Genesis – Chapter 11

The Bible – Old Testament

 Genesis

Index

Genesis

Chapter 11

1

1 The whole world spoke the same language, using the same words.

2

2 While men were migrating in the east, they came upon a valley in the land of Shinar and settled there.

3

They said to one another, “Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire.” They used bricks for stone, and bitumen for mortar.

4

3 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky, and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth.”

5

LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men had built.

6

Then the LORD said: “If now, while they are one people, all speaking the same language, they have started to do this, nothing will later stop them from doing whatever they presume to do.

7

Let us then go down and there confuse their language, so that one will not understand what another says.”

8

Thus the LORD scattered them from there all over the earth, and they stopped building the city.

9

4 That is why it was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the speech of all the world. It was from that place that he scattered them all over the earth.

10

5 This is the record of the descendants of Shem. When Shem was one hundred years old, he became the father of Arpachshad, two years after the flood.

11

Shem lived five hundred years after the birth of Arpachshad, and he had other sons and daughters.

12

6 When Arpachshad was thirty-five years old, he became the father of Shelah.

13

Arpachshad lived four hundred and three years after the birth of Shelah, and he had other sons and daughters.

14

When Shelah was thirty years old, he became the father of Eber.

15

Shelah lived four hundred and three years after the birth of Eber, and he had other sons and daughters.

16

7 When Eber was thirty-four years old, he became the father of Peleg.

17

Eber lived four hundred and thirty years after the birth of Peleg, and he had other sons and daughters.

18

When Peleg was thirty years old, he became the father of Reu.

19

Peleg lived two hundred and nine years after the birth of Reu, and he had other sons and daughters.

20

When Reu was thirty-two years old, he became the father of Serug.

21

Reu lived two hundred and seven years after the birth of Serug, and he had other sons and daughters.

22

When Serug was thirty years old, he became the father of Nahor.

23

Serug lived two hundred years after the birth of Nahor, and he had other sons and daughters.

24

When Nahor was twenty-nine years old, he became the father of Terah.

25

Nahor lived one hundred and nineteen years after the birth of Terah, and he had other sons and daughters.

26

When Terah was seventy years old, he became the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.

27

This is the record of the descendants of Terah. Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran, and Haran became the father of Lot.

28

8 Haran died before his father Terah, in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans.

29

Abram and Nahor took wives; the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah, daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and Iscah.

30

Sarai was barren; she had no child.

31

9 Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot, son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and brought them out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to go to the land of Canaan. But when they reached Haran, they settled there.

32

10 The lifetime of Terah was two hundred and five years; then Terah died in Haran.

1 [1-9] This story, based on traditions about the temple towers or ziggurats of Babylonia, is used by the sacred writer primarily to illustrate man’s increasing wickedness, shown here in his presumptuous effort to create an urban culture apart from God. The secondary motive in the story is to present an imaginative origin of the diversity of the languages among the various peoples inhabiting the earth, as well as an artificial explanation of the name “Babylon.”

2 [2] Shinar: see note on  Genesis 10:10.

3 [4] Tower with its top in the sky: a direct reference to the chief ziggurat of Babylon, the E-sag-ila, signifying “the house that raises high its head.” Babylonian ziggurats were the earliest skyscrapers.

4 [9] Babel: the Hebrew form of the name “Babylon”; the native name, Bab-ili, means “gate of the gods.” The Hebrew word balil, “he confused,” has a similar sound. Apparently the name referred originally only to a certain part of the city, the district near the gate that led to the temple area.

5 [10-26] This section is a continuation of the genealogical record given in  Genesis 5:1-32; see note there. Although the ages of the patriarchs in this list are much lower than those of the antediluvian patriarchs, they are still artificial and devoid of historical value. The ages given here are from the current Hebrew text; the Samaritan and Greek texts have divergent sets of numbers in most cases.

6 [12] The Greek text has a certain Kenan (cf  Genesis 5:9-10) between Arpachshad and Shelah. This text is followed in  Luke 3:36.

7 [16] Eber: the eponymous ancestor of the Hebrews, “descendants of Eber” ( Genesis 10:21,  24-30); see note on  Genesis 14:13.

8 [28] Ur of the Chaldeans: Ur was an extremely ancient city of the Sumerians (later, of the Babylonians) in southern Mesopotamia. The Greek text has “the land of the Chaldeans.” In either case, the term Chaldeans is an anachronism, because the Chaldeans were not known to history until approximately a thousand years after Abraham’s time.

9 [31] The Samaritan and Greek texts include Nahor and his wife in Terah’s migration to Haran. Although this is probably due to scribal harmonization, Nahor’s family actually did migrate to Haran; cf  Genesis 24:10;  27:43.

10 [32] Since Terah was seventy years old when his son Abraham was born ( Genesis 11:26), and Abraham was seventy-five when he left Haran ( Genesis 12:4), Terah lived in Haran for sixty years after Abraham’s departure. According to the tradition in the Samaritan text, Terah died when he was one hundred and forty-five years old, therefore, in the same year in which Abraham left Haran. This is the tradition followed in St. Stephen’s speech: Abraham left Haran “after his father’s death” ( Acts 7:4).

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