Tower of Babel

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Tower of Babel

Ch. 10 Table of Nations...divided in 3 parts with genealogy of the 3 sons of Noah. Shem, Ham, Japeth...normally think of the oldest being the line...Shem is the middle. Often in Genesis...the youngest is the line of the blessing. Note in Japeth’s line v. 5 nations for gentiles...coastland people. ,
Note Ham’s descendant Nimrod (v. 8-12) means “we shall rebel” a mighty man...powerful king figure. His kingdom included both Babel and Nineveh. His Uncle Canaan fathered the clans of the Canaanites. Shem 10:21-32 then picks up again in 11:10-26. At some point during the generations of the tower of Babel takes place. Why would I say that? see , , Quote v. 20 5 From these the coastland peoples spread in their lands, each with his own language, by their clans, in their nations….20 These are the sons of Ham, by their clans, their languages, their lands, and their nations. And v. 31 31 These are the sons of Shem, by their clans, their languages, their lands, and their nations.
The solution is to recognize that the author has not put these two stories in chronological order. He first describes the spread of the peoples and languages in chapter 10 and then he describes the origin of that diversity in . Sometimes, when you have something shocking to say about why an event happens, you put it at the beginning of the event, and sometimes you wait and put it at the end of the event. - Piper

Pride of Man

1 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar.
V. 1 one language..same words.
V. 2 east away from Eden...note Cain & Lot go east.
Bricks technology and innovation...attempted permanence.
4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”
Illus: similarities of the world we live in…
Since 9/11 Top 10 tallest buildings in the world have been built, the tallest of which is 2 times higher than the world trade center...2,717 feet tall--the Burj in Dubai (by the way the building that replaced the World Trade Center is called the One World Trade Center...yet another attempt of man to say we are together when we are far apart. Why keep building taller buildings...same reason...make a name for ourselves.
Isaiah 42:8 ESV
I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.

Providence of God

Yahweh--LORD...the LORD “came down”. He will accomplish the purposes for which he created the world. He has said that human beings should fill the earth...He will see that his purpose is carried forth.

LORD comes down

5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 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.

“Came down to see” Lord sees all and knows on words to point to the actual insignificance of the the city and the of man...further note “children of man”
Man is about to go places that will not be for his good but for his harm.
Illus: atomic weapons
For the good of man and ultimately to accomplish his will...
LORD confuses and scatters man
7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech.” 8 So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
Babel means confused or mixed up. Babylon they proposed meant “gate of God”
Zephaniah 3:9 ESV
“For at that time I will change the speech of the peoples to a pure speech, that all of them may call upon the name of the Lord and serve him with one accord.
Zephaniah 3:9
So What?
The Gospel genuinely brings people together.
Acts 2:5–11 ESV
Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”
Danger: when we make the work of the gospel about us...illus: highest steeple in Gastonia...largest attendance...The gospel of Christ is and will be the only thing that unites people. Illus: large church building in the Dominican Republic that sits empty with a large sign in english Built by _____ baptist church.
While living in the midst of the city of man, we seek the city that is to come.
(Genealogy leads to Abraham)
He is Lord and He will accomplish His will! Humbled people...humbled by the gospel who take it to the nations...instead of being consumed with city of man, we seek the city of God by taking the Gospel of God to the nations.
Sermon Theme: The Lord scatters rebellious humankind by confusing their language in order to accomplish his plan to restore his kingdom on earth.
Sermon Goal: To give hope to God’s people today that our sovereign Lord is able to break down secular kingdoms in order to restore his kingdom on earth.
Instead of relying on God, many still seek their security in their own ingenuity. They look for security in “towers” such as that of the UN, trade-center towers (money and stocks), global communication satellites, the internet, spy satellites, weapons of mass destruction, and missile shields. (Greidanus, 130)
Babylon will be thrown down.
The irony is that as long as man tries to come together...the farther apart they become. Why? Someone has to make their name great. Man does not do shared fame.
Chapter 10
. In order to appreciate the full significance of that future scene, this section of Genesis is vitally important. It also provides the background to so many of the Bible’s references to the nations. (Eveson, 211)
All of the nations have their origin in the sons of Noah. (Belcher, 103)
Sin is still a problem which shows the need for God to make a new start with the family of Abram in order to accomplish His purposes for the restoration of creation (11:10-26). (Belcher, 103)
It is also significant that names are used in a variety of ways in . Some names are of persons (Japheth, Nimrod), some names are of people groups (Ludites, Caphtorites), and some names are of place names (Mizraim, Sidon). Thus the sons of Noah are divided by ethnicity, geography, and language. The fact that there are seventy nations in the genealogy shows that the table of nations is representatives of the totality of all peoples. (Belcher, 104)
Chapter 11
Intro The narrative is tightly structured and filled with repetition, wordplays, and irony. The irony of mankind’s attempt to ‘make a name,’ to overreach itself and immortalize its achievements, is reinforced by the tightly coiled acoustical sound track of the text, which plays back the initial achievements as failures. (Greidanus, 124)
At Babel the Lord counters human efforts not to be scattered by scattering them “over the face of all the earth,” thus accomplishing his original plan that human beings should “fill the earth.” (Greidanus, 125)
At Babel God halts the unbridled human efforts to build a united, secular city, which would leave no room for the kingdom of God. (Greidanus, 125)
The Lord scatters humankind, which in disobedience seeks to build its own, secular kingdom, in order to accomplish his plan that they “fill the earth.” (Greidanus, 125-126)
Ultimately Babylon stands for secular human kingdoms, which Jesus will judge and overthrow when he establishes his perfect kingdom on earth (see ). (Greidanus, 127)
It is the will of God, so long as sin is present in the world, to employ nationalism in the reduction of sin. (Stigers via Ross, 234)
The action of God is both punishment and a preventive measure; it prevents men from going too far in their pride. (Ross, 234)
What drives them is hubris. What calls out the nemesis of the Lord from heaven and scatters them from there is also hubris. (Ross, 237)
The multiplicity of languages was the result of supernatural activity. Three great judgements have affected the whole of humanity. The first was the result of the Fall, the second was the Flood and the third was the communications breakdown at Babel. (Eveson, 220)
The east is often associated with going away from God. It s in the east that the Tower of Babel incident occurs (11:2). Eber’s line through Peleg is the subject of the next section and ends with the mention of Terah and Abram, who moved from the east towards the land of promise (11:10-26, 31; 12:5). In this way the focus continues to be on the fulfilment of God’s special promise of a ‘Seed’ who will crush the head of the old serpent and save God’s people from their sins. (Eveson, 221)
The Tower of Babel demonstrates not only the problem of sin after the flood but also the powerful effect of what sin might accomplish if people come together in defiance against God to do what they want to do, instead of what God wants them to do. God’s command had been to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth, but the people in sought to come together to make a name for themselves so they would not be dispersed over the face of the earth. (Belcher, 107)
A massive and lofty, solid brick staircase structure that served as a stairway to reach the gods. The staircase was painted blue at the top to blend in with the celestial home of the gods in the sky and it also had a shrine for the gods. (Belcher, 107)
God easily disperses this gathering of human beings by confusing their languages, so that they are not able to communicate with each other. (Belcher, 108)
Already in there is recognition that these nations ‘each had their own language’ (10:5, 20, 31). Thus, the Tower episode actually happened before the results of what describes. (Belcher, 108)
Through the line of Abram someone will come to reverse the confusion of languages and bring healing to the nations. This is initially fulfilled at Pentecost with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit so that people with different languages understand each other (). It is finally fulfilled when peoples from every nation and language will gather around the throne to praise God and the Lamb (). (Belcher, 109)
The primeval history reaches its fruitless climax as man, conscious of new abilities, prepares to glorify and fortify himself by collective effort. (Kidner, 118)
Summary When the human race settled together to preserve their unity and develop their fame by building a grandiose city-tower, the Lord interrupted their collective apostasy and scattered them across the face of the earth by confusing the language that united men. (Ross, 237)
V. 1 It should be clear by now that the story of the dispersion is a thematic sequel to the Table of Nations and is designed to explain how the nations speak different languages in spite of their common origin and how they found their way to the farthest corners of the earth. The major theme of the passage is the dispersion of the nations because of their rebellious pride and apostasy in uniting at Babel. (Ross, 243)
It was at Babel--that city founded by Nimrod, a descendant of Ham through Cush; that city known for its pride and vanity; that seat of rebellion toward the true God and pagan worship of the false gods--that the Lord turned ingenuity and ambition into chaos and confusion so that the thing the people feared most came on them and that their desire to be people of renown was suddenly turned against them. (Ross, 243)
What they feared the most came upon them, and the fame they craved came in the form of notoriety. By such justice God demonstrates his sovereignty over the foolish plans of mortals, turning their rebellion into submission to his will. (Ross, 244)
God will subjugate the proud who rebel against his will. Nothing short of dispersion across the face of the earth would await a people who refused to obey God. (Ross, 244)
V. 4 At Babel people refuse to “fill the earth.” Rather, like Cain before them, they seek to cope east of Eden (11:2; 4:16) by building a city with “a tower with its top in the heavens.” Their motive? “Otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” (Greidanus, 122)
The world after the Flood was no different from the world before the Flood. The same errors were repeated. Human beings made their plans without reference to God. (Eveson, 222)
By their own efforts they were trying to bridge the gulf, to meet God, to have contact with Go and to be like God. This was the original temptation in the Garden of Eden--to be like God, but without reference to God and independently of him. Humanity, in its rebellion against God’s authority, is forever trying to grasp at becoming like God. (Eveson, 223)
Everything about the project was man-centered. The use of ‘us’ and ‘ourselves’ emphasizes that this building was their idea and for their own benefit. (Eveson, 223)
Their self-centeredness is also depicted in their boastful statement: ‘Let us make a name for ourselves.’ (Eveson, 224)
Jesus Christ has the right to the name that is above every name. He is Jehovah, to whom every knee shall bow (; ). Jesus alone is the one who unites heaven and earth. He is the temple, and only in him can we be united to God and have fellowship with him. Every other way is doomed to failure, as we see in this incident. (Eveson, 224)
V. 5 We are not to think that God necessarily had to come to earth to see what was going on. By using human actions to express God’s evaluation of the situation the text vividly portrays how trifling and puny are the things of which people boast. We pride ourselves in our great achievements, but what do they amount to in God’s estimation? To the one ‘who sits above the circle of the earth...its inhabitants are like grasshoppers’ (). Cf. , . (Eveson, 225)
V. 6-7 Once the understanding of one another was confounded, the division would be affected. (Ross, 247)
God did not topple their tower; he confused their communications. (Eveson, 226)
If you will live without God as the center, you have no center at all. (Eveson, 226)
God will not allow human beings unlimited freedom to do their own thing. (Eveson, 226)
Human beings, precisely because they are created in the divine image, are capable of planning and executing incredible projects. Because they are sinners such planning or plotting has to be restrained. God puts a brake on human rebellion. He will not allow it to reach the proportions evident prior to the Flood. (Eveson, 226)
It is this divine community which acts to destroy the united anti-God community so that the divine plan for the salvation of sinful people might not be thwarted. (Eveson, 226)
V. 8 The rebellious race as a unified people did not fulfill their goal. (Ross, 247)
V. 9 Babylon in ancient times, especially in the second millennium BC, was the heart of the ancient world and its center of power, and the rays of its culture went out far into neighboring lands. Thus even in Palestine there was legendary knowledge of its gigantic cultural achievements, especially of the mighty stepped towers in which the united civilized will of this strong nation had created an enduring monument. (Von Rad via Greidanus, 123)
The tower of Babel story is a satire on the claims of Babylon to be the center of civilization and its temple tower the gate of heaven…:Babel does not mean gate of god, but ‘confusion’ and ‘folly.’ Far from its temple’s top reaching up to heaven, it is so low that God has to descend from heaven just to see it! ( Wenham) Moreover, it was not built by the gods but by sons of the earth, mere earthlings, mortals. The work was terrestrial, not celestial. (Ross via Greidanus, 123)
God’s purpose in verse 9:1 would be accomplished, in spite of the proud defiance of humankind. (Ross, 247)
The significance of this short account is great. It explains to God’s people how the nations came to be scattered abroad. The import, however, goes much deeper. That it was Babylon, the beginning of kingdoms under Nimrod from Cush, adds a rather ominous warning: Great nations cannot defy God and long survive. (Ross, 248)
If Israel would obey and submit to God’s will, then she would be the source of blessing to the world. Unfortunately, Israel also raised her head in pride and refused to obey the Lord. Eventually, she too was scattered across the face of the earth. (Ross, 248)
On the personal level the text reveals the necessity of submissive obedience to the Word of the Lord and warns against resisting through pride. Those who humble themselves in this way before God, God will exalt; but those who exalt themselves, God will abase. (Ross, 248)
In Scripture Babel, or Babylon, stands for world power in opposition to God. Nimrod, the symbol of personal prowess and rebellion against God, is associated with Babel and other well-known cities which were later to become centers of civilization and godless rule. (Eveson, 228)
So What A new multi-national, multi-racial, multi-lingual society was born comprised of those who trusted Jesus for salvation. Instead of division and separation, these believers were together (). (Eveson, 230)
All who belong to the Lord Jesus Christ will be of one language, living in perfect harmony in that city which has foundations, whose builder and maker is God (, ; , ). This is the ‘city of God’ of which ‘glorious things are spoken’, where people of various nations will be recorded as having been born. (Eveson, 230)
It is God’s gospel which genuinely unites people. (Eveson, 230)
Chapter 10
Intro Before Abraham, the nations numbered 70. After Abraham, at the close of the book, the seed of Abraham also numbers 70, the same as that of the nations. He who was taken from the nations has reached the number of the nations. (Sailhamer, 137)
: “When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance, when he divided all mankind, he set up boundaries for the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel.”
The Table represents God’s broad concern for all peoples, not just the Israelites, which is understood by the omission of Israel from this Table. (Waltke, 161)
By omitting Israel, the Table underscores that God is the God of the Gentiles. (Waltke, 174)
V. 1 The chapter may not be read out of context of the flood. (Sailhamer, 138) What is described “geographically and linguistically” in ch 10 will be described “theologically” in ch 11, namely, God’s dispersion of the nations from Babylon. (Sailhamer, 142)
V. 2-5 7 sons of Japheth, the 7 grandsons. The intention is not to give an exhaustive list but rather a “complete” list, one that for him is obtained in the number 7. (Sailhamer, 139)
V. 6-12 The importance of the “Nimrod-narrative” (v. 8-12) lies in its introduction of the city of Babylon (v. 10) into the list. (Sailhamer, 140)
The connection of Assyria and Babylon in this list of names appears to be intentional, for elsewhere in the list Assyria is identified as one of the sons of Shem. The insertion of a brief note about Babylon and its connection with Assyria not only introduces into the narrative a key city, Babylon, but also separates Assyria from its natural ties to Shem. (Sailhamer, 140)
, Assyria is intentionally linked to the fate of the city of Babylon. (Sailhamer, 140)
Both Nimrod and the tower builds build cities in Babylon and Shinar. (Waltke, 163) What a comfort for the godly exiles from these kingdoms to know that their covenant-keeping God is sovereign over Nimrod’s cities. (Waltke, 175)
Babylon represented the spiritual and political antithesis to Jerusalem. It eventually terminated Judah as an autonomous nation. (Waltke, 169)
Assyria is known as the cruelest conquerors known in ancient history, the infamous destroyers of Israel’s northern kingdom. (Waltke, 169)
V. 21-21 The dividing line falls between the two sons of Eber, that is, Peleg and Joktan. One line leads to the building of Babylon and the other to the family of Abraham. (Sailhamer, 141)
Peleg means divided. Thus not only is the land divided by the confusion of languages, but also, and more fundamentally, two great lines of humanity diverge from the midst of the sons of Shem: those who seek to make a name (Shem) for themselves in the building of the city of Babylon (11:4), and those for whom God will make a name in the call of Abraham. (Sailhamer, 142)
Chapter 11
V. 1-9 The account of the founding of the city of Babylon falls at the end of the list of 14 names from the line of Joktan (10:26-29). At the end of the list of the ten names of the line of Peleg, however, is the account of the call of Abraham. (Sailhamer, 143)
In response, the Lord reversed their plan and scattered them over “all the land.” (Sailhamer, 144)
There was a world of peoples before the call of Abraham, and it is that map of peoples that concerns the God of Abraham ultimately. (Waltke, 175)
Can be viewed as a flashback that explains why the three sons of Noah became divided at the time of Peleg son of Shem. (Waltke, 175)
Eastward marks everts of separation in Genesis. (Waltke, 178)
Since name connotes fame and progeny, these city builders are futilely attempting to find significance and immortality in their own achievements. (Waltke, 179)
This figurative usage implies no limitation on God’s omnipotence, for the divine ‘descent’ presupposes prior knowledge of human affairs from on high, and God’s subsequent counteraction unqualifiedly exhibits His absolute sovereignty. (Waltke, 180)
Describing the building project as just having begun also has polemical significance. This counters the Babylonian creation myth that presents Babylon as founded at the time of the creation. (Waltke, 180)
V. 10-26 This passages draws a direct line from Noah to Abraham and bypasses all others. (Sailhamer, 146)
Out of the ruins of two great cities, the city of Cain and the city of Babylon, God preserves the promised “seed.” The line of promise continues with Shem (11:10) and finds its destination in Abraham and a new promise about his “seed.” (Sailhamer, 147)
V. 27-32 locates the call of Abraham not in Haran but in Ur. (Sailhamer, 148)
Andrew - NICOT
“In some ways this genealogy may be read as a fulfillment of the divine blessing given to Noah and his sons. Their prolificness is made possible by God’s blessing rather than Noah’s blessing. The divine blessing is given to all three sons. The father’s blessing bypasses Ham” (Hamilton, 330).
Large sections of narrative are bracketed by genealogical citations: 1) 5:32 and 6:9-10 around 6:1-8; 2) 6:9-10 and 9:18-19 surround 6:11-9:17; and 3) 10:21-31 and 11:10-32 surround 11:1-9 (350).
V.1 One language poses a problem in view of 10:5,20,31; or could be a case of a lingua franca (350).
V.2 “... the emphasis in this verse on permanent settlement is balanced by the dispersed of v.8. What the tower builders wanted - a tower and a name - they lost or never obtained (Hamilton, 351).
V.4 Possible illustration: E-temen-an-ki, a Mesopotamian ziggurat 300’ tall and was said to have been built by the gods; v. 5 reads “... which the children of man had built” (Hamilton, 352 f.n.11).
V.6 Irony of v.5 is no indication the tower is taken lightly by God. While the plan is foolish and fails miserably to reach the heavens, God interprets the scheme seriously. It’s an unwise threat (354).
V.7 The purpose of God’s coming down in v.5 was to see it; in v.7 it is to thwart it (355).
V.8 No description is given of confusing the languages, only a statement of intention (v.7) and of completion (v.9) (356).
Negative ex. of Jacob’s ladder cf.28:12 (356).
“The story is an example of ‘man’s futile attempt to gain security apart from God through city-building” (Hamilton, 356).
Irony is used again as the city is the focus in v.8 over against the tower; at issue is attitude and intention in particular.
V.9 Again, irony as the people wanted to make a name for themselves, but it is pejorative (357).
This passage has as much to do with design as with judgment (?).
The solution is to recognize that the author has not put these two stories in chronological order. He first describes the spread of the peoples and languages in chapter 10 and then he describes the origin of that diversity in . Sometimes, when you have something shocking to say about why an event happens, you put it at the beginning of the event, and sometimes you wait and put it at the end of the event.
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