On the plain of Shinar, the people decided to make a name for themselves by building a great tower. Their example shows the powerful forces of self-exaltation at work within the human race. God cannot share His glory, however, and will intentionally bring to naught any plan or project that overly exalts the name of humankind.
The opposite of such an exalted spirit can be seen in Abraham's life. Abraham, a lowly Aramaean, became the father of faith for all time. God promised him, "I will cause you to become the father of a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and I will make you a blessing to others" (Genesis 12:2). Subsequent passages show how Abraham's simple, childlike obedience repeatedly attracted God's favor. He rose to higher and higher planes of honor by placing his faith solely in God.
Jesus said in Matthew 5:3, "God blesses those who realize their need for him, for the Kingdom of Heaven is given to them." In verse 5 He says, "God blesses those who are gentle and lowly, for the whole earth will belong to them." What a contrast these attitudes are to those of the arrogant tower builders who tried to control the earth through their aggressiveness!
The psalmist said, "With deepest awe I will worship at your Temple" (Psalm 5:7). A temple, not a tower, is what we are building, and all its glory belongs to God, not to us!
11 Now the whole world had one language
3 They said to each other, “Come, let’s make bricks
5 But the Lord came down
8 So the Lord scattered them from there over all the earth,
10 This is the account
Two years after the flood, when Shem was 100 years old, he became the father
12 When Arphaxad had lived 35 years, he became the father of Shelah.
14 When Shelah had lived 30 years, he became the father of Eber.
16 When Eber had lived 34 years, he became the father of Peleg.
18 When Peleg had lived 30 years, he became the father of Reu.
20 When Reu had lived 32 years, he became the father of Serug.
22 When Serug had lived 30 years, he became the father of Nahor.
24 When Nahor had lived 29 years, he became the father of Terah.
27 This is the account
Terah became the father of Abram, Nahor
31 Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot
2 “I will make you into a great nation,
I will make your name great,
3 I will bless those who bless you,
and all peoples on earth
4 So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot
6 Abram traveled through the land
8 From there he went on toward the hills east of Bethel
10 Now there was a famine in the land,
14 When Abram came to Egypt, the Egyptians saw that Sarai was a very beautiful woman.
17 But the Lord inflicted
13 So Abram went up from Egypt
3 From the Negev
11 At one time all the people of the world spoke the same language and used the same words.2 As the people migrated to the east, they found a plain in the land of Babylonia
3 They began saying to each other, “Let’s make bricks and harden them with fire.” (In this region bricks were used instead of stone, and tar was used for mortar.)4 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.”
5 But the Lord came down to look at the city and the tower the people were building.6 “Look!” he said. “The people are united, and they all speak the same language. After this, nothing they set out to do will be impossible for them!7 Come, let’s go down and confuse the people with different languages. Then they won’t be able to understand each other.”
8 In that way, the Lord scattered them all over the world, and they stopped building the city.9 That is why the city was called Babel,
10 This is the account of Shem’s family.
Two years after the great flood, when Shem was 100 years old, he became the father of
12 When Arphaxad was 35 years old, he became the father of Shelah.13 After the birth of Shelah, Arphaxad lived another 403 years and had other sons and daughters.
14 When Shelah was 30 years old, he became the father of Eber.15 After the birth of Eber, Shelah lived another 403 years and had other sons and daughters.
16 When Eber was 34 years old, he became the father of Peleg.17 After the birth of Peleg, Eber lived another 430 years and had other sons and daughters.
18 When Peleg was 30 years old, he became the father of Reu.19 After the birth of Reu, Peleg lived another 209 years and had other sons and daughters.
20 When Reu was 32 years old, he became the father of Serug.21 After the birth of Serug, Reu lived another 207 years and had other sons and daughters.
22 When Serug was 30 years old, he became the father of Nahor.23 After the birth of Nahor, Serug lived another 200 years and had other sons and daughters.
24 When Nahor was 29 years old, he became the father of Terah.25 After the birth of Terah, Nahor lived another 119 years and had other sons and daughters.
26 After Terah was 70 years old, he became the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
27 This is the account of Terah’s family. Terah was the father of Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran was the father of Lot.28 But Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, the land of his birth, while his father, Terah, was still living.29 Meanwhile, Abram and Nahor both married. The name of Abram’s wife was Sarai, and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah. (Milcah and her sister Iscah were daughters of Nahor’s brother Haran.)30 But Sarai was unable to become pregnant and had no children.
31 One day Terah took his son Abram, his daughter-in-law Sarai (his son Abram’s wife), and his grandson Lot (his son Haran’s child) and moved away from Ur of the Chaldeans. He was headed for the land of Canaan, but they stopped at Haran and settled there.32 Terah lived for 205 years
12 The Lord had said to Abram, “Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.2 I will make you into a great nation. I will bless you and make you famous, and you will be a blessing to others.3 I will bless those who bless you and curse those who treat you with contempt. All the families on earth will be blessed through you.”
4 So Abram departed as the Lord had instructed, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran.5 He took his wife, Sarai, his nephew Lot, and all his wealth—his livestock and all the people he had taken into his household at Haran—and headed for the land of Canaan. When they arrived in Canaan,6 Abram traveled through the land as far as Shechem. There he set up camp beside the oak of Moreh. At that time, the area was inhabited by Canaanites.
7 Then the Lord appeared to Abram and said, “I will give this land to your descendants.
10 At that time a severe famine struck the land of Canaan, forcing Abram to go down to Egypt, where he lived as a foreigner.11 As he was approaching the border of Egypt, Abram said to his wife, Sarai, “Look, you are a very beautiful woman.12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘This is his wife. Let’s kill him; then we can have her!’13 So please tell them you are my sister. Then they will spare my life and treat me well because of their interest in you.”
14 And sure enough, when Abram arrived in Egypt, everyone noticed Sarai’s beauty.15 When the palace officials saw her, they sang her praises to Pharaoh, their king, and Sarai was taken into his palace.16 Then Pharaoh gave Abram many gifts because of her—sheep, goats, cattle, male and female donkeys, male and female servants, and camels.
17 But the Lord sent terrible plagues upon Pharaoh and his household because of Sarai, Abram’s wife.18 So Pharaoh summoned Abram and accused him sharply. “What have you done to me?” he demanded. “Why didn’t you tell me she was your wife?19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ and allow me to take her as my wife? Now then, here is your wife. Take her and get out of here!”20 Pharaoh ordered some of his men to escort them, and he sent Abram out of the country, along with his wife and all his possessions.
13 So Abram left Egypt and traveled north into the Negev, along with his wife and Lot and all that they owned.2 (Abram was very rich in livestock, silver, and gold.)3 From the Negev, they continued traveling by stages toward Bethel, and they pitched their tents between Bethel and Ai, where they had camped before.4 This was the same place where Abram had built the altar, and there he worshiped the Lord again.
11 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
2 And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there.
3 And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them thoroughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter.
4 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.
5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded.
6 And the Lord said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do.
7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.
8 So the Lord scattered them abroad from thence upon the face of all the earth: and they left off to build the city.
9 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.
10 These are the generations of Shem: Shem was an hundred years old, and begat Arphaxad two years after the flood:
11 And Shem lived after he begat Arphaxad five hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.
12 And Arphaxad lived five and thirty years, and begat Salah:
13 And Arphaxad lived after he begat Salah four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.
14 And Salah lived thirty years, and begat Eber:
15 And Salah lived after he begat Eber four hundred and three years, and begat sons and daughters.
16 And Eber lived four and thirty years, and begat Peleg:
17 And Eber lived after he begat Peleg four hundred and thirty years, and begat sons and daughters.
18 And Peleg lived thirty years, and begat Reu:
19 And Peleg lived after he begat Reu two hundred and nine years, and begat sons and daughters.
20 And Reu lived two and thirty years, and begat Serug:
21 And Reu lived after he begat Serug two hundred and seven years, and begat sons and daughters.
22 And Serug lived thirty years, and begat Nahor:
23 And Serug lived after he begat Nahor two hundred years, and begat sons and daughters.
24 And Nahor lived nine and twenty years, and begat Terah:
25 And Nahor lived after he begat Terah an hundred and nineteen years, and begat sons and daughters.
26 And Terah lived seventy years, and begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran.
27 Now these are the generations of Terah: Terah begat Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran begat Lot.
28 And Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees.
29 And Abram and Nahor took them wives: the name of Abram's wife was Sarai; and the name of Nahor's wife, Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah, and the father of Iscah.
30 But Sarai was barren; she had no child.
31 And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran his son's son, and Sarai his daughter in law, his son Abram's wife; and they went forth with them from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan; and they came unto Haran, and dwelt there.
32 And the days of Terah were two hundred and five years: and Terah died in Haran.
12 Now the Lord had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee:
2 And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing:
3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.
4 So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Haran.
5 And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came.
6 And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.
7 And the Lord appeared unto Abram, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land: and there builded he an altar unto the Lord, who appeared unto him.
8 And he removed from thence unto a mountain on the east of Bethel, and pitched his tent, having Bethel on the west, and Hai on the east: and there he builded an altar unto the Lord, and called upon the name of the Lord.
9 And Abram journeyed, going on still toward the south.
10 And there was a famine in the land: and Abram went down into Egypt to sojourn there; for the famine was grievous in the land.
11 And it came to pass, when he was come near to enter into Egypt, that he said unto Sarai his wife, Behold now, I know that thou art a fair woman to look upon:
12 Therefore it shall come to pass, when the Egyptians shall see thee, that they shall say, This is his wife: and they will kill me, but they will save thee alive.
13 Say, I pray thee, thou art my sister: that it may be well with me for thy sake; and my soul shall live because of thee.
14 And it came to pass, that, when Abram was come into Egypt, the Egyptians beheld the woman that she was very fair.
15 The princes also of Pharaoh saw her, and commended her before Pharaoh: and the woman was taken into Pharaoh's house.
16 And he entreated Abram well for her sake: and he had sheep, and oxen, and he asses, and menservants, and maidservants, and she asses, and camels.
17 And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram's wife.
18 And Pharaoh called Abram and said, What is this that thou hast done unto me? why didst thou not tell me that she was thy wife?
19 Why saidst thou, She is my sister? so I might have taken her to me to wife: now therefore behold thy wife, take her, and go thy way.
20 And Pharaoh commanded his men concerning him: and they sent him away, and his wife, and all that he had.
13 And Abram went up out of Egypt, he, and his wife, and all that he had, and Lot with him, into the south.
2 And Abram was very rich in cattle, in silver, and in gold.
3 And he went on his journeys from the south even to Bethel, unto the place where his tent had been at the beginning, between Bethel and Hai;
4 Unto the place of the altar, which he had make there at the first: and there Abram called on the name of the Lord.
5 Now when Jesus saw the crowds, he went up on a mountainside and sat down. His disciples came to him,2 and he began to teach them.
3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit,
4 Blessed are those who mourn,
5 Blessed are the meek,
6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
7 Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
10 Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
11 “Blessed are you when people insult you,
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled underfoot.
14 “You are the light of the world.
17 “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.
21 “You have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘You shall not murder,
23 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother or sister has something against you,24 leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to them; then come and offer your gift.
25 “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still together on the way, or your adversary may hand you over to the judge, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown into prison.26 Truly I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.
5 One day as he saw the crowds gathering, Jesus went up on the mountainside and sat down. His disciples gathered around him,2 and he began to teach them.
3 “God blesses those who are poor and realize their need for him,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
4 God blesses those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
5 God blesses those who are humble,
for they will inherit the whole earth.
6 God blesses those who hunger and thirst for justice,
for they will be satisfied.
7 God blesses those who are merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
8 God blesses those whose hearts are pure,
for they will see God.
9 God blesses those who work for peace,
for they will be called the children of God.
10 God blesses those who are persecuted for doing right,
for the Kingdom of Heaven is theirs.
11 “God blesses you when people mock you and persecute you and lie about you and say all sorts of evil things against you because you are my followers.12 Be happy about it! Be very glad! For a great reward awaits you in heaven. And remember, the ancient prophets were persecuted in the same way.
13 “You are the salt of the earth. But what good is salt if it has lost its flavor? Can you make it salty again? It will be thrown out and trampled underfoot as worthless.
14 “You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden.15 No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.16 In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.
17 “Don’t misunderstand why I have come. I did not come to abolish the law of Moses or the writings of the prophets. No, I came to accomplish their purpose.18 I tell you the truth, until heaven and earth disappear, not even the smallest detail of God’s law will disappear until its purpose is achieved.19 So if you ignore the least commandment and teach others to do the same, you will be called the least in the Kingdom of Heaven. But anyone who obeys God’s laws and teaches them will be called great in the Kingdom of Heaven.
20 “But I warn you—unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!
21 “You have heard that our ancestors were told, ‘You must not murder. If you commit murder, you are subject to judgment.’
23 “So if you are presenting a sacrifice
25 “When you are on the way to court with your adversary, settle your differences quickly. Otherwise, your accuser may hand you over to the judge, who will hand you over to an officer, and you will be thrown into prison.26 And if that happens, you surely won’t be free again until you have paid the last penny.
5 And seeing the multitudes, he went up into a mountain: and when he was set, his disciples came unto him:
2 And he opened his mouth, and taught them, saying,
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10 Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11 Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12 Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
13 Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, wherewith shall it be salted? it is thenceforth good for nothing, but to be cast out, and to be trodden under foot of men.
14 Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.
15 Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house.
16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
17 Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.
18 For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.
19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.
21 Ye have heard that it was said of them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment:
22 But I say unto you, That whosoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment: and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council: but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire.
23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.
for to you I pray.
in the morning I lay my requests before you
4 For you are not a God who is pleased with wickedness;
in your presence.
The bloodthirsty and deceitful
you, Lord, detest.
7 But I, by your great love,
can come into your house;
toward your holy temple.
because of my enemies—
9 Not a word from their mouth can be trusted;
their heart is filled with malice.
10 Declare them guilty, O God!
Let their intrigues be their downfall.
Banish them for their many sins,
11 But let all who take refuge in you be glad;
Spread your protection over them,
1 O Lord, hear me as I pray;
pay attention to my groaning.
2 Listen to my cry for help, my King and my God,
for I pray to no one but you.
3 Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord.
Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly.
4 O God, you take no pleasure in wickedness;
you cannot tolerate the sins of the wicked.
5 Therefore, the proud may not stand in your presence,
for you hate all who do evil.
6 You will destroy those who tell lies.
The Lord detests murderers and deceivers.
7 Because of your unfailing love, I can enter your house;
I will worship at your Temple with deepest awe.
8 Lead me in the right path, O Lord,
or my enemies will conquer me.
Make your way plain for me to follow.
9 My enemies cannot speak a truthful word.
Their deepest desire is to destroy others.
Their talk is foul, like the stench from an open grave.
Their tongues are filled with flattery.
10 O God, declare them guilty.
Let them be caught in their own traps.
Drive them away because of their many sins,
for they have rebelled against you.
11 But let all who take refuge in you rejoice;
let them sing joyful praises forever.
Spread your protection over them,
that all who love your name may be filled with joy.
12 For you bless the godly, O Lord;
you surround them with your shield of love.
5 Give ear to my words, O Lord, consider my meditation.
2 Hearken unto the voice of my cry, my King, and my God: for unto thee will I pray.
3 My voice shalt thou hear in the morning, O Lord; in the morning will I direct my prayer unto thee, and will look up.
4 For thou art not a God that hath pleasure in wickedness: neither shall evil dwell with thee.
5 The foolish shall not stand in thy sight: thou hatest all workers of iniquity.
6 Thou shalt destroy them that speak leasing: the Lord will abhor the bloody and deceitful man.
7 But as for me, I will come into thy house in the multitude of thy mercy: and in thy fear will I worship toward thy holy temple.
8 Lead me, O Lord, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face.
9 For there is no faithfulness in their mouth; their inward part is very wickedness; their throat is an open sepulchre; they flatter with their tongue.
10 Destroy thou them, O God; let them fall by their own counsels; cast them out in the multitude of their transgressions; for they have rebelled against thee.
11 But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.
12 For thou, Lord, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.
and no one pays attention
25 since you disregard all my advice
and do not accept my rebuke,
27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
when distress and trouble overwhelm you.
24 “I called you so often, but you wouldn’t come.
I reached out to you, but you paid no attention.
25 You ignored my advice
and rejected the correction I offered.
26 So I will laugh when you are in trouble!
I will mock you when disaster overtakes you—
27 when calamity overtakes you like a storm,
when disaster engulfs you like a cyclone,
and anguish and distress overwhelm you.
28 “When they cry for help, I will not answer.
Though they anxiously search for me, they will not find me.
24 Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded;
25 But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof:
26 I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh;
27 When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you.
28 Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: