© Jeff Stacey | Last updated: 18 February 2019
3B31. God responded to them:
God brought His judgments upon people in various ways, yet He also showed mercy to them
[God’s further responses to Cycles 4 and 5]
3B31(a) God brought His judgment upon Ham, yet also showed mercy to him
God judged Ham for His rebellious acts and failure to carry out His Covenantal commission. God granted Noah’s curse upon the clan of Ham’s fourth son Canaan Gen 10:6 to be the servants of the clans of Shem and Japheth [see 3B27(d)].
3B31(b) God confused the speech of all people and scattered them over the Earth
3B31(b)(i) God confused the speech of all people
God inspected the building site on the plain of Shinar and then intervened Gen 11:5,8. He confused the language of those and all other peoples so that they could no longer understand each other Gen 11:7. For this reason the city became known as Babel and then Babylon Gen 11:9a which sounded like the Hebrew word for “confused”.1
God’s stated reason for doing this was to reduce their capacity to achieve their own evil aims by being unified as one people with one language Gen 11:6. This provides an extraordinary insight into the potential of people if they combine their capabilities! Yet it is not surprising when we remember that in their capabilities they were still “made in the image of God“! [2A9(b)].
3B31(b)(ii) God scattered all peoples over the Earth
God stopped the building of the city of Babel by scattering those people and all others over the whole Earth Gen 11:8,9b. It is interesting that He forcibly intervened to further the implementation of His Covenantal UNCONDITIONAL blessing that the people would “fill the whole earth” [3A11(a)].
The events at Babel Gen 11:1-9 actually preceded the genealogies, territorial descriptions and languages in earlier chapters Gen 9:19b, 10:5,18b-20,31-32. These peoples had a territorial spread over a wide area of the Ancient Near East Gen 10:5,10-12,19,30. So the events at Babel would have been part of the first migrations into new territory after the FLOOD Gen 10:10 [see 3B31(b)(iv) below].2
3B31(b)(iii) God’s strategy in fragmenting the communities of people
God was restricting the spread of evil tendencies that could develop within unified communities. It was actually another judgment “deadline” similar to when He restricted the spread of evil prior to the FLOOD [2B31(e)].
This was significant because there were parallel principles involved. The motives and actions of the people at Babel would have set precedents for their descendants. That had the potential for the development of entire communities and nations with cultures not based on God’s Covenantal commission.
In principle this was the same as in the long period after the FALL. Rebellion against God had ultimately resulted in the total corruption of almost all people, communities and nations.
This similar trend was now “nipped in the bud” by God. He confused the speech of all peoples and scattered them worldwide. Together these judgments fragmented all the communities of people on Earth and the nations that later developed from them. So their potential to again provoke each other to slide into universal corruption was greatly reduced. Once again God’s judgments were also acts of mercy.
God also allowed the scattered peoples to go on living and multiplying in new territories Gen 9:19, 10:21-32, 11:10-31. So His compassionate and purposeful concern for better things for them was again seen despite their sinfulness.
3B31(b)(iv) God’s ongoing strategy
The narrative then immediately switched to “the account of Shem” that ended with the birth of Abram Gen 11:10-26. This arrangement of the text directly linked God’s scattering of all peoples after Babel Gen 11:8-9 with His whole ongoing strategy to begin blessing them all through Abram and his descendants Gen 12:3c. That seems to be why later events Gen 9:19, 10:1-32 were anticipated by recording them before those at Babel.
It can be assumed that God continued to give all people further opportunities to keep His Covenantal requirements and carry out His Covenantal commission. A direct evidence of this was when Terah and his family began their migration from Ur to Canaan Gen 11:31. They were apparently “doing what is right” by responding to God’s call to Abram in Ur Gen 12:1, 15:7. This was the start of a whole new Era (see Chart 4A).
Arrow 3B31 -> 3B24
This arrow highlights the fact that even though God acted in judgment, yet in mercy He also gave further opportunities for all people to repent and gain His acceptance.
2. W.J.Dumbrell, Covenant and Creation, pages 59-61.(Return to reading).