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The Tower of Babel


Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2And as they migrated from the east, they came upon a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. 3And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4Then 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; otherwise we shall be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” 5The L ord came down to see the city and the tower, which mortals had built. 6And the L ord said, “Look, they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7Come, let us go down, and confuse their language there, so that they will not understand one another’s speech.” 8So the L ord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9Therefore it was called Babel, because there the L ord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the L ord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.

Descendants of Shem

10 These are the descendants of Shem. When Shem was one hundred years old, he became the father of Arpachshad two years after the flood; 11and Shem lived after the birth of Arpachshad five hundred years, and had other sons and daughters.

12 When Arpachshad had lived thirty-five years, he became the father of Shelah; 13and Arpachshad lived after the birth of Shelah four hundred three years, and had other sons and daughters.

14 When Shelah had lived thirty years, he became the father of Eber; 15and Shelah lived after the birth of Eber four hundred three years, and had other sons and daughters.

16 When Eber had lived thirty-four years, he became the father of Peleg; 17and Eber lived after the birth of Peleg four hundred thirty years, and had other sons and daughters.

18 When Peleg had lived thirty years, he became the father of Reu; 19and Peleg lived after the birth of Reu two hundred nine years, and had other sons and daughters.

20 When Reu had lived thirty-two years, he became the father of Serug; 21and Reu lived after the birth of Serug two hundred seven years, and had other sons and daughters.

22 When Serug had lived thirty years, he became the father of Nahor; 23and Serug lived after the birth of Nahor two hundred years, and had other sons and daughters.

24 When Nahor had lived twenty-nine years, he became the father of Terah; 25and Nahor lived after the birth of Terah one hundred nineteen years, and had other sons and daughters.

26 When Terah had lived seventy years, he became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

Descendants of Terah

27 Now these are the descendants of Terah. Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran was the father of Lot. 28Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans. 29Abram and Nahor took wives; the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah. She was the daughter of Haran the father of Milcah and Iscah. 30Now Sarai was barren; she had no child.

31 Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans to go into the land of Canaan; but when they came to Haran, they settled there. 32The days of Terah were two hundred five years; and Terah died in Haran.

27. Terah begat Abram. Here also Abram is placed first among his brethren, not (as I suppose) because he was the firstborn; but because Moses, intent on the scope of his history, was not very careful in the arrangement of the sons of Terah. It is also possible that he had other sons. For, the reason why Moses speaks especially of them is obvious; namely, on account of Lot, and of the wives of Isaac and Jacob. I will now briefly state why I think Abram was not the first born. Moses shortly afterwards says, that Haran died in his own country, before his father left Chaldea, and went to Charran.332332     There is evidently a mistake in the original, as it appears in the Amsterdam edition of 1671, and in the Berlin edition, by Hengstenberg, of 1838. Terah’s name is here put instead of Haran’s, thus, ‘Thare paulo post dicet Moses in patria mortuum esse,’ etc. The Old English translation has kept the name, and made nonsense of the passage; but Calvin’s French version is right: ‘Moyse dira un peu apres, que Haran mourut en sen pays, devant que Thare son pere s’en allast demeurer en Charran.’ — See verse 28. — Ed. But Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Charran to dwell in the land of Canaan.333333     See chapter 12 verse 4. And this number of seventy-five years is expressly given after the death of Terah. Now, if we suppose that Abram was born in his father’s seventieth year, we must also allow that we have lost sixty years of Terah’s age; which is most absurd.334334     Supposing Terah to be 70 years old at the birth of Abram, and Abram 75 at the death of Terah; it would make Terah 145 years old when he died instead of 205, which is a loss of 60 years. The inference, therefore, is that Abram was not the first-born of the sons mentioned. See also Patrick’s Commentary, who says, that Terah “was seventy years old before he had any children; and then had three sons one after another, who are not set down in the order wherein they were born. For Abraham’s being first named doth not prove him to have been the eldest son of Terah, no more than Shem’s being first named among Noah’s three sons proves him to have been the first-born. For there are good reasons to prove that Abraham was born sixty years after Haran, who was the eldest son; having two daughters married to his two brothers, Nahor and Abraham; who seems to have been the youngest though named first.” Le Clerc controverts this view, but it seems the most free from objections. See, however, his Commentary on Genesis 12:1 and 12:4.Ed. The conjecture of Luther, that God buried that time in oblivion, in order to hide from us the end of the world, in the first place is frivolous, and in the next, may be refuted by solid and convincing arguments. Others violently wrest the words to apply them to a former egress; and think that he lived together with his father at Charran for sixty years; which is most improbable. For to what end should they have protracted their stay so long in the midst of their journey? But there is no need of labourious discussion. Moses is silent respecting the age of Abraham when he left his own country; but says, that in the seventy-fifth year of his age, he came into the land of Canaan, when his father, having reached the two hundredth and fifth year of his life, had died. Who will not hence infer that he was born when his father had attained his one hundredth and thirtieth year?335335     Another palpable numerical mistake in the Amsterdam edition, which is also perpetuated in that of Hengstenberg, is here corrected as the sense requires, and under the sanction of the French and Old English versions. In the Latin text it is: “Quis non inde colliget natum fuisse quum pater centessimum annum attigisset?” — Ed. But he is named first among those sons whom Terah is said to have begotten, when he himself was seventy years old. I grant it; but this order of recital does nothing towards proving the order of birth, as we have already said. Nor, indeed, does Moses declare in what year of his life Terah begat sons; but only that he had passed the above age before he begat the three sons here mentioned. Therefore, the age of Abraham is to be ascertained by another mode of computation, namely, from the fact that Moses assigns to him the age of seventy-five when his father died, whose life had reached to two hundred and five years. A firm and valid argument is also deduced from the age of Sarai. It appears that she was not more than ten years younger than Abraham. If she was the daughter of his younger brother, she would necessarily have equalled her own father in age.336336     Or at least nearly so. “Ergo Haran (si junior fuisset Abrahamo) eam genuisset nondum deceni (imo nec octo) annos natus.” — Lightfoot et alii in Poli Synopsi. See, however, Lightfoot’s Hebrew and Talmudical Exercitations upon the Acts, in his Works, vol. 2 p. 666. Fol. London 1684. — Ed. They who raise an objection, to the effect that she was the daughter-in-law, or only the adopted daughter of Nahor, produce nothing beyond a sheer cavil.

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