Story of the Chosen People - Helene Guerber

The Tower of Babel

There were plenty of building materials on the plain of Shinar, so the people soon fancied that it would be a fine thing to join Nimrod and found a world-wide empire, with a great city as its capital. Nimrod, it seems, was at the head of this plan, and greatly encouraged them. He hoped that if all the people were banded together, he would be able to prevent them from being scattered all over the face of the world, as God had said he intended to have them.

The work of building was therefore begun, and by Nimrodís orders a huge tower was erected near the new city. But "the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded;" and it did not please him. To defeat their plans, God confused the tongues of the builders, so that they spoke different languages; and then, as they could no longer understand one anotherís speech, the men left off working together.

People who do not understand one another are sure to quarrel, and before long the builders went off in different directions, in search of new homes, where they could speak their own language in peace. Thus Nimrodís plan to found a great empire came to an end, and the Tower of Babel (confusion) was never completed.

Tower of Babel


Terah, the father of Abraham, was the eighth in direct descent from Shem, son of Noah. Besides Abraham, he had two other sons, Nahor and Haran, who were probably much older than Abraham. The brothers all married, and for some time dwelt in the ancient city of Ur; but before long God called to Abraham, and bade him go into a new land which would be given to him. In obedience to this call, the whole family set out, and made their home east of the Euphrates River, where Terah died when Abraham was seventy-five years old.

Nahor, the oldest living son of Terah, claimed the land where they had settled as his inheritance; and, after a second call from God, Abraham continued his journey, traveling southward with his wife Sarah, and his nephew Lot. They were going in search of the land promised by God, for Abraham fully trusted in these words which the Lord had spoken:

"I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great, and thou shalt be a blessing; 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."

These last words, as you see, contained a new promise of a Redeemer, like the one made to Adam, and God now added the information that this Redeemer would bless even the Gentiles, that is to say, the people who did not belong to the Chosen Race.

Abraham now crossed the Euphrates River, and hence received the name of Hebrew, which is borne by his descendants, and which means "the man who has crossed the river." He passed through the desert, crossed the river Jordan, and entered the Holy Land, where he rested for a while.

From there Abraham wandered on in search of pasture, until he came at last to the rich land of Egypt. Here he was in a strange country, among a strange people. He was afraid they would kill him to obtain possession of Sarah, his wife, so he coaxed her to say that she was only his sister.

The people, thinking that Sarah was an unmarried woman, carried her off to the kingís palace to be his wife; but, as soon as she arrived there, a terrible disease visited all the family of the king. At first no one knew the cause of this sickness, but finally the king found out that it had been sent to punish him for trying to take another manís wife.

He had no intention of doing so wicked a thing, so he at once sent Sarah back to her husband, and reproved Abraham for deceiving him. He also bade Abraham leave the country, saying that he did not wish to keep a man who had brought him nothing but harm.

Thus forced to wander on, Abraham traveled northward until he came to Bethel, in the Holy Land, where he had once rested, and where he rebuilt the altar to worship God.

His cattle had now become so numerous that it was very hard indeed to find pasture enough for all his flocks. One day a quarrel arose between the shepherds of Abraham and those of Lot; and, to prevent a renewal of it, the uncle and nephew decided to part. As Lot was the son of an elder brother, Abraham gave him the first choice; and he passed down the valley to the eastward, where the pasture seemed the best. Then Abraham, still trusting in the promises of God, moved a little way towards the south, where he again rested and built another altar.