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Table Of Contents:
|Genesis 11:1||Genesis 11:12-15|
|Genesis 11:2||Genesis 11:16-19|
|Genesis 11:3-4||Genesis 11:20-25|
|Genesis 11:5||Genesis 11:26-28|
|Genesis 11:6-9||Genesis 11:29-30|
|Genesis 11:10||Genesis 11:31-32|
11:1 In chapter 10 we noted the three language groupings of Indo-Europeans, Hamites, and Shemites. What happened at the Tower of Babel explains how these languages quickly became so different from one another.
11:2 By now the descendants of Noah had moved from the mountains of south-east Turkey (see 2:10-14) into the Mesopotamian plain of Shinar (10:10) which was later known as Babylonia (Daniel 1:1-2).
11:3-4 Many doubt the historicity of the Tower of Babel. But no one can deny that such towers were built in Mesopotamia. The temple of Marduk of which the ruins remain in Babylon was called etemen-an-ki Sumerian "house of the foundations of heaven and earth." It was rebuilt by both the Assyrians and Babylonians. We also know that humans have again and again built huge towers to perpetuate their power and their glory.
11:5 When the LORD notices such visions of grandeur, it is only a matter of time before he decides to topple them.
11:6-9 In this case he not only terminated the building plans, but the language of the builders was confused. We noted (10:1) that nations tend to define themselves by the language they speak. And from this time the Shemites (11:10-26) become a distinct grouping of nations based on their common linguistic origins (see 10:21-31).
Genesis 11: 10-26 The Genealogy from Shem to Abraham
11:10 This makes it clear that the ancestors of Abraham (11:32) were Shemites. They were not what scholars call Semitic (see 10:6). And we have suggested that the line of Arpachshad probably lived in Ur and spoke Sumerian (see 10:21-22). It was only when Abraham moved south from Haran that he began speaking the language of Canaan (9:18). The result was that both Arabic and Hebrew became Hamitic languages.
11:11 Arpachshad was born when Shem was 100 years old (11:10), so Shem lived a total of 600 years. By charting the figures given for the birth of each firstborn son (11:10-26), we can see that Shem outlived Abraham, and he would have heard of the birth of Isaac and Jacob. It was God who decided on this huge drop in longevity from an average of over 900 years down to 120 by the time of Moses (6:3).
11:12 -15 In the previous chapter (10:21-22) we concluded that Arpachshad lived in Ur of the Chaldees and probably spoke Sumerian.
11:16-19 We also suggested that the division in the days of Peleg (10:25) occured when one group of the tribes descended from Arpachshad moved to the areas of south-east Arabia which are now called Oman and Yemen. Some of the names where they settled are connected with tribes in that area, and to this day Arab tribes of South Arabia still have a tradition that they are descended from Joktan.
11:20-25 The Nahor of 11:22 is not Abraham’s brother Nahor (11:27), who must have been named after him.
Genesis 11:26-32 Abraham’s relatives in Haran
11:26-28 Terah’s son Haran died in Ur of the Chaldees before the family emigrated, and Terah may have renamed the city they occupied in his memory. Haran’s son accompanied Abraham on his journey up into northern Mesopotamia and down into Canaan (12:4, 13:5-13).
11:29-30 Abraham married Sarai (Sarah) his half-sister, the daughter of Terah by another wife (20:12). And Nahor married Milcah, one of Haran’s two daughters, who later bore a son named Bethuel (24:24). This too close family inbreeding might be one explanation for Sarah’s barrenness.
11:31-32 It seems that it was Abraham’s original intention to go into Canaan (see 12:1, Acts 7:2-4), but when the family arrived in Haran his father Terah settled and died there.
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