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Notice the word “before” in "He was a might hunter before the LORD." The word literally means "face"—that which is in the front and which appears to another, as in “face to face.” Nimrod was a mighty hunter facing the Lord. The word before literally means "that which turns." It has a wide variety of usages. It can be translated “facing,” “before,” “in front of,” or “against.”
“Against” is the correct translation here, according to the context. He was a mighty hunter against the Lord. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord in the sense of fighting against Him. You do not turn your back on your enemy. You face him, and he faces you.
Nimrod was against God; he was facing the Lord in battle, in antagonism rather than in submission. That is shown in the context by his conquests. The beginning of his kingdom was Babel. There is more here than meets the eye. He conquered Babel. He conquered Erech, Accad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar. He was bringing what were probably city-states under his control and forming them into one nation. Nowhere did God give the right to dominion over other men by conquering them, and that was what Nimrod did.
The Sperling Translation renders this phrase, "He began to be a despot." He was a despot against God; and he deceived, manipulated, and controlled those he brought under his dominion. Satan and his demons, through Nimrod, conspired against God to bring mankind into one government against God.
God does not destroy things that are good. He does not intervene unless something is evil. This was something evil against God and against God's purpose. That is why He stepped in and confused the languages, because this was something directly against God's purpose, against the timeline that God had worked out in His own mind.
There we have the first example in the Bible of people under the sway of Satan. They were under the sway because they were his children spiritually and because they were antagonistic to God's purpose. They were not submissive to it or obedient to God.
Here we have mankind's first attempt to bring all of mankind under one government. From the very beginning in the book of beginnings, Genesis, God shows that bringing governments together under man is not a part of His purpose. It is antagonistic to God.
John W. Ritenbaugh
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