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Genesis 11:16-21

Verses covered in this passage:

  • Genesis 11:16
  • Genesis 11:17
  • Genesis 11:18
  • Genesis 11:19
  • Genesis 11:20
  • Genesis 11:21

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.


The genealogy covering the ten generations from Shem to Abraham continues with Peleg, Reu, and Serug.

The line of Peleg is the fifth generation in the journey from Shem to Abram. Peleg’s father Eber lived a total of 464 years. This makes him the longest living person recorded in the Bible who was born after the flood. Peleg’s brother Joktan was the ancestor of Arabian tribes while Peleg is the forefather of northwest Mesopotamian families.[1] Peleg’s son Reu is not identified with any specific location. His name means “friend.” Reu’s son Serug is the name of an ancient city (Sarugi) west of Haran in northwestern Mesopotamia. The city of Sarugi, in the Balikh Valley, is the site of the modern village of Suruc on one of the important Near Eastern trade routes. [This is likely a vestige of the settlement of Serug in the area of northwestern Mesopotamia.]

[1] Mathews, K. A. Genesis 1-11:26. Vol. 1A. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996. Print. The New American Commentary.

Biblical Text

16 Eber lived thirty-four years, and became the father of Peleg; 17 and Eber lived four hundred and thirty years after he became the father of Peleg, and he had other sons and daughters. 18 Peleg lived thirty years, and became the father of Reu; 19 and Peleg lived two hundred and nine years after he became the father of Reu, and he had other sons and daughters. 20 Reu lived thirty-two years, and became the father of Serug; 21 and Reu lived two hundred and seven years after he became the father of Serug, and he had other sons and daughters.

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