The Dispersion of the Nations and the Tower of Babel

Genesis 11:1-9; Genesis 10

Highlights from this Passage

  • Genesis 11:1-9 precedes Genesis 10 chronologically. Both passages are complementary accounts.
    • Chapter 11:1-9 presents the rebellious people of Babel, who build a city for themselves and prefer their own glory, dispersing because of God’s judgment.
    • Chapter 10 presents the nations as one lineage multiplying and filling the earth under God’s blessing.
  • God’s power is everywhere, and it needs no tower by which to descend or ascend.
  • The building of Babel brings God’s judgment through the confusion of languages.
  • The population increases after the flood through Noah and his sons.
  • Cities, countries, and nations begin to form.

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The whole earth was of one language and of one speech. As they traveled east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar, and they lived there. They said to one another, “Come, let’s make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” They had brick for stone, and they used tar for mortar. They said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top reaches to the sky, and let’s make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad on the surface of the whole earth.”

Yahweh came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men built. Yahweh said, “Behold, they are one people, and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do. Now nothing will be withheld from them, which they intend to do. Come, let’s go down, and there confuse their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So Yahweh scattered them abroad from there on the surface of all the earth. They stopped building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there Yahweh confused the language of all the earth. From there, Yahweh scattered them abroad on the surface of all the earth.

Now this is the history of the generations of the sons of Noah and of Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Sons were born to them after the flood.

The sons of Japheth were: Gomer, Magog, Madai, Javan, Tubal, Meshech, and Tiras. The sons of Gomer were: Ashkenaz, Riphath, and Togarmah. The sons of Javan were: Elishah, Tarshish, Kittim, and Dodanim. Of these were the islands of the nations divided in their lands, everyone after his language, after their families, in their nations.

The sons of Ham were: Cush, Mizraim, Put, and Canaan. The sons of Cush were: Seba, Havilah, Sabtah, Raamah, and Sabteca. The sons of Raamah were: Sheba and Dedan. Cush became the father of Nimrod. He began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before Yahweh. Therefore it is said, “like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before Yahweh”. The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land he went into Assyria, and built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and the great city Calah. Mizraim became the father of Ludim, Anamim, Lehabim, Naphtuhim, Pathrusim, Casluhim (which the Philistines descended from), and Caphtorim.

Canaan became the father of Sidon (his firstborn), Heth, the Jebusites, the Amorites, the Girgashites, the Hivites, the Arkites, the Sinites, the Arvadites, the Zemarites, and the Hamathites. Afterward the families of the Canaanites were spread abroad. The border of the Canaanites was from Sidon—as you go toward Gerar—to Gaza—as you go toward Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim—to Lasha. These are the sons of Ham, after their families, according to their languages, in their lands and their nations.

Children were also born to Shem (the elder brother of Japheth), the father of all the children of Eber. The sons of Shem were: Elam, Asshur, Arpachshad, Lud, and Aram. The sons of Aram were: Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash. Arpachshad became the father of Shelah. Shelah became the father of Eber. To Eber were born two sons. The name of the one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided. His brother’s name was Joktan. Joktan became the father of Almodad, Sheleph, Hazarmaveth, Jerah, Hadoram, Uzal, Diklah, Obal, Abimael, Sheba, Ophir, Havilah, and Jobab. All these were the sons of Joktan. Their dwelling extended from Mesha, as you go toward Sephar, the mountain of the east. These are the sons of Shem, by their families, according to their languages, lands, and nations.

These are the families of the sons of Noah, by their generations, according to their nations. The nations divided from these in the earth after the flood.