Genesis 11:1-9

The tower in Babel

1 At this time, everyone who lived on the earth spoke one language. They used the same words. 2 People moved to the east. They reached a large flat piece of land called Shinar. They stayed there to live. 3 They said to each other, ‘We should make bricks and cook them until they are hard.’ These people used bricks instead of stones to build houses. They used tar to hold the bricks together, instead of cement.

11:3Tar is black and sticky. It becomes soft when it is hot and hard when it is cold. Cement is a material that many people use today to fix stones and bricks together in buildings.

4 They said, ‘Let us build a city to live in. We should also build a very tall tower. The tower will go up into the heavens. Then we will always be famous. If we do that, we will not have to separate and go to live in different places on the earth.’

5 But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower. He saw that the people had started to build them. 6 The Lord said, ‘Because they all speak the same language, they are able to do this. If they can do this together, they may decide to do whatever they want. 7 Now we must go down to them. We must make their language become confused. Then they will not be able to understand each other.’

8 So the Lord separated the people from one another. They went to live in different lands all over the earth. They stopped building the city for themselves. 9 That is why people called the city Babel. It was because the Lord confused all the people of the world and he gave them different languages to speak. From that time, the Lord separated the people from each other so that they lived in different places all over the earth.

11:9‘Babel’ is like the word for ‘confused’.