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Confusion — Genesis Chapter 11

This blog post will cover the devotionals #71-74 for Genesis Chapter 11.

Please note that this devotional book is for sale as a physical (paperback) &/or digital (PDF) book on my website.

[71] Genesis 11:1-9 (Part 1)

Genesis 11:2 says that “It happened, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they remained there.” Notice the verse says, ‘they’, but never set up context about who they were. We can see, from verse 5, that we’re back to seeing a differentiation between the children of God and the children of men. We mentioned, in devotional #69, that the beginning of Nimrod’s empire was Babel. Nimrod was Ham’s grandson (Cush’s son)—the mighty man. Since we know that Nimrod was the leader in the building of Babel, then the ‘they’ (in verse 2) has to be referring to Nimrod’s people. Now, to give a little perspective about Babel—this was the first city that Nimrod founded—and was the capital city of his empire. The best estimate of the size of Babel is incredibly impressive. It's said to have covered 100-200 square miles. For some perspective, Boise, Idaho covers roughly eighty square miles. Detroit, Michigan covers roughly 145 square miles. Barbados is 166 square miles. Imagine building something as huge as one of these modern places, but five thousand years ago, without all the modern building conveniences we have today! “They said, ‘Go to, let’s make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and slime for morter.” Now, we'll see more about this when we get to Genesis 19 and discuss Sodom and Gomorrah, but for the sake of context here, ‘slime’ in the Bible refers to either pitch or bitumen (asphalt / tar)—so that’s what they had for cementing (mortaring) their bricks together. “Then they said, ‘Go to, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower, whose top will reach Heaven; and let’s make ourselves a name, that we not be scattered abroad on the surface of the whole earth.’” What was their motive behind doing this? The men feared that God wouldn’t keep His promise to not send another flood (and that He'd ‘scatter them abroad, across the surface of the whole earth’), so they wanted to build a tower that'd get them high above where the waters could rise to, and high enough into the heavens to determine how the flood had occurred in the first place. Thus, going back to verse 5, it’s evident that the men who built this city and tower weren’t 'children of God'. We saw, in devotional #65, about how Satan wanted to make men forget or disbelieve God’s promise (thus driving them to do things to both save / please themselves) or try to get God to break His promise. They decided to challenge God and take matters into their own hands. They were going to do something that ‘not even God could overrule or overcome with His natural disasters (“let’s make ourselves a name”).’ In devotional #72, we’ll see what happened when they tried to out-do their way out of whatever God would send (aka, allow to come) their way.

[72] Genesis 11:1-9 (Part 2)

In devotional #71, we saw that man once again didn’t trust God’s Word. The Antediluvians didn’t believe that God would send a flood (aka, allow one to happen), and the Post-diluvians (specifically, the descendants of Ham) didn’t believe that God wouldn’t send one. Just like the men said, “Go to, let’s build a tower up to Heaven,” the Lord copied their language and said, “Go to, let’s go down to Earth and see the tower.” ‘Go to’ means ‘Come’. God doesn’t need to descend to Earth to see what’s going on down here, nor did He seriously think that nothing could be restrained from them (as He supposedly said in verse 6)—just because they had ‘high’ aspirations. It seems an awful lot like what we talked about before, how man thought he could achieve absolutely anything, and overcome / avoid absolutely everything. Have you heard the phrases, ‘Pride comes before the fall,’ or ‘Those who live by the sword will die by the sword,’ etc? These principles show us how we need to be careful, because the very thing that we do (or say that we can avoid), ends up coming down upon us. These guys said, “Let’s do this to avoid being scattered abroad, and so that nothing God can send our way can overtake us.” What happened? Just like the Antediluvians and the flood, God stepped back, and confusion stepped forward. God didn’t confuse their language—He was just no longer there to unify and clarify things. The Holy Spirit wasn’t there maintaining understanding and discernment. How could they expect God to intervene on their behalf when they were trying to defy Him? ‘Babel’ (which is what the city and tower were later named as a result of what’d happened) means ‘confusion’. Strong’s Concordance also defines it as ‘mix’, ‘confound’, or ‘mingle’. We also pronounce it appropriately as ‘babble’. Babble means ‘to talk rapidly and continuously in a foolish, excited, or incomprehensible way’. Babies babble in the stage of life when their brain and speech functions are developing—and they’re trying to make sense of things through speaking—which only comes out as nonsensical noises. So, in a sense, these tower builders reverted to their under-developed state. Because they went back to pre-toddler states of mind, they also lost their ability to imagine and scheme—refraining them from doing whatever they imagine—which is exactly what God said would be the case if He didn’t allow them to experience this confusion. The very thing that they wanted to avoid happened to them. They were scattered abroad, and their tower couldn’t be finished. Their fear drove them to do the thing that caused exactly what they feared to happen (like what Jacob’s sons did with Joseph)! That’s what we call a self-fulfilling prophecy. If their pride and self-trust hadn’t consumed them, they never would’ve lost their ability to communicate. Jesus implores us to trust Him and humble ourselves as little children. Many of us know the story of what happened in Babel—but to clarify how the confused language prevented the finishing of the building: A man working above would call to a level below asking for a certain tool or building material. The man below would misunderstand and have the wrong thing sent up to him. Their productivity became counter-productive. They were literally working against themselves. When misunderstanding / confusion comes between, people become frustrated with each other, and move apart. Thus, they scattered themselves across the earth to get as far away from each other as possible. That’s what happened in the time of Babel, and we see the same thing happen today with people who have different ideas and beliefs, ways of communicating, etc. Fractured relationships and divorces, riots, and civil war are all results of this same Satanic principle at work.

[73] Genesis 11:10-32 (Part 1)

In devotional #38, we looked at the genealogy from Adam to Noah and his sons. Now, we’re going to pick up from there to continue this important line. Noah lived 950 years (had Shem at roughly 503). Shem lived six hundred years (had Arphaxad at one hundred—two years after the flood). Arphaxad lived 438 years (had Salah at thirty-five). Salah lived 433 years (had Eber at thirty). Eber lived 464 years (had Peleg at thirty-four). Peleg lived 239 years (had Reu at thirty). Reu lived 239 years (had Serug at thirty-two). Serug lived 230 years (had Nahor at thirty). Nahor lived 148 years (had Terah at twenty-nine). Terah lived 205 years (had Abram at 130). In devotional #68, we determined that at the start of the 1,657th year, Shem was roughly ninety-eight years old, and Noah was 601. Noah died at 950, when Shem was roughly 447. If we do the math, we find something very interesting. Shem outlived both his son (Arphaxad) and grandson (Salah). Eber (Salah’s son) outlived his son (Peleg), grandson (Reu), great-grandson (Serug), great-great-grandson (Nahor), and great-great-great-grandson (Terah). How’s that possible? If we look at the lifespans of the people who lived from Creation to the flood, we see a range of 777-969 years (from Adam to Lamech—Noah’s father). Recall, from devotional #42, that we saw God prophesy that man’s lifespan would drop to roughly 120 years of age (Genesis 6:3) because His Spirit wouldn’t always strive with man. Noah lived 950 years, which surpassed almost all his ancestors, but we see a huge drop with Shem’s lifespan to just six hundred years of age (though not as comparatively large of a drop from his grandfather, Lamech). Yet, Arphaxad, Salah, and Eber dropped to the mid-four hundreds. Something I wanted to note is that, while Noah lived half of his life mostly based on the plant diet that God had prescribed in Eden, Shem was still relatively young when their new diet came into play after they left the ark—so it’d make sense that his well-being wouldn’t have lasted quite as long as his ancestors. Though we don’t know when each of Shem’s sons were born, we do know that the one of interest (Arphaxad) wasn’t born until two years after the flood—meaning that his diet was based on meat from the time he was born (obviously, once weaned from breastmilk, etc.). This would’ve dropped his wellness even more than Shem’s, and we see the same effects on his son and grandson as well. What happened after that set of offspring? Eber’s sons were born—and we saw that Peleg was the one named after an earthquake because of the division in the earth at that time. Things were changing intensely during that time-period, so I imagine that there were other factors that began playing into the lifespan as well—perhaps stress? Peleg, Reu (his son), Serug (his grandson), and Terah (his great-great-grandson) only lived to their two hundreds. Nahor (Peleg’s great-grandson) only lived to 148. We don’t know what ended the life of each of these men (were there any accidents / murders, etc.?), but that’s a major drop towards what God had predicted just before the flood. Thus, we see how it is that Eber (Peleg’s father—the last to live to his four hundreds) could’ve outlived another five generations after himself. In devotional #74, we’ll see what happened with Abram's immediate family, and how old the earth was when he was born!

[74] Genesis 11:10-32 (Part 2)

Genesis 11 tells us that Terah lived seventy years before he started having children. He fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran. He died at 205 in the land of Haran. Genesis 12:1-4 tells us that as soon as Terah died, God told Abram (who was then seventy-five years old) to leave the land of Haran (what’s known as ‘the call of Abraham’). This means that Terah was 130 years old when he fathered Abram. Why, then, was Abram listed first in the list of Terah’s sons? It was probably for the same reason that Shem (Noah’s youngest) was listed first in the genealogy. It had to do with dignity. Terah had his first son at seventy years old, and we might assume that Haran was the eldest, since Nahor (his brother), married his daughter, Milcah (Nahor married his niece)—who was Lot and Iscah’s sister. Haran died before his father Terah. We can see that Abram (his great-great-great-great-grandson) lived a full 179 years before Eber died. Doing all the math, we find out that Abram lived for 150 years before Shem died. Do you realize that Abram was the great(x7)-grandson of Shem?! Nowadays, we’re lucky to have our great-grandparents live to see us be born—but Abram got to be alive during his great(x7)-grandfather’s life—and nearly was born soon enough to meet Noah. Noah died only three years before Abram was born! Now that we’ve done the calculations, we can see that (because Noah was born in / at the 1,056th year and died 950 years later, and Abram was born three years after that) Abram was born right around the 2,009th year of Earth’s existence. Again, as we saw the last time we did this genealogical breakdown—it’s important for us to know the history of the earth (specifically, its true age). There's another important reason, though, for looking at this timeline. When we looked at the prophecy Noah gave concerning his three sons, in devotional #67, we saw that he said, “Blessed be the LORD God of Shem.” We saw that Shem had exhibited reverence towards his father (and God’s statutes), and because of this, he’d be greatly blessed (his righteous character would naturally produce great results). We saw the sons of Shem’s brothers in Genesis 10, but it didn’t focus on their entire genealogy or date-record like it does with Shem. Why is this? Well, if you return to Luke 3:36, where we first saw Jesus’ genealogy, it’ll become evident that only Shem’s (or Sem’s) specific genealogy was truly important for the purpose of history because he was the son of Noah that Jesus’ line came through. This means that Shem’s descendants were the chosen people of God’s covenant for their Redeemer! He was the God of Shem, and so, Noah prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the LORD God of Shem.”

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