Genesis 11:1-4

The Tower of Babel

1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.
2 As people moved eastward,[a] they found a plain in Shinar[b] and settled there.
3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.
4 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.”

Genesis 11:1 in Other Translations

KJV
1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
ESV
1 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words.
NLT
1 At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words.
MSG
1 At one time, the whole Earth spoke the same language.
CSB
1 At one time the whole earth had the same language and vocabulary.

Genesis 11:1-4 Meaning and Commentary

INTRODUCTION TO GENESIS 11

This chapter gives an account of the inhabitants of the earth before the confusion of tongues at Babel, of their speech and language, which was one and the same, and of the place where they dwelt, Ge 11:1,2 and of their design to build a city and tower, to make them a name and keep them together, which they put in execution, Ge 11:3,4 of the notice the Lord took of this affair, and of the method he took to put a stop to their designs, by confounding their speech, and dispersing them abroad upon the face of the earth, Ge 11:5-9 then follows a genealogy of Shem's posterity down to Abraham, Ge 11:10-26 and a particular relation is given of Terah, the father of Abraham, and his family, and of his going forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, in order to go into the land of Canaan, and of his death at Haran by the way, Ge 11:27-32.

Genesis 11:1-4 In-Context

1 Now the whole world had one language and a common speech.
2 As people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.
3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks and bake them thoroughly.” They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar.
4 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.”
5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower the people were building.
6 The LORD said, “If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them.
7 Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.”
8 So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.

Cross References 9

  • 1. ver 6
  • 2. S Genesis 10:10
  • 3. Exodus 1:14; Exodus 5:7; Jeremiah 43:9
  • 4. Isaiah 9:10; Amos 5:11
  • 5. Genesis 14:10
  • 6. Deuteronomy 1:28; Deuteronomy 6:10; Deuteronomy 9:1; Job 20:6; Jeremiah 51:53
  • 7. Genesis 6:4
  • 8. Deuteronomy 30:3; 1 Kings 22:17; Esther 3:8; Psalms 44:11; Jeremiah 31:10; Jeremiah 40:15; Ezekiel 6:8; Joel 3:2
  • 9. S Genesis 9:19; Deuteronomy 4:27

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. Or "from the east" ; or "in the east"
  • [b]. That is, Babylonia
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