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Passage: Genesis 8-11

On Thursday, January 12, 2012 (Last Updated on 1/12/2013), Yujin wrote,

As you read Genesis 10 and 11 did you notice something unusual? Genesis 11:1 reads, 

And the whole earth was of one language and of one speech.

But in Genesis 10:5 we read,

Of these were the isles of the nations divided in their lands, every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.

We find this reference to different languages and peoples throughout chapter 10 (esp. Genesis 10:20, 31).

So what's going on here? We must understand that Genesis is not always written chronologically from chapter to chapter. Chapter 10 actually follows chapter 11 in strict historical chronology. However, a better way to look at it is to see chapter 10 as a big picture genealogical summary of the spread of nations and chapter 11 as a detailed explanation of the incident and divine intervention that precipitated it. We saw this same kind of summary to detail explanation of things in Genesis 1-2. Genesis 1 gave the general summary of the days of creation, while Genesis 2 gave a focused and detailed look at the creation of Adam and Eve.

Why is this important? If you do not realize this literary device at work in Genesis, you will posit, as some do that there is a contradiction in Scripture between chapter 10 and 11. Or with respect to Genesis 1 and 2, you will think, as some liberal theologians do, that there was not one but two creation events.

I bring this to your attention so that you might understand the importance of not reading into the text something that is not there. This is called "eisegesis" in theological jargon. It relates not only to the reading of ideas foreign to the text into the text but also the forcing onto the text of styles and methodologies that are foreign to the text.

In the case of Genesis 1-2 and 10-11, we must not presume that Moses is always writing chonologically. We must remember that Moses is not trying to give a historical chronology of all the events from creation to the Plains of Moab, where his audience was about to enter the Promised Land. He gives a broad stroke explanation of historical events to provide context and move things along in his story, but then he hones in with a laser-beam-like focus on certain events that will be instructive for a people that have a penchant for disobedience and rebellion. Moses should be allowed the literary freedom to not only use chronology but also to speak in generalities at times and at other times in great detail. 

From Genesis 11 we understand that the people after Noah were once again turning away from God. God had commanded them to multiply throughout the earth (Genesis 8:17; 9:1,7). But instead, they chose to stick together and made a plan to pursue that (Genesis 11:3-4). Rather than accept the plan of God, they wanted to "make a name" for themselves. When the LORD saw this, we read God's assessment:

And Jehovah said, Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is what they begin to do: and now nothing will be withholden from them, which they purpose to do.

Some have taken this to mean that God was afraid that they would become so powerful as one people that even He would not be able to overcome them. No! Have we forgotten the flood so quickly? And about this tower. It was a ziggurat. The highest one known from ancient times was no more than 100 feet. And even if they were to build higher than our modern skyscrapers today, what threat would that pose to God? That is likely not what this text means.

The expression "now nothing will be withholden from them, which they purpose to do" means that they will once again be like the pre-flood people in their moral descent and rebellion against God (cf. Genesis 6:5,11). If God did not intervene at this point, He would have to destroy them all over again. His confusing of their language and scattering them abroad were, therefore, acts of divine mercy and grace.

Now, consider the audience to whom Moses is writing. Do you think this was instructive for them? Moses warned them against the same kind of independence from God, prideful idolatry, and rebellion against God when they would come into the Promised Land. He likely wanted them to consider this history of human rebellion against God, along with the terrible consequences (e.g. the curses and death associated with the first sin, the worldwide cataclysmic flood) as well as God's mercy (e.g. keeping them from the Tree of Life, the preservation of Noah and his family, the confusing of their language and scattering them abroad). Perhaps in considering these things, it would encourage them to repent and turn back to God. 

Friends, this history was also written for us, so that we might repent and turn back to God. It was written so that we might not think too highly of ourselves, that we would understand our natural inclination to rebel against God, but also that we might acknowledge God's grace by which we are saved. 


Someone commented here about the dividing of the earth from a single land mass called pangea. I remember learning about this in grade school. Without commenting on the veracity of such an event, I think that it would be difficult to prove from Genesis 10. In the three occasions that the idea of the earth being divided is mentioned, it is clear in at least two of the three occasions that Moses is speaking of the division of peoples rather than geological land masses:

Of these were the isles of the nations divided in their lands, every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations (Genesis 10:5).

And unto Eber were born two sons: The name of the one was Peleg. For in his days was the earth divided. And his brother's name was Joktan (Genesis 10:25).

These are the families of the sons of Noah, after their generations, in their nations: and of these were the nations divided in the earth after the flood (Genesis 10:32).

Also, the overall context of Genesis 10 is about the separation of peoples, not geological structures. We must be careful not to try to read scientific theories into the biblical text in order to arrive at a harmonious explanation. Remember, science has one big limitation. It does not allow any room for the miraculous or the suspension of natural laws. Yet, God often works outside of natural laws to accomplish His purposes, for since He created such laws in the first place, He is not bound by them.

But in saying this we do not argue that people must just blindly believe, for there is evidence. Often it is the evidence of an eye-witness testimony, like the apostolic eye-witness testimony to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. And if we believe their testimony, we can also believe the testimony of Moses here, because Jesus also accepted the writings of Moses. We must enlarge our view of things and understand that not everything is subject to scientific proof and that certain things can be true though lacking a "satisfactory" explanation. 

Passage: Genesis 8-11

On Wednesday, January 11, 2012 (Last Updated on 1/12/2012), Misty wrote,

 According to the article, there are sides that hold to both the flood theory and the pangea theory, and there are those that present other theories all together.  Some say that the migrations of humans and animals to different countries definitely means that there was either a pangea or land bridges.

I have a different theory and its right here in the Bible. I believe that people didn't migrate at all, I believe they were distributed quite deliberately and my Bible says so!!! At the tower of Babel, God doesn't just confuse their languages, v. 8 says "So the Lord SCATTERED them abroad from [Babel] over the face of all the Earth, and they ceased building [Babel].

Now, the character of the Lord is that he takes care of people's needs. Im sure he can and could give those people animals for meat, for fur, and etc. So he could scatter the animals as deliberately as he did humans.

Passage: Genesis 8-11

On Wednesday, January 11, 2012, Misty wrote,

In this passage, we get an idea who founded cities in biblical times and from who they came. When the flood wiped out the earth, we get Noah and his sons as the only people on Earth. Here, I see some very interesting things: we see the word GENTILES for the first time,  but if you paid attention (v. 5), the gentiles come from Japheth and Ham. But the gentiles had a common ancestor: NOAH and at the beginning, ADAM!

From Ham, the bad boy, we get the assyrians, the babylonians, etc. Ham's people built the tower of Babel (10:10,  Ham was cursed by his father for what Ham had done to him in 9:24

From Japheth, we get countries east, north, and south of Israel. The Bible makes it clear that Ham and Japheth's descendants are the gentiles (10:5).

From Shem, Noah's oldest son, we have the Israelites and their cousins east.

Now, I caught something interesting in 10:25. There has always been a theory that the Earth once had a supercontinent called Pangea. Pangea asserts that something happened to these continents, and they eventually drifted apart. Now, I looked back in Gen. 1-3, and the Bible does not say that the Lord divided up the Earth, but it is possible that when the Lord brought up the water underneath the Earth to flood the Earth when he wiped everything out, that an unintended consequence was the continents split. Or it is also possible that we find in Genesis 10:25 the answer.

10:25a says: To Eber were born two sons: the name of one was Peleg, for in his days the earth was divided; It's possible that God split up the Earth according to the people groups he was creating, or maybe that he split up the Earth at the same time he brings down the tower of Babel. Is He talking about the literal "Earth" or the people of the "Earth". I don't quite know. So I think I will look it up.


Passage: Genesis 8-11

On Wednesday, February 23, 2011, Unmi wrote,
My thoughts on Noah and his sons:
Noah's behavoir (his druckeness and nudity) caused his youngest son, Ham, to sin. 
So I think to myself... Have my actions, what I say or do, caused someone else to fall into sin?
Lord, help me NOT to be a stumbling block for someone else, esp for my children!!!
With or without stumbling blocks, we are all individually accountable for our own actions.
The American mentality today is to blame someone else. This goes back to Adam with his reply to God. “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.” In his response, he not only blamed "the woman" but also blames God himself for putting the women there is the first place. We now live in a society full of victims; personal responsibility is nonexistent, but the Bible clearly teaches that we are each held individually responsible for our actions and even our thoughts.
Lord, help us see ourselves with your eyes and change our ways to conform to the likeness of Jesus Christ.

Passage: Genesis 8-11

On Wednesday, January 12, 2011, Matt wrote,

Reading about the Tower of Babel and how this monument to man versus God lead God to confuse the language of man, I asked myself what language did they speak at the time.  The only evidence I found was that according to Abrahamic traditions the language spoken by Adam & Eve was Adamic.  Until the Tower of Babel incident I'm not sure if there were any other spoken languages.  Does anyone know?

If I had to guess I would not have come up with the Adamic language - especially since I never heard of it till now.  Without thinking I simply pictured everyone speaking English but after giving it some thought Hebrew, Aramaic & Greek all came to mind as relevant.  It sounds like these languages' origins were from the Tower of Babel incident.  Funny how we sometimes get caught up on our own little world.