According to the Scriptures there was a time when "the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech. And it came to pass as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there."
"The whole earth," as the phrase is used in the narrative, was at this period a comparatively small portion of the earth's surface, and bears no reference to other inhabited sections of the globe, of which there were probably many. The world known to the writer of Genesis probably did not extend far beyond Asia Minor, and possibly included the coast line along the shores of the eastern end of the Mediterranean and the fertile valley of the Nile. The population too was very small, and judging from the chronology to be found in the tenth chapter of Genesis, was limited to the three generations which had descended since the flood from the sons of Noah. The little band which had journeyed from the east and settled in the plain of Shinar is reported as having said, "Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth."
It seems scarcely possible that all the descendants of Noah were represented in this decision; nor is it likely that all the members of the little company above mentioned conceived the idea spontaneously and announced it at the same time. History teaches that movements of this kind imply a leader, and in the absence of such a leader popular feeling, however strong, remains latent and inarticulate. The key to the leadership in this case is found in the previous chapter. Here we read that "Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord ... And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel."