More S.O.A.P. from ‘Genesis’ (study, observe, apply, pray)… by David Niednagel
Genesis 10 -11 Nations and Languages
10:1 This is the account of the families of Shem, Ham, and Japheth, the three sons of Noah. Many children were born to them after the great flood. … (rest of chapter lists 70 names)
This is the 4th Toledoth, (account) of a family line, this time the sons of Noah. There are 16 grandsons and (I guess) 54 great-grandsons, that don’t mean much to us today. But to anyone in the ancient world they were very famous! The names of cities and countries were almost all from this list. These were real people who became the ancestors of the famous people groups throughout the world.
11:1 At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words. 2 As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia and settled there. 3 They began saying to each other, … “Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.”
5 But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building. 6 “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them! 7 Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.” 8 In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city. 9 That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world. NLT
Ch 11 explains how and why these tribes became distinct nations. In 9:1 God told Noah and his descendants to “fill the earth”, not to stay in one region. But the people wanted to be “famous and keep from being scattered”. The tower was an act of rebellion against the living God, and seems to show worship of their own concept of a god. V 6 is amazing – God Himself acknowledged that if people “are united and all speak the same language, nothing will be impossible for them”. God made humans with great abilities and there is a synergistic effect when we are united – for good or for evil. BTW, based on the meanings of the names of those 70 people, the language they spoke was either Hebrew of something very similar to it.
So God did another miracle, and confused their ability to understand one another. There are about 6000 languages in the world today, and most of them are identifiable as language families that probably go back to Babel.
Lord, You know every person and all their families. You made us with amazing capacities for inventions and accomplishing great tasks. You also know our “secret” thoughts whether good or terrible. Help me always walk “in the Light” before You. These early chapters of Genesis are indispensable to understanding human nature and relationships. Help me teach the foolishness and danger of sin, but also use my life to help get the gospel to people who have never heard about You in their own language yet. Amen