The tower of Babel account is the concluding account to the first major section of Genesis. The phrase “all the earth” [כָל־הָאָרֶץ] brackets the account as well as being a motif that recurs throughout (11:1, 4, 8, 9). The account begins with the people of the earth resisting the creation blessing. Instead of filling the earth they are determined to avoid being dispersed. Mankind determines to use its capacity for dominion over the earth to resist God and to build what may be seen as an alternative Eden. The land of Shinar is located between two rivers given the names of two of the rivers that flowed from Eden. After the Fall, mankind had been thrust from Eden, God’s dwelling place with man. But in this account, the people seek to build a tower that reaches into the dwelling place of God. On one level this is absurd. The text makes the point that God has to come down to even see the tower. On the other hand, God notes that the blessing of dominion can be turned to powerful evil if limits are not placed on it. For this reason he confuses the language of the peoples, which results in their scattering over the earth. This scattering could be looked at as a parallel to the exile from Eden and the exile of Cain. Once again in the opening chapters of Genesis exile is the judgment for disobedience. On the other hand, this scattering over the face of the earth is what makes possible the fulfillment of the creation blessing’s promise that mankind will fill the earth.
 For literary connections between 11:1-9 and earlier parts of Genesis, see Mathews, NAC, 1:466-67. The toledoth formula seem to be the major structuring device in Genesis, but the narrowing of focus to the covenant family of Abraham beginning in 11:27 seems to mark a thematic division in Genesis.
 Josephus, Antiquities, 1.110; Jeremy Cohen, “Be Fertile and Increase, Fill the Earth and Master It”: The Ancient and Medieval Career of a Biblical Text (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1989), 69.
 Mathews, NAC, 1:467. It plausible, though unknown, if these rivers had the names Tigris and Euphrates at the time of the tower of Babel. The Euphrates, however, did have its name by the time of Abraham, five generations later (15:18).
 Wenham, WBC, 242; Mathews, NAC, 1:481-82.
 “With heavy irony we now see the tower through God’s eyes. This tower which man thought reached to heaven, God can hardly see! From the height of heaven it seems insignificant, so the Lord must come down to look at it! ‘He sits above the circle of the earth, and its inhabitants are like grasshoppers’ (Isa 40:22). God’s descent to earth to view the tower is no more proof of the author’s primitive anthropomorphic view of God than is God’s asking Adam and Eve where they were hiding in the garden an indication of his ignorance. It’s is simply a brilliant and dramatic way of expressing the puniness of man’s greatest achievements, when set alongside the creator’s omnipotence.” Wenham, WBC, 1:240; cf. Mathews, NAC, 1:468, 469, 483; Hamilton, NICOT, 1:354.
 McKeown, THOTC, 72.
 McKeown, THOTC, 72; Mathews, NAC, 1:467.