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10The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, and Accad, all of them in the land of Shinar.

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10. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel. Moses here designates the seat of Nimrod’s empire. He also declares that four cities were subject to him; it is however uncertain whether he was the founder of them, or had thence expelled their rightful lords. And although mention is elsewhere made of Calneh,314314     Amos 6:2. yet Babylon was the most celebrated of all. I do not however think that it was of such wide extent, or of such magnificent structure, as the profane historians relate. But since the region was among the first and most fruitful, it is possible that the convenience of the situation would afterwards invite others to enlarge the city. Wherefore Aristotle, in his Politics, taking it out of the rank of cities, compares it to a province. Hence it has arisen, that many declare it to have been the work of Semiramis, by whom others say that it was not built but only adorned and joined together by bridges. The land of Shinar is added as a note of discrimination, because there was also another Babylon in Egypt, which is now called Cairo.315315     Quam hodie Cairum vocant.” — “Babylon was a habitation formed by the Persians, which may with probability be referred to the time of the conquest of Egypt by Cambyses. A quarter retaining the name of Baboul or Babilon, in the city commonly called Old Cairo, which overlooks the Nile at some distance above the Delta, shows its true position.” — D’Anville’s Ancient Geography, vol. 2 p. 152. — Ed But it is asked, how was Nimrod the tyrant of Babylon, when Moses in the following chapter, Genesis 11:1 subjoins, that a tower was begun there, which obtained this name from the confusion of tongues? Some suppose that a hysteron proteron316316     ὕστερον πρότερον, is when that which really comes last in the order of time, is for some reason put first in the order of narration. — Ed is here employed, and that what Moses is afterwards about to relate concerning the building of the tower was prior in the order of time. Moreover, they add, that because the building of the tower was disastrously obstructed, their design was changed to that of building a city. But I rather think there is a prolepsis ; and that Moses called the city by the same name, which afterwards was imposed by a more recent event. The reason of the conjecture is that probably, at this time, the inhabitants of that place, who had engaged in so vast a work, were numerous. It might also happen, that Nimrod, solicitous about his own fame and power, inflamed their insane desire by this pretext, that some famous monument should be erected in which their everlasting memory might remain. Still, since it is the custom of the Hebrews to prosecute more diffusely, afterwards, what they had touched upon briefly, I do not entirely reject the former opinion.317317     A reason why the former of these opinions is to be preferred will be found in a note at page 313, where it is stated that the division of tongues had already taken place, before these nations were settled. — Ed.