Genesis 11:1-9

 |  March 21, 2018

Gen. 11:1-9

  1. Locate the passage

This passage recounts the Divine interruption of mankind’s selfish plans to make a name for themselves.  This passage records the events that led to the Lord enforcing mankind’s obedience to the Divine command to “fill the earth” (Gen. 1:27; 9:1)

  1. Genre

The passage is narrative.  It records the prideful commands of the people of Shinar and the Divine response among the Godhead.

  1. Determine the structure of the passage

11:1-2 – One language, one speech, one location

11:3-4 – Mankind’s arrogant attempt at self-promotion

11:5-7 – The Lord confuses mankind’s pride

11:8-9 – Divine assistance in mankind’s fulling Divine Command

  1. Exegete the passage

Bad exegesis has “confused” the interpretation of this passage.  The problem was not a building project or a common language.  The problem was the arrogant defiance of God’s clear command.

Note the four-fold repetition of the English phrase, “Let us”

Several commentators have noted the chiasm in this passage:

A “the whole world had one language” (v. 1)

B “there” (v. 2)

C “each other” (v. 3)

D “Come, let’s make bricks” (v. 3)

E “Come, let us build ourselves” (v. 4)

F “a city, with a tower” (v. 4)

G “the Lord came down …” (v. 5)

F′ “the city and the tower” (v. 5)

E′ “that the men were building” (v. 5)

D′ “Come, let us … confuse” (v. 7)

C′ “each other” (v. 7)

B′ “from there” (v. 8)

A′ “the language of the whole world” (v. 9)[1]See Gordon J. Wenham, Genesis 1-15, Word Biblical Commentary vol. 1 (Waco: Word Books, 1987), 235.

Gen. 1-11 essentially introduces us to every major concept that we will study in Scripture and prepares us for God’s history of redemption.

11:1 – One language and one speech

11:2 – “They found … they dwelt there”

11:3 – The making of bricks for a building project prefigures the children of Israel making bricks in Egypt for a different (yet similarly selfish) building project.

11:4 – “Let us make a name for ourselves”

11:4 – “Whose top reaches to the heavens”

11:5 – “The Lord came down to see”

11:6 – “Nothing they purpose to do will be impossible

11:7 – “Let Us go down and there confuse their language”

=> SO, God scattered them …

11:8 – “The Lord scattered”

11:9 – While “Babel” specifically refers to the region that became “Babylon,” it does carry the same connotation as the English word, “babble.”

  1. Let the structure of the text drive the sermon

References   [ + ]

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