Genesis 11 English Standard Version (ESV)
The Tower of Babel
11 Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3 And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” 8 So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
Following the description of the dispersion of the people in chapter 10, we come to this story of “the Tower of Babel”.
The motivation for building a city was to make the builders a name. The object of this endeavor was to establish a center by which they might maintain their unity. God desired unity for humankind, but one that He created, not one founded on a social state. They wanted to “empower” themselves. Both motive and object were ungodly. God had instructed man to fill the earth (1:28), to spread over the whole planet.
The construction a tower by itself was not sinful. God chose Jerusalem for His people, and He will create the New Jerusalem for believers to inhabit. It is the pride and security that people place in their city that God disapproves. As a result, God confused their language so they can no longer understand each other. Can you imagine the scene on the construction site next morning when people couldn’t understand each other anymore? Likewise, there may be times God would change the directions of our lives.
Are you aware of God’s hand in the change of direction in your life? What was it? Was God’s hand gentle or heavy? How did you take it? Grateful or resistant? Speak to Him through prayers and discuss these with those around you.