They Did Not Make a Celebrated Name for Themselves
THE Bible does not name the builders of the infamous tower of Babel. The account states: “They now said: ‘Come on! Let us build ourselves a city and also a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a celebrated name for ourselves, for fear we may be scattered over all the surface of the earth.’”—Genesis 11:4.
Who were “they”? This event took place some 200 years after the Flood. By then Noah, about 800 years old, lived among thousands of his descendants. They all spoke the same language and lived together in the general area where he and his sons settled after the Flood. (Genesis 11:1) At some point in time, a portion of this enlarged population moved eastward and “discovered a valley plain in the land of Shinar.”—Genesis 11:2.
An Utter Failure
It was in this valley that the group decided to rebel against God. How so? Well, Jehovah God had expressed his purpose when he commanded the first human couple to “be fruitful and become many and fill the earth.” (Genesis 1:28) This was repeated to Noah and his sons after the Flood. God instructed them: “As for you men, be fruitful and become many, make the earth swarm with you and become many in it.” (Genesis 9:7) In opposition to Jehovah’s direction, the people built a city so that they would not “be scattered over all the surface of the earth.”
These people also began to build a tower with the purpose of making “a celebrated name” for themselves. But contrary to their expectations, they did not complete construction of the tower. The Bible record shows that Jehovah confused their language so that they could not understand one another. “Accordingly,” says the inspired account, “Jehovah scattered them from there over all the surface of the earth, and they gradually left off building the city.”—Genesis 11:7, 8.
The complete failure of this venture is highlighted by the fact that the names of the builders never became “celebrated,” or well-known. Actually, their names are unknown and have been erased from human history. But what about Nimrod, Noah’s great-grandson? Was he not the leader of this rebellion against God? Is not his name well-known?
Nimrod—An Insolent Rebel
Doubtless, Nimrod was the ringleader. Genesis chapter 10 introduces him as “a mighty hunter in opposition to Jehovah.” (Genesis 10:9) The Scriptures also say that “he made the start in becoming a mighty one in the earth.” (Genesis 10:8) Nimrod was a warrior, a man of violence. He became the first human ruler after the Flood, appointing himself as king. Nimrod was also a builder. The Bible credits him with being the founder of eight cities, including Babel.—Genesis 10:10-12.
Hence, Nimrod—an opposer of God, a king of Babel, and a constructor of cities—undoubtedly shared in building the tower of Babel. Did he not make a celebrated name for himself? Concerning the name Nimrod, Orientalist E. F. C. Rosenmüller wrote: “The name was given to Nimrod from [ma·radhʹ], ‘he rebelled,’ ‘he defected,’ according to the Hebrew meaning.” Then Rosenmüller explains that “Orientals are accustomed not rarely to call their noblemen by names given after death, from which comes the, at times, amazing agreement between names and things done.”
Several scholars share the opinion that the name Nimrod was not a name given at birth. Rather, they consider it to be a name given later to suit his rebellious character after it became manifest. For example, C. F. Keil states: “The name itself, Nimrod from [ma·radhʹ], ‘we will revolt,’ points to some violent resistance to God. It is so characteristic that it can only have been given by his contemporaries, and thus have become a proper name.” In a footnote, Keil quotes historian Jacob Perizonius as writing: “I would believe that this man [Nimrod], as a ferocious hunter and surrounded by a band of comrades, in order to incite the rest to rebellion, always had in his mouth and geminated that word ‘nimrod, nimrod,’ that is, ‘Let us rebel! Let us rebel!’ Hence, in later times, he was designated by others, even Moses himself, by that word as a proper name.”
Clearly, Nimrod did not make a celebrated name for himself. The name given to him at birth apparently is unknown. It has been erased from history, as have the names of those who followed his lead. He did not even leave any offspring to carry his name. Instead of receiving glory and fame, he has been vested with infamy. The name Nimrod has forever labeled him an insolent rebel who foolishly challenged Jehovah God.