New International Version
Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth."
King James Bible
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.
Darby Bible Translation
And they said, Come on, let us build ourselves a city and a tower, the top of which [may reach] to the heavens; and let us make ourselves a name, lest we be scattered over the face of the whole earth.
World English Bible
They said, "Come, let's build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top reaches to the sky, and let's make ourselves a name, lest we be scattered abroad on the surface of the whole earth."
Young's Literal Translation
And they say, 'Give help, let us build for ourselves a city and tower, and its head in the heavens, and make for ourselves a name, lest we be scattered over the face of all the earth.'
Genesis 11:4 Parallel
CommentaryClarke's Commentary on the Bible
Let us build us a city and a tower - On this subject there have been various conjectures. Mr. Hutchinson supposed that the design of the builders was to erect a temple to the host of heaven - the sun, moon, planets, etc.; and, to support this interpretation, he says וראשו בשמים verosho bashshamayim should be translated, not, whose top may reach unto heaven, for there is nothing for may reach in the Hebrew, but its head or summit to the heavens, i.e. to the heavenly bodies: and, to make this interpretation the more probable, he says that previously to this time the descendants of Noah were all agreed in one form of religious worship, (for so he understands ושפה אחת vesaphah achath, and of one lip), i.e. according to him, they had one litany; and as God confounded their litany, they began to disagree in their religious opinions, and branched out into sects and parties, each associating with those of his own sentiment; and thus their tower or temple was left unfinished.
It is probable that their being of one language and of one speech implies, not only a sameness of language, but also a unity of sentiment and design, as seems pretty clearly intimated in Genesis 11:6. Being therefore strictly united in all things, coming to the fertile plains of Shinar they proposed to settle themselves there, instead of spreading themselves over all the countries of the earth, according to the design of God; and in reference to this purpose they encouraged one another to build a city and a tower, probably a temple, to prevent their separation, "lest," say they, "we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth:" but God, miraculously interposing, confounded or frustrated their rebellious design, which was inconsistent with his will; see Deuteronomy 32:8; Acts 17:26; and, partly by confounding their language, and disturbing their counsels, they could no longer keep in a united state; so that agreeing in nothing but the necessity of separating, they went off in different directions, and thus became scattered abroad upon the face of the earth. The Targums, both of Jonathan ben Uzziel and of Jerusalem, assert that the tower was for idolatrous worship; and that they intended to place an image on the top of the tower with a sword in its hand, probably to act as a talisman against their enemies. Whatever their design might have been, it is certain that this temple or tower was afterwards devoted to idolatrous purposes. Nebuchadnezzar repaired and beautified this tower, and it was dedicated to Bel, or the sun.
An account of this tower, and of the confusion of tongues, is given by several ancient authors. Herodotus saw the tower and described it. A sybil, whose oracle is yet extant, spoke both of it and of the confusion of tongues; so did Eupolemus and Abydenus. See Bochart Geogr. Sacr., lib. i., c. 13, edit. 1692. On this point Bochart observes that these things are taken from the Chaldeans, who preserve many remains of ancient facts; and though they often add circumstances, yet they are, in general, in some sort dependent on the text. 1. They say Babel was built by the giants, because Nimrod, one of the builders, is called in the Hebrew text גבור gibbor, a mighty man; or, as the Septuagint, γιγας, a giant. 2. These giants, they say, sprang from the earth, because, in Genesis 10:11, it is said, He went, מן הארץ ההוא min haarets hahiv, out of that earth; but this is rather spoken of Asshur, who was another of the Babel builders. 3. These giants are said to have waged war with the gods, because it is said of Nimrod, Genesis 10:9, He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; or, as others have rendered it, a warrior and a rebel against the Lord. See Jarchi in loco. 4. These giants are said to have raised a tower up to heaven, as if they had intended to have ascended thither. This appears to have been founded on "whose top may reach to heaven," which has been already explained. 5. It is said that the gods sent strong winds against them, which dispersed both them and their work. This appears to have been taken from the Chaldean history, in which it is said their dispersion was made to the four winds of heaven, בארבע רוחי שמיא bearba ruchey shemaiya, i.e. to the four quarters of the world. 6. And because the verb פוץ brev eht esua phuts, or נפץ naphats, used by Moses, signifies, not only to scatter, but also to break to pieces; whence thunder, Isaiah 30:30, is called נפץ nephets, a breaking to pieces; hence they supposed the whole work was broken to pieces and overturned. It was probably from this disguised representation of the Hebrew text that the Greek and Roman poets took their fable of the giants waging war with the gods, and piling mountain upon mountain in order to scale heaven. See Bochart as above.
Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
FROM THE PREFACE TO THE "HOLY CITY." UPON a certain First-day, I being together with my brethren in our prison-chamber, they expected that, according to our custom, something should be spoken out of the word for our mutual edification; but at that time I felt myself--it being my turn to speak--so empty, spiritless, and barren, that I thought I should not have been able to speak among them so much as five words of truth, with life and evidence: but at last it so fell out that providentially I cast …
John Bunyan—The Riches of Bunyan
The First Chaldaean Empire and the Hyksos in Egypt
The Nephilim were on the earth in those days--and also afterward--when the sons of God went to the daughters of humans and had children by them. They were the heroes of old, men of renown.
So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.
Where can we go? Our brothers have made our hearts melt in fear. They say, 'The people are stronger and taller than we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky. We even saw the Anakites there.'"
The LORD will scatter you among the peoples, and only a few of you will survive among the nations to which the LORD will drive you.
Hear, Israel: You are now about to cross the Jordan to go in and dispossess nations greater and stronger than you, with large cities that have walls up to the sky.
2 Samuel 8:13
And David became famous after he returned from striking down eighteen thousand Edomites in the Valley of Salt.
They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths; in their peril their courage melted away.
Jump to PreviousAbroad Build City Earth Face Heaven Let's Otherwise Ourselves Reach Reaches Scattered Sky Surface Top Tower Whole
Jump to NextAbroad Build City Earth Face Heaven Let's Otherwise Ourselves Reach Reaches Scattered Sky Surface Top Tower Whole
LinksGenesis 11:4 NIV
Genesis 11:4 NLT
Genesis 11:4 ESV
Genesis 11:4 NASB
Genesis 11:4 KJV
Genesis 11:4 Bible Apps
Genesis 11:4 Biblia Paralela
Genesis 11:4 Chinese Bible
Genesis 11:4 French Bible
Genesis 11:4 German Bible
Genesis 11:4 Commentaries
THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica®.