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Genesis 11

11
Tower of Babel.#This story illustrates increasing human wickedness, shown here in the sinful pride that human beings take in their own achievements apart from God. Secondarily, the story explains the diversity of languages among the peoples of the earth. 1The whole world had the same language and the same words. 2When they were migrating from the east, they came to a valley in the land of Shinar#Shinar: see note on 10:10. and settled there. 3They said to one another, “Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire.” They used bricks for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky,#Tower with its top in the sky: possibly a reference to the chief ziggurat of Babylon, E-sag-ila, lit., “the house that raises high its head.” and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth.”
5The Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the people had built. 6Then the Lord said: If now, while they are one people and all have the same language, they have started to do this, nothing they presume to do will be out of their reach. 7Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that no one will understand the speech of another. 8So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9That is why it was called Babel,#Babel: the Hebrew form of the name “Babylon”; the Babylonians interpreted their name for the city, Bab-ili, as “gate of god.” The Hebrew word balal, “he confused,” has a similar sound. because there the Lord confused the speech of all the world. From there the Lord scattered them over all the earth.
Descendants from Shem to Abraham.#The second Priestly genealogy goes from Shem to Terah and his three sons Abram, Nahor, and Haran, just as the genealogy in 5:3–32 went from Adam to Noah and his three sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth. This genealogy marks the important transition in Genesis between the story of the nations in 1:1–11:26 and the story of Israel in the person of its ancestors (11:27–50:26). As chaps. 1–11 showed the increase and spread of the nations, so chaps. 12–50 will show the increase and spread of Israel. The contrast between Israel and the nations is a persistent biblical theme. The ages given here are from the Hebrew text; the Samaritan and Greek texts have divergent sets of numbers in most cases. In comparable accounts of the pre-flood period, enormous life spans are attributed to human beings. It may be an attempt to show that the pre-flood generations were extraordinary and more vital than post-flood human beings. 10#1 Chr 1:24–27; Lk 3:34–36. These are the descendants of Shem. When Shem was one hundred years old, he begot Arpachshad, two years after the flood. 11Shem lived five hundred years after he begot Arpachshad, and he had other sons and daughters. 12When Arpachshad was thirty-five years old, he begot Shelah.#The Greek text adds Kenan (cf. 5:9–10) between Arpachshad and Shelah. The Greek listing is followed in Lk 3:36. 13Arpachshad lived four hundred and three years after he begot Shelah, and he had other sons and daughters.
14When Shelah was thirty years old, he begot Eber. 15Shelah lived four hundred and three years after he begot Eber, and he had other sons and daughters.
16When Eber#Eber: the eponymous ancestor of the Hebrews, “descendants of Eber” (10:21, 24–30); see note on 14:13. was thirty-four years old, he begot Peleg. 17Eber lived four hundred and thirty years after he begot Peleg, and he had other sons and daughters.
18When Peleg was thirty years old, he begot Reu. 19Peleg lived two hundred and nine years after he begot Reu, and he had other sons and daughters.
20When Reu was thirty-two years old, he begot Serug. 21Reu lived two hundred and seven years after he begot Serug, and he had other sons and daughters.
22When Serug was thirty years old, he begot Nahor. 23Serug lived two hundred years after he begot Nahor, and he had other sons and daughters.
24When Nahor was twenty-nine years old, he begot Terah. 25Nahor lived one hundred and nineteen years after he begot Terah, and he had other sons and daughters.
26When Terah was seventy years old, he begot Abram,#Abram is a dialectal variant of Abraham. God will change his name in view of his new task in 17:4. Nahor and Haran.#Jos 24:2; 1 Chr 1:26–27.
II. THE STORY OF THE ANCESTORS OF ISRAEL
Terah. 27These are the descendants of Terah.#Descendants of Terah: elsewhere in Genesis the story of the son is introduced by the name of the father (25:12, 19; 36:1; 37:2). The Abraham-Sarah stories begin (11:27–32) and end with genealogical notices (25:1–18), which concern, respectively, the families of Terah and of Abraham. Most of the traditions in the cycle are from the Yahwist source. The so-called Elohist source (E) is somewhat shadowy, denied by some scholars but recognized by others in passages that duplicate other narratives (20:1–18 and 21:22–34). The Priestly source consists mostly of brief editorial notices, except for chaps. 17 and 23. Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran, and Haran begot Lot. 28Haran died before Terah his father, in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans.#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.” After a millennium of relative unimportance, Ur underwent a revival during the Neo-Babylonian/Chaldean empire (625–539 B.C.). The sixth-century author here identified the place by its contemporary name. As chap. 24 shows, Haran in northern Mesopotamia is in fact the native place of Abraham. In the Genesis perspective, the human race originated in the East (3:24; 4:16) and migrated from there to their homelands (11:2). Terah’s family moved from the East (Ur) and Abraham will complete the journey to the family’s true homeland in the following chapters. 29Abram and Nahor took wives; the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai,#Sarai: like Abram, a dialectal variant of the more usual form of the name Sarah. In 17:15, God will change it to Sarah in view of her new task. and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah, daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and Iscah.#Gn 17:15. 30Sarai was barren; she had no child.
31Terah 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.#Jos 24:3; Neh 9:7; Jdt 5:6–9; Acts 7:4. 32The lifetime of Terah was two hundred and five years; then Terah died in Haran.#Since Terah was seventy years old when his son Abraham was born (v. 26), and Abraham was seventy-five when he left Haran (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 Stephen’s speech: Abraham left Haran “after his father died” (Acts 7:4).
11
1(S: vii) The whole earth used the same language, the same words. 2It came about that as they traveled from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shin‘ar and lived there. 3They said to one another, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them in the fire.” So they had bricks for building-stone and clay for mortar. 4Then they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city with a tower that has its top reaching up into heaven, so that we can make a name for ourselves and not be scattered all over the earth.”
5Adonai came down to see the city and the tower the people were building. 6Adonai said, “Look, the people are united, they all have a single language, and see what they’re starting to do! At this rate, nothing they set out to accomplish will be impossible for them! 7Come, let’s go down and confuse their language, so that they won’t understand each other’s speech.” 8So from there Adonai scattered them all over the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9For this reason it is called Bavel [confusion] — because there Adonai confused the language of the whole earth, and from there Adonai scattered them all over the earth.
10Here is the genealogy of Shem. Shem was 100 years old when he fathered Arpakhshad two years after the flood. 11After Arpakhshad was born, Shem lived another 500 years and had sons and daughters.
12Arpakhshad lived thirty-five years and fathered Shelach. 13After Shelach was born, Arpakhshad lived another 403 years and had sons and daughters.
14Shelach lived thirty years and fathered ‘Ever. 15After ‘Ever was born, Shelach lived another 403 years and had sons and daughters.
16‘Ever lived thirty-four years and fathered Peleg. 17After Peleg was born, ‘Ever lived another 430 years and had sons and daughters.
18Peleg lived thirty years and fathered Re‘u. 19After Re‘u was born, Peleg lived another 209 years and had sons and daughters.
20Re‘u lived thirty-two years and fathered S’rug. 21After S’rug was born, Re‘u lived another 207 years and had sons and daughters.
22S’rug lived thirty years and fathered Nachor. 23After Nachor was born, S’rug lived another 200 years and had sons and daughters.
24Nachor lived twenty-nine years and fathered Terach. 25After Terach was born, Nachor lived another 119 years and had sons and daughters.
26Terach lived seventy years and fathered Avram, Nachor and Haran. 27Here is the genealogy of Terach. Terach fathered Avram, Nachor and Haran; and Haran fathered Lot. 28Haran died before his father Terach in the land where he was born, in Ur of the Kasdim.
(Maftir) 29Then Avram and Nachor took wives for themselves. The name of Avram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nachor’s wife was Milkah the daughter of Haran. He was the father of Milkah and of Yiskah. 30Sarai was barren — she had no child. 31Terach took his son Avram, his son Haran’s son Lot, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Avram’s wife; and they left Ur of the Kasdim to go to the land of Kena‘an. But when they came to Haran, they stayed there. 32Terach lived 205 years, and he died in Haran.
Haftarah Noach: Yesha‘yahu (Isaiah) 54:1–55:5 (A); 54:1–10 (S)
[Messianic adaptation: commence the reading at 52:13]
B’rit Hadashah suggested readings for Parashah Noach: Mattityahu (Matthew) 24:36–44; Luke 17:26–37; Acts 2:1–16; 1 Kefa (1 Peter) 3:18–22; 2 Kefa (2 Peter) 2:5