The tower of Babel (Gen 11:1-11:9)

“Now the whole earth had one language and few words. As they migrated from the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. They said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.’  They had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar.  Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves.  Otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.’”

Since everyone was descended from Noah, they all spoke the same language. Notice the idea of simplicity with ‘one language with few words.’ Everyone ended up in Shimar, somewhere in the Tigris and Euphrates area in Babylon.  So now they made bricks and mortar, as they built a city with a big tower in it.  It seems that this must have been the place that Nimrod, the son of Cush built.  However, the preceding paragraph about the children of Noah seems to indicate that they scattered around the area.

“Yahweh came down to see the city and the tower, which mortal men had built.  Yahweh said, ‘Look, they are one people, and they have all one language.  This is only the beginning of what they will do.  Nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.  Come, let us go down, and there confuse their language there, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.’  So Yahweh scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.  Therefore it was called Babel, because there Yahweh confused the language of all the earth.   From there Yahweh scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.”

Now Yahweh saw this and said that these humans could do anything.  He decided to confuse their language so that they could not understand each other.  Notice the use of “us.”  Thus they scattered and did not build their city.  They called this place Babel, because Yahweh confused them here. It is interesting to note that Yahweh does not want humans to reach their potential because he did not want them to know good and evil in chapter two and here he does not want them to build a city. In each case he scatters them after creating them like Adam and or saving them like Noah.  Of course, this nice little story really explains why there are different languages.  The question is did we come from one unity or were we originally scattered and are now coming to one unity.

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