Nimrod, the founder of Babel, is described as a “Mighty Hunter before the Lord". First of all, the term mighty hunter here refers not to someone who was good at stalking and killing deer (which would be very cool), or other wild game. The reference to Nimrod as a mighty hunter refers to his activity among men. Matthew Henry writes-
“He was a mighty hunter, that is, he was a violent invader of his neighbors’ rights and properties, and a persecutor of innocent men, carrying all before him, and endeavoring to make all his own by force and violence”
You might wonder how Henry surmises all this? The answer is in the phrase immediately following “mighty hunter”- the phrase is “before the Lord”. It is not being used as we might say “he or she is a hard-working person before the Lord”. Nimrod is not being referred to as “before the Lord” in the sense of being according to the purpose and will of God. No, rather he is being described as someone who is above the Lord (in his own mind), or in opposition to the Lord. “Before” here refers to his self-perceived rank. This verse is often translated wrong by our modern versions, although, in this case, the New Living translation captures the meaning well when it translates verse 9 as follows-
Genesis 10:9 He was a mighty hunter in the Lord’s sight. His name became proverbial, and people would speak of someone as being “like Nimrod, a mighty hunter in the Lord’s sight.”
The name Nimrod was most likely not his birth name. The word Nimrod means “we will revolt”. You can sense the pride and rebellion in his name alone to say nothing of his actions. The latter half of verse 9 shows that Nimrod was known throughout the earth by his actions. Notice what it says-
Genesis 10:9b ...therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.”
It actually became proverbial to identify someone as a Nimrod if they were like him. The commentators almost universally agree- Nimrod was a hunter of men. He was a tyrant. He is called a mighty hunter or a great warrior. It is at this point that it helps to recall the response of Jedi Master Yoda to young Luke Skywalker when Luke exclaimed to Yoda that he wanted to grow up to be a great warrior. Yoda wisely responded- “war does not make one great”. Here we have the leader of huge and powerful cities, in English we see that he is labeled a mighty hunter. But in looking at the text we see what the real meaning of mighty is. He is a man who thinks himself sufficient to stand up to the true and living God. What Nimrod fails to understand is that they that go up in their own estimation must come down again by His discipline.
It is further disheartening that a person like Nimrod found no shortage of followers. There were many who accompanied him and attended to him. The record of history shows the many cities established by this tyrannical leader and those who beckoned his every wish.
History is replete with such people and their leaders. Think of all the viscous leaders of history and the pathetic souls who followed them. On a world scale we have those individuals who committed themselves to Adolf Hitler and were used to kill some six million human beings. On a smaller scale we can look at various cult leaders like David Koresh who built a following that eventually led to the death of all the people. Not too many years ago 300 cult members in Uganda killed themselves at the command of their leader. Following prideful, haughty, arrogant, self-absorbed leaders is as much a problem as being one of those leaders. Nimrod was such a leader. He dared to put his human mightiness against God himself. What is worse is that there were people ready to follow him.
Don't be a Nimrod and don't follow one! They that go up in their own estimation must come down again by His discipline.