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Bible Commentaries
Genesis 11

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-9

Rebellion against God at Babel (11:1-9)

Babel was one of the cities founded by Nimrod in the land of Shinar, ancient Babylonia (see 10:8-12). The people of this region, proud of the society they had established, displayed the same anti-God spirit as had brought about God’s judgment through the flood. They joined together to build for themselves a new city that would make them famous and give them complete security. They decided to crown their city with what they considered to be a skyscraper, as a symbol of their advanced civilization and complete self-sufficiency (11:1-4).
Their skyscraper may have been a fortress, or it could have been a temple, but whatever it was God saw it as a symbol of rebellion. The more people progressed, the more they tried to use their collective abilities to build for themselves a society that would make them independent of God. God therefore smashed their unholy union decisively (5-9).

Verses 10-26

Preparation for Abram (11:10-26)

During the period between Noah and Abram, the earth’s population increased greatly. People migrated to various regions, and many tribal groups, even nations, were established (see 10:1-32). It appears from this that there must have been more than ten generations between Noah and Abram. In that case, the genealogy recorded here has been simplified, the ten names listed being those of ten leading men of that period. (See notes on 5:1-32.)
The genealogy from Shem to Eber repeats what has been given in Chapter 10 (10-15; cf. 10:21-24). The genealogy from Eber onwards differs from that in Chapter 10. It traces the line through Eber’s elder son Peleg (since that was the line that produced Abram), whereas the genealogy in Chapter 10 traced the line through Eber’s younger son Joktan (a line that produced many of the Arab tribes) (16-26; cf. 10:25-31). The genealogy shows also that the human life span was shortening, as God had previously announced (see 6:3).

Note: It seems that the name Eber is the source of the word ‘Hebrew’. Although in theory all the descendants of Eber could be called Hebrews, in practice the name became limited to those of the line of descent that passed through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob (14:13; 39:17; 40:15; 43:32). In time it became simply another name for Israelites (Exodus 2:6,Exodus 2:11; Exodus 3:18; 1 Samuel 4:6; 1 Samuel 4:6; Jeremiah 34:9; Acts 6:1; Philippians 3:5).

Verses 27-32


Abram obeys God’s call (11:27-12:9)

From the nations of the world God now chose one man through whom he would build a new nation, which, in turn, would be the means of bringing his blessing to the whole world (see 12:2-3). God’s chosen man, Abram (later called Abraham), lived originally in the idolatrous city of Ur in ancient Babylonia. Although others in his family worshipped idols (Joshua 24:2), Abram worshipped the one true God and obeyed him when told to move out of Ur. With his wife Sarai (later called Sarah), his father Terah, and his nephew Lot, he travelled north-west through the Mesopotamian valley to the town of Haran, where he settled temporarily (11:27-32; Acts 7:2-4).

Some time later Abram and Sarai, along with Lot, moved at God’s direction south into Canaan. Abram believed that God would give him a better dwelling place, even though he did not know exactly where he was to go. He believed also that God would make him the father of a great nation, even though his wife had not been able to have children (12:1-5; Hebrews 11:8-12). At that time the Canaanites lived in the land, but Abram firmly believed that one day his descendants would live there instead. He openly expressed his faith in God by building altars in the very places where the Canaanites were then living (6-9).

Bibliographical Information
Fleming, Donald C. "Commentary on Genesis 11". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/genesis-11.html. 2005.
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