Read verses 1-2
Q: What group is specifically being looked at here? Who were they led by?
Now Cush became the father of Nimrod; he became a mighty one on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the Lord.” The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.
It is important to note that the label “a mighty hunter” does not precisely convey that this designation was given him for hunting people, not merely hunting for food. He is Scripture’s first ruthless dictator who turns people away from dependence on God to be dependent on him, and is also the first in Scripture to prefigure the Antichrist.
“Nimrod” literally means “rebel”, indicating that he led and acted in the character of someone openly rebelling against the Word and ways of God and comes from the line of Ham which is characterized by rebellion. He not only established Babylon in the plain of Shinar, but expanded out to establish what would also become the kingdom of Assyria, two of the major empires Scripture refers to over and over again as examples of the kingdom and works of Satan and the Antichrist to come. Assyria will carry away the northern kingdom of Israel into Captivity and Babylon will carry away the southern kingdom of Judah.
Q What do we know about Nimrod historically?
A: Nimrod is believed to be the first king to wear a crown, claiming that it came down out of heaven. He established fire worship, idolatry and was schooled in the use of divination. Nimrod and his wife devised a religion built around “the mother child”, a satanic counterfeit of the way the Messiah would be born of a virgin and His first coming. (See The Two Babylons by Alexander Hissop for more details.) In many accounts he proclaims himself a god and is worshiped by his subjects, again a defining characteristic of a type of Antichrist. Freemasonry claims him as one of their founders.
Point: What is taking place is not just a “building project” but an organized act of rebellion against God. Just as someone making a reference to “the winter at Valley Forge” is understood by all modern-day Americans or “the battle of Waterloo” by all modern-day Europeans for their greater meaning because people are familiar with the history of such places, so it was for the people given the Old Testament Scriptures. They understood the character and nature of Nimrod and the actions of his followers in direct rebellion against God.
Application: The Flood may have temporarily rid the earth of sinful people but it did not remove sin.
Q: Where was this “plain in the land of Shinar” located?
A: It is the fertile area between the Tigris and Euphrates in what we would call modern Iraq and what would become the center of Babylon. The city of Babylon is huge, excavations of which have estimated it to be at least five and perhaps up to ten times the size of London.
Q: What might be significant about it stating “they journeyed east”?
A: A viable translation of this phrase which is used in many versions (i.e., ESV, KJV, etc.) is “they journeyed from the east”. This means they turned their back on the sun (always a scriptural indication of someone in conflict with God’s will and ways), turning around from their original destination and coming back, also a scriptural picture of someone returning to their old life.
Q: Why might this finding a place that looked good to them sound a little bit familiar?
A: It sounds similar to the story of Lot who chose the place which pleased his eye without first inquiring of the Lord.
Q: Why does Scripture say they “used the same language and the same words”? What is being conveyed by listing both the terms “language” and “words”?
A: The Hebrew word here translated as “language” (saphah) is often translated throughout the OT as “lips” to convey the idea of their being the gates of speech and by extension the gates of honesty or deception, righteousness or wickedness, wisdom or folly. The Hebrew here rendered “words” (dabar) is the actual content or substance of what is spoken so as to reveal it as honesty or deception, righteousness or wickedness, wisdom or folly. What is being conveyed here is not that they were all speaking the same language mechanically, but that theologically and philosophically there ideas were all in agreement with each other.
Application: Babylon is a system of government which integrates a false religious system in open rebellion to God which has at its core an Antichrist figure who demands to be worshiped in place of the One True God.