Genesis 11
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.

Ge 11:1-32. Confusion of Tongues.

1. the whole earth was of one language. The descendants of Noah, united by the strong bond of a common language, had not separated, and notwithstanding the divine command to replenish the earth, were unwilling to separate. The more pious and well-disposed would of course obey the divine will; but a numerous body, seemingly the aggressive horde mentioned (Ge 10:10), determined to please themselves by occupying the fairest region they came to.

And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
2. land of Shinar—The fertile valley watered by the Euphrates and Tigris was chosen as the center of their union and the seat of their power.
And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
3. brick—There being no stone in that quarter, brick is, and was, the only material used for building, as appears in the mass of ruins which at the Birs Nimroud may have been the very town formed by those ancient rebels. Some of these are sun-dried—others burnt in the kiln and of different colors.

slime—bitumen, a mineral pitch, which, when hardened, forms a strong cement, commonly used in Assyria to this day, and forming the mortar found on the burnt brick remains of antiquity.

And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.
4. a tower whose top may reach unto heaven—a common figurative expression for great height (De 1:28; 9:1-6).

lest we be scattered—To build a city and a town was no crime; but to do this to defeat the counsels of heaven by attempting to prevent emigration was foolish, wicked, and justly offensive to God.

And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
6. and now nothing will be restrained from them—an apparent admission that the design was practicable, and would have been executed but for the divine interposition.
Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.
7. confound their language—literally, "their lip"; it was a failure in utterance, occasioning a difference in dialect which was intelligible only to those of the same tribe. Thus easily by God their purpose was defeated, and they were compelled to the dispersion they had combined to prevent. It is only from the Scriptures we learn the true origin of the different nations and languages of the world. By one miracle of tongues men were dispersed and gradually fell from true religion. By another, national barriers were broken down—that all men might be brought back to the family of God.
So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood:
And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.
And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah:
And Arphaxad lived after he begat Salah four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.
And Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber:
And Salah lived after he begat Eber four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.
And Eber lived four and thirty years, and begat Peleg:
And Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters.
And Peleg lived thirty years, and begat Reu:
And Peleg lived after he begat Reu two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters.
And Reu lived two and thirty years, and begat Serug:
And Reu lived after he begat Serug two hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters.
And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor:
And Serug lived after he begat Nahor two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.
And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah:
And Nahor lived after he begat Terah an hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters.
And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.
And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.
28. Ur—now Orfa; that is, "light," or "fire." Its name probably derived from its being devoted to the rites of fire-worship. Terah and his family were equally infected with that idolatry as the rest of the inhabitants (Jos 24:15).
And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram's wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah.
But Sarai was barren; she had no child.
And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.
31. Sarai his daughter-in-law—the same as Iscah [Ge 11:29], granddaughter of Terah, probably by a second wife, and by early usages considered marriageable to her uncle, Abraham.

they came unto Haran—two days' journey south-southeast from Ur, on the direct road to the ford of the Euphrates at Rakka, the nearest and most convenient route to Palestine.

And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.
A Commentary, Critical, Practical, and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments by Robert Jamieson, A. R. Fausset and David Brown [1882]

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