after he fathered Eber 403 years and had other sons and daughters.
When Eber had lived 34 years, he fathered Peleg. And Eber lived after he fathered Peleg 430 years and had other sons and daughters.
When Peleg had lived 30 years, he fathered Reu. And Peleg lived after he fathered Reu 209 years and had other sons and daughters.
When Reu had lived 32 years, he fathered Serug. And Reu lived after he fathered Serug 207 years and had other sons and daughters.
When Serug had lived 30 years, he fathered Nahor. And Serug lived after he fathered Nahor 200 years and had other sons and daughters.
When Nahor had lived 29 years, he fathered Terah. And Nahor lived after he fathered Terah 119 years and had other sons and daughters.
When Terah had lived 70 years, he fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
Now these are the generations of Terah. Terah fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran fathered Lot. Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his kindred, in Ur of the Chaldeans. And Abram and Nahor took wives. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah. Now Sarai was barren; she had no child.
Terah took Abram his son and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram’s wife, and they went forth together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan, but when they came to Haran, they settled there. The days of Terah were 205 years, and Terah died in Haran.
Genesis 11 Commentary
by Hank Workman
The Tower of Babel came about in man’s thinking as a rebellion to the one and true God. It was part of Nimrod’s Kingdom, a man mentioned in chapter 10 who turned contrary to God and His ways. Josephus, the Hebrew historian specifically mentioned it was Nimrod who was a tyrant and determined to lead people away from God had been part of this endeavor. No city or building had been built like this before this time. In fact, most fascinatingly Greek historian Herodotus recorded that in his lifetime of 484 – 425 BC he had actually seen the tower still standing.
It became a testament to what happens when people stand and rise up against God.
For as these people began to build this city, their ways and determination was to move completely away from God and build a name for themselves. The story speaks of how God stepped in and did an amazing thing – brought confusion to their ways. Suddenly they could not understand one another, their language changed. This ceased the building of the tower and scattered the people groups.
We often think and know God is not a God of confusion. Or at least that’s our perception. What Paul wrote of this though is in regards to the church found in 1 Corinthians. He is not a God of confusion to His own people. However, those who are not followers of Him, that is not the case. God will confuse and thwart the plans of man when they directly set themselves up against Him. How that plays out in real-time, we don’t know – but one thing is certain, the righteous will be those who walk assuredly and confidently within the realm of their obedience as He gives wisdom to His people.
The entire account of Babel with its anti-God organization and rebellion shows a complete disregard to Him and not living in His promises or within relationship. The story shows how quickly heart of man was turned against God. Time, progress, government and so many other things in this current century shows we are not better off but far from it as we have become self-sustained and self-made.
It really causes a pause in our life story to consider. Are we currently under a confusion of thought? Are we finding we’re not working in sync with whatever we want to do? Has God allowed or brought upheaval and chaos to the things we are pursuing? Maybe it’s time to step back and assess our heart. Maybe it’s time to consider our own Babel we’re building that has nothing to do with God’s plan or will for our life.
Genesis 11 Commentary
by Brad Boyles
As Hank mentioned, Josephus wrote of how the Tower of Babel originated from the heart and mind of Nimrod.
“Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. He was the grand-son of Ham, the son of Noah: a bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God, as if it was through his means that they were happy; but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness. He also gradually changed the government into tyranny; seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence on his own power. He also said, “He would be revenged on God, if he should have a mind to drown the world again: for that he would build a Tower too high for the waters to be able to reach; and that he would avenge himself on God for destroying their fore-fathers.””Josephus
Can you believe it? According to Josephus, Nimrod convinced the people that their prosperity was through their own strength and decision-making… not God’s. He convinced the people to believe they were courageous and in control of their own happiness. Nimrod actually believed he was wiser and stronger than God and concocted a plan to try and stay one step ahead. He would construct a tower so mighty that God’s flood would not be able to destroy it.
Although these statements contain heinous amounts of pride, there is something else to consider. Nimrod believed in God but did not trust Him. God had already promised the world (good, bad, or ugly) that He would never again destroy his creation through a flood. Nimrod simply didn’t believe him, and this led to a building project that was a complete waste of life.
There are parallels to be drawn.
When we lack faith in God, we waste our life. We waste it because we try and control something that is uncontrollable. We waste it because we turn our motives inwardly becoming completely self-centered. We waste it because our time is given to projects that will perish after we die. In many ways, pride is the opposite of trust, and it leads to a wasted life.
The pride of Nimrod fooled him into thinking that making something happen in life depended solely upon him. Trust would have required that he rely on someone else – something he was unwilling to do. If trust is a vehicle that takes us toward God, humility is the road we must drive on and faith is the fuel in our tanks. We can do nothing in this life apart from Jesus.