“Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves; otherwise we will be scattered over the face of the whole earth.'”
Genesis 11:4 Meaning
Genesis 11:4 speaks to the pride and arrogance of the people who sought to build a tower to reach the heavens and make a name for themselves. It highlights their desire for self-glory and their rebellion against God’s command to multiply and fill the earth.
Explanation and Commentary of Genesis 11:4
In Genesis 11:4, the passage describes a unified human ambition—a collective desire to build a tower reaching the heavens. The people sought to create a monument that would signify their own greatness and keep them together in one place. This endeavor was marked by a sense of pride and self-reliance, symbolized by the Tower of Babel.
The idea of constructing this tower signifies humanity’s inclination toward self-exaltation and a pursuit of achievement independent of divine guidance. Instead of acknowledging our dependence on God, we often tend to rely solely on our abilities and desires, seeking glory and recognition for ourselves.
This verse highlights the inherent human tendency toward pride and the pursuit of our own desires, even if they conflict with God’s plans or purposes. It echoes the broader theme seen throughout the Bible—of humanity’s struggle with pride, self-sufficiency, and rebellion against God’s authority.
As we reflect on this passage, it’s essential to consider the consequences of such attitudes. God intervened by confusing their language, causing a division among the people and disrupting their plans. This fragmentation led to the dispersion of humanity across the earth—a consequence of their prideful pursuit of greatness without regard for God’s will.
In contrast, Scriptures like Proverbs 16:18 caution against pride, stating that “pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” This verse emphasizes the dangers of arrogance and self-centeredness, warning us of the potential downfall that accompanies it.
Ultimately, Genesis 11:4 serves as a poignant reminder for us to approach our ambitions and endeavors with humility and a recognition of our dependence on God. It calls us to seek His guidance and align our aspirations with His will rather than solely pursuing our own desires and glory. This passage teaches us to prioritize a humble submission to God’s plans and purposes above our own ambitions.
Context of Genesis 11:4
Genesis 11:4 is part of the larger story of the Tower of Babel in Genesis 11:1-9. After the flood, humanity had multiplied and settled in the land of Shinar. Instead of obeying God’s command to fill the earth, they decided to build a city and a tower as a symbol of their unity and power. However, their actions were in direct opposition to God’s plan, and He intervened to confuse their language and scatter them across the earth.
Breaking Down the Key Parts of Genesis 11:4
– “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens”: The people were united in their ambition to build a city and a tower that would reach the heavens. This reflects their desire for greatness and power.
– “Let us make a name for ourselves”: Their motive was to establish their own reputation and significance, seeking glory for themselves rather than giving glory to God.
– “Lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth”: The people were trying to avoid God’s command to scatter and fill the earth. They wanted to stay together, centralized in one place, rather than experience the diversity and spread that God had intended.
Bible Study on Genesis 11:4
This passage serves as a cautionary tale for us today. It reminds us of the dangers of pride and the temptation to make a name for ourselves instead of honoring God. We can learn from the mistakes of those at the Tower of Babel and strive to align our hearts and actions with God’s plans and purposes.
In the New Testament, Jesus taught his disciples about the importance of humility and servanthood. In Mark 10:43-45, Jesus said, “But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.” This is in direct contrast to the mindset of those at the Tower of Babel. Instead of seeking our own greatness, Jesus calls us to serve others and to submit to God’s will.
Also Read: Genesis 11:1-3 Meaning and Commentary
Biblical Translations of Genesis 11:4
Genesis 11:4 King James Version (KJV)
“And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.”
Genesis 11:4 English Standard Version (ESV)
“Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.'”
Genesis 11:4 New Living Translation (NLT)
“Then they said, ‘Come, let’s build a great city for ourselves with a tower that reaches into the sky. This will make us famous and keep us from being scattered all over the world.'”
Genesis 11:4 New King James Version (NKJV)
“And they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.'”
Genesis 11:4 New American Standard Bible (NASB)
“They said, ‘Come, let’s build for ourselves a city, and a tower whose top will reach into heaven, and let’s make a name for ourselves, otherwise we will be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth.'”
Genesis 11:4 Christian Standard Bible (CSB)
“And they said, ‘Come, let’s build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the sky. Let’s make a name for ourselves; otherwise, we will be scattered throughout the earth.'”
Genesis 11:4 reminds us of the consequences of pride and rebellion against God. We are called to humbly submit ourselves to God’s plans and purposes, trusting in His wisdom and goodness.
Let us not seek our own glory, but rather seek to honor God in all that we do. May we choose to serve others and build up His kingdom, rather than striving to exalt ourselves.