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The sacred historian relates in this Chapter an awful proof of man's fallen nature, and thereby confirms the divine declaration concerning it, that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. For notwithstanding that the flood had swept away the whole human race, excepting that part preserved with Noah in the ark; and God's displeasure against sin had manifested itself in this dreadful judgment, yet the sin of man soon broke out afresh; and, in the daring attempt of building the tower of Babel, evidently discovered that man ventured to defy the Omnipotency of God. The relation of this foolish, as well as impious undertaking, is contained in this Chapter, together with, the divine judgment which followed. Towards the close of the chapter, the Reader is first introduced to the history of Abram, of whom such honourable testimony is afterwards given throughout the whole volume of Scripture.
Genesis 11:1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
Happy world, may it not be said, when no confusion or misapprehension could arise from a diversity of languages! What a train of evils hath this variety alone produced in the earth in after ages! Is it not more than probable that this was the holy tongue, (Hebrew), and learned first in Paradise?
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.
Or journeyed eastward, as Genesis 13:11 . Shinar or Senaar was afterwards called Chaldea or Babylonia.
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.
Observe how sinners encourage sinners by their counsel: Proverbs 1:11 . And ought not saints to provoke one another to love and to good works? Hebrews 10:24 .
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.
Reader! I charge you to see that your foundation be that which is mentioned, 1 Corinthians 3:11 , and then those blessings will follow: Isaiah 54:11-12 ; Revelation 21:10-12 . It is worth observing, that Cain was the first builder of a city: Genesis 4:17 And those Babel-builders were the next. If the Reader would see the opposite characters, let him turn to Hebrews 11:13-16 .
And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
This is spoken after the manner of men: Psalms 113:6 .
Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.
Observe the form of expression, let us go down; and recollect what was remarked in the Commentary on Genesis 1:26 . (See POOR on "Genesis 1:26 ")
So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
What dispersions have since taken place, both of nations and individuals!
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.
Babel means confusion. Hence is derived Babbler. Here was afterward founded Babylon the great seat of idolatry and persecution. This tower was then either rebuilt, or enlarged, and converted into the temple of Belus, which, according to history, was both higher and larger than St. Paul's cathedral.
And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
These verses are all highly interesting, in that they lead to Him, after the flesh, in whom all the families of the earth were to be blessed Matthew 1:1-16 . I would desire the Reader to remark with me, how careful the Holy Ghost hath been, through all his sacred word, to preserve the names of the faithful. Certainly they occupy more place in the Bible than those of all the world beside.
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.
Harran is the same as Charran, between Ur and Canaan, Acts 7:4 . Sarai was Abram's half sister, Genesis 20:12 , and supposed to be the same as Iscah Genesis 11:29 .
And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.
Observe, how the lives of men have gradually been shortened!
WHAT an awful view is here again afforded of man's apostacy! So little effect had the remembrance of the deluge left upon the human mind, that instead of being humbled under the mighty hand of God, we behold the workings of the heart occupied in contriving a plan to counteract the divine sovereignty in future. Perhaps infidelity, which is the same in all ages, ventured to do, what it is forever doing, to put down to second causes what was evidently the effect of a first ordination; and denied any divine interference in the flood of waters. Alas! my soul, what are all the rebellious murmurings and transgressions arising in my heart, but the effects of the same cause, unbelief! Lord I would pray, (as a pious father of old used to pray) "Preserve me from that evil man, myself."
I cannot close this chapter without stopping to remark, how striking an instance of the sovereignty of Almighty grace is here given, when we consider that from the confusion of languages, sent as a judgment in this instance, arose, in after ages, an occasion for the display of mercy, in the gift of tongues, to the Apostles; so that the wonders of the day of Pentecost sprung out of the ruins of Babel. What a precious testimony to the truth of that scripture: Surely the wrath of man shall praise thee; the remainder of wrath shalt thou restrain. Psalms 76:10 .
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Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Genesis 11". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 12 / Ordinary 17