King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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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)

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One language in the world, The building of Babel

1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.

2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.

3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.

4 And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.

The confusion of tongues, The builders of Babel dispersed

5 And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.

6 And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.

7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another’s speech.

8 So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.

9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.

The descendants of Shem

10 These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood:

11 And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.

12 And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah:

13 And Arphaxad lived after he begat Salah four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.

14 And Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber:

15 And Salah lived after he begat Eber four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.

16 And Eber lived four and thirty years, and begat Peleg:

17 And Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters.

18 And Peleg lived thirty years, and begat Reu:

19 And Peleg lived after he begat Reu two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters.

20 And Reu lived two and thirty years, and begat Serug:

21 And Reu lived after he begat Serug two hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters.

22 And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor:

23 And Serug lived after he begat Nahor two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.

24 And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah:

25 And Nahor lived after he begat Terah an hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters.

26 And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.

Terah, father of Abram, grandfather of Lot, they remove to Haran

27 Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.

28 And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.

29 And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor’s wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah.

30 But Sarai was barren; she had no child.

31 And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son’s son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram’s wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.

32 And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Speech. Probably Hebrew; in which language we have the most ancient book in the world, the work of Moses. This language has been preserved ever since, though with some alterations. Most of the oriental languages are but like dialects from it, as French, Italian, &c. are from Latin. The arguments which are brought to prove that other languages are more ancient, because the names of men, &c. have a proper significance in them as well as in Hebrew, do not invalidate the right of the latter. The most respectable authors have, therefore, always declared for it. H.

Ver. 2. The East: Armenia, which lies to the eastward of Babylonia, whither they directed their course in quest of provisions for themselves and cattle, being now grown pretty numerous. M.

Ver. 3. Each one: not that every individual joined in this undertaking, considered, at least, as a rash and presumptuous attempt to save themselves from a second deluge. Some might innocently give in to it, meaning only to leave a monument to their common origin and friendship, before they separated into distant countries. Slime: literally bitumen. H. — The Hebrew, chomer, means also slime, or mortar. Stone is very scarce in that country, but the earth is fat, and very proper to make brick; it also abounds in naphtha, bitumen, &c.: hence the ancients notice the brick walls of Babylon. C.

Ver. 4. Famous before; Heb. lest, &c.; as if they intended to prevent that event. H. — Their motive appears to have been pride, which raised the indignation of God. Nemrod, the chief instigator, might have designed the tower for a retreat, whence he might sally out and maintain his tyranny. M.

Ver. 6. In deed. This seems to be spoken ironically; though the effects of weak mortals, the sons of Adam, when pursued with vigour and unanimity, will produce great effects. These builders had conceived an idea of raising the tower as high as possible, hyperbolically, to touch heaven. H.

Ver. 7. Come ye, &c. As men seemed bent on taking heaven by storm, like the ancient giants, God turns their expressions, as it were, against themselves, and shews them an example of humility, let us go down. He acts the part of a judge, and therefore will examine all with the utmost diligence, as he denotes by these expressions; being really incapable of moving from place to place, on account of his immensity. H. — He seems nearer to men, by the effects or punishments which he inflicted. The address which he here makes is directed, not to the angels, but to the other co-equal powers of the Blessed Trinity. M.

Ver. 9. Babel, that is, confusion. This is one of the greatest miracles recorded in the Old Testament; men forgot, in a moment, the language which they had hitherto spoken, and found themselves enabled to speak another, known only to a few of the same family (C.); for we must not suppose that there were as many new languages as there were men at Babel. M. — The precise number of languages which were then heard, cannot be determined. The learned commonly acknowledge the Hebrew, Greek, Latin, Teutonic, Sclavonian, Tartarian, and Chinese languages, to be original. The rest are only dialects from these. English is chiefly taken from the Teutonic, (C.) with many words borrowed from the Greek and other languages. H.

Ver. 12. Sale, or Cainan. See C. x. 24. Chron. i. 18. in the Septuagint. The variation in the years of the Patriarchs, between this ancient version and the Hebrew, is here again very considerable, and perhaps inaccountable. H.

Ver. 20. Sarug: in whose days S. Epiphanius places the origin of idolatry; but Eusebius (Præp. i. v. & 9.) thinks it began in Egypt, among the posterity of Cham. C.

Ver. 27. Abram, the youngest of the three, being born only in the 130th year of Thare. v. 32, and G. xii. 4. He is placed first, on account of his superior dignity in the church of God, in like manner as Sem, Moses, &c. In his youth, he is supposed to have followed the idolatrous worship of his fathers. S. Aug. de C. D. x. c. ult. Genebrard, A.M. 1949. C. — But being soon enlightened by God, he becomes a glorious witness of the truth, and, according to many, is preserved miraculously, when thrown into the fire by the Chaldees. v. 31. H.

Ver. 29. Jescha, whom many confound with Sarai, as if both Nacher and Abram had married the daughters of their brother Aran. But why then does Moses mention Sarai before, and then call her Jescha in the same verse? It seems as if he intended to designate two different women. H. — In effect, Abram himself says, Sarai was truly his sister, born of the same father. G. xii. 13. See C. xx. 12, where we shall give the reasons that seem to prove that she was the daughter of Thare, and not Aran. C. — Jescha does not accompany her grandfather, preferring, perhaps, to stay with Nachor, or to marry in her own country; if she were not already dead when Thare departed from Ur, a city of the Chaldees. H. — This city is probably Ura, in Mesopotamia, not far from Nisibis, which the Scripture often mentions is a part of Chaldea. Acts. vii. 2. &c. C. — It is not, however certain that the rest of Thare’s family remained behind; if they did, they removed soon after into the country about Haran, or Charræ, on the Charboras. C. xxix. 4. Josep. Ant. 1. 6. H.