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Genesis 11:4

Context
11:4 Then they said, “Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens 1  so that 2  we may make a name for ourselves. Otherwise 3  we will be scattered 4  across the face of the entire earth.”

Genesis 14:1

Context
The Blessing of Victory for God’s People

14:1 At that time 5  Amraphel king of Shinar, 6  Arioch king of Ellasar, Kedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations 7 

1 tn A translation of “heavens” for שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) fits this context because the Babylonian ziggurats had temples at the top, suggesting they reached to the heavens, the dwelling place of the gods.

2 tn The form וְנַעֲשֶׂה (vÿnaaseh, from the verb עשׂה, “do, make”) could be either the imperfect or the cohortative with a vav (ו) conjunction (“and let us make…”). Coming after the previous cohortative, this form expresses purpose.

3 tn The Hebrew particle פֶּן (pen) expresses a negative purpose; it means “that we be not scattered.”

4 sn The Hebrew verb פָּוָץ (pavats, translated “scatter”) is a key term in this passage. The focal point of the account is the dispersion (“scattering”) of the nations rather than the Tower of Babel. But the passage also forms a polemic against Babylon, the pride of the east and a cosmopolitan center with a huge ziggurat. To the Hebrews it was a monument to the judgment of God on pride.

5 tn The sentence begins with the temporal indicator וַיְהִי (vayÿhi) followed by “in the days of.”

6 sn Shinar (also in v. 9) is the region of Babylonia.

7 tn Or “king of Goyim.” The Hebrew term גּוֹיִם (goyim) means “nations,” but a number of modern translations merely transliterate the Hebrew (cf. NEB “Goyim”; NIV, NRSV “Goiim”).



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