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If you've read Alexander Hislop's book The Two Babylons, you'll have heard that Nimrod was the driving force behind the Tower of Babel. According to Hislop's account (which is partially based on Josephus, a more reputable source by far), Nimrod's goal at Babel was to set himself up as a god, or failing that, as a world leader. Some people he convinced into following him in his rebellion, some he forced, and some resisted and were killed by him.
There's only one problem with Hislop's theory: Nimrod is conspicuously absent from the Bible's account of the Tower of Babel. In fact, the wording seems to suggest something altogether different.
Genesis 11 (emphasis mine)
Now the whole earth had one language and the same words. 2 And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there. And they said to one another, “Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.” And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar. 4 Then they said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.” 5 And the Lord came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built. 6 And the Lord said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. 7 Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another's speech.” 8 So the Lord dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city. 9 Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of all the earth. And from there the Lord dispersed them over the face of all the earth.
The Biblical account seems to point to a rebellion in which nearly every human on earth participated, a united front of arrogance toward God. No Nimrod tricking, coercing, threatening. Just humankind swollen with pride in his own accomplishments.
But wasn't Nimrod King of Babel? Yes, Nimrod is mentioned as King in chapter 10, before the Babel account, but the Hebrew Bible was not written in strict chronological order. The same genealogy mentions that the people spread “each with their own language,” so it is obviously referring to a point in time after dispersion at Babel. Nimrod must have become King of Babel after the confusion, and from the legends that abound, he likely set himself up as a god near the end of his life. But not before the fall at the Tower of Babel.
For a full refutation of Hislop's book, see: The Babylon Connection? by Ralph Woodrow
For more information on the historic facts behind the Tower of Babel I highly recommend this book: Tower of Babel by Bodie Hodge