Welcome to EBible Fellowship’s Bible study in the Book of Genesis. This is study #6 of Genesis, chapter 10 and we are going to read Genesis 10:10-12:
And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.
I will stop reading there. We were discussing Nimrod, the mighty hunter before JEHOVAH. We saw that he was a mighty man, which meant he was a product of a mixed marriage wherein the lines of the sons of God intermarried with the daughters of (unsaved) men. He was a mighty hunter and the word “hunter” relates to the enemies of God that seek or pursue (hunt) the people of God. Satan is the chief of those “hunters” as he goes about as a roaring lion seeking whom he may devour. We saw that the beginning of Nimrod’s kingdom was Babel and it is the same as Babylon and there were also the cities of Erech, Accad and Calneh. There were four cities in the land of Shinar and Babylon is a type and figure of the kingdom of Satan or the kingdom of this world. Nimrod was the king over the land of Shinar and that also points to Satan.
Now we are going to move on to verse 11, which presents a problem that I was not familiar with until I looked more closely at this verse. Let me read it again, in Genesis 10:11:
Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah,
Asshur is Strong’s #804 and it is the Hebrew word for “Assyria.” Elsewhere in the Bible, when we read of the Assyrian nation or Assyrian people, it is this same word. If you look back in Genesis, chapter 10 we began to look at the genealogy of Japheth and then we were looking at Ham; and Cush was a son of Ham and Cush begat Nimrod. We were discussing Nimrod and the beginning of his kingdom, but then, suddenly, in verse 11 we read of Asshur, but he is a son of Shem. If we look ahead, it says in Genesis 10:22:
The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram.
In verse 22 we get to the sons of Shem, including Asshur, but back in Genesis 10, verse 11, the word “Asshur” is the same word translated as “Assyria.” A good number of commentators have read verse 11 and they have translated it this way: “Out of that land he went forth to Assyria and builded Nineveh…” With that translation, they are saying it is still speaking about Nimrod and his kingdom of Babel and then out of that land (Babel) he went forth to Assyria. There are some problems with that translation. First, going back to verse 10, it said, “And the beginning of his kingdom,” and it is the masculine pronoun “his.” In the Hebrew, pronouns are attached to other words. For example, the word “kingdom” has the masculine pronoun at the end of the word, so you know it is his kingdom, so that is correctly translated. By the way, regarding verse 11, these commentators say that there are ancient texts (like the Latin vulgate and some others) that have translated it in the way they say it should be translated. But, the problem is, when you say, “Out of that land he went forth,” the masculine pronoun is not attached to it, so they are basically adding the pronoun because they believe it is still speaking of Nimrod. The masculine pronoun is not found in verse 11, as far as I could see.
Also, in their translation, when they say, “Out of that land he went forth to Assyria,” I do not see any preposition before “Asshur.” For instance, in Hebrew there is the letter “L” or “Lamed” that is attached to a word to indicate the preposition “to” or “for,” but it is not attached. So, I think that the King James translators translated this accurately in saying, “Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh…”
So, why is “Asshur” being mentioned when the Lord has not yet listed the children of Shem, as He later does in verse 22? Keep in mind, however, that we are reading of Nimrod, a son of Cush, and Cush was a son of Ham. Shem is a brother to Ham, so we are reading of at least a third generation. Therefore, in the case of Shem who had a son named “Asshur,” it would have happened much earlier than Nimrod’s birth and Nimrod’s kingdom beginning with Babel, and so forth. Asshur would have been alive. He would have been older than Nimrod, so it is possible that the Lord is indicating that when Nimrod began the kingdom of Babylon there were other relatives around and some of the sons of Shem (Asshur and his family) travelled out of the land of Shinar and they built Nineveh. Nineveh is that city we find in the Book of Jonah and it was the capital city of Assyria or Asshur. It would make sense that Asshur was alive and the Lord is making a statement while He is discussing Nimrod, He just gives us this bit of information.
There is support for the idea that Asshur (not Nimrod), the son of Shem, built Nineveh in Assyria. The Bible says the beginning of Nimrod’s city was Babel and if these commentators are correct that he went forth to Assyria and built Nineveh, then the “he” refers back to Nimrod, meaning that Nimrod not only built Babylon, but also Nineveh. However, we read in Isaiah 23:13:
Behold the land of the Chaldeans; this people was not, till the Assyrian founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness: they set up the towers thereof, they raised up the palaces thereof; and he brought it to ruin.
If you read this and you substitute “Asshur” for “Assyrian,” it would read: “Behold the land of the Chaldeans; this people was not, till Asshur founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness.” This verse does not indicate that Nimrod was the builder, even though he founded Babel, but it seems to indicate that Asshur was the one that founded it for them that dwell in the wilderness. They set up the towers and raised up the palaces, indicating that Asshur was the one involved in the construction of Babylon. So, it is very possible that the elder Asshur helped Nimrod build Babel and the three other cities in Shinar and then Asshur went forth and builded Nineveh and the other cities and it became the land of Assyria.
There is also another verse we must look at, because this question is even more complicated than it seems. It says in Micah 5:5-6:
And this man shall be the peace, when the Assyrian shall come into our land: and when he shall tread in our palaces, then shall we raise against him seven shepherds, and eight principal men. And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof: thus shall he deliver us from the Assyrian, when he cometh into our land, and when he treadeth within our borders.
In these verses, God speaks of the Assyrians and there is a battle and then it says, “And they shall waste the land of Assyria.” Lord willing, if we have time we are going to look at the nation of Assyria and we will see it is very closely related to Babylon and, spiritually, they represent the same thing. It represents the kingdom of Satan. Wasting the land of Assyria with the sword would be similar to Babylon falling. In verse 6, after it speaks of wasting the land of Assyria, it speaks of “the land of Nimrod,” and of being delivered from the Assyrian. Is this indicating that Nimrod is an Assyrian? Is Assyria the land of Nimrod? We can see how that idea would support the translation that these commentators made when they said that Nimrod went forth to the land Assyria and builded Nineveh. But, again, we still have the problem presented by Isaiah, chapter 23 and the problem with the translation where they added the masculine pronoun “his” and they added the preposition “to,” neither of which was in the original text. Isaiah, chapter 23 tells us that Asshur was the one that built it for them, so it was not Nimrod. However, in the Book of Micah, it sounds as if Assyria is the land of Nimrod, but I think the word “entrances” is key to understanding this: “And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof.” The word “entrances” is Strong’s #6607 and it is the normal word translated as “door” or “gate” and it has to do with an entry point. For example, if you approached a house, it would be a door. Or, there is a gate to a city and until you go through the gate, you are outside the city. I think that is what is being said here: “And they shall waste the land of Assyria with the sword, and the land of Nimrod in the entrances thereof.” The emphasis here is on Assyria, but, again, they are closely related. There is some question as to where the city of Nineveh was in the land of Assyria, but it was a close neighbor of Babylon, so the “entry point” of Babylon is what this is indicating. I am going to continue praying about this, but I think that the King James translation is accurate in Genesis 10:11:
Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah,
Concerning the word “Rehoboth,” it is Strong’s #7344 and it is the plural of Strong’s #7339, which is translated as “street” or “broad place” or “broad way.” The word “Calah” is Strong’s #3625 and it is identical to Strong’s #3624, which means “full age” or “old age.”
Then another city is mentioned in Genesis 10:12:
And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.
The name “Resen” is Strong’s #7449 and it is identical to Strong’s #7448 and it means, “bridle.” I am not sure what is in view. However, again, we have four cities listed: Nineveh Rehoboth, Calah and Resen. We also had four cities listed in the land of Shinar: Babel, Erech, Accad and Calneh. Therefore, in the land of Asshur (Assyria) there were four cities, pointing to the furthest extent or universality of the world, as Babylon and Assyria are a type and figure of the kingdom of Satan.
It is possible that when speaking of Nineveh and these other cities, that these other cities were unified with Nineveh in being suburbs of that city, because we read, “Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah, And Resen between Nineveh and Calah: the same is a great city.” After listing these, it says, “the same is a great city,” referring to Nineveh. Remember what it said in Jonah 3:1-3:
And the word of JEHOVAH came unto Jonah the second time, saying, Arise, go unto Nineveh, that great city, and preach unto it the preaching that I bid thee. So Jonah arose, and went unto Nineveh, according to the word of JEHOVAH. Now Nineveh was an exceeding great city of three days' journey.
The emphasis is on Nineveh being a “great city,” even an exceeding great city. The Bible does not say this because the city was so big it would take three days to travel through it, even though that was true. It could be that the other cities of Rehoboth, Calah and Resen were all tied together as one big metropolitan area of Nineveh. But the reason that God speaks of Nineveh as an “exceeding great city” is because in the Hebrew it literally says that “Nineveh was a great city to God.” If there is a city that is great to God, then it is an exceedingly great city and we know that it was a great city to God because He had much people there. God performed a mighty work in Nineveh, a work that was unparalleled in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, we read of an individual that was saved, here and there, and there, plus there were seven thousand in Israel that did not bow the knee to Baal. The number of seven thousand seems to be the largest number, but God saved many Ninevites and they were “Gentiles.” They were not of Israel or not Jews and, yet, God saved them, which pointed to God’s elect that are in the world. God had a certain care for Nineveh, just as He had a certain care for the world, in the sense that there was “precious treasure” in Nineveh that made the city “great” to Him.
We are going to stop here. Lord willing, in our next study we will look at Mizraim in verse 13. Remember, that is “Egypt.”
You know, these passages are not dramatic, but we are learning. We are learning about the foundation of the nations and the interrelationships between the peoples that founded these lands. It is very helpful because we know what happened to these lands in later times. It is helpful to the Bible student to learn this kind of information.