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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
1And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
2And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shin’ar; and they dwelt there.
3And they said one to another, come (let us begin!), let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for mortar.
4And they said, come (let us begin!), 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.
5And the Lord-Yehōvah (Messiah Pre-Incarnate) came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men built.
6And the Lord-Yehōvah (Messiah Pre-Incarnate) 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.
7Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.
8So the Lord-Yehōvah (Messiah Pre-Incarnate) scattered them abroad from there upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build [stopped building] the city.
9Therefore is the name of it called Bavel (to jumble, or a confused medley of sounds; confusion; gate of the deity) (to jumble, or a confused medley of sounds); because the Lord-Yehōvah (Messiah Pre-Incarnate) did there confound the language of all the earth: and from there did the Lord-Yehōvah (Messiah Pre-Incarnate) scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
10These [are] the generations of Shem (name, renown (great reputation; being well-known)): Shem (name, renown (great reputation; being well-known)) [was] an hundred years old, and begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) Arpakhshad (meaning unknown; pos. reference to a “stronghold of the Kasdim [Kasdim [clod-breakers]] [Sorcerers]) two years after the flood:
11And Shem (name, renown (great reputation; being well-known)) lived after he begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) Arpakhshad (meaning unknown; pos. reference to a “stronghold of the Kasdim [Kasdim [clod-breakers]] [Sorcerers]) five hundred years, and begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) sons and daughters.
12And Arpakhshad (meaning unknown; pos. reference to a “stronghold of the Kasdim [Kasdim [clod-breakers]] [Sorcerers]) lived five and thirty years, and begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) Shelach (Sent Out, Branch or Javelin; to prosper, rest):
13And Arpakhshad (meaning unknown; pos. reference to a “stronghold of the Kasdim [Kasdim [clod-breakers]] [Sorcerers]) lived after he begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) Shelach (Sent Out, Branch or Javelin; to prosper, rest) four hundred and three years, and begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) sons and daughters.
14And Shelach (Sent Out, Branch or Javelin; to prosper, rest) lived thirty years, and begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) ‘Ever (the region beyond; pass over, through, take away; overflowing of temper: wrath and rage; fury; to be arrogant or infuriate oneself):
15And Shelach (Sent Out, Branch or Javelin; to prosper, rest) lived after he begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) ‘Ever (the region beyond; pass over, through, take away; overflowing of temper: wrath and rage; fury; to be arrogant or infuriate oneself) four hundred and three years, and begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) sons and daughters.
16And ‘Ever (the region beyond; pass over, through, take away; overflowing of temper: wrath and rage; fury; to be arrogant or infuriate oneself) lived four and thirty years, and begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) Peleg (Division or Divider; specif. channel or canal):
17And ‘Ever (the region beyond; pass over, through, take away; overflowing of temper: wrath and rage; fury; to be arrogant or infuriate oneself) lived after he begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) Peleg (Division or Divider; specif. channel or canal) four hundred and thirty years, and begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) sons and daughters.
18And Peleg (Division or Divider; specific channel or canal) lived thirty years, and begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) Re’u (associate with, be a friend of; friend; in general has some relationship to the concept of evil):
19And Peleg (Division or Divider; specif. channel or canal) lived after he begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) Re’u (associate with, be a friend of; friend) two hundred and nine years, and begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) sons and daughters.
20And Re’u (associate with, be a friend of; friend) lived two and thirty years, and begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) S’rug (Branch):
21And Re’u (associate with, be a friend of; friend) lived after he begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) S’rug (Branch) two hundred and seven years, and begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) sons and daughters.
22And S’rug (Branch) lived thirty years, and begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) Nokhor (a snort, a snorting; charred, scorched):
23And S’rug (Branch) lived after he begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) Nokhor (a snort, a snorting; charred, scorched) two hundred years, and begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) sons and daughters.
24And Nokhor (a snort, a snorting; charred, scorched) lived nine and twenty years, and begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) Terakh (Wanderer; Esprit, Spirited, Inspired):
25And Nokhor (a snort, a snorting; charred, scorched) lived after he begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) Terakh (Wanderer; Esprit, Spirited, Inspired) an hundred and nineteen years, and begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) sons and daughters.
26And Terakh (Wanderer; Esprit, Spirited, Inspired) lived seventy years, and begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) Avram (Exalted Father; Father Of Elevation), Nokhor (a snort, a snorting; charred, scorched), and Haran [mountaineer] (Mountaineer or Mountainous).
27Now these [are] the generations of Terakh (Wanderer; Esprit, Spirited, Inspired): Terakh (Wanderer; Esprit, Spirited, Inspired) begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) Avram (Exalted Father; Father Of Elevation), Nokhor (a snort, a snorting; charred, scorched), and Haran [mountaineer] (Mountaineer or Mountainous); and Haran [mountaineer] (Mountaineer or Mountainous) begat (to be father of; be ancestor of) Lot (Covering).
28And Haran [mountaineer] (Mountaineer or Mountainous) died before his father Terakh (Wanderer; Esprit, Spirited, Inspired) in the land of his nativity, in Ur (Fire; Flame or Light) of the Kasdim [Kasdim [clod-breakers]] (Sorcerers) [Fire of the Sorcerers].
29And Avram (Exalted Father; Father Of Elevation) and Nokhor (a snort, a snorting; charred, scorched) took them wives: the name of Avram’s (Exalted Father; Father Of Elevation) wife [was] Sarai (My Princess); and the name of Nokhor’s (a snort, a snorting; charred, scorched) wife, Milkah (Counsel; Queen), the daughter of Haran [mountaineer] (Mountaineer or Mountainous), the father of Milkah (Counsel; Queen), and the father of Yiskah.
30But Sarai (My Princess) was barren; she [had] no child.
31And Terakh (Wanderer; Esprit, Spirited, Inspired) took Avram (Exalted Father; Father Of Elevation) his son, and Lot (Covering) the son of Haran [mountaineer] (Mountaineer or Mountainous) his son’s son, and Sarai (My Princess) his daughter in law, his son Avram’s (Exalted Father; Father Of Elevation) wife; and they went forth with them from Ur (Flame or Light) of the Kasdim [Kasdim [clod-breakers]] (Sorcerers), to go into the land of Kena’an (merchant; trader; or that humbles and subdues); and they came unto Haran [mountaineer] (Mountaineer or Mountainous), and dwelt there.
32And the days of Terakh (Wanderer; Esprit, Spirited, Inspired) were two hundred and five years: and Terakh (Wanderer; Esprit, Spirited, Inspired) died in Haran [mountaineer] (Mountaineer or Mountainous).