Home / Commentary / Genesis / Genesis Chapter 11
At this time there was only one language used worldwide. A group of people settled in the plain of Shinar where they learned to make bricks and use mortar to build.
The people wanted to build a city and a tower in order to make a name for themselves. They did not want to be scattered over the whole earth, as God had commanded.
God came down to see the work of these people. He saw their unity and decided to confuse their language and to scatter them over the earth. The name of the city was now called Babel.
The lineage of Shem is presented, including Arpachshad, Shelah, and Eber.
The genealogy covering the ten generations from Shem to Abraham continues with Peleg, Reu, and Serug.
The lineage tracing from Shem to Abram draws to a close with Abram and his two brothers.
These verses tell the story of Abram’s father Terah and the family leaving Ur for Canaan only to go as far as Haran where Terah dies.
Genesis is a book about many beginnings. The beginnings of the world, the human race, sin and redemption, and the nation of Israel to name a few. In fact, the word Genesis from the Greek means “origin,” and in Hebrew it means “beginning.” The book of Genesis contains the events of the flood, tower of Babel, Sodom and Gomorrah, and the lives of the Patriarchs.
In the beginning, God created everything by simply speaking, “God said…and it was so” (Genesis 1:6-7, 9, 11, 14-15). This is not a scientific technical account of creation, but it shows a loving God creating a universe and mankind to rule it and fellowship with God. Man was formed especially from the ground and given the breath of life from God. The woman was made from the man’s rib (Genesis 2:7).
After man fell into sin, things began to spin out of control quickly. Cain murdered his brother Abel and the human race became so violent that God decided to destroy them all with a flood. God saved one righteous man (Noah) and his family in an ark filled with animals to deliver the human race from extinction. God chose Abraham and blessed a special group of people named “Israel.” God began to unfold a plan of salvation from a coming famine by sending Joseph to rule in Egypt. The failure of man in every circumstance is met by the salvation of God. We fail, but the good news is God saves us.
In Genesis chapter 11 mankind groups together to build powerful cities instead of obeying the command of Genesis 9:1, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.” The old spirit of rebellion and human pride was again in control, mankind was back to doing their own thing. The people came together to build a tower that would reach the heavens. God saw that their effort was leading to a rebellion against Him, so God intervened. After these events, another genealogy is given from Shem that leads to Abram. This chapter answers the questions, why are we divided and why are there so many different languages? It ends with the beginning of Abraham’s story.