What does Genesis 11:9 mean?
ESV: Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
NIV: That is why it was called Babel --because there the LORD confused the language of the whole world. From there the LORD scattered them over the face of the whole earth.
NASB: Therefore it was named Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.
CSB: Therefore it is called Babylon, for there the Lord confused the language of the whole earth, and from there the Lord scattered them throughout the earth.
NLT: That is why the city was called Babel, because that is where the Lord confused the people with different languages. In this way he scattered them all over the world.
KJV: Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
NKJV: Therefore its name is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth; and from there the Lord scattered them abroad over the face of all the earth.
Verse Commentary:
Verse 9 sums up God's act of judgment with a play on words. The word for the name of the city Babel is very similar in Hebrew to the word for "confused." In fact, the whole section of verses 1 through 9 includes several allusions, in the Hebrew language, to the name of Babel. It is very likely that Babel became known as Babylon, the great and ancient city that became a seat of power in the world. This city, in fact, would later become symbolic of the man-centered, worldly system which sets itself against God.

Later, the Babylonians were quite proud of their impressive city. God's people understood, however, that the city's history was evidence that human pride and arrogance cannot stand against God. He stops the plans of humanity anytime He chooses to do so (Job 42:2).

One day, though, God will create a new kingdom with a single language and culture once again. Zephaniah 3:9–11 describes that moment, and the Holy Spirit's act of uniting the languages at Pentecost may hint at it as well (Acts 2:6–11).
Verse Context:
Genesis 11:1–9 recounts one of the most dramatic acts of God recorded in Genesis. Before the tribes and nations described in Genesis 10 were formed, all the people of the earth shared one language and one culture. They also shared the goal of not wanting to be separated. To that end, they decided to make themselves great by building a great city with an enormous tower—and without apparently acknowledging God. To keep humanity from being too powerful, and lapsing into the widespread sin which inspired the flood, God confuses human languages and scattered mankind around the world. The city of Babel, similar to the Hebrew word for ''confused,'' would later become known as Babylon.
Chapter Summary:
Genesis 11 contains three sections: God confuses and scatters the people of the world to stop the building of Babel and its tower. A genealogy is provided showing the direct links between Noah and Abram. The ''generations'' of Terah are introduced, providing a description of the family out of which God will call Abram to become the father of His chosen people.
Chapter Context:
Genesis 10 provided a table of the nations, describing the peoples and tribes that descended from Noah's three sons and where they settled. Genesis 11 describes how God scattered the peoples of the world after confusing their languages to stop the building of Babel and its tower. The chapter also provides a direct genealogy from Noah to Abram and then introduces Abram by way of his father Terah. The following chapter will begin the story of Abram and God's chosen people, Israel.
Book Summary:
The book of Genesis establishes fundamental truths about God. Among these are His role as the Creator, His holiness, His hatred of sin, His love for mankind, and His willingness to provide for our redemption. We learn not only where mankind has come from, but why the world is in its present form. The book also presents the establishment of Israel, God's chosen people. Many of the principles given in other parts of Scripture depend on the basic ideas presented here in the book of Genesis. Within the framework of the Bible, Genesis explains the bare-bones history of the universe leading up to the captivity of Israel in Egypt, setting the stage for the book of Exodus.
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