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Noah, Shem, Abraham, and the Tower of Babel - A Lesson for History Lovers

Updated: Mar 28

Abraham was the 10th generation from Noah. He was born in the year 1948 after creation, 292 years after the flood (by figuring the life ages given in the Bible). Shem and Noah would both have still been alive at Abraham's birth and at the Tower of Babel event.

Shem died at 600 years old and 502 years after the flood. Shem would not only have been alive at the Tower of Babel incident but he would have been alive to know Abraham, and Jacob, and Esau. Abraham would have also lived long enough to know Jacob and Esau. Jacob and Esau would have been already grown when Shem dies (he dies about 35 years after Abraham). All of these great timelines can be figured from the ages given in the Bible.

When Abraham was born, Shem was 390 years old, and his father Noah was 893 years old. (Noah lived 350 years after the flood – living to age of 950 years).

Abraham was 57 years old when Noah died. So, for 57 years Noah, Shem, and Abraham all lived together at the same time. Abraham could have received first hand accounts of creation because Noah knew Methuselah and many of the other early patriarchs who knew Adam. This would have been passed to Abraham.

Jewish tradition states that Noah was 940 (lived 950 years) when the Tower of Babel was destroyed. There were 339 years between when Noah and his family left the ark and the Tower of Babel was destroyed. By figuring up the life years given in the Bible, Abraham would have been 47 years old at the destruction of the tower. Abraham lived to be 175 years old (Gen. 25:7).

Jewish tradition states that Abraham stayed at Noah's house for nearly 39 years, until the year 1997. It was at the end of this period, when he was 48 years old, that Abraham heard about the world-shattering Tower of Babel, and left Noah's house to go spread the truth. This means that Abraham must have went to Noah's house when he was about 10 years old to start learning from him.

Noah, then Shem, would have been of the Melchizedek (my king is righteous, or my king of righteousness) line. This line was that of the firstborn son priesthood going all the way back to Adam. Shem, as the current eldest living member of the family, transfers this priestly blessing upon Abraham and his descendants when Abraham returns from the slaughter of the kings, after rescuing Lot, in Genesis chapter 14.

Genesis 11:28 - Abraham and the family of his father, Terah, were from Ur. Apparently there were several cities with the name of Ur, because this was not the Ur of Mesopotamia which was known as the "land between the rivers", but the Ur of Chaldea on the “other side of the river” (Euphrates River).

Abraham (and the family of Terah) were descendants of Eber. Eber, or Ever, was the son of Salah, great grandson of Shem, father of Peleg and Joktan. The name Eber means “the region beyond”, “to cross over”. They lived “beyond the river” (Euphrates River). Eber is where we get the term Hebrew or Ivrit. It means all the descendants of Eber. At some point the descendants of Eber “crossed over” and dwelt on the other side of the Euphrates River. Eber is also referred to as a region. See Numbers 24:24 and Joshua 24:3 as reference. The reference to “the other side” in Joshua 24:3 is the word Eber.

Peleg was the son of Eber and he would have been within a year or less of his death (at age 239) when the Tower was destroyed. Hence, his prophetic name which meant “divide -split”. Joktan was also the son of Eber and his name means “smallness”, “to be insignificant”. He is believed to be the father of the Arabic peoples. (Genesis 10:25, 1 Chronicles 1:19). Perez was to be the promised line and not that of Joktan.

According to Jewish literature Abraham's father, Terah, was a chief officer or priest of Nimrod, who is most likely the same as Gilgamesh, in the Sumerian “Epic of Gilgamesh”. Nimrod, like Gilgamesh, were giants. According to Jewish legend: Terah left home one day and Abraham destroyed the idols of his father. When his father returned and inquired as to why all of his idols were destroyed Abraham informed him that the strongest idol had destroyed them all. Upon hearing this his father declared this impossible because they were just made from wood and stone and they could not do these things. Terah told Nimrod what Abraham had done and Nimrod threw him into a fiery furnace. Miraculously Abraham was saved and so afterwards Nimrod feared him and gave him precious gifts, among them Eliezar, a member of the king's household, who became Abraham's' trusted servant and friend.

Nimrod was the King of Erech (Gen. 10:10). Cain is the first recorded person to build a city and named it after his son, Enoch. Nimrod builds the first empire on earth, after the flood. Building cities/empires was an attempt to make a name for themselves. Nimrod built his empire in Mesopotamia – an area known as “the land between the rivers” - the cradle of civilization. Uruk, Ur (not Abraham's), Babel, Asshur (Assyria) etc. – all of these were cities in Shinar (Shinar – Genesis 10:10)

The Tower of Babel was built in stages. During the seventh stage a shrine was built to Marduk. The people of the area had made a deity out of Nimrod and his wife and he was deified as Marduk. This same pagan deity transferred over into numerous cultures and the name was changed accordingly.

The tower was a ziggurat like other ancient pyramids to worship pagan deities. This one was to worship Marduk which was a Babylonian god and a deified Nimrod. Research indicates that “babel” not only means confusion but in the Babylonian language it means “gate of the gods”. Also, the root word from which babel comes means “to mix or mingle”.

Scripture indicates that they built the tower to make a name for themselves. Josephus states of Nimrod:

“He said he would be revenged on God, if he should have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would build a tower too high for the waters to be able to reach, and that he would avenge himself on God for destroying their forefathers” (Ant.1:,v2).

In Genesis 10:9 the phrase “before” the Lord is paniym which means “face”. The word means “in defiance of God” or in the “face of God. The Targums and Josephus attest to “opponent of God” - just like Cain. The name Nimrod means “rebel, rebellion, or the valiant”. This is why he is denoted as a “mighty warrior”(Gen. 10:8-9). He was a tyrant. A tyrant who stood against the face of God.

The Babylonian Talmud (Erubin 53a) states: “Why, then, was he called Nimrod? Because he stirred up the whole world to rebel (himrid) against His (God's) sovereignty.” (Encyclopedia of Biblical Interpretation, by Menahem M. Kasher, Vol. II, 1955, p. 79.)

The event of the destruction of the Tower of Babel is taught by Jewish tradition to have happened on a prior date corresponding to Shavuot, or Pentecost. At its destruction the people were divided into 70 nations according to their languages (Genesis chapter 10-you can count them out). The number 70 ties prophetically to many things in scripture, one of the first being the number of Jacob's family when they went down to Egypt. Interestingly, at Shavuot 70 bulls are sacrificed which were to be for the 70 nations of the world.

452 years after the destruction of the Tower of Babel the Torah was given on Mt Sinai and according to Jewish tradition Adonai spoke the words of the Torah in all 70 languages at once so that all were held accountable.

“The Torah was spoken in 70 languages in order that the nations should not be able to plead ignorance as their excuse for rejecting it” (Tosef, Sotah, viii.).

They also say that as the words were spoken that tongues of fire lighted upon each of the people present. It was not only Israelites that came out of Egypt. Many from the nations came out with them. It is also recorded in scripture that there were thunders, clouds, lightnings, and the voice of a trumpet which came forth from the Mountain of God (Exodus chapter 19).

This all sounds like another event recorded in the Brit Hadashah (New Testament) in Acts chapter 2 doesn't it? This event recorded here also happened on Shavuot. Here God restores one language to the many nations who were present. Many from the nations heard them speak in tongues and glorify God as they were filled with His Holy Spirit. Scripture records in Acts 2:5 that there were people there from “out of every nation”. This tongue unifies and it does not divide. It was to undo the division of the Tower which brought confusion and chaos. This happened on a Shavuot about 1500 years later.

I love history! I hope this little history lesson has helped someone in their studies. I never realized until I dug it out that Abraham's life overlapped with that of Noah and Shem. I never realized that he came out of the culture of the pagan Tower of Babel. Now for the rest of the story – read my article – Why Did God Choose Abraham? Happy reading!


Leisa Baysinger



I've been digging more into the Old Testament and I have been wondering about this question myself. Is it possible that Abram wasn't actually born in Terah's 70th year? Looking at Genesis, it states in 11:24 that Terah became the father after he had lived 70 years. Then in Genesis 11:32 it says Terah lived 205 years. However, after Terah died, in Genesis 12:4 "...Abram was 75 when he set out from Haran". If Terah died at 205 years old, wouldn't that mean that Abram was born when Terah was 130? This would still line up with Genesis 11:26 because Terah would have become a father after his 70th year.

Additionally, there are a few times throughout the Old Testament…

Leisa Baysinger
Leisa Baysinger


Thanks for your questions and for reaching out. We love it!

As for your first question- it has been a while since I dug through this and the ages of each. I did dig through all of that when I originally wrote this article. I would have to go back and decipher it all again, very closely, before I could truly answer your question.

I do remember, when I was studying to write this article, that I followed several paths regarding the ages of Terah and Abram during their early travels. I believed one more than the other but either would have still fit the Genesis timeline, (as you said).

As for the second question- yes, absolutely! Children ar…


Adelia Esperanza
Adelia Esperanza

Great 👍 love HISTORY

Leisa Baysinger
Leisa Baysinger

Thanks for comments. Always appreciated.

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