Nimrod and the Birth of Babylon

Derek Kidner on Genesis 10:9-10:

Nimrod looks out of antiquity as the first of ‘the great men that are in the earth’, remembered for two things the world admires, personal prowess and political power. The Bible does not underrate them: there is warmth in the reiterated ‘before the Lord,’ marking God’s estimate of his skill – it is more than a mere formula. At the same time there is tragic irony (that is, irony not yet apparent in the story) in the note of his further exploits: The beginning of his kingdom was Babel … The next chapter, and the further progress of Babel (Babylon) to the catastrophe of Revelation 18, add their comment to the tale of earthly success.

Not all success is good. Nimrod started out fine. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord. In the Bible, when you see the phrase ‘before the Lord,’ it literally means ‘in the face of God.’ Twice in a single verse his name was associated with being before the presence of God. Not many people get that kind of shoutout in the Bible.

But Nimrod’s success degenerated. We don’t see it unfold in the frontpage of the Bible but in many specific places you can trace the decay of his mighty legacy. The corruption of Babel (Babylon) was so great that later in the Bible Babylon became a symbol of the enemy of the church of Christ. Nimrod’s legacy finally came to a terrible end in Revelation 18 with the loud shouts of angels celebrating the fall of the proud and mighty symbol of worldly corruption. How tragic for someone who started out fine in the presence of God.