Man ever builds under the heavens, seeking a name and a portion in the earth. The believer builds on an imperishable foundation laid in heaven by God. Man’s devices all fail.
1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
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.
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.
5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
26 And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
27 ¶ Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.
28 And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.
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.
30 But Sarai was barren; she had no child.
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.
32 And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.
Genesis 11:1-9 – The Confusion of Tongues
Driven by the fear of another deluge, though God had given distinct assurances to the contrary, and impelled by the desire to perpetuate their name and memory to coming generations, Noah’s descendants began to build on the plain of Shinar—a fertile valley watered by the Euphrates and Tigris. Babel, Babylon and Babylon the Great, such is the lineage of the apostasy which has ever opposed the Church of God; like a shadow, stealing along the wall at our side. To Babel we must oppose Abraham; to Babylon, Jerusalem; to Babylon the Great, the Bride, the Lamb’s wife. “Come out of her, my people” (Revelation 18:4), is the cry that rings down the ages. God comes down to see! From him no secrets are hid. All things are naked and open to His eyes. The one language refers to the pronunciation; speech to the stock of words; God confounded their language. When disunion prevails, destruction follows. But Pentecost and Heaven will undo the wreck of Babel. See Revelation 7:9. —Through the Bible Day by Day
Genesis 11:1-4 – J. Vernon McGee
Genesis 11:5-9 – J. Vernon McGee
Genesis 11:7 – Let us go Down.
God comes down into human life. Though the world is corrupt and full of violence; though his arch-enemy has taught man to dread and hate Him; though attempts are on foot to resist Him in open rebellion, by making a unity apart from Him, and in exclusion of his corner-stone, yet He comes down.
He comes down to see.—He will not pronounce judgment till He has satisfied Himself by personal inspection how things stand. He comes down to our bedrooms, and overhears the words we speak, the deeds we do there; to our home-life, and is a silent listener and observer of all its incidents; to our shops, warehouses, and bank-parlors, auditing our accounts, casting up the columns, examining our samples, our weights and measures, our advertisements and circulars. From Him no secrets are hid.
He comes down to Punish.—“Let me alone, that I may destroy” (Deuteronomy 9:14). Never forget the punitive side of God’s character. How easily He asserts his power! He can disorganize the memory, breathe on the brain, touch one small nerve or muscle, and the best-concerted schemes fail. Why shouldst thou fear every day the fury of the oppressor, when God is at thy side!
He comes down to save.—If there be one Lot, He will bring him forth. What was the Incarnation, the descent to Calvary and the grave, but the coming down of the “us” of the blessed Trinity. He that ascended is the same that also first descended. He has come that He may heal our wounds, take us in His arms, and bear us with Him far beyond all principality and power. He is the way, by which we may pass from the confusion of Babel to the love of Pentecost, and the one speech of heaven. —Our Daily Homily
Genesis 11:10-32 – J. Vernon McGee
Genesis 11:10-32 – The Generations until Abram
The inwardness of the movement of Terah’s clan from Ur is given in Acts 7:3. Apparently his father was unwilling for Abram to go alone on his far-pilgrimage, and so the whole family moved along the valley of the Euphrates to the famous ford of Haran. There was no other practicable way by which travelers could strike the route for Canaan. But Terah never advanced beyond that point; and it was only when his father was dead that Abram resumed his march. See Acts 7:4. Let us beware lest the ties of human affection withhold us from entire obedience to the call of God. The word Hebrew means “one who has crossed over.” It was especially applicable to Abraham. See Genesis 14:13. It may be that you are living on the world’s side of the Cross. Come over, though you should have to break dear associations. Be one who has passed through death to resurrection. See Colossians 3:1-4. —Through the Bible Day by Day