Genesis 10 and 11 (NRSV)
Nations Descended from Noah
These are the descendants of Noah’s sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth; children were born to them after the flood. 2The descendants of Japheth:
Japheth has traditionally been called the father of the Indo-European peoples — Caucasians, or the Gentiles.
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:
The descendants of Ham have traditionally been thought to be those who populated Africa and the Far East.
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:
Shem has traditionally been considered the father of the Semitic peoples, Jews and Arabs.
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.
“Hence one must consider this chapter of Genesis a mirror in which to discern that we human beings are, namely, creatures so marred by sin that we have no knowledge of our own origin, not even of God Himself, our Creator, unless the Word of God reveals these sparks of divine light to us from afar . . . This knowledge the Holy Scriptures reveal to us. Those who are without them live in error, uncertainty, and boundless ungodliness; for they have no knowledge about who they are and whence they came.”
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.”
The ancient Greek historian Herodotus said the tower of Babel still stood in his day and he had seen it.
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.
Three large artistic renderings of the Tower of Babel:
“The Tower of Babel,” a 1928 woodcut by M. C. Escher.
“The Tower of Babel” by Pieter Bruegel the Elder, c. 1563 (Kunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna).
“The Construction of the Tower of Babel,” by Hendrik van Cleve, c. 1500? (Pinacoteca Nazionale, Bologna).
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.
Speaking of different languages — for a fascinating overview of the worldwide status of Bible translation, from Wycliffe Bible Translators:
the tower of Babel language fiasco — in reverse!
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.
Here is the Bible’s first mention of Abram, later re-named Abraham. About one-third of the book of Genesis is about this man, who is remembered for his faith.
James 2:23 (New International Version)
And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend.
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.
As we are set to go into the next portion of Scripture, let’s review just where we are now. Abram and Sarai have obeyed God and set out for an unknown land. They have traveled from Ur, near the coast of the Persian Gulf, northward along the Euphrates River to the busy cosmopolitan center of Haran. There Abram’s father, Terah, died. Now Abram is the man in charge. He will decide where his entourage goes, how they live, what they worship.
Simple Secrets of the Kingdom
Study 6 – God’s Second Perfect Man
The first creation began with the universe and ended with the first perfect man. In God’s new creation, God starts with the Second Perfect Man and will end with a new heavens and a new earth. The new man, Jesus, reveals how imperfect people can live by God’s power, called grace. This grace frees us from the dead end life that comes from perfectionism and idealism. Discover how God can help you change to live under grace today. Click here for AUDIO or VIDEO.
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.