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- 1 Summary
- 2 Discussion
- 3 Unanswered questions
- 4 Prompts for life application
- 5 Prompts for further study
- 6 Resources
- 7 Notes
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Relationship to Genesis 1-11b. The relationship of Chapter 10-11b to the rest of the Adam-Noah cycle is discussed at Genesis 1-11b.
Outline. An outline of the entire book of Genesis, including Chapter 10-11a, is found at Genesis: Outline and page map.
Story. Chapters 10-11b conclude the Adam-Noah Cycle of stories with three short sections that cover the time between Noah and Abraham.
- Gen 10:1-32: Non-birthright genealogy of Noah's three sons. Non-birthright genealogy of Noah's sons for about five generations with special emphasis on Nimrod, kin of Babel.
- Gen 11:1-9: The Tower of Babel. The people at Babel attempt to build a tower to reach up to heaven. The Lord scatters the people rather than destroying them as in the days of Noah.
- Gen 11:10-26: Birthright genealogy from Noah to Abraham. The birthright genealogical line from Noah's son Shem [Generation 11] to Terah [Generation 19] and his three sons, including Abraham.
Message. Themes, symbols, and doctrinal points emphasized in Chapter 10-11b include:
This section is for detailed discussion such as the meaning of a symbol, how a doctrinal point is developed throughout a passage, or insights that can be further developed in the future. Contributions may range from polished paragraphs down to a single bullet point. The focus, however, should always be on understanding the scriptural text consistent with LDS doctrine. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →
Genesis 10:1-32: Non-birthright genealogy of Noah' sons
- Gen 10:1: These are the generations. Genesis 10:1-11:9 is introduced with the phrase "Now these are the generations of the sons of Noah (Gen 10:1), indicating that a new section of the book of Genesis is starting.
- Gen 10:25: The earth was divided. We read that in the days of Peleg the earth was divided. In the previous chapter, we are learning about the sons of Japeth, Ham and Shem. In 10:4-5 it reads that the sons of Javan [Japeth's son] that the "isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one at his tongue, after their families in their nations." Then in verses 8-10, the grandson of Ham, Nimrod, builds a mighty city Babel. This is where the tower was being built and the Lord confounded their languages. It seems that instead of thinking that the physical earth separated into continents during Peleg's days, that all of these verses indicate that the "lands were divided" into separations of language/family into nations at that time.
Genesis 11:1-9: The Tower of Babel
- Gen 11:9: Babel. The Hebrew word babel in verse 9 is usually translated as "Babylon." There's a word play here: To the Babylonians, the word babel meant "gate of God." But it sounds like the balal, a Hebrew word for "confusion."
Genesis 11:10-26: Birthright genealogy from Noah to Abraham
- Parallels between Noah and Abraham. The similarities between the two birthright genealogies in Genesis 5 and Genesis 11 are widely recognized. The first one ends in the tenth generation with Noah, the father of the new, post-diluvian humanity. The sceond one here ends in the twentieth generation with Abraham, the founder of the Israelite microcosm, which parallels the macrocosm of all mankind."
- Dates. This discussion of the time from Noah to Abraham can be seen as a continuation of the discussion of Genesis 5-6a regarding the ten generations from Adam to Noah. Here Genesis 11a covers about 500 years of history between the flood and the birth of Abraham. This period corresponds roughly to 2,500 BC to 2,000 BC. However, uncertainties regarding the length of the Israelites' sojourn in Egypt and the length of the period of the judges have prevented any broad consensus regarding the exact dates of events prior to King Saul. For a detailed discussion of those uncertainties, see the first several footnotes at Historical Overview of the Old Testament. The dates below therefore count time forward from the fall of Adam and Eve according to the information provided in Genesis. See the discussion of Moses for changes to the dates on this page that are made in the Joseph Smith Translation.
- Noah (Generation 10). Noah was born in 1056 when his father Lamech was age 182. (Gen 5:28-29). Ordained by Methuselah at age 10 in 1066. (D&C 107:52). Flood at age 600 in 1656. (Gen 7:6). Died at age 950 in 2006. (Gen 9:29).
- Gen 11:10-11: Shem (11). Shem was born in 1558 when his father Noah was age 502. (Gen 5:32; Gen 11:10). Flood at age 98 in 1656. (Gen 11:10). Died at age 600 in 2158. (Gen 9:29; Gen 11:10).
- Birth years of Noah's three sons. Genesis states that Noah's three sons were born when Noah was age 500 (Gen 5:32), and that the flood occurred 100 years later when Noah was age 600 (Gen 7:6). However, Genesis also states that Shem's son Arphaxad was born two years after the flood when Shem was age 100 (Gen 11:10), which can only be true if Shem was born when Noah was age 502 rather than age 500, so that Shem was age 98 rather than age 100 during the flood. This contradiction can be resolved by treating Noah's three sons not as triplets but rather as all being born close to each other in time when Noah was about age 500, with Shem in particular being born when Noah was age 502. That approach is followed in calculating all dates on this page.
- Gen 11:10-13: Arphaxad (12). Arphaxad was born in 1658 two years after the flood when when his father Shem was age 100. (Gen 11:10). Died at age 438 in 2096. (Gen 11:13).
- Gen 11:12-15: Salah (13). Salah was born in 1693 when his father Arphaxad was age 35. (Gen 11:12). Died at age 433 in 2126. (Gen 11:15).
- Gen 11:14-17: Eber (14). Eber was born in 1723 when his father Salah was age 30. (Gen 11:14). Died at age 464 in 2187. (Gen 11:17).
- Eber's prominence. Since the number seven is often used in the Bible to symbolize completeness or perfection, and since the birthright son in Generation 7 was Enoch who walked with God (Gen 5:22), attention is naturally drawn to Eber, the birthright son in Generation 14. We are not told much in Genesis about either Enoch or Eber. But Shem, the great high priest (D&C 138:41), is described in Gen 10:21 as the father of all the children of Eber. To identify Shem's great claim to fame as being the father of Eber's children suggests that Eber was in fact someone special. And Abraham is known not as a Shem-ite, but as an H-eber-ew. So while we know almost nothing about Eber, we do at least know enough to suggest that he was someone very significant.
- Gen 11:16-19: Peleg (15). Peleg was born in 1757 when his father Eber was age 34. (Gen 11:16). Died at age 239 in 1996. (Gen 11:19).
- Gen 11:18-21: Reu (16). Reu was born in 1787 when his father Peleg was age 30. (Gen 11:18). Died at age 239 in 2026. (Gen 11:21).
- Gen 11:20-23: Serug (17). Serug was born in 1819 when his father Reu was age 32. (Gen 11:20). Died at age 230 in 2049. (Gen 11:23).
- Gen 11:22-25: Nahor (18). Nahor was born in 1849 when his father Serug was age 30. (Gen 11:22). Died at age 148 in 1997. (Gen 11:25).
- Gen 11:24-26: Terah (19). Terah was born in 1878 when his father Nahor was age 29. (Gen 11:24). Died at age 205 in 2083. (Gen 11:32).
- Gen 11:26: Abraham (20). Abraham was born in 1948 when is father Terah was age 70. (Gen 11:26). Died at age 175 in 2123. (Gen 25:7).
- Abraham's overlap with ancestors. It is interesting to note that upon the birth of Abraham (Generation 20) in 1948, all ten of his make ancestors back too Noah (10) were still alive. At his death in 2123, however, only Shem (11), Salah (13), and Eber (14) were still alive.
Genesis 10-11a: Identifying the principal blocks of text
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Prompts for life application
This section is for prompts that suggest ways in which a passage can influence a person's life. Prompts may be appropriate either for private self reflection or for a class discussion. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →
Prompts for further study
This section is for prompts that invite us to think about a passage more deeply or in a new way. These are not necessarily questions that beg for answers, but rather prompts along the lines of "Have you ever thought about ..." Prompts are most helpful when they are developed individually, thoughtfully, and with enough background information to clearly indicate a particular direction for further study or thought. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →
This section is for listing links and print resources, including those that are also cited elsewhere on this page. A short comment about the particular strengths of a resource can be helpful. Click the "edit" link to edit or add content to this section. →
- LDS Institute Old Testament Student Manual, Vol. 1 (PDF version): Chapter 4/28: Gen 4-11. Salt Lake City: Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 2003.
Footnotes are not required but are encouraged for factual assertions that average readers cannot easily evaluate for themselves (such as the date of King Solomon’s death or the nuanced definition of a Greek word). In contrast, insights rarely benefit from footnoting, and the focus of this page should always remain on the scriptures themselves rather than what someone has said about them. Links are actively encouraged on all sections of this page, and links to authoritative sources (such as Strong's Bible Concordance or the Joseph Smith Papers) are preferable to footnotes.
- Wayment, The Complete Joseph Smith Translation of the Old Testament, p. 61.