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You’ll recall that I indicated previously that Chapter 10 was a zoom out on the dispersion of men after the flood. Now in Chapter 11 we have a zoom in so to speak, on the events that led to that dispersion.
Genesis 11 specifically deals with the change from everyone speaking the same language to groups of people speaking different languages and spreading out on the whole earth plus the genealogy connection of the seed line of Eber from Shem to Abram.
Genesis 11:1-4 NIV reads: “Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.”
So we’re talking about Noah’s descendants here, heading eastward towards the plain of Shinar, or Mesopotamia. You recall that God had commanded that the people of Noah where to multiply and fill the earth but what we see here is them basically staying together in one primary geographical location and endeavoring to make a name for themselves as a large collective group. In fact as we look at the latter part of Genesis 11:4 NIV where it states “otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.” , one can see their opposition to doing what God actually commanded them to do. Instead of heading westward according to God’s direction, men retreat eastward and stay collectively together.
Genesis 11:8-9 NIV reads: “So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it was called Babel—because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world. From there the Lord scattered them over the face of the whole earth.”
Revelation 17:5 NIV comes to mind: “The name written on her forehead was a mystery: babylon the great the mother of prostitutes and of the abominations of the earth.” This city, and the endeavor to build it, was born in rebellion against the word of God. Just something to be mindful of.
I was curious as to whether there is any scientific information available with regard to tracing the linguistic roots of languages. I am including a couple of links I ran into that provide additional information on this subject, should you be interested.
The remainder of chapter 11 deals with the genealogy connection of the seed line of Eber, who comes through Shem, the son of Noah, to Abram and his family.
It’s interesting to note that in Genesis Chapter 5 there are ten generations between Adam and Noah and in Genesis Chapter 11 we find ten generations between Shem and Abram. The number 10 in Scripture is the number of testimony, as in a testimony to God’s faithfulness to His promises. This is just one more witness to God’s hand and authority over all these outcomes.
It’s also interesting to note that in Chapter 10 we’re provided with the genealogy for the names that were not to receive the promise. These are the families that disappear from the pages of Scripture, since they don’t matter to the ultimate story of the fulfillment of God’s promise. Note that in Chapter 10 we see Eber’s family dividing into two people, Peleg and Joktan. For the remainder of Chapter 10, the line of Joktan is told culminating in the rebellion at the Tower of Babel. In Chapter 11 the line is traced a second time, but this time we focus on the line of Peleg and his line ends in Abram. So one could say, when God divided the earth, He divided it in more ways than one.
I don’t know about you but I find these, what I can “additional insights” simply fascinating because when one casually reads through the Scriptures, unless you are extremely astute, you’re not going to notice these things. The thing being, they are simply everywhere within the scriptures and you can be guaranteed that I haven’t noticed them all, not even close.
And just to make it even more interesting, keep in mind that it is Moses that is recording what has transpired, which would be difficult enough, in and of itself, but then consider, all of the “additional insights” that are woven into the fabric Moses is weaving through his recorded words. These are the words that God commanded Moses to write down, as witnessed to numerous times, throughout the five books of the Pentateuch (Exodus 17:14, Exodus 24:4, Exodus 34:27, Numbers 33:2).
More to follow in Observations in Genesis – Part 8
Worthy is the Lamb! Blessings!