"Now the whole world had one language and a common speech." Way to contradict yourself, god. You said in the earlier chapter that peoples spread out, "each with its own language."
The people who settled in the plain of Shinar decided that they should build a huge tower made of mud bricks and tar, so that "we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered." So the people after the flood were concerned about losing touch with loved ones, and, it seems to me, their response was to make a huge meeting area where people could come to meet up. Nothing in the text besides them wanting to be well-known (which would only facilitate their cause of keeping people in touch) describes them as being selfish or sinful.
I might also add that, contrary to what I was taught in sunday school, no mention is made of the people wanting to be as powerful as god or build the tower high enough to reach heaven. Just that they didn't want to be scattered, and they wanted some sort of notoriety.
Well, god "came down" to see the city one day and saw the tower. Throw all your ideas about omniscience out the window for the old testament, I suppose. God decides that people can accomplish a great many things in cooperation with each other, and this is made easier by them all having the same language. He decides he doesn't like this, so he "confuse[s]" their language.
Well, it worked. The people "stopped building the city." (Tower? City? Synonymous?) The name of the city was Babel, and god confused the language and then scattered the people over the face of the whole earth. Which is a little ironic, given the people's reason for wanting the build the tower in the first place.
This story really highlights how much of a bastard this god of old was. No offense implied, but when someone acts like a bastard, call them a bastard. I don't think you should be able to apply only good epithets to god--if your perception of how he acts sometimes fits the human idea of mercy, for some reason you're allowed to apply that human idea to god, but if he acts like he's got a chip on his shoulder, you're supposed to just call that 'mysterious.' Bollocks.
I remember having this story explained to me as pride going before a fall, etc. I don't read pride into what they were doing. I think if god still had his way, this whole internet thing would've been nipped in the bud a long time ago. Can't have people thinking they can accomplish anything, for goodness sake.
Anyway, the rest of the chapter sets the scene for our new main character: Abram.
The previous chapter's lineage is repeated here, from Shem to Peleg. The author goes on from there to say that Peleg had a child named Reu. And Reu was 32 when he fathered Serug. and Serug was 30 when he fathered Nahor. And Nahor was 29 when he fathered Terah.
Here's the story of Terah.
Terah had three sons, Abram, Nahor and Haran. Haran was the father of Lot, but he died in Ur while his father still lived. It doesn't say how.
Abram married Sarai (who was barren) and Nahor married Milcah who was his niece (Haran's daughter).
Terah took Abram, Lot and Sarai and set out from Ur to go to Canaan. Got sidetracked in Haran (a place apparently spelled differently than the name of the guy Haran in Hebrew) and settled there.