THE TOWER OF BABYLON
Holy God, teach me Your ways today. Show me how to honor You.
Read Genesis 11:1–32
The Tower of Babel
11 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. 2 As people moved eastward,[a] they found a plain in Shinar[b] and settled there.
3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. 4 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; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6 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. 7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why it was called Babel[c]—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
From Shem to Abram
10 This is the account of Shem’s family line.
Two years after the flood, when Shem was 100 years old, he became the father[d] of Arphaxad. 11 And after he became the father of Arphaxad, Shem lived 500 years and had other sons and daughters.
12 When Arphaxad had lived 35 years, he became the father of Shelah. 13 And after he became the father of Shelah, Arphaxad lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters.[e]
14 When Shelah had lived 30 years, he became the father of Eber. 15 And after he became the father of Eber, Shelah lived 403 years and had other sons and daughters.
16 When Eber had lived 34 years, he became the father of Peleg. 17 And after he became the father of Peleg, Eber lived 430 years and had other sons and daughters.
18 When Peleg had lived 30 years, he became the father of Reu. 19 And after he became the father of Reu, Peleg lived 209 years and had other sons and daughters.
20 When Reu had lived 32 years, he became the father of Serug. 21 And after he became the father of Serug, Reu lived 207 years and had other sons and daughters.
22 When Serug had lived 30 years, he became the father of Nahor. 23 And after he became the father of Nahor, Serug lived 200 years and had other sons and daughters.
24 When Nahor had lived 29 years, he became the father of Terah. 25 And after he became the father of Terah, Nahor lived 119 years and had other sons and daughters.
26 After Terah had lived 70 years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.
27 This is the account of Terah’s family line.
Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran. And Haran became the father of Lot. 28 While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth. 29 Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milkah; she was the daughter of Haran, the father of both Milkah and Iskah. 30 Now Sarai was childless because she was not able to conceive.
31 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 Harran, they settled there.
32 Terah lived 205 years, and he died in Harran.
a Genesis 11:2 Or from the east; or in the east
b Genesis 11:2 That is, Babylonia
c Genesis 11:9 That is, Babylon; Babel sounds like the Hebrew for confused.
d Genesis 11:10 Father may mean ancestor; also in verses 11-25.
e Genesis 11:13 Hebrew; Septuagint (see also Luke 3:35, 36 and note at Gen. 10:24) 35 years, he became the father of Cainan. 13 And after he became the father of Cainan, Arphaxad lived 430 years and had other sons and daughters, and then he died. When Cainan had lived 130 years, he became the father of Shelah. And after he became the father of Shelah, Cainan lived 330 years and had other sons and daughters
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectRecall a time when you felt like God had totally disrupted your plans. How did you feel? Has anything good come out of it?
We backtrack from yesterday’s map of the world, to a time of one people and one language (1). “Shinar” is where Babylon was. Hold that thought. The residents decide to build a huge tower, up to heaven. God responds by peering down from on high and wondering what this little building project is. He comes down to have a look, and is not impressed.
The result is that the building project is stopped and people are scattered over all the earth (8). Well now… isn’t that pretty much what God had in mind for humankind back in Genesis 1 – to scatter and fll the earth (1:28)? Seems like it took God’s intervention, or judgment even, to get humanity back on track. This is another example of Genesis 1–11 showing us that God’s judgment is for good.
The place was called “Babel” (9). Interestingly, this is the standard Hebrew name for “Babylon.” Is there an echo here concerning ancient Israel’s troubles with the later Babylonian empire? It might have felt like the Babylonians were building towers to the sky and doing as they pleased, but the God of Israel would intervene, and set them right… eventually.
Are you working on something that feels unusually difcult and you can’t see the way ahead? Have you asked God for His viewpoint and agenda? Or are you trying to figure out your own plans?
Holy Spirit, I need Your wisdom today. I don’t want to run ahead with my own plans, I want to follow Your leading and direction.
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