Tower of Babel (Genesis 11:1-9) Bible Study [Slideshow+]

Divine Disinheritance

After studying Psalm 82 and introducing the concept of the Divine Council the previous week, I aim to connect some more dots with this lesson on the Tower of Babel.

This intriguing account, structured chiastically, tells how God disinherits and scatters peoples across the earth and assigned members of His divine council to govern each nation (cf. Dt 32:8-9, ESV) — before taking Israel as His special inheritance (cf. the Call of Abraham in Genesis 12f.) to establish His Kingdom.

Below, see the main points, a very informative, animated video on the Divine Council by the Bible Project, the slideshow, Hebrew text, author’s translation, and bibliography.

Main Points

  • The people of Babel tried to reach heaven on their own terms
  • They try to make a name for themselves; instead, God will make Abraham’s name great (Genesis 12f.)
  • God scattered the peoples and assigned them to different elohim – lesser, created gods (a.k.a. “sons of God”, i.e., divine/spiritual beings) (Dt 32:8-9, ESV)
  • God took the line of Abraham as His own special possession – through whom He would bless all nations (Gen 12:1-3)

Video

This video, also shown in last week’s lesson on Psalm 82, is embedded in the third slide.

Slideshow

Due to time constraints, I was not able to incorporate much of the research I had done on this topic. But, hopefully, what is presented is relatively clear. To download this slideshow (and any others!), please visit the C4C DropBox.

Hebrew Text

11 1 וַֽיְהִ֥י כָל־הָאָ֖רֶץ שָׂפָ֣ה אֶחָ֑ת וּדְבָרִ֖ים אֲחָדִֽים׃

2 וַֽיְהִ֖י בְּנָסְעָ֣ם מִקֶּ֑דֶם וַֽיִּמְצְא֥וּ בִקְעָ֛ה בְּאֶ֥רֶץ שִׁנְעָ֖ר וַיֵּ֥שְׁבוּ שָֽׁם׃

3 וַיֹּאמְר֞וּ אִ֣ישׁ אֶל־רֵעֵ֗הוּ הָ֚בָה נִלְבְּנָ֣ה לְבֵנִ֔ים וְנִשְׂרְפָ֖ה לִשְׂרֵפָ֑ה וַתְּהִ֨י לָהֶ֤ם הַלְּבֵנָה֙ לְאָ֔בֶן וְהַ֣חֵמָ֔ר הָיָ֥ה לָהֶ֖ם לַחֹֽמֶר׃

4 וַיֹּאמְר֞וּ הָ֣בָה׀ נִבְנֶה־לָּ֣נוּ עִ֗יר וּמִגְדָּל֙ וְרֹאשֹׁ֣ו בַשָּׁמַ֔יִם וְנַֽעֲשֶׂה־לָּ֖נוּ שֵׁ֑ם פֶּן־נָפ֖וּץ עַל־פְּנֵ֥י כָל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃

5 וַיֵּ֣רֶד יְהוָ֔ה לִרְאֹ֥ת אֶת־הָעִ֖יר וְאֶת־הַמִּגְדָּ֑ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר בָּנ֖וּ בְּנֵ֥י הָאָדָֽם׃

6 וַיֹּ֣אמֶר יְהוָ֗ה הֵ֣ן עַ֤ם אֶחָד֙ וְשָׂפָ֤ה אַחַת֙ לְכֻלָּ֔ם וְזֶ֖ה הַחִלָּ֣ם לַעֲשׂ֑וֹת וְעַתָּה֙ לֹֽא־יִבָּצֵ֣ר מֵהֶ֔ם כֹּ֛ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר יָזְמ֖וּ לַֽעֲשֽׂוֹת׃

7 הָ֚בָה נֵֽרְדָ֔ה וְנָבְלָ֥ה שָׁ֖ם שְׂפָתָ֑ם אֲשֶׁר֙ לֹ֣א יִשְׁמְע֔וּ אִ֖ישׁ שְׂפַ֥ת רֵעֵֽהוּ׃

8 וַיָּ֨פֶץ יְהוָ֥ה אֹתָ֛ם מִשָּׁ֖ם עַל־פְּנֵ֣י כָל־הָאָ֑רֶץ וַֽיַּחְדְּל֖וּ לִבְנֹ֥ת הָעִֽיר׃

9 עַל־כֵּ֞ן קָרָ֤א שְׁמָהּ֙ בָּבֶ֔ל כִּי־שָׁ֛ם בָּלַ֥ל יְהוָ֖ה שְׂפַ֣ת כָּל־הָאָ֑רֶץ וּמִשָּׁם֙ הֱפִיצָ֣ם יְהוָ֔ה עַל־פְּנֵ֖י כָּל־הָאָֽרֶץ׃ פ1

Author’s Translation

And it came to pass that all the earth had one language and one speech (Gen 11:1, AT). And it came to pass, as they migrated East to the plain of the land of Shinar and settled there (Gen 11:2, AT). And they said to each another, “Come, let us make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” And they used brick for stone and bitumen for mortar (Gen 11:3, AT). And they said, “Come, let us build a city for ourselves and a tower with its top reaching the heavens. And let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered upon the surfaces of all the earth (Gen 11:4, AT). 

The LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the sons of Adam were building (Gen 11:5, AT). 

And the LORD said, “Look, the people are one and there is one language for all of them. This will be the beginning of what they will do. And now nothing that they will scheme to do will be too hard for them (Gen 11:6, AT). “Come, let us come down there and mix up their language so that they will not understand each other’s language (Gen 11:7, AT). And from there the LORD scattered them upon the surfaces of all the earth, and they stopped the building of the city (Gen 11:8, AT). For this reason, its name was called Babel — because there the LORD mixed up the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD scattered them upon all the surfaces of the earth (Gen 11:9, AT). 

Bibliography

  • Atkinson, David. The Message of Genesis 1–11: The Dawn of Creation. Edited by J. A. Motyer and Derek Tidball. The Bible Speaks Today. England: Inter-Varsity Press, 1990.
  • Brown, Francis, Samuel Rolles Driver, and Charles Augustus Briggs. Enhanced Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1977.
  • Gesenius, Wilhelm, and Samuel Prideaux Tregelles. Gesenius’ Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament Scriptures. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2003.
  • Harris, R. Laird, Gleason L. Archer Jr., and Bruce K. Waltke, eds. Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament. Chicago: Moody Press, 1999.
  • Kidner, Derek. Genesis: An Introduction and Commentary. Vol. 1. Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1967.
  • Koehler, Ludwig, Walter Baumgartner, M. E. J. Richardson, and Johann Jakob Stamm. The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 1994–2000.
  • Mathews, K. A. Genesis 1-11:26. Vol. 1A. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1996.
  • VanGemeren, Willem, ed. New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology & Exegesis. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing House, 1997.

Sources

  1. Biblia Hebraica Stuttgartensia: With Werkgroep Informatica, Vrije Universiteit Morphology; Bible. O.T. Hebrew. Werkgroep Informatica, Vrije Universiteit. (Logos Bible Software, 2006), Ge 11.
About @DannyScottonJr 168 Articles
Imperfect servant striving to be an unapologetically apologetic ambassador for Jesus the Christ. Princeton University Alum | Palmer Theological Seminary Student