11:1 one speech. Literally, “of one lip and one set of words”–that is, one phonology and one vocabulary, the same language as spoken by the antediluvians. This may well have been the Hebrew language, or some similar Semitic language since the primitive records were transmitted through Noah and Shem and since it is very unlikely that either Noah or Shem were participants in the rebellion and judgment at Babel.
11:2 from the east. The phrase may mean “eastward.” It is also possible that, as the people migrated from Ararat, they first went farther to the east, and then turned back westward until they came to the plain of Shinar (Sumer). This fertile valley so reminded them of Eden that they named its two rivers (Tigris and Euphrates) after two of the Edenic rivers.
11:2 land of Shinar. The reference to Shinar ties back in to Genesis 10:10, reminding us that the leader of the population by this time was Nimrod, “the mighty tyrant in the face of the LORD” (Genesis 10:9).
11:2 dwelt there. Their decision to “dwell” here in one location was in defiance of God’s command to “fill the earth” (Genesis 9:1,7). God’s design was to have a multiplicity of local governmental units (Genesis 9:5,6; Acts 17:26,27), but Nimrod purposed to establish a one-government dictatorship under himself. When Shem’s son Asshur settled in a separate location, Nimrod quickly took it over (Genesis 10:11).
11:3 Go to. Literally, “give”–indicating a council had reached a decision concerning various possible courses of action and was now pronouncing its decision.