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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People tried to build a tall building called Babel
1You know, at first everyone talked the same language. 2And as people moved from place to place in the east, they got to some flat country in Babylonia, and they stayed there. 3-4Then they said to each other, “Look, we can make bricks here. So come on, let’s do that. We will bake them properly so that they are good strong bricks, and we will use them to build a city here. So come on, let’s build a big tall building in that city. It will be so tall that it will go right up into the sky.” You see, they had bricks and tar instead of stones and cement. And they said, “If we do that, everyone will think we are smart. Then we will not go and live all over the earth, but we will stay together right here.”
God made people talk in different languages
5So the people started to build a city and a really tall building, and God came down to look at those things. 6He said, “These people can all talk to each other in the same language, so they can do anything they want. If they keep on going this way, nothing will stop them from doing anything. 7Come on, let’s go down to these people, and we will make them talk in different languages. Then they will not understand each other, and they will be all mixed up. They will not work things out with each other, so they will not keep on building this city.”
8So God made all the people talk in different languages. None of them could understand anything the other people were saying. So they stopped building their big city. 9They all left that city and went to live in lots of different places, all over the world. That’s how God got people to be in different tribes all over the world. And they called that city Babel. That means mixed up. They gave it that name because God mixed up their languages at that time.
The story of Shem’s family
10This is the story about Shem’s family.
Shem was 100 years old when he had a son called Arfaxad. That was 2 years after the big flood. 11Shem lived for 500 years after he had Arfaxad, and he had more sons and daughters.
12Arfaxad was 35 years old when he had a son called Shelah. 13Arfaxad lived for 403 years after he had Shelah, and he had more sons and daughters.#Genesis 10:24; Luke 3:35-36
14Shelah was 30 years old when he had a son called Eber. 15Shelah lived for 403 years after he had Eber, and he had more sons and daughters.
16Eber was 34 years old when he had a son called Peleg. 17Eber lived for 430 years after he had Peleg, and he had more sons and daughters.
18Peleg was 30 years old when he had a son called Reyu. 19Peleg lived for 209 years after he had Reyu, and he had more sons and daughters.
20Reyu was 32 years old when he had a son called Serug. 21Reyu lived for 207 years after he had Serug, and he had more sons and daughters.
22Serug was 30 years old when he had a son called Nahor. 23Serug lived for 200 years after he had Nahor, and he had more sons and daughters.
24Nahor was 29 years old when he had a son called Terah. 25Nahor lived for 119 years after he had Terah, and he had more sons and daughters.
26Terah had 3 sons after he was 70 years old. Their names were Abram, Nahor and Haran.
The story of Terah’s family
27This is the story about Terah’s family. Terah had 3 sons, called Abram, and Nahor, and Haran.
Haran had a son called Lot. 28-29And he also had 2 daughters called Milcah and Iscah. After that, Haran died, while his father, Terah, was still alive. He died in Ur, in Chaldia country, the place where he was born.
Nahor, Haran’s brother, married Milcah. And Abram married a woman called Sarai, 30but Abram and Sarai didn’t have any kids. Sarai just couldn’t have a baby.
31Then Terah went away from Ur, in Chaldia country, and he took some of his family with him. They were his son Abram, and Abram’s wife Sarai, and his grand-son Lot. They all left Ur, and they started to go to the country called Canaan. But they stopped half-way, at a place called Haran, and they stayed there.
32Terah lived until he was 205 years old. Then he died there in Haran.
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