Genesis Chapter Eleven
Read Genesis 11:1-10 –
v.1 “And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.”
After the flood the
descendants of Noah were divided into tribes, nations and lands (Genesis 10:5). It was God’s purpose for them to spread out,
fill and replenish the earth. We learn
from God’s recording of the dispersion at
Joshua 18:3 “And Joshua said unto the children of
One of the things that helped them continue in this situation was that they were all of one language.
v.2 “And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.”
v.3-4 “And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar. 4And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”
Far from being the ignorant cave men depicted by evolutionary science these men exhibit skills still practiced 4400-4500 years later. They knew how to make brick; they did not have mortar but knew what would work as a substitute. What is slime? Its pitch, tar but with a high mineral content and consequently stronger that the product that we refine from oil today; strong enough to be used as mortar. They had the skills to build building of multiple stories, the political ability to bring large groups of people together in a common cause and many other things that would be necessary to undertake this kind of an endeavor. And what was the reason they wanted to do this great building? They didn’t want to be scattered over the earth. They are still in the shadow of the ark, they flood that destroyed man because of his rebellion against God is a recent memory, but man returns to his mindset of defiance and rebellion. They want to make a name for themselves in the eyes of men, they have become selfish and self-centered.
v.5-6 “And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. 6And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.”
God acknowledges that
this creature that he has given the ability to reason can do whatever his
imagination can devise. So God came down
to see what the children of men were up to.
What is the significance that the term “children of men” that we learned
in our earlier studies? They did not
follow God or respect God’s covenants. Even
though God knows all; in various places in scripture he is said to visit a
local situation in order to see more clearly what is being done.
Paul tells the Athenians on Mar’s Hill:
“And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;” Acts
But in addition to being of one blood, as we can readily see here, at this time man is also of one language.
v.7-8 “Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech. 8So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.”
God knows what to do to
correct this problem. He confounds their
language so that they could not understand one another. We don’t know how many languages he created,
we don’t know how many tribes or groups of people this great congregation
became but we are told that he scattered them across the face of all the
earth. So where did the American Indian,
the Australian native, the South Seas Islanders and all of these diverse people
come from? Their ancestors came from the
plain of Shinar in
is the name of it called
I Corinthians “If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?”
This city in later history became
Read Genesis -26 – The Generation of Shem
v.10-11 “These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood: 11And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.”
We now have the generations of Shem. A more detailed listing than was given in chapter 9. Again, this is given to provide us with the linage of the seed promise, the Messiah that God will eventually send to provide mankind a release from the curse brought upon them by sin.
v.12-13 “12And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah: 13And Arphaxad lived after he begat Salah four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.”
In the linage of Joseph given in Luke we find Salah:
“Which was the son of Cainan, which was the son of Arphaxad, which was the son of Sem, which was the son of Noe, which was the son of Lamech,” Luke 3:36
Is there a contradiction here between Genesis 11 and Luke 3? No, we simply have a situation where not every generation is listed. Even the word beget today means simply to “generate offspring”, it does not distinguish between whether that is done directly or indirectly through a succeeding generation. (ibid).
v.14-15 “And Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber: 15And Salah lived after he begat Eber four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.”
Again we find Eber, Heber in the New Testament, the man credited with being the father of the Hebrew peoples.
v.16-17 “And Eber lived four and thirty years, and begat Peleg: 17And Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters.”
Again we find a parallel to the genealogy of Joseph with a little different name spelling:
Luke “Which was the son of Saruch, which was the son of Ragau, which was the son of Phalec, which was the son of Heber, which was the son of Sala,”
v.18-19 “And Peleg lived thirty years, and begat Reu: 19And Peleg lived after he begat Reu two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters.”
As we noted in our
study of the generations of chapter 10, Peleg was
born during the time of the division due to language at the
v.20-23 “And Reu lived two and thirty years, and begat Serug: 21And Reu lived after he begat Serug two hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters. 22And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor: 23And Serug lived after he begat Nahor two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.”
This is the first Nahor, he also had a grandson, a brother to Abram by that name.
v.24-26 “And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and
begat Terah: 25And Nahor lived after he begat Terah an hundred and
nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters. 26And Terah lived
seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and
Thus we have the generations of Shem down to Abram or Abraham. Again confirmed by Luke:
Luke “Which was the son of Jacob, which was the son of Isaac, which was the son of Abraham, which was the son of Thara, which was the son of Nachor,”
Their names are spelled a little differently in the record written directly in the Greek language than they are in the Greek translation of the Old Testament Hebrew but they are still the same men. This same genealogy can also be found in Joshua 24:2.
Read Genesis -32 – The Move from
v.27-28 “Now these are the generations
of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot. 28And
The home of Terah and his sons, specifically Abram, was the city of
v.29-30 “And Abram and Nahor took them 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 the father of Iscah. 30But Sarai was barren; she had no child.”
The Holy Spirit records for us the names of the wives of Abram and Nahor, perhaps because it is from the descendants of Nahor that both Isaac and Jacob take their wives. Nahor was married to his niece, the daughter of his brother but Sarai was barren. This situation allowed Isaac, the ancestor of our Lord, to be conceived by a miracle, God setting aside his natural law. This is another sign of God’s directing, preparing and bringing to reality His plan for man’s redemption from sin.
v.31 “And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.”
The call from God to
Abram to travel to the land of promise is not recorded in this chapter. We’re simply told that Terah
took parts of his family and traveled to
Again if you go to your
trade route map, the city of
This record says
nothing about Nahor moving to
v.32 “And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.”