Genesis 11

1 And all the earth was one lip, and there was one language to all.
2 And it came to pass as they moved from the east, they found a plain in the land of Senaar, and they dwelt there.
3 And a man said to his neighbour, Come, let us make bricks and bake them with fire. And the brick was to them for stone, and their mortar was bitumen.
4 And they said, Come, let us build to ourselves a city and tower, whose top shall be to heaven, and let us make to ourselves a name, before we are scattered abroad upon the face of all the earth.
5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the sons of men built.
6 And the Lord said, Behold, one race, and one lip of all, and they have begun to do this, and now nothing shall fail from them of all that they may have undertaken to do.
7 Come, and having gone down let us there confound their tongue, that they may not understand each the voice of his neighbour.
8 And the Lord scattered them thence over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city and the tower.
9 On this account its name was called Confusion, because there the Lord confounded the languages of all the earth, and thence the Lord scattered them upon the face of all the earth.
10 And these the generations of Sem: and Sem was a hundred years old when he begot Arphaxad, the second year after the flood.
11 And Sem lived, after he had begotten Arphaxad, five hundred years, and begot sons and daughters, and died.
12 And Arphaxad lived a hundred and thirty-five years, and begot Cainan.
13 And Arphaxad lived after he had begotten Cainan, four hundred years, and begot sons and daughters, and died. And Cainan lived a hundred and thirty years and begot Sala; and Canaan lived after he had begotten Sala, three hundred and thirty years, and begot sons and daughters, and died.
14 And Sala lived an hundred and thirty years, and begot Heber.
15 And Sala lived after he had begotten Heber, three hundred and thirty years, and begot sons and daughters, and died.
16 And Heber lived an hundred and thirty-four years, and begot Phaleg.
17 And Heber lived after he had begotten Phaleg two hundred and seventy years, and begot sons and daughters, and died.
18 And Phaleg lived and hundred and thirty years, and begot Ragau.
19 And Phaleg lived after he had begotten Ragau, two hundred and nine years, and begot sons and daughters, and died.
20 And Ragau lived and hundred thirty and two years, and begot Seruch.
21 And Raau lived after he had begotten Seruch, two hundred and seven years, and begot sons and daughters, and died.
22 And Seruch lived a hundred and thirty years, and begot Nachor.
23 And Seruch lived after he had begotten Nachor, two hundred years, and begot sons and daughters, and died.
24 And Nachor lived a hundred and seventy-nine years, and begot Tharrha.
25 And Nachor lived after he had begotten Tharrha, an hundred and twenty-five years, and begot sons and daughters, and he died.
26 And Tharrha lived seventy years, and begot Abram, and Nachor, and Arrhan.
27 And these the generations of Tharrha. Tharrha begot Abram and Nachor, and Arrhan; and Arrhan begot Lot.
28 And Arrhan died in the presence of Tharrha his father, in the land in which he was born, in the country of the Chaldees.
29 And Abram and Nachor took to themselves wives, the name of the wife of Abram was Sara, and the name of the wife of Nachor, Malcha, daughter of Arrhan, and he was the father of Malcha, the father of Jescha.
30 And Sara was barren, and did not bear children.
31 And Tharrha took Abram his son, and Lot the son Arrhan, the son of his son, and Sara his daughter-in-law, the wife of Abram his son, and led them forth out of the land of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Chanaan, and they came as far as Charrhan, and he dwelt there.
32 And all the days of Tharrha in the land of Charrhan were two hundred and five years, and Tharrha died in Charrhan.

Genesis 11 Commentary

Chapter 11

One language in the world, The building of Babel. (1-4) The confusion of tongues, The builders of Babel dispersed. (5-9) The descendants of Shem. (10-26) Terah, father of Abram, grandfather of Lot, they remove to Haran. (27-32)

Verses 1-4 How soon men forget the most tremendous judgments, and go back to their former crimes! Though the desolations of the deluge were before their eyes, though they sprang from the stock of righteous Noah, yet even during his life-time, wickedness increases exceedingly. Nothing but the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit can remove the sinful lusts of the human will, and the depravity of the human heart. God's purpose was, that mankind should form many nations, and people all lands. In contempt of the Divine will, and against the counsel of Noah, the bulk of mankind united to build a city and a tower to prevent their separating. Idolatry was begun, and Babel became one of its chief seats. They made one another more daring and resolute. Let us learn to provoke one another to love and to good works, as sinners stir up and encourage one another to wicked works.

Verses 5-9 Here is an expression after the manner of men; The Lord came down to see the city. God is just and fair in all he does against sin and sinners, and condemns none unheard. Pious Eber is not found among this ungodly crew; for he and his are called the children of God; their souls joined not themselves to the assembly of these children of men. God suffered them to go on some way, that the works of their hands, from which they promised themselves lasting honour, might turn to their lasting reproach. God has wise and holy ends, in allowing the enemies of his glory to carry on their wicked projects a great way, and to prosper long. Observe the wisdom and mercy of God, in the methods taken for defeating this undertaking. And the mercy of God in not making the penalty equal to the offence; for he deals not with us according to our sins. The wisdom of God, in fixing upon a sure way to stop these proceedings. If they could not understand one another, they could not help one another; this would take them off from their building. God has various means, and effectual ones, to baffle and defeat the projects of proud men that set themselves against him, and particularly he divides them among themselves. Notwithstanding their union and obstinacy God was above them; for who ever hardened his heart against him, and prospered? Their language was confounded. We all suffer by it to this day: in all the pains and trouble used to learn the languages we have occasion for, we suffer for the rebellion of our ancestors at Babel. Nay, and those unhappy disputes, which are strifes of words, and arise from misunderstanding one another's words, for aught we know, are owing to this confusion of tongues. They left off to build the city. The confusion of their tongues not only unfitted them for helping one another, but they saw the hand of the Lord gone out against them. It is wisdom to leave off that which we see God fights against. God is able to blast and bring to nought all the devices and designs of Babel-builders: there is no wisdom nor counsel against the Lord. The builders departed according to their families, and the tongue they spake, to the countries and places allotted to them. The children of men never did, nor ever will, come all together again, till the great day, when the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of his glory, and all nations shall be gathered before him.

Verses 10-26 Here is a genealogy, or list of names, ending in Abram, the friend of God, and thus leading towards Christ, the promised Seed, who was the son of Abram. Nothing is left upon record but their names and ages; the Holy Ghost seeming to hasten through them to the history of Abram. How little do we know of those that are gone before us in this world, even of those that lived in the same places where we live, as we likewise know little of those who now live in distant places! We have enough to do to mind our own work. When the earth began to be peopled, men's lives began to shorten; this was the wise disposal of Providence.

Verses 27-32 Here begins the story of Abram, whose name is famous in both Testaments. Even the children of Eber had become worshippers of false gods. Those who are through grace, heirs of the land of promise, ought to remember what was the land of their birth; what was their corrupt and sinful state by nature. Abram's brethren were, Nahor, out of whose family both Isaac and Jacob had their wives; and Haran, the father of Lot, who died before his father. Children cannot be sure that they shall outlive their parents. Haran died in Ur, before the happy removal of the family out of that idolatrous country. It concerns us to hasten out of our natural state, lest death surprise us in it. We here read of Abram's departure out of Ur of the Chaldees, with his father Terah, his nephew Lot, and the rest of his family, in obedience to the call of God. This chapter leaves them about mid-way between Ur and Canaan, where they dwelt till Terah's death. Many reach to Charran, and yet fall short of Canaan; they are not far from the kingdom of God, and yet never come thither.

Footnotes 5

  • [a]. Alex 430 years.
  • [b]. Alex 370 years.
  • [c]. Alex 79 years.
  • [d]. Alex 129 years.
  • [e]. There seems to be no note of the date of Abram's marriage with Sara.

Chapter Summary


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 Commentaries

The Brenton translation of the Septuagint is in the public domain.