Genesis 11: The Tower of Babel

Old Testament Seminary Student Study Guide, (2002), 21–22

Have you ever tried to communicate with someone who doesn’t speak the same language as you? How much work would get done if all the students at a school spoke different languages and could not communicate? Genesis 11 tells us how and why we have different languages on the earth.

Understanding the Scriptures

Genesis 11:1–9

Throughly (v. 3)Completely 
Slime (v. 3)Tar-like substance 
Restrained (v. 6)Kept 
Confound (vv. 7, 9)Confuse, mix up 
Left off (v. 8)Quit 
Tower of Babel

Genesis 11:10–32—The Genealogy of Abraham

Studying the Scriptures

Do two of the following activities (A–C) as you study Genesis 11:1–9.

Activity A iconRead and Compare

  1. 1.

    Read Genesis 11:1–4 and explain what the people of Shinar did in an attempt to reach heaven.

  2. 2.

    Read Acts 4:12; 2 Nephi 9:41–43; Mosiah 3:17; 5:10–15 and write about how we can get “a name” (Genesis 11:4) that will allow us into heaven.

Activity B iconMake a Connection to the Book of Mormon

Read Genesis 11:5–9 to find out how the Lord responded to the people’s attempt to make a name for themselves and a tower reaching to heaven. Then read Ether 1:33–43 and summarize in your notebook what happened to one group of people at the time spoken of in Genesis.

Activity C iconWhat Do You Think?

Explain how you think the Lord’s actions in Genesis 11:1–9 were a blessing to the people.

As was mentioned in the introduction to Genesis (see “The Books of Genesis, Moses, and Abraham” on p. 9), Joseph Smith received more of the writings and teachings of the prophet Abraham by translating some papyrus he obtained while living in Kirtland, Ohio. The book of Abraham is not considered part of the Joseph Smith Translation of the Bible, but Abraham 1–2 does help us increase our understanding of events described in Genesis 12.