Unity can often be found in language. From the Tower of Babel to Alexander the Great, people have known the benefit of speaking the same language. Yet not all unity is beneficial, especially when people are united to bring themselves glory and dismiss the God who created them in the first place. Hence, this is the attitude of the people building that great tower into the heavens.
A ziggurat, the typical Mesopotamian temple-tower, was square at the base. Archeological digs have discovered these and are still visible today, having sloping, stepped sides leading upward. Often a small shrine would be found at the top. Pictured here is the great ziggurat of Ur.
I find it interesting that one like this great, amazing structure was being built into the heavens and yet was something God had to “come down to see.” In light of the vast size of the universe, God is truly the one who is great and almighty and here, in chapter 11, its as if He needs to stoop down, bend down, perhaps squint His eyes to see the tiny, little structure being built. Yet He acknowledges what the men are doing. The arrogance in themselves and the unbelief in Him leads God to bring His wrath. Notice God doesn’t destroy anything, by flood or fire, but He does destroy their ability to be united in language and hence, really not be united at all. The great dispersion occurs. All those people were the descendants of Ham (one of Noah’s sons).
Verse 10 begins by following another one of Noah’s sons, Shem. Shem is the son of Noah that continues the lineage of the coming Savior. You’ll notice the diminishing lifespan now with these descendants (remember 6:3?)
At the close of this chapter we are introduced to descendants of Shem: Terah and his son, Abram. Wrapping up chapter 11, we wrap up what is known as the Primeval History. Beginning with chapter 12 we enter a new section of Genesis…the Patriarchal History where we’ll see more details about the people of God we meet in His Word, namely Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
PRAYER: “Gracious Father, forgive me for the arrogance I show in my life and my attitude that doesn’t give You honor and glory but seeks the honor and glory for myself. Humble me to honor You above all things while I know you lead me in life to use the gifts You’ve given me. In Jesus’ strong and precious name I pray. Amen.”