Home > Bible Journal > January 4th, Genesis 10: Noah’s Sons and the Tower of Babel

January 4th, Genesis 10: Noah’s Sons and the Tower of Babel

January 21, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

Genesis continues hammering home the importance of lineage by going over the descendants of Noah’s sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth. We go back into 1st Chronicles to go over the names of their sons.

Japheth’s sons get mentioned first, though we’re not sure if that’s because he’s the eldest or youngest. We learn that the maritime peoples spread out into the territories with their own language.

One of Ham’s descendants gets mentioned by name, Nimrod, who grew to be a mighty warrior and hunter. That it is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord.” (Genesis 10:8)

Shem goes last, with more detail than the other two sons. Obviously that’s a clue that his line contains some future significance, which we find out at the conclusion of this day’s reading.

Chapter 11 of Genesis details the story of the Tower of Babel. After the flood, the whole world spoke one language (imagine being able to converse with anyone in the world). Men started talking about building a tower that would reach into the heavens. They started talking about making a name for themselves and not having to be scattered across the face of the Earth.

The NIV version says:
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.”

The ESV version says:
Gen 11:5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built.
Gen 11:6 And the LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.
Gen 11:7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.”

The New King James version says:
5 But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built. 6 And the LORD said, “Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them. 7 Come, let Us go down and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.”

I quote three different version of the same verse because I’ve heard the misconception that God was afraid of man doing the impossible. But upon closer inspection, I find that the Lord actually saw a problem with having nothing held back from what we propose.

When we are of homogeneous thought, we become more susceptible to a singular flaw wiping us all out. It’s like chicken farms nowadays have to be really careful with virus and bacteria, because a particularly nasty strain could wipe out an entire farm’s worth of similarly modified chickens.

God came up with an elegant solution: Diversify our language. Now that’s its harder to understand each other, we’re more likely to produce variations in thought patterns and be more resilient against the inevitable attacks against our hearts and minds.

Confused, the men scattered from the city according to the Lord’s will. And that’s why it’s called Babel, because it was there that the Lord confused the language of the world (Genesis 11:9, one of my commentaries notes that Babel sounds like the Hebrew word for confused).

So whenever you think of the Tower of Babel, you can also think of the Tower of Confusion.

Then we delve back into the line of Shem. What I noticed is the diminishing lifespans of his sons. Check out the ages these men died:

Shem, 500 years.
Arphaxad, 403 years.
Shelah, 403 years.
Eber, 430 years.
Peleg, 209 years.
Reu, 207 years.
Serug, 200 years.
Nahor, 119 years.

Something happened between Eber and Peleg that caused a drastic reduction in the life span of 50 percent. Perhaps it was the penalty for Babel, or Earth’s resources became less pure as more people used them. Regardless, all of them fathered their first child between the ages of 29 and 35.

But then Nahor fathered Terah, who is only mentioned at 70 being the father of Abram, Nahor and Haran.

Today’s chronological reading concludes by noting that Terah fathered Abram. I don’t know about you, but I’ve got this feeling that this Abram guy might be important down the road.

Questions: Why do you think the Lord confused the world’s language at Babel? Can you imagine living long enough to witness your great great great great grandson be born?

Advertisements
  1. No comments yet.
  1. No trackbacks yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: