STORY OF THE DAY
5. The Tower of Babel – And Why It Was Never Finished: Genesis 9:18 – Genesis 11:9
A CLEAN, NEW world lay before Noah and his three sons when they stepped out of the ark. Now there were no wicked neighbors to mock at them when they built altars to worship God. Even the wicked works of those wicked people had been swept away out of sight. Everything was ready for a new beginning.
Noah and his sons set to work and made new homes. Noah’s sons were named Shem, Ham, and Japheth. After a while, God gave them children. These children grew up and made homes for themselves. Then there were other children, and so it came about that the number of people grew and grew until the earth became as full of people as it was before the flood.
From the mountain of Ararat, where the ark lodged when the waters went down, the human family went into the south country. Later they moved east, into the valley of Mesopotamia, and there they lived on a plain in the land of Shinar.
“Let us build for ourselves a city,” said the people sometime after they reached Shinar, “and let us make a tower so great and high that its top will reach up to the sky. Then we shall not be scattered over the face of the earth, and separated from one another.” And so the people set to work.
In this land of Shinar, the soil is such that bricks can be made of it, and soon many bricks were made and ready for use. What a busy people! Some were making brick, others were mixing mortar, and still, others were carrying brick and mortar to the workmen who were building the city and the tower. Everything was moving fast and everybody was thinking that some day their city and their wonderful tower would be finished.
Then something happened that the people had not expected to happen at all. God came to see the city and the tower. He did not talk to the builders, and very likely they did not know he had been there to look upon their work. But God was not pleased with what he saw. He knew that men would become more sinful if they should finish that great tower. Already they were thinking more and more about their own work and less and less about the God who gave them strength with which to labor. Soon they might forget God entirely and worship the work their own hands had made. So God planned to stop their building.
Until this time all the people in the world spoke one language. Now God caused them to speak different languages. The people of one family could not understand what their neighbors were talking about. Neither could their neighbors understand what they were saying. Such a great change caused the people to become restless, and all those who spoke one language moved into neighbor-hoods by themselves. They could no longer go on with their great building, either, because the workmen could not understand one another’s language; and so at last they quit trying to finish the tower whose top they had planned should reach the sky. And the name of the city was called Babel.
Soon the people of one language gathered together their possessions and moved away from Babel. Others did the same. Across the plains, they journeyed and over the mountains into strange lands where men’s feet had never walked before. They built cities and planted fields and vineyards, and their number grew until they became strong nations.