In Genesis 10:8 we read that Nimrod became a heroic warrior before the Lord. The word translated before can also mean against and this seems to fit more accurately with the passage. Verse 11 reads, “He went into Asshur (Assyria) and builded Nineveh,” meaning he invaded Assyria and built up Nineveh. By every worldly standard, Nimrod could be considered a great political and military leader of his day.
The following passage in Genesis 11 does not teach that Nimrod stupidly attempted to build a tower which would reach into outer space as many people suggest. The next time you’re outside stop and look up into the heavens. Do you believe anyone, especially someone with the intellect to become a great political and military leader, would honestly believe that he could build a tower so high it would actually reach into outer space? This teaching is a total misunderstanding of this passage.
Note verse 4: “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens; let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be scattered abroad over the face of the whole earth” (NKJV). Some versions include the words may reach in this verse instead of the italicized is. Whichever your version, these words are in italics to show they are supplied by the translators and are not in the original Hebrew text. A better rendering of this passage would be, “Come, let us build ourselves a city, and a tower whose top is heaven” or “a tower topped with the heavens.” In other words, astronomical and astrological data were to be associated with this tower, and its purpose was to worship the creation rather than the Creator.
This appears to be man’s first organized false religion, and the against in Genesis 10:8 reveals that Nimrod’s purpose was to draw as many souls as possible away from the true and living God. Wilmington’s Guide to the Bible states, “Archaeological evidence suggests that the Tower of Babel was in reality a building given over to astrology, or the heathen worship of the heavens” (Wilmington 35). Nimrod was campaigning with a spirit of defiance to rid the world of the shackles of true religion, or worship of the true and living God. He was a great leader, yet the kingdom he built was a worldly system characterized by idolatry and opposition to the Lord.
Let’s continue with verse 5: “But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower which the sons of men had built” (NKJV). The words came down are actually sarcasm, indicating that man’s most magnificent efforts were still puny in God’s eyes. So why did God come down? He came down in judgment because man had become so flagrant in his defiance against Him that if immediate action wasn’t taken, the truth of God’s revelation might be forever obliterated. Man’s mistake was to believe that if he ruled God out of his thinking, he would rid himself of Him forever. He didn’t realize that God will never permit any social order to last where He is omitted. So after taking the situation under consideration, God decided to judge the defiance of man by confusing his language, meaning He caused them to speak a variety of languages instead of just one (Genesis 11:7). The result of this judgment was indeed confusion, and the building of the tower of defiance toward God halted.
Is there any historical evidence that might support the existence of this Tower of Babel? Consider the following:
Wilmington’s Guide to the Bible records: “Among the ruins of ancient Babylon is a building 153 feet high with a 400 foot base. It was constructed of dried bricks in seven stages, to correspond with the known planets to which they were dedicated. The lowermost was black, the color of Saturn, the next orange, for Jupiter, the third red, for Mars, and so on. These stages were surmounted by a lofty tower, on the summit of which were the signs of the Zodiac” (35). Upon the base of this building located just outside Baghdad the following words are inscribed, “A former king built, they reckon 42 ages past, but he did not complete its head. Since a remote time, people had abandoned it, without order expressing their words.” Humm . . . Sound familiar?