One language in the world, The building of Babel. (Verse 1-4.)
The confusion of tongues, The builders of Babel dispersed. (Verse 5-9.)
The descendants of Shem. (Verse 10-26.)
Terah, father of Abram, grandfather of Lot, they remove to Haran. (Verse 27-32.)
Here in chapter eleven we have the end of the Noahic Covenant and the beginning of the Abrahamic Covenant. The Noahic Covenant doesn’t really come to an end it is just overlapped by the Abrahamic Covenant.
1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
There were earlier references to languages in the preceding chapters but they were in reference to the future languages that would be spoken in those lands during the days that were to follow.
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.
[“Shinar” = Sumer, in modern Iraq.]
The plain in the land of Shinar is in modern day Iraq where the ancient City of Babylon was built.
3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
4 And 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.
[abroad – outdoors; away from home; scattered about]
The people were building a tower to the god of this world, they were not a part of the Godly line that walked according to Gods course but were as those recorded by Paul:
Ephesians 2:2 Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:
5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
[Gen 18:21, Psa 53:2]
6 And 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.
Through unity you can accomplish almost anything! These people however, were trying to accomplish their own will and not the Creators. Today there is a big push amongst Ecumenical circles to unite together and tear down Denominational barriers that separate the body of Christ.
God establishes all kinds of barriers to divide truth from darkness to protect us. We cannot yoke up with unbelievers or those who say that salvation is through our works or Church membership! God forbids it!
2 Corinthians 6:14Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? 15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? 16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, 18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.
Psalm 133:1 Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity!
God says in Amos 3:3 Can two walk together, except they be agreed? Unity is great but not at the expense of truth. Isn’t it amazing that the very same people who are saying doctrine divides are either the Liberals or the Tongues (Babel) crowd?
7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
[abroad – outdoors; away from home; scattered about]
9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
[abroad – outdoors; away from home; scattered about]
“Babel” = confusion, a name for Babylon
Strongs #894 Babel baw-bel’ from 1101; confusion; Babel (i.e. Babylon), including Babylonia and the Babylonian empire:–Babel, Babylon.
Strongs #1101 balal baw-lal’ a primitive root; to overflow (specifically with oil.); by implication, to mix; also (denominatively from 1098) to fodder:–anoint, confound, X fade, mingle, mix (self), give provender, temper.
“Babel” – this kingdom of Nimrod (10:10) began with direct rebellion against the words of God
No explanation is needed here, you just accept Gods word by faith. You don’t try to explain away the miraculous because in doing so you rob your hearers of the glory of God in the situation.
this effort of the people was in direct disobedience to the command of God in 9:1; after God confounded their languages, each group that spoke the same tongue (10:20 & 31) remained together.
10 These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood:
11 And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.
12 And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah:
13 And Arphaxad lived after he begat Salah four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.
14 And Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber:
15 And Salah lived after he begat Eber four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.
16 And Eber lived four and thirty years, and begat Peleg:
[1st Chron 1:19]
17 And Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters.
18 And Peleg lived thirty years, and begat Reu:
19 And Peleg lived after he begat Reu two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters.
20 And Reu lived two and thirty years, and begat Serug:
21 And Reu lived after he begat Serug two hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters.
22 And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor:
23 And Serug lived after he begat Nahor two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.
24 And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah:
25 And Nahor lived after he begat Terah an hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters.
Without Abram where would this world be? The atheist would say, “Good riddance, we would be better off if he had never been born,” but not the student of the word of God, because it is through Abram’s seed that redemption is made available to every member of Adam’s race.
Atheists have been thumbing their noses at God during their youth, and during their struggles, but many have later discarded their unwarranted bitterness towards God and have received mercy from Him in return.
God is longsuffering, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
For any Pagans reading this you have a lot in common with Abram because Joshua 24 tells us that Abram’s family was also Idol worshippers before God got ahold of him:
Joshua 24:2 And Joshua said unto all the people, Thus saith the Lord God of Israel, Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the flood in old time, even Terah, the father of Abraham, and the father of Nachor: and they served other gods.
To find the story of Abram we must go to the eleventh chapter of the book of Genesis. But to understand the whole story we must go back even further.
We must go back through the story of creation, through the fall of man, and through the flood by way of the ark of faith before we can begin to fully understand the significance of Abram’s life.
Which brings us to the place where we are now, back in Ur of the Chaldees (modern day Iraq). It is interesting to note that the Bible begins in a Garden of Eden and it also ends in a Paradise.
The Bible then proceeds from Eden to Babylon and it culminates with Mystery Babylon just prior to a Kingdom on this Earth in the Last Days ruled by Christ himself.
The story of Abram begins with his Father Terah, who was living in Ur of the Chaldees when his firstborn son Haran is born unto him.
Although Abram’s name is mentioned first in verse twenty-six, he is not the firstborn son as many would suppose, he was most likely born second .
26 And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
The three brothers were not triplets as you might suppose at first glance, but it was at the age of seventy that Terah had the first of his three sons.
Abram is mentioned first because of his preeminence over the other two, as is often seen throughout the Scriptures.
“Abram” (whose name is later changed to Abraham) becomes the central figure in the next few chapters of Genesis; his wife Sarah’s original name was “Sarai” (vs. 29)
27 Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.
[Gen 12:1, Josh 24:2, 1st Chron 1:27]
This verse initially leads us to believe that Haran is most likely the oldest of the three because he is the first to have a son.
28 And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.
How or why Haran died is not the story here, Abram is. All too often we waste God’s time and our own by asking questions that God never intended for us to know the answers to.
We do know that Haran’s death was especially hard on his father Terah because as we shall see later on that Terah names a city after his firstborn son and stays there until his own death. (Some say Terah named his Son after the city which is also possible).
It is most likely that Haran’s wife was dead by this time as well because it was customary to have the oldest surviving brother marry his deceased brother’s wife to raise up seed unto his brother, but this, as we shall see, does not happen.
29 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.
[Gen 17:15 Gen 22:20]
Notice that Nahor takes his brother Haran’s daughter as his wife. This implies a considerable age difference between the two siblings.
Nothing is mentioned ever again about Iscah or his fate. He may have lived out his days in Ur of the Chaldees with his Uncle Nahor. Nothing is recorded in Scripture to substantiate that Iscah made the trip to Haran with Abram.
30 But Sarai was barren; she had no child.
God withheld Sarai from having a son for many years for His own glory. Sarai did not become bitter during this trial as many through the ages have, but she allowed God to work through her during this time to prepare her for a much greater task later on, to be the mother of a great nation.
God would have Abram’s heir and the future heir of the promise that would soon be made to Abram born in the land of promise, not in the Pagan cities of Ur or Haran.
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.
Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot to go to the land of Canaan but for some reason stopped short (halfway) and ended up either establishing a city named after his firstborn son Haran or sojourning in the very city named after Haran.
We have a clearer understanding from chapter twelve and in other places that it was Abram alone that God called to leave that area. Terah, I believe, just decided to tag along, most likely not wanting to be separated from Abram, his second son.
32 And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.
Now we come to the death of Abram’s father in the city named after his older brother and we learn a little more about the ages of Haran and his much younger brother Abram.
If Terah was seventy years old when he begat Haran, and two hundred and five years old when he died, that would mean that Haran, if he would have lived, would have been one hundred thirty-five years old at the time of his father’s death.
And if Abram was his older brother he would have been older than that, but the Bible records that Abram was only seventy-five years old when he left his father’s grave in Haran. That would make Abram sixty years younger than his older brother Haran.
If the age difference is too much of a gap for you to swallow I suggest you go back to Genesis chapters one through eleven and re-read them by faith, for in them you find men living up to nine hundred and sixty-nine years, as was the case with Methuselah.
If you don’t believe that then this book is just another book of fairy tales to you and it is hardly worth your time.
But if you want to believe the Bible and are struggling with it, remember this: God, who is all powerful, created man to live forever and mankind fell into sin and the Bible records that the wages of sin is death.
Ezekiel 18:20 The soul that sinneth it shall die.
God warned Adam that in the Day that you eat thereof you shall surely die. Adam died spiritually, as most believe, but he also died physically in that same Day.
A Day is with the Lord as a thousand years and a thousand years as a Day. 2 Peter 3:8
Adam died in the same spiritual day that he disobeyed God which was prior to his reaching a thousand years on man’s time clock. Adam died at 930 years of age according to Genesis 5:5.
Psalm 90:4 For a thousand years in thy sight are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night.
A New Dispensation (Economy) would now begin
God was now going to operate differently than he had in the past with mankind. A new dispensation, or economy, was beginning between God and mankind and it would be through the person of Abram and his descendants that would come to be called Israel who would make up a future Kingdom that would one day rule and reign here on the Earth with the Messiah as a nation of Kings and Priests.
The word dispensation comes from the Greek word: Oikonomiah or Economy. The word is used of the Apostle Paul four times in his epistles, three of those times he refers to the dispensation, or economy, of grace that was given to him: 1 Corinthians 9:17, Ephesians 3:2 and Colossians 1:25.
It bears record that if a dispensation was given to Paul during the latter part of his life then there must have been other dispensations that came before the one God gave specifically to him.
Paul also mentions the word dispensation in regards to a future dispensation called the dispensation of the fullness of times, so from just these four times in Paul’s Epistles we learn that God is a dispensationalist, or God works differently with mankind at different times.
God also uses the Greek word Oikonomiah three more times in the Gospel of Luke which spoke to Israel just prior to the dispensation/economy of grace that was given to Paul to give to us in the body of Christ today.
Those three times are all found in Luke 16:2-4, and the word Oikonomiah is here translated as the word Stewardship. We are to be stewards or the stewardship we have been entrusted with from the Apostle Paul today just like any steward of any other dispensation.
Luke 16:2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. 3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. 4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses.
Of course, the word stewardship comes from the root word steward also found in these verses and it means a ruler over a household:
Luke 12:42 And the Lord said, Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his lord shall make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of meat in due season?
In Titus 1:7 Bishops (Pastors) are called the Stewards of God
The interesting thing I saw when comparing this account with the genealogies in chapter five is that Shem (Noah’s son) outlives Abraham by a considerable amount of time.
Commentary by Matthew Henry, 1710.
Verse 1-4 – How soon men forget the most tremendous judgments, and go back to their former crimes! Though the desolations of the deluge were before their eyes, though they sprang from the stock of righteous Noah, yet even during his life-time, wickedness increases exceedingly. Nothing but the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit can remove the sinful lusts of the human will, and the depravity of the human heart. God’s purpose was, that mankind should form many nations, and people all lands. In contempt of the Divine will, and against the counsel of Noah, the bulk of mankind united to build a city and a tower to prevent their separating. Idolatry was begun, and Babel became one of its chief seats. They made one another more daring and resolute. Let us learn to provoke one another to love and to good works, as sinners stir up and encourage one another to wicked works.
Verse 5-9 – Here is an expression after the manner of men; The Lord came down to see the city. God is just and fair in all he does against sin and sinners, and condemns none unheard. Pious Eber is not found among this ungodly crew; for he and his are called the children of God; their souls joined not themselves to the assembly of these children of men. God suffered them to go on some way, that the works of their hands, from which they promised themselves lasting honour, might turn to their lasting reproach. God has wise and holy ends, in allowing the enemies of his glory to carry on their wicked projects a great way, and to prosper long. Observe the wisdom and mercy of God, in the methods taken for defeating this undertaking. And the mercy of God in not making the penalty equal to the offence; for he deals not with us according to our sins. The wisdom of God, in fixing upon a sure way to stop these proceedings. If they could not understand one another, they could not help one another; this would take them off from their building. God has various means, and effectual ones, to baffle and defeat the projects of proud men that set themselves against him, and particularly he divides them among themselves. Notwithstanding their union and obstinacy God was above them; for who ever hardened his heart against him, and prospered? Their language was confounded. We all suffer by it to this day: in all the pains and trouble used to learn the languages we have occasion for, we suffer for the rebellion of our ancestors at Babel. Nay, and those unhappy disputes, which are strifes of words, and arise from misunderstanding one another’s words, for aught we know, are owing to this confusion of tongues. They left off to build the city. The confusion of their tongues not only unfitted them for helping one another, but they saw the hand of the Lord gone out against them. It is wisdom to leave off that which we see God fights against. God is able to blast and bring to nought all the devices and designs of Babel-builders: there is no wisdom nor counsel against the Lord. The builders departed according to their families, and the tongue they spake, to the countries and places allotted to them. The children of men never did, nor ever will, come all together again, till the great day, when the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of his glory, and all nations shall be gathered before him.
Verse 10-26 – Here is a genealogy, or list of names, ending in Abram, the friend of God, and thus leading towards Christ, the promised Seed, who was the son of Abram. Nothing is left upon record but their names and ages; the Holy Ghost seeming to hasten through them to the history of Abram. How little do we know of those that are gone before us in this world, even of those that lived in the same places where we live, as we likewise know little of those who now live in distant places! We have enough to do to mind our own work. When the earth began to be peopled, men’s lives began to shorten; this was the wise disposal of Providence.
Verse 27-32 – Here begins the story of Abram, whose name is famous in both Testaments. Even the children of Eber had become worshippers of false gods. Those who are through grace, heirs of the land of promise, ought to remember what was the land of their birth; what was their corrupt and sinful state by nature. Abram’s brethren were, Nahor, out of whose family both Isaac and Jacob had their wives; and Haran, the father of Lot, who died before his father. Children cannot be sure that they shall outlive their parents. Haran died in Ur, before the happy removal of the family out of that idolatrous country. It concerns us to hasten out of our natural state, lest death surprise us in it. We here read of Abram’s departure out of Ur of the Chaldees, with his father Terah, his nephew Lot, and the rest of his family, in obedience to the call of God. This chapter leaves them about mid-way between Ur and Canaan, where they dwelt till Terah’s death. Many reach to Charran, and yet fall short of Canaan; they are not far from the kingdom of God, and yet never come thither.