Genesis 11

* One language in the world, The building of Babel. (1-4) The

confusion of tongues, The builders of Babel dispersed. (5-9) The

descendants of Shem. (10-26) Terah, father of Abram, grandfather

of Lot, they remove to Haran. (27-32)

1-4 How soon men forget the most tremendous judgments, and go

back to their former crimes! Though the desolations of the

deluge were before their eyes, though they sprang from the stock

of righteous Noah, yet even during his life-time, wickedness

increases exceedingly. Nothing but the sanctifying grace of the

Holy Spirit can remove the sinful lusts of the human will, and

the depravity of the human heart. God's purpose was, that

mankind should form many nations, and people all lands. In

contempt of the Divine will, and against the counsel of Noah,

the bulk of mankind united to build a city and a tower to

prevent their separating. Idolatry was begun, and Babel became

one of its chief seats. They made one another more daring and

resolute. Let us learn to provoke one another to love and to

good works, as sinners stir up and encourage one another to

wicked works.
5-9 Here is an expression after the manner of men; The Lord

came down to see the city. God is just and fair in all he does

against sin and sinners, and condemns none unheard. Pious Eber

is not found among this ungodly crew; for he and his are called

the children of God; their souls joined not themselves to the

assembly of these children of men. God suffered them to go on

some way, that the works of their hands, from which they

promised themselves lasting honour, might turn to their lasting

reproach. God has wise and holy ends, in allowing the enemies of

his glory to carry on their wicked projects a great way, and to

prosper long. Observe the wisdom and mercy of God, in the

methods taken for defeating this undertaking. And the mercy of

God in not making the penalty equal to the offence; for he deals

not with us according to our sins. The wisdom of God, in fixing

upon a sure way to stop these proceedings. If they could not

understand one another, they could not help one another; this

would take them off from their building. God has various means,

and effectual ones, to baffle and defeat the projects of proud

men that set themselves against him, and particularly he divides

them among themselves. Notwithstanding their union and obstinacy

God was above them; for who ever hardened his heart against him,

and prospered? Their language was confounded. We all suffer by

it to this day: in all the pains and trouble used to learn the

languages we have occasion for, we suffer for the rebellion of

our ancestors at Babel. Nay, and those unhappy disputes, which

are strifes of words, and arise from misunderstanding one

another's words, for aught we know, are owing to this confusion

of tongues. They left off to build the city. The confusion of

their tongues not only unfitted them for helping one another,

but they saw the hand of the Lord gone out against them. It is

wisdom to leave off that which we see God fights against. God is

able to blast and bring to nought all the devices and designs of

Babel-builders: there is no wisdom nor counsel against the Lord.

The builders departed according to their families, and the

tongue they spake, to the countries and places allotted to them.

The children of men never did, nor ever will, come all together

again, till the great day, when the Son of man shall sit upon

the throne of his glory, and all nations shall be gathered

before him.
10-26 Here is a genealogy, or list of names, ending in Abram,

the friend of God, and thus leading towards Christ, the promised

Seed, who was the son of Abram. Nothing is left upon record but

their names and ages; the Holy Ghost seeming to hasten through

them to the history of Abram. How little do we know of those

that are gone before us in this world, even of those that lived

in the same places where we live, as we likewise know little of

those who now live in distant places! We have enough to do to

mind our own work. When the earth began to be peopled, men's

lives began to shorten; this was the wise disposal of

27-32 Here begins the story of Abram, whose name is famous in

both Testaments. Even the children of Eber had become

worshippers of false gods. Those who are through grace, heirs of

the land of promise, ought to remember what was the land of

their birth; what was their corrupt and sinful state by nature.

Abram's brethren were, Nahor, out of whose family both Isaac and

Jacob had their wives; and Haran, the father of Lot, who died

before his father. Children cannot be sure that they shall

outlive their parents. Haran died in Ur, before the happy

removal of the family out of that idolatrous country. It

concerns us to hasten out of our natural state, lest death

surprise us in it. We here read of Abram's departure out of Ur

of the Chaldees, with his father Terah, his nephew Lot, and the

rest of his family, in obedience to the call of God. This

chapter leaves them about mid-way between Ur and Canaan, where

they dwelt till Terah's death. Many reach to Charran, and yet

fall short of Canaan; they are not far from the kingdom of God,

and yet never come thither.
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