Tower of Babel.#This story illustrates increasing human wickedness, shown here in the sinful pride that human beings take in their own achievements apart from God. Secondarily, the story explains the diversity of languages among the peoples of the earth. 1The whole world had the same language and the same words. 2When they were migrating from the east, they came to a valley in the land of Shinar#Shinar: see note on 10:10. and settled there. 3They said to one another, “Come, let us mold bricks and harden them with fire.” They used bricks for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky,#Tower with its top in the sky: possibly a reference to the chief ziggurat of Babylon, E-sag-ila, lit., “the house that raises high its head.” and so make a name for ourselves; otherwise we shall be scattered all over the earth.”
5The Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the people had built. 6Then the Lord said: If now, while they are one people and all have the same language, they have started to do this, nothing they presume to do will be out of their reach. 7Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that no one will understand the speech of another. 8So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city. 9That is why it was called Babel,#Babel: the Hebrew form of the name “Babylon”; the Babylonians interpreted their name for the city, Bab-ili, as “gate of god.” The Hebrew word balal, “he confused,” has a similar sound. because there the Lord confused the speech of all the world. From there the Lord scattered them over all the earth.
Descendants from Shem to Abraham.#The second Priestly genealogy goes from Shem to Terah and his three sons Abram, Nahor, and Haran, just as the genealogy in 5:3–32 went from Adam to Noah and his three sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth. This genealogy marks the important transition in Genesis between the story of the nations in 1:1–11:26 and the story of Israel in the person of its ancestors (11:27–50:26). As chaps. 1–11 showed the increase and spread of the nations, so chaps. 12–50 will show the increase and spread of Israel. The contrast between Israel and the nations is a persistent biblical theme. The ages given here are from the Hebrew text; the Samaritan and Greek texts have divergent sets of numbers in most cases. In comparable accounts of the pre-flood period, enormous life spans are attributed to human beings. It may be an attempt to show that the pre-flood generations were extraordinary and more vital than post-flood human beings. 10#1 Chr 1:24–27; Lk 3:34–36. These are the descendants of Shem. When Shem was one hundred years old, he begot Arpachshad, two years after the flood. 11Shem lived five hundred years after he begot Arpachshad, and he had other sons and daughters. 12When Arpachshad was thirty-five years old, he begot Shelah.#The Greek text adds Kenan (cf. 5:9–10) between Arpachshad and Shelah. The Greek listing is followed in Lk 3:36. 13Arpachshad lived four hundred and three years after he begot Shelah, and he had other sons and daughters.
14When Shelah was thirty years old, he begot Eber. 15Shelah lived four hundred and three years after he begot Eber, and he had other sons and daughters.
16When Eber#Eber: the eponymous ancestor of the Hebrews, “descendants of Eber” (10:21, 24–30); see note on 14:13. was thirty-four years old, he begot Peleg. 17Eber lived four hundred and thirty years after he begot Peleg, and he had other sons and daughters.
18When Peleg was thirty years old, he begot Reu. 19Peleg lived two hundred and nine years after he begot Reu, and he had other sons and daughters.
20When Reu was thirty-two years old, he begot Serug. 21Reu lived two hundred and seven years after he begot Serug, and he had other sons and daughters.
22When Serug was thirty years old, he begot Nahor. 23Serug lived two hundred years after he begot Nahor, and he had other sons and daughters.
24When Nahor was twenty-nine years old, he begot Terah. 25Nahor lived one hundred and nineteen years after he begot Terah, and he had other sons and daughters.
26When Terah was seventy years old, he begot Abram,#Abram is a dialectal variant of Abraham. God will change his name in view of his new task in 17:4. Nahor and Haran.#Jos 24:2; 1 Chr 1:26–27.
II. THE STORY OF THE ANCESTORS OF ISRAEL
Terah. 27These are the descendants of Terah.#Descendants of Terah: elsewhere in Genesis the story of the son is introduced by the name of the father (25:12, 19; 36:1; 37:2). The Abraham-Sarah stories begin (11:27–32) and end with genealogical notices (25:1–18), which concern, respectively, the families of Terah and of Abraham. Most of the traditions in the cycle are from the Yahwist source. The so-called Elohist source (E) is somewhat shadowy, denied by some scholars but recognized by others in passages that duplicate other narratives (20:1–18 and 21:22–34). The Priestly source consists mostly of brief editorial notices, except for chaps. 17 and 23. Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran, and Haran begot Lot. 28Haran died before Terah his father, in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans.#Ur of the Chaldeans: Ur was an extremely ancient city of the Sumerians (later, of the Babylonians) in southern Mesopotamia. The Greek text has “the land of the Chaldeans.” After a millennium of relative unimportance, Ur underwent a revival during the Neo-Babylonian/Chaldean empire (625–539 B.C.). The sixth-century author here identified the place by its contemporary name. As chap. 24 shows, Haran in northern Mesopotamia is in fact the native place of Abraham. In the Genesis perspective, the human race originated in the East (3:24; 4:16) and migrated from there to their homelands (11:2). Terah’s family moved from the East (Ur) and Abraham will complete the journey to the family’s true homeland in the following chapters. 29Abram and Nahor took wives; the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai,#Sarai: like Abram, a dialectal variant of the more usual form of the name Sarah. In 17:15, God will change it to Sarah in view of her new task. and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah, daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and Iscah.#Gn 17:15. 30Sarai was barren; she had no child.
31Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot, son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and brought them out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to go to the land of Canaan. But when they reached Haran, they settled there.#Jos 24:3; Neh 9:7; Jdt 5:6–9; Acts 7:4. 32The lifetime of Terah was two hundred and five years; then Terah died in Haran.#Since Terah was seventy years old when his son Abraham was born (v. 26), and Abraham was seventy-five when he left Haran (12:4), Terah lived in Haran for sixty years after Abraham’s departure. According to the tradition in the Samaritan text, Terah died when he was one hundred and forty-five years old, therefore, in the same year in which Abraham left Haran. This is the tradition followed in Stephen’s speech: Abraham left Haran “after his father died” (Acts 7:4).
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1And the earth was of one tongue, and of the same speech.
2And when they removed from the east, they found a plain in the land of Sennaar, and dwelt in it.
3And each one said to his neighbour: Come, let us make brick, and bake them with fire. And they had brick instead of stones, and slime instead of mortar.
4And they said: Come, let us make a city and a tower, the top whereof may reach to heaven: and let us make our name famous, before we be scattered abroad into all lands.
5And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of Adam were building.
6And he said: Behold, it is one people, and all have one tongue: and they have begun to do this, neither will they leave off from their designs, till they accomplish them in deed.
7Come ye, therefore, let us go down, and there confound their tongue, that they may not understand one another's speech.
8And so the Lord scattered them from that place into all lands, and they ceased to build the city.
9And therefore the name thereof was called Babel, because there the language of the whole earth was confounded: and from thence the Lord scattered them abroad upon the face of all countries.
10These are the generations of Sem. Sem was a hundred years old when he begot Arphaxad, two years after the flood.
11And Sem lived after he begot Arphaxad, five hundred years; and begot sons and daughters.
12And Arphaxad lived thirty-five years, and begot Sale.
13And Arphaxad lived after he begot Sale, three hundred and three years; and begot sons and daughters.
14Sale also lived thirty years, and begot Heber.
15And Sale lived after he begot Heber, four hundred and three years; and begot sons and daughters.
16And Heber lived thirty-four years, and begot Phaleg.
17And Heber lived after he begot Phaleg, four hundred and thirty years; and begot sons and daughters.
18Phaleg also lived thirty years, and begot Reu.
19And Phaleg lived after he begot Reu, two hundred and nine years; and begot sons and daughters.
20And Reu lived thirty-two years, and begot Sarug.
21And Reu lived after he begot Sarug, two hundred and seven years; and begot sons and daughters.
22And Sarug lived thirty years, and begot Nachor.
23And Sarug lived after he begot Nachor, two hundred years; and begot sons and daughters.
24And Nachor lived nine and twenty years, and begot Thare.
25And Nachor lived after he begot Thare, a hundred and nineteen years; and begot sons and daughters.
26And Thare lived seventy years, and begot Abra, and Nachor, and Aran.
27And these are the generations of Thare: Thare begot Abram, Nachor, and Aran. And Aran begot Lot.
28And Aran died before Thare his father, in the land of his nativity in Ur of the Chaldees.
29And Abram and Nachor married wives: the name of Abram's wife was Sarai: and the name of Nachor's wife, Melcha, the daughter of Aran, father of Melcha, and father of Jescha.
30And Sarai was barren, and had no children.
31And Thare took Abram, his son, and Lot the son of Aran, his son's son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, the wife of Abram his son; and brought them out of Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Chanaan. And they came as far as Haran, and dwelt there.
32And the days of Thare were two hundred and five years: and he died in Haran.
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