Gen 11; 12: "Two chapters which reveal the contrast between
darkness (Gen 11) and light (Gen 12); between the power of the flesh (Gen 11),
and the call of faith (Gen 12). Gen 11 shows the nations scattered; Gen 12 shows
the way in which the nations are blessed through faith. Mankind set themselves
to seek the pinnacle of power, in the building of a tower (like the World Trade
Centre!). The clumsy attempt of man to unify himself in defiance of God's offer
of unity and peace results in the judgment of Yahweh, the confusion of tongues,
and the defeat of the power of flesh" (GEM).
Gen 11: This "division" was later healed: Act 2:8 ("All hear
in own tongue"); 1Co 1:10 ("speak same things"); Zep 3:9; Zec 8:23 (one
Historical record: Halley 83,84.
"The highest heavens belong to the LORD, but the earth he has
given to man" (Psa 115:16).
MEN: Nimrod and his companions: Gen 10:10.
SHINAR: Gen 10:10.
"The first man-made association... Cooperation -- excellent in
a good work, but disastrous in a bad one."
BRICKS: In ct to the altar of unhewn stones (Gen 8:20;
cp Isa 65:3; Exo 20:25).
TAR (SLIME): "Hemar" (boil up, be red). Asphalt, or
bitumen. From decayed vegetable matter; sym corruption.
TOWER: Did fear of another Flood inspire this?
(Josephus). Safety lies not in cities or towers, but in obedience to God's laws.
TO THE HEAVENS: Prob a series of temples to various
gods, one upon another. The top would have been used for star-gazing, worship of
heavens, astrology. The false worship of Zodiac (HPM 152).
SO THAT WE MAY MAKE A NAME FOR OURSELVES: God had
revealed himself as the God of Shem ('name'), but the Babel builders were
determined to make a name for themselves rather than be called by God's name (4:
26, AV mg). Perh this also involved having a priest of their own. Ct 12:2, God's
declaration to Abraham, "I will make thy name great." See also Psa
AND NOT BE SCATTERED: The gathering of material forces
into one common center would have led to universal despotism and universal
idolatry: cp Rev 17:18; Cain in Gen 4:17.
Ct the "temple" which God is building: Heb 3:6; 11:10; Joh
14:2; Eph 5:7.
"Then will I purify the lips of the peoples, that all of them
may call on the name of the LORD and serve him shoulder to shoulder" (Zep
THEY HAVE BEGUN TO DO THIS: 'This is the (fresh)
beginning of their wicked deeds.'
GO DOWN: Foreshadowing return of Christ, to vanquish
enemies: Tes 51:43.
CONFUSE: Confusion of man, a divine work.
Gen 11 genealogy: The lifespan is cut in half or more. Also
cut drastically is the age of the father when his first son is born. In this ch
the average age when the first son is born is 44; in Gen 5, excluding Noah who
was 500, the average is still 106. This all explains why it was considered so
unusual for Abraham to have a child at 100 (Gen 17:17). Did a sort of
"greenhouse effect" before the Flood allow such long life? And was this removed
after the Flood?
SHEM: Gen 10:21.
ARPHAXAD: Gen 10:22.
Was Shem "Melchizedek"? (Gen 14:18; Psa 110:4; Heb 5--7).
Cainan should be inserted here: Luk 3:36.
SHELAH: Gen 10:24.
PELEG: "Division". In his time, descendants of Noah
were divided: Gen 10:25.
REU: "Friend": Luk 3:35.
SERUG: "Shoot, tendril". An ancient city by this name
exists near Haran.
TERAH: "To turn, tarry, delay" (Gen 12:4n). Terah was
an idolater: Jos 24:2.
THE FATHER OF ABRAM, NAHOR, AND HARAN: But Abraham was
the youngest. Terah begat Abraham at age 130, died 205 (when Abraham was 75: Gen
12:4). Abraham is placed first because most important. Other examples of
out-of-order lists: Gen 5:32 (cp Gen 9:18; 10:21).
ABRAM: "Exalted father".
LOT: "Veiled", "covered".
HARAN DIED IN UR: Babylonia, a land of death to those
who remained there.
UR OF THE CHALDEANS: "Light of the conquerors" -- ie
the Cushites. A great city on Euphrates near Persian Gulf. Headquarters of
worship of moon. Royal provincial city. Advanced education, culture, science,
business. Center of trade. 2 miles long, 1/2 mile wide. Precious metals,
exquisite workmanship (HPM 158). Education was well developed and students
learned to read, write, and do some arithmetic. Commerce was at a high point due
in part to the shipping industry. Ships carrying gold, copper ore, ivory and
various wooden products came into Ur thru the Persian Gulf. The people of
Mesopotamia, and therefore Ur, were very religious. Indeed, the people of Ur
worshipped the moon god, Nanna, in a ziggurat (ie, a large temple structure)
they had constructed. Idols were also found in the walls of most houses. See
also WAbr 9,10; Halley 87-89. Now a mass of ruins on a barren desert.
SARAI: "Princess". A family of royalty?
ISCAH: "One who looks forth": cp v 31 (or "went
forth"). Is Iscah another name for Sarah (by tradition of Jerome, Josephus)?
Sarah therefore is Abraham's niece.
NO CHILDREN: But through faith she yet conceived seed:
Heb 11:11; Isa 54:1; Psa 113:9.
This migration: not an isolated incident, but part of a mass
emigration of the period. People moving west from Babylonian area, around the
Fertile Crescent (WAbr 11). Abraham may have left because of persecution (cp Gen
10:9). He left at the time of the Passover (Exo 12:40,41).
205 YEARS: Alternative: Samaritan Pentateuch has 145:
cp v 26n (WAc 89).