FROM then on, all the people who came into the world descended from Noah's three sons and their wives. (Gen. 9:19.) After some years had gone by, there developed many inhabitants in the plains area south of where the ark had landed. Some of them moved farther down into the valleys of the Tigris and Euphrates, the two main rivers of what later became known as the land of Assyria. As the years passed and people increased in numbers, many of them moved southeast over the lower plains to what is now known as the Persian Gulf. There the soil was rich, and wonderful crops sprang out of it. The ground was best in the region where the Tigris and Euphrates flowed closest together in a land called Shinar. (Gen. 11:2.) More and more families chose that area in which to live. There were very few rocks or trees there. Probably no great city would have been built there if it hadn't been discovered that much of the soil was just right for making excellent bricks. These were made by pressing moist clay into block shapes and baking them in the sun or around fires. Furthermore, there were places where a thick, pitchy liquid oozed from the ground. This liquid, called bitumen, was the very thing needed to hold the bricks together. (Gen. 11:3.)
Human Beings Huddle Together
Men began putting up homes, barns, warehouses and all kinds of buildings. Before long towns were sprawling over the plain of Shinar. People were massing together again just as they had done before the Flood. This did not please God. He knew that when human beings huddled together in crowded buildings, they failed to get the best out of the good
things He had created for men to find in the fields, the forests, the mountains, the streams and even in the seas and deserts. Besides, men were more likely to break God's rules of happy living when they existed in masses. God had told Noah and his family that people should spread out over the Earth. Noah lived for three hundred and fifty years after the Flood. (Gen. 9:28.) During that time he publicly proclaimed God's wishes whenever he had the opportunity. Through him, many people understood something about God's plans and laws. Unhappily, most people were living further and further from the ways they should have been living, and had little interest in bettering themselves by obedience to their Creator.
Nimrod Becomes a Hero
At this time in human history there was a man who came down from one of Noah's sons, Ham. The man's name was Nimrod. Most of Earth's inhabitants today wouldn't have any idea who this man was, although in one way or another he has had a powerful effect on the life of most every one who has lived in the past four thousand years. Nimrod was a very large, strong, fierce man with dark skin. Because of his power and skill as a successful hunter of wild beasts that attacked people, he became a hero and a leader among his tribesmen. (Gen. 10:8-9.) Like most others of his time, he knew of his Creator's laws, but he hated those laws. Just as many people today have been led to believe, Nimrod believed that if he lived by God's rules he wouldn't enjoy life. He lived by his own laws, and tried to prove to others that they would be happier if they would live the same way. Nimrod became chief over the people who grouped together in the main sprawling town in the land of Shinar. Probably there were many families who didn't like the way he ordered them about, but whenever wild animals attacked, Nimrod and his warriors fought to protect the townspeople. Nimrod later built a wall around the growing town. Deeds like these helped make him a strong leader, and caused more families to move in and settle under his rule. Before many more years had passed, the town had grown into a city. It was the first large one to be built on the Earth after the Flood. It was such a wonder that people came from afar to gaze on the vast mass of buildings and high walls. That country later came to be known as Babylonia, and the name of the city was Babel or Babylon. (Gen. 10:10.)
Nimrod Begins Idol Worship
Nimrod was not only ruler of Babylon, but he became the most feared man in the land. His power and wealth grew as Babylon grew. He made the laws, and those laws decreed that Babylonians should not look to the God of Noah as their ruler, but should be ruled by human governments.
One of Nimrod's schemes to hold people together under his rule was to build a tower so gigantic that it would excite everyone's awe and wonder. It was to be the highest temple ever built, and a monument to the sun god in the center of a world-ruling government. (Gen. 11:4.) Men slaved for a long time just to erect the base of the tower. Then little by little the temple took shape toward the sky. Nimrod's plan for a brick monster to loom up over the plain was working out well. Then God stepped in. He saw that Babel was only the beginning of far-fetched things men would try to do, and that they had to be stopped. (Gen. 11:6.) Imagine what it would have been like if men such as Nimrod had been able to develop weapons such as we have today!
Many Languages Begin
Since the Flood there had been only one language. Men hadn't moved apart in different tribes long enough to start speaking in different ways as do the people of today in various sections of the Earth. (Gen. 11:1.) Then something happened to the men working on the tower. They began to accuse each other of not talking plainly. Some talked one way, while others talked other ways. The less they understood one another, the more they argued. Arguments grew into fights. Work came to a halt. (Gen. 11:7-8.)
Not every workman necessarily spoke a different language, but God caused them to speak in so many different ways that the lack of
communication made it impossible to continue working on the temple. The tower was thereafter called "Babel" because "Babel" meant "confusion" in Noah's language. Not understanding their neighbors, many of the families living in or near the city of Babylon moved away to seek a living in distant parts of the land. This was what God intended for them to do. (Gen. 10:25 and Deut. 32:7-8.) His way of scattering them by confusing their language was a great blow to Nimrod's scheme for quick growth of his kingdom and greater control over man's religious habits. But during the next few years, while people were scattering out over the land, those who stayed at Babylon were increasing in numbers. Besides, many who had never been there stopped there in their travels. In time, there were so many in or near the city of Babylon that Nimrod again put men to work on the tower. Nevertheless, it wasn't God's will that the tower should be finished. It never was.
Noah Dies of Old Age
At the time Nimrod's kingdom had spread, Noah was still living! He was about seven hundred years old when God scattered men from Babylon. Still he was not feeble, and because he remained faithful to God, God gave him many more years of abundant life. He became a successful farmer who was nine hundred and fifty years old when he died! That is a long time to live, especially when we consider how short a time we live today. Yet those who are wise enough to turn from the wrong kind of living and seek God's ways will enjoy even longer lives. They will get to live forever as spirit beings (I Cor. 15:44-45, 53), and many of them will start that long life by ruling the Earth soon with Jesus Christ for a thousand years! (Rev. 2:26-27 and 5:9-10.) Later, they will dwell in a beautiful, jeweled city God will send down from Heaven to Earth. (Rev. 21:2.) This is one of the many wonderful things God has prepared for those who love Him.