Genesis 11:8

ESV So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.
NIV So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city.
NASB So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth; and they stopped building the city.
CSB So from there the Lord scattered them throughout the earth, and they stopped building the city.
NLT In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city.
KJV So the LORD scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.

What does Genesis 11:8 mean?

In the previous verse, God decides to confuse the languages of the united peoples of the earth. This was specifically intended to stop them from accomplishing whatever they set out to do. In context, God's concern is that a united humanity will slip back into the same cycle of sin and death as existed prior to the flood (Genesis 6:5).

Now, we're told that God also dispersed humanity from the area of Shinar all over the earth. Taken at face value, these verses describe supernatural acts of God in creating and assigning languages to people and placing them where in the earth He wanted them to be. Other interpreters see God's actions in this chapter in a more gradual way, describing the effects without necessarily implying that they were immediate.

Taken literally, Genesis' claim is that these languages did not develop naturally over time as people developed their own variations on an original language. God simply did it. Such an act would require enormous power, creativity, and authority. Certainly, the God who created the world and sent a global flood would be capable of such actions.

God's initial command to Noah and his sons was to fill the earth (Genesis 9:1). Since the people refused to separate and obey God in this way, God did it for them. He would not allow humanity to set its own agenda for the earth.

Building on the city came to a stop. It would no longer be the focus of humanity's combined effort. The place took on the name Babel, which is very similar to the Hebrew word for "confusion." Later, this city would be known as Babylon.
What is the Gospel?
Download the app: