9.) Genesis 10:1 – 11:32


Genesis 10:1 – 11:32   (NRSV)

Nations Descended from Noah

10) These are the descendants of Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth; children were born to them after the flood. 2The descendants of Japheth: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. 3The descendants of Gomer: Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. 4The descendants of Javan: Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Rodanim. 5From these the coastland peoples spread. These are the descendants of Japheth in their lands, with their own language, by their families, in their nations.

6The descendants of Ham: Cush, Egypt, Put, and Canaan. 7The descendants of Cush: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The descendants of Raamah: Sheba and Dedan. 8Cush became the father of Nimrod; he was the first on earth to become a mighty warrior. 9He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.” 10The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, and Accad, all of them in the land of Shinar. 11From that land he went into Assyria, and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-ir, Calah, and 12Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city. 13Egypt became the father of Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, 14Pathrusim, Casluhim, and Caphtorim, from which the Philistines come.

15Canaan became the father of Sidon his firstborn, and Heth, 16and the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, 17the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, 18the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. Afterward the families of the Canaanites spread abroad. 19And the territory of the Canaanites extended from Sidon, in the direction of Gerar, as far as Gaza, and in the direction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha. 20These are the descendants of Ham, by their families, their languages, their lands, and their nations.

21To Shem also, the father of all the children of Eber, the elder brother of Japheth, children were born. 22The descendants of Shem: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram. 23The descendants of Aram: Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. 24Arpachshad became the father of Shelah; and Shelah became the father of Eber. 25To Eber were born two sons: the name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided, and his brother’s name was Joktan. 26Joktan became the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, 27Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, 28Obal, Abimael, Sheba, 29Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab; all these were the descendants of Joktan. 30The territory in which they lived extended from Mesha in the direction of Sephar, the hill country of the east. 31These are the descendants of Shem, by their families, their languages, their lands, and their nations. 32These are the families of Noah’s sons, according to their genealogies, in their nations; and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood.

The Tower of Babel


11)  Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2And as they migrated from the east, they came upon 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. 4Then 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; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”

5The Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. 6And the Lord said, “Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9Therefore it was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.


Two large renderings of the Tower of Babel:

“The Tower of Babel,” a 1928 woodcut by M. C. Escher.  http://britton.disted.camosun.bc.ca/escher/tower_of_babel.jpg

“The Tower of Babel”  by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, c. 1563 (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna).   http://www.emily.fm/en/wp-content/gallery/pieter-bruegel/Tower%20of%20Babel%20by%20Bruegel.jpg


Using our speech to praise God — three very different versions of “O, for a Thousand Tongues to Sing” —

1)  Mike Rayson, a tribute to Charles and John Wesley. 

2)  the MetroSingers, from the culturally diverse Metropolitan Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Hyattsville, MD.  

3)  the David Crowder Band, a contemporary call-to-worship version. 


The worldwide status of Bible translation, from Wycliffe Bible Translators:  http://www.wycliffe.org/About/Statistics.aspx


Acts 2:1-11 (New Living Translation)

On the day of Pentecost all the believers were meeting together in one place. Suddenly, there was a sound from heaven like the roaring of a mighty windstorm, and it filled the house where they were sitting. Then, what looked like flames or tongues of fire appeared and settled on each of them. And everyone present was filled with the Holy Spirit and began speaking in other languages, as the Holy Spirit gave them this ability.

At that time there were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem. When they heard the loud noise, everyone came running, and they were bewildered to hear their own languages being spoken by the believers.  They were completely amazed. “How can this be?” they exclaimed.

“These people are all from Galilee, and yet we hear them speaking in our own native languages! Here we are—Parthians, Medes, Elamites, people from Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, the province of Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and the areas of Libya around Cyrene, visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism), Cretans, and Arabs. And we all hear these people speaking in our own languages about the wonderful things God has done!”


Descendants of Shem


10These are the descendants of Shem. When Shem was one hundred years old, he became the father of Arpachshad two years after the flood; 11and Shem lived after the birth of Arpachshad five hundred years, and had other sons and daughters. 12When Arpachshad had lived thirty-five years, he became the father of Shelah; 13and Arpachshad lived after the birth of Shelah four hundred three years, and had other sons and daughters. 14When Shelah had lived thirty years, he became the father of Eber; 15and Shelah lived after the birth of Eber four hundred three years, and had other sons and daughters. 16When Eber had lived thirty-four years, he became the father of Peleg; 17and Eber lived after the birth of Peleg four hundred thirty years, and had other sons and daughters. 18When Peleg had lived thirty years, he became the father of Reu; 19and Peleg lived after the birth of Reu two hundred nine years, and had other sons and daughters. 20When Reu had lived thirty-two years, he became the father of Serug; 21and Reu lived after the birth of Serug two hundred seven years, and had other sons and daughters. 22When Serug had lived thirty years, he became the father of Nahor; 23and Serug lived after the birth of Nahor two hundred years, and had other sons and daughters. 24When Nahor had lived twenty-nine years, he became the father of Terah; 25and Nahor lived after the birth of Terah one hundred nineteen years, and had other sons and daughters. 26When Terah had lived seventy years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

Descendants of Terah

27Now these are the descendants of Terah. Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran was the father of Lot. 28Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans. 29Abram and Nahor took wives; the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah. She was the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah. 30Now Sarai was barren; she had no child. 31Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan; but when they came to Haran, they settled there. 32The days of Terah were two hundred five years; and Terah died in Haran.


The New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989 by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Images courtesy of:

Tower of Babel coloring page.  http://www.tstl4sda.net/children/Coloring/TowerOfBabel.gif

“Tower of Babel” stained glass window from the Parish of St. Luke’s, Belfast, Ireland, 1981.  http://parishofstluke.net/photos/oldtestament/

cartoon.  http://www.cartoonstock.com/lowres/jdo0337l.jpg

3 Responses to 9.) Genesis 10:1 – 11:32

  1. Johan Hinderlie says:

    The tower of confusion (Babel)expresses one main truth about life.

    We want to build monuments that outlive us. This gives us our grip on immortality. Now we can be like God. If we can just create the thing that others will remember us for we can lick this problem of being forgotten when we are in the grave.

    The author, Ernest Becker, first helped me understand this temptation that helps us believe that we can deny death. And he called these things, “immortality projects.”

    So my question is, “what is yours?”

    And my second question is, “if you are dead in Christ and you no longer live, but Christ lives in you, why not let your project go?”

  2. I had read Peter Berger’s “Invitation to Sociology: A Humanistic Perspective” (1963) at Augsburg College probably a decade before picking up Becker’s “The Denial of Death” (1974) at the Luther Seminary bookstore (perhaps half a decade before starting to attend Luther Seminary beginning in 1979), and so, had already continued on to Berger and Luckman’s “The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge” (1966) and gone back to Berger’s “The Noise of Solemn Assemblies: Christian Commitment and the Religious Establishment in America” (1961) (both of which detoured me around his “The Sacred Canopy: Elements of a Sociological Theory of Religion” [1967] and his “Rumor of Angels: Modern Society and the Rediscovery of the Supernatural” [1970] – though I did return to reading Berger with the publication of his “The Heretical Imperative: Contemporary Possibilities of Religious Affirmation” in 1981, and would presumably find some affinity in Berger’s more recent works [“Redeeming Laughter: The Comic Dimension of Human Experience” {1997} and “Questions of Faith: A Skeptical Affirmation of Christianity” {2003}]) and was influenced by the sociology of knowledge dictum that “history proposes the problem of one world among many (relativity of knowledge) as a fact, the sociology of knowledge as a necessity of our human condition” (Cf. Becker’s “The Birth and Death of Meaning: An Interdisciplinary Perspective on the Problem of [Human Being]” [2nd Ed., 1971]). So, I suppose you could say that staying abreast of the sociological (psychological, phenomenological, historical, etc.) aspects of Biblical hermeneutics would be (one of) my “immortality (or “causa sui” or “heroism”) project(s).” I do think we need to remember the sub-title of Becker’s book “Human Character as a Vital Lie.” That is to say, the ways in which our character (and, thus, our institutions) is (are) developed to protect our refusal to acknowledge our own mortality. The protest against and capitulation to our dependency upon nature with all of the shades of accommodation, manipulation, cooptation, and religious illusion that are situated between those two poles. We are lying in our denial but our lies are vital to our continued existence in the world. Consider poor Paul in Athens, discussing the “junkyard of idols” in that city with the Jews and other like-minded people in their meeting place, or in the city streets with anyone who would come along – Epicurean and Stoic intellectuals to boot (“There were always people hanging around, natives and tourists alike, waiting for the latest tidbit on most anything.” – The Book of Acts 17:21 [The Message version]). Paul’s audience at the Areopagus was really split at his mention of Jesus being “raised from the dead”. This is understandable when one considers some of the Greek (Hellenistic) forms of the resurrected god motif circulating at that time (in alphabetical order) – Adonis, Apollonius of Tyana, Asclepius, Attis, Demeter, Dionysus, Hercules, Hyacinth, Orpheus, Persephone, Zalmoxis (some forms from other regions include: Summer: Innna [or Ishtar {confused with Tammuz}], Rome: Mithras, Egypt: Osiris, India: Krishna, Germany: Baldur, et cetera, et cetera).

    While Sam Keen rightly sees Becker’s “answers” to our denial of death as only palliative, the following quote from his introduction to the most recent edition of Becker’s “The Denial of Death” (1997) is instructive: “[S]ome individuals are awakening from the long, dark night of tribalism, and nationalism and developing what Tillich called a transmoral conscience, an ethic that is universal rather than ethnic. Our task for the future is exploring what it means for each individual to be a member of earth’s household, a commonwealth of kindred beings. Whether we will use our freedom to encapsulate ourselves in narrow, tribal, paranoid personalities and create more bloody Utopias or to form compassionate communities of the abandoned is still to be decided. So long as human beings possess a measure of freedom, all hopes for the future must be stated in the subjunctive – we may, we might, we could. No prediction by any expert can tell us whether we will prosper or perish. We may choose to increase or decrease the dominion of evil. The script for tomorrow is not yet written.”

  3. See, more recently, my Easter Sunday blog entry “Preliminary Words to Faith . . .” at http://ushanabi.blogspot.com/2017/04/preliminary-words-to-faith.html

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