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This article is about the biblical king. For other uses, see Nimrod (disambiguation).
Pieter Bruegel's The Tower of Babel depicts a traditional Nimrod inspecting stonemasons.
"A Little Nimrod" by James Tissot. "Nimrod" by Yitzhak Danziger.
Nimrod (play /ˈnɪm.rɑːd/, Hebrew: דוֹר ְמִנ, Modern Nimrod Tiberian Nimrōḏ Aramaic: • • • • • Arabic: ﺩﻭﺭﻣﻧ) is, according to the Book of Genesis and Books of Chronicles, the son of Cush and great-grandson of Noah and the king of Shinar. He is depicted in the Tanakh as a man of power in the earth, and a mighty hunter. Extra-Biblical traditions
associating him with the Tower of Babel led to his reputation as a king who was rebellious against God. Several Mesopotamian ruins were given Nimrod's name by 8th century Arabs (see Nimrud).
1 Biblical account
2 Traditions and legends
2.1 The evil Nimrod vs. the righteous Abraham 2.1.1 Text of the Midrash Raba version 3 Interpretations 4 Literature 5 Idiom 6 References 7 External links Biblical account
The first mention of Nimrod is in the Table of Nations. He is described as the son of Cush, grandson of Ham, and great-grandson of Noah; and as "a mighty one on the earth" and "a mighty hunter before God". This is repeated in First Book of Chronicles and the "Land of Nimrod", used as a synonym for Assyria, is mentioned in the Book of MicahMicah 5:6:. "Nimrod, who was the first to be a warrior on the earth" First book of Chronicles, 1:10.
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.
Genesis says that the "beginning of his kingdom" (reshit memelketo) was the towns of "Babel, Uruk, Akkad and Calneh in the land of
Shinar" (Mesopotamia) — understood variously to imply that he either founded these cities, ruled over them, or both. Owing to an ambiguity in the original Hebrew text, it is unclear whether it is he or Asshur who additionally built Nineveh, Resen, Rehoboth-Ir and Calah (both
interpretations are reflected in various English versions). (Genesis 10:8– 12) (Genesis 10:8-12; 1 Chronicles 1:10, Micah 5:6). Sir Walter Raleigh devoted several pages in his History of the World (c. 1616) to reciting past scholarship regarding the question of whether it had been Nimrod or Ashur who built the cities in Assyria.
Traditions and legends
In Hebrew and Christian tradition, Nimrod is traditionally considered the leader of those who built the Tower of Babel in the land of Shinar, though the Bible never actually states this. Nimrod's kingdom included the cities of Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, all in Shinar. (Ge 10:10)
Therefore it was likely under his direction that the building of Babel and its tower began; in addition to Flavius Josephus, this is also the view found in the Talmud (Chullin 89a, Pesahim 94b, Erubin 53a, Avodah Zarah 53b), and later midrash such as Genesis Rabba. Several of these early Judaic sources also assert that the king Amraphel, who wars with Abraham later in Genesis, is none other than Nimrod himself.
Judaic interpreters as early as Philo and Yochanan ben Zakai (1st century AD) interpreted "a mighty hunter before the Lord" (Heb. : הוהי ינפל, lit. "in the face of the Lord") as signifying "in opposition to the Lord"; a similar interpretation is found in Pseudo-Philo, as well as later in Symmachus. Some rabbinic commentators have also connected the name Nimrod with a Hebrew word meaning 'rebel'. In Pseudo-Philo (dated ca. AD 70), Nimrod is made leader of the Hamites; while Joktan as leader of the Semites, and Fenech as leader of the Japhethites, are also associated with the building of the Tower. Versions of this story are again picked up in later works such as Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius (7th century AD). The Book of Jubilees mentions the name of "Nebrod" (the Greek form of Nimrod) only as being the father of Azurad, the wife of Eber and mother of Peleg (8:7). This account would thus make him an ancestor of Abraham, and hence of all Hebrews.
"Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah, a bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God, as if it
were through his means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness. He also gradually changed the government into tyranny, seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence on his power. He also said he would be revenged on God, if he should have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would build a tower too high for the waters to reach. And that he would avenge himself on God for destroying their forefathers.
Now the multitude were very ready to follow the determination of Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God; and they built a tower, neither sparing any pains, nor being in any degree negligent about the work: and, by reason of the multitude of hands employed in it, it grew very high, sooner than any one could expect; but the thickness of it was so great, and it was so strongly built, that thereby its great height seemed, upon the view, to be less than it really was. It was built of burnt brick, cemented together with mortar, made of bitumen, that it might not be liable to admit water. When God saw that they acted so madly, he did not resolve to destroy them utterly, since they were not grown wiser by the destruction of the former sinners; but he caused a tumult among them, by producing in them diverse languages, and causing that, through the multitude of those languages, they should not be able to understand one another. The place wherein they built the tower is now called Babylon, because of the confusion of that language which they readily understood before; for the Hebrews mean by the word Babel, confusion…"
An early Arabic work known as Kitab al-Magall or the Book of Rolls (part of Clementine literature) states that Nimrod built the towns of Hadâniûn, Ellasar, Seleucia, Ctesiphon, Rûhîn, Atrapatene, Telalôn, and others, that he began his reign as king over earth when Reu was 163, and that he reigned for 69 years, building Nisibis, Raha (Edessa) and Harran when Peleg was 50. It further adds that Nimrod "saw in the sky a piece of black cloth and a crown." He called upon Sasan the weaver and commanded him to make him a crown like it, which he set jewels on and wore. He was allegedly the first king to wear a crown. "For this reason people who knew nothing about it, said that a crown came down to him from heaven." Later, the book describes how Nimrod established fire worship and idolatry, then received instruction in divination for three years from Bouniter, the fourth son of Noah.
In the Recognitions (R 4.29), one version of the Clementines, Nimrod is equated with the legendary Assyrian king Ninus, who first appears in the Greek historian Ctesias as the founder of Nineveh. However, in another version, the Homilies (H 9.4-6), Nimrod is made to be the same as Zoroaster.
The Syriac Cave of Treasures (ca. 350) contains an account of Nimrod very similar to that in the Kitab al-Magall, except that Nisibis, Edessa and Harran are said to be built by Nimrod when Reu was 50, and that he began his reign as the first king when Reu was 130. In this version, the weaver is called Sisan, and the fourth son of Noah is called Yonton. Jerome, writing ca. 390, explains in Hebrew Questions on Genesis that after Nimrod reigned in Babel, "he also reigned in Arach [Erech], that is, in Edissa; and in Achad [Accad], which is now called Nisibis; and in
Chalanne [Calneh], which was later called Seleucia after King Seleucus when its name had been changed, and which is now in actual fact called Ctesiphon." However, this traditional identification of the cities built by Nimrod in Genesis is no longer accepted by modern scholars, who consider them to be located in Sumer, not Syria.
The Ge'ez Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan (ca. 5th century) also contains a version similar to that in the Cave of Treasures, but the crown maker is called Santal, and the name of Noah's fourth son who instructs Nimrod is Barvin.
However, Ephrem the Syrian (306-373) relates a contradictory view, that Nimrod was righteous and opposed the builders of the Tower. Similarly, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan (date uncertain) mentions a Jewish tradition that Nimrod left Shinar and fled to Assyria, because he refused to take part in building the Tower — for which God rewarded him with the four cities in Assyria, to substitute for the ones in Babel.
Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer (c. 833) relates the Jewish traditions that Nimrod inherited the garments of Adam and Eve from his father Cush, and that these made him invincible. Nimrod's party then defeated the Japhethites to assume universal rulership. Later, Esau (grandson of Abraham),
ambushed, beheaded, and robbed Nimrod. These stories later reappear in other sources including the 16th century Sefer haYashar, which adds that Nimrod had a son named Mardon who was even more wicked.
In the History of the Prophets and Kings by the 9th century Muslim historian al-Tabari, Nimrod has the tower built in Babil, Allah destroys it, and the language of mankind, formerly Syriac, is then confused into 72 languages. Another Muslim historian of the 13th century, Abu al-Fida, relates the same story, adding that the patriarch Eber (an ancestor of Abraham) was allowed to keep the original tongue, Hebrew in this case, because he would not partake in the building. The 10th century Muslim historian Masudi recounts a legend making the Nimrod who built the tower to be the son of Mash, the son of Aram, son of Shem, adding that he
reigned 500 years over the Nabateans. Later, Masudi lists Nimrod as the first king of Babylon, and states that he dug great canals and reigned 60 years. Still elsewhere, he mentions another king Nimrod, son of Canaan, as the one who introduced astrology and attempted to kill Abraham. In Armenian legend, the ancestor of the Armenian people, Hayk, defeated Nimrod (sometimes equated with Bel) in a battle near Lake Van.
In the Hungarian legend of the Enchanted Stag (more commonly known as the White Stag [Fehér Szarvas] or Silver Stag), King Nimród (aka Ménrót and often described as "Nimród the Giant" or "the giant Nimród", descendant of one of Noah's "most wicked" sons, Kam - references abound in traditions, legends, several religions and historical sources to persons and nations bearing the name of Kam or Kám, and
overwhelmingly, the connotations are negative), is the first person referred to as forefather of the Hungarians. He, along with his entire nation, is also the giant responsible for the building of the Tower of Babel - construction of which was supposedly started by him 201 years after the event of the Great Flood (see biblical story of Noah's Ark &c.). After the catastrophic failure (through God's will) of that most ambitious endeavour and in the midst of the ensuing linguistic cacophony, Nimród the giant moved to the land of Evilát, where his wife, Enéh gave birth to twin brothers Hunor and Magyar (aka Magor). Father and sons were, all three of them, prodigious hunters, but Nimród especially is the archetypal, consummate, legendary hunter and archer. Both the Huns' and Magyars' historically attested skill with the recurve bow and arrow are attributed to Nimród. (Simon Kézai, personal "court priest" of King László Kún, in his Gesta Hungarorum, 1282-85. This tradition can also be found in over twenty other medieval Hungarian chronicles, as well as a German one, according to Dr Antal Endrey in an article published in 1979).
The twin sons of King Nimród, Hunor and Magor, each with 100 warriors, followed the White Stag through the Meotis Marsh, where they lost sight of the magnificent animal. Hunor and Magor found the two daughters of King Dul of the Alans, together with their handmaidens, whom they kidnapped. Hungarian legends held Hunor and Magyar (aka Magor) to be ancestors of the Huns and the Magyars (Hungarians), respectively.
The evil Nimrod vs. the righteous Abraham
The Bible does not mention any meeting between Nimrod and Abraham, although a confrontation between the two is said to have taken place, according to several Jewish and Islamic traditions. Some stories bring the both together in a cataclysmic collision, seen as a symbol of the
confrontation between Good and Evil, and/or as a symbol of monotheism against polytheism. On the other hand, some Jewish traditions say only that the two men met and had a discussion.
According to K. van der Toorn; P. W. van der Horst, this tradition is first attested in the writings of Pseudo-Philo. The story is also found in the Talmud, and in rabbinical writings in the Middle Ages.
In some versions (as in Flavius Josephus), Nimrod is a man who sets his will against that of God. In others, he proclaims himself a god and is worshipped as such by his subjects, sometimes with his consort Semiramis worshipped as a goddess at his side. (See also Ninus.) A portent in the stars tells Nimrod and his astrologers of the impending birth of Abraham, who would put an end to idolatry. Nimrod therefore orders the killing of all newborn babies. However, Abraham's mother escapes into the fields and gives birth secretly (in some accounts, the baby Abraham is placed in a manger). At a young age, Abraham
recognizes God and starts worshiping Him. He confronts Nimrod and tells him face-to-face to cease his idolatry, whereupon Nimrod orders him burned at the stake. In some versions, Nimrod has his subjects gather wood for four whole years, so as to burn Abraham in the biggest bonfire the world had ever seen. Yet when the fire is lit, Abraham walks out unscathed.
In some versions, Nimrod then challenges Abraham to battle. When Nimrod appears at the head of enormous armies, Abraham produces an army of gnats which destroys Nimrod's army. Some accounts have a gnat or mosquito enter Nimrod's brain and drive him out of his mind (a divine retribution which Jewish tradition also assigned to the Roman Emperor Titus, destroyer of the Temple in Jerusalem).
In some versions, Nimrod repents and accepts God, offering numerous sacrifices that God rejects (as with Cain). Other versions have Nimrod give to Abraham, as a conciliatory gift, the slave Eliezer, whom some accounts describe as Nimrod's own son. (The Bible also mentions Eliezer as Abraham's majordomo, though not making any connection between him and Nimrod.)
Still other versions have Nimrod persisting in his rebellion against God, or resuming it. Indeed, Abraham's crucial act of leaving Mesopotamia and settling in Canaan is sometimes interpreted as an escape from Nimrod's revenge. Accounts considered canonical place the building of the Tower many generations before Abraham's birth (as in the Bible, also Jubilees); however in others, it is a later rebellion after Nimrod failed in his
confrontation with Abraham. In still other versions, Nimrod does not give up after the Tower fails, but goes on to try storming Heaven in person, in a chariot driven by birds.
The story attributes to Abraham elements from the story of Moses' birth (the cruel king killing innocent babies, with the midwives ordered to kill them) and from the careers of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego who emerged unscathed from the fire. Nimrod is thus given attributes of two archetypal cruel and persecuting kings - Nebuchadnezzar and Pharaoh. Some Jewish traditions also identified him with Cyrus whose birth
according to Herodotus was accompanied by portents which made his grandfather try to kill him.
A confrontation is also found in the Islamic Qur'an, between a king, not mentioned by name, and the Prophet Ibrahim (Arabic version of
"Abraham"). Muslim commentators assign Nimrod as the king based on Jewish sources. In Ibrahim's confrontation with the king, the former argues that Allah (God) is the one who gives life and gives death. The king
responds by bringing out two people sentenced to death. He releases one and kills the other as a poor attempt at making a point that he also brings life and death. Ibrahim refutes him by stating that Allah brings the Sun up from the East, and so he asks the king to bring it from the West. The king is then perplexed and angered.
Whether or not conceived as having ultimately repented, Nimrod remained in Jewish and Islamic tradition an emblematic evil person, an archetype of an idolater and a tyrannical king. In rabbinical writings up to the present, he is almost invariably referred to as "Nimrod the Evil" (Hebrew: דורמנ עשרה)"
The story of Abraham's confrontation with Nimrod did not remain within the confines of learned writings and religious treatises, but also
conspicuously influenced popular culture. A notable example is "Quando el Rey Nimrod" ("When King Nimrod"), one of the most well-known folksongs in Ladino (the Judeo-Spanish language), apparently written during the reign of King Alfonso X of Castile.
Beginning with the words: "When King Nimrod went out to the fields/ Looked at the heavens and at the stars/He saw a holy light in the Jewish quarter/A sign that Abraham, our father, was about to be born", the song gives a poetic account of the persecutions perpetrated by the cruel Nimrod and the miraculous birth and deeds of the savior Abraham.
Text of the Midrash Raba version
The following version of the Abraham vs. Nimrod confrontation appears in the Midrash Raba, a major compilation of Jewish Scriptural exegesis. The part relating to Genesis, in which this appears (Chapter 38, 13), is
תא םיבכמש ,םימל דובעאו :םהרבא ול רמא .שאל דובע :ול רמא .דורמנל ורסמו ולטנ רמא ?םימה תא אשונש ,ןנעל דובעא ,ךכ םא :ול רמא !םימל דובע :דורמנ ול רמא ?שאה רמא !חורל דובע :ול רמא ?םיננע תרזפמש ,חורל דובעא ,ךכ םא :ול רמא !ןנעל דובע :ול הוחתשמ יניא ינא ,ריבכמ התא םילימ :ול רמא ?תוחורה לבוסש ,םדא ןבל דובענו :ול היה !ונמיה ךליציו ול הוחתשמ התאש הולא אביו ,וכותב ךכילשמ ינא ירה - רוּאל אלא חצני םאו ,'ינא םהרבא לשמ' ר ַמוא - םהרבא חצני םא ,ךשפנ המ :רמא .דמוע ןרה םש ימ לשמ :ול ורמא ,לוצינו שאה ןשבכל םהרבא דריש ןויכ .'ינא דורמנ לשמ' ר ַמוא - דורמנ תמו אציו ויעמ ינב ורמחנו ,רואל והוכילשהו והולטנ !ינא םהרבא לשמ :םהל רמא ?התא גי ,ח"ל הבר תישארב( .ויבא חרת ינפ לע ןרה תמיו :רמאנ ךכו .ויבא חרת ינפ לע)
(...) He [Abraham] was given over to Nimrod. [Nimrod] told him: Worship the Fire! Abraham said to him: Shall I then worship the water, which puts off the fire! Nimrod told him: Worship the water! [Abraham] said to him: If so, shall I worship the cloud, which carries the water? [Nimrod] told him: Worship the cloud! [Abraham] said to him: If so, shall I worship the wind, which scatters the clouds? [Nimrod] said to him: Worship the wind! [Abraham] said to him: And shall we worship the human, who withstands the wind? Said [Nimrod] to him: You pile words upon words, I bow to none but the fire - in it shall I throw you, and let the God to whom you bow come and save you from it!
Haran [Abraham's brother] was standing there. He said [to himself]: what shall I do? If Abraham wins, I shall say: "I am of Abraham's [followers]", if Nimrod wins I shall say "I am of Nimrod's [followers]". When Abraham went into the furnace and survived, Haran was asked: "Whose [follower] are you?" and he answered: "I am Abraham's!". [Then] they took him and threw him into the furnace, and his belly opened and he died and
predeceased Terach, his father.
[The Bible, Genesis 11:28, mentions Haran predeceasing Terach, but gives no details.]
Inscription of Naram Sin found at the city of Marad
Historians and mythographers have long tried to find links between
Nimrod and figures from other traditions. The Christian Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea as early as the early 4th century, noting that the Chaldean historian Berossus in the 3rd century BC had stated that the first king after the flood was Euechoios of Chaldea, identified him with Nimrod. George Syncellus (c. 800) also had access to Berossus, and he too identified Euechoios with the biblical Nimrod. More recently, Sumerologists have suggested additionally connecting both this Euechoios, and the king of Babylon and grandfather of Gilgamos who appears in the oldest copies of Aelian (c. 200 AD) as Euechoros, with the name of the founder of Uruk known from cuneiform sources as Enmerkar.
J.D.Prince, in 1920 also suggested a possible link between the Lord (Ni) of Marad and Nimrod. He mentioned how Dr. Kraeling was now inclined to connect Nimrod historically with Lugal-Banda, a mythological king
mentioned in Poebel, Historical Texts, 1914, whose seat was at the city Marad. This is supported by Theodore Jacobson in 1989, writing on "Lugalbanda and Ninsuna".
According to Ronald Hendel the name Nimrod is probably a polemical distortion of Ninurta, who had cult centers in Babel and Calah, and was a patron god of the Neo-Assyrian kings. Marduk (Merodach), has been suggested as a possible archetype for Nimrod, especially at the beginning of the 20th century. Nimrod's imperial ventures described in Genesis may be based on the conquests of the Assyrian king Tukulti-Ninurta I (Dalley et al., 1998, p. 67). Alexander Hislop, in his tract The Two Babylons (Chapter 2, Section II, Sub-Section I) decided that Nimrod was to be identified with Ninus, who according to Greek legend was a
Mesopotamian king and husband of Semiramis (see below); with a whole host of deities throughout the Mediterranean world, and with the Persian Zoroaster. The identification with Ninus follows that of the Clementine Recognitions; the one with Zoroaster, that of the Clementine Homilies, both works part of Clementine literature.
David Rohl, like Hislop, identified Nimrod with a complex of Mediterranean deities; among those he picked were Asar, Baal, Dumuzi and Osiris. In Rohl's theory, Enmerkar the founder of Uruk was the original inspiration for Nimrod, because the story of Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta (see: ) bears a few similarities to the legend of Nimrod and the Tower of Babel, and because the -KAR in Enmerkar means "hunter". Additionally, Enmerkar is said to have had ziggurats built in both Uruk and Eridu, which Rohl postulates was the site of the original Babel.
George Rawlinson believed Nimrod was Belus based on the fact Babylonian and Assyrian inscriptions bear the names inscriptions Bel-Nimrod or Bel-Nibru. The word Nibru comes from a root meaning to 'pursue' or to make 'one flee', and as Rawlinson pointed out not only does this closely resemble Nimrod’s name but it also perfectly fits the
description of Nimrod in Genesis 10: 9 as a great hunter. The Belus-Nimrod equation or link is also found in many old works such as Moses of Chorene and the Book of the Bee.
Because another of the cities said to have been built by Nimrod was
Accad, an older theory connects him with Sargon the Great, grandfather of Naram-Sin, since, according to the Sumerian king list, that king first built Agade (Akkad). The assertion of the king list that it was Sargon who built
Akkad has been called into question, however, with the discovery of inscriptions mentioning the place in the reigns of some of Sargon's
predecessors, such as kings Enshakushanna and Lugal-Zage-Si of Uruk. Moreover, Sargon was credited with founding Babylon in the Babylonian Chronicle (ABC 19:51), another city (Babel) attributed to Nimrod in
Genesis. However, a different tablet (ABC 20:18-19) suggests that Sargon merely "dug up the dirt of the pit" of the original Babylon, and rebuilt it in its later location fronting Akkad.
Nimrod figures in some very early versions of the history of Freemasonry, where he was said to have been one of the fraternity's founders.
According to the Encyclopedia of Freemasonry: The legend of the Craft in the Old Constitutions refers to Nimrod as one of the founders of Masonry. Thus in the York MS., No. 1, we read: "At ye making of ye toure of Babell there was a Masonrie first much esteemed of, and the King of Babilon yt called Nimrod was a Mason himself and loved well Masons." However, he does not figure in the current rituals.
In the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri (written 1308-21), Nimrod is a figure in the Inferno. Nimrod is portrayed as a giant (which was common in the Medieval period) and is found with the other giants Ephialtes, Antaeus, Briareus, Tityos, Typhon and the other unnamed giants chained up on the outskirts of Hell's Circle of Treachery. His only line is "Raphèl maí amèche zabí almi", an unintelligible statement which serves to accuse himself. Idiom
In 15th-century English, "Nimrod" had come to mean "tyrant". In 20th-century American English, the term is now commonly used to mean "dimwitted or stupid fellow", a usage first recorded in 1932 and popularized by Bugs Bunny, who refers to the hunter Elmer Fudd as
"nimrod", possibly as an ironic connection between "mighty hunter" and "poor little Nimrod", i.e. Fudd.
Who was he? Was he godly or evil?
by Bible archaeologist Dr. David P. Livingston, Associates for Bible Research
Originally established by Nimrod (Gen. 10:11), and today known as
Nimrud, Calah became an important city in Iraq. The artist's reconstruction above shows the interior of Tiglath-pileser III's palace there (late seventh century BC). —(ABR file photo)
Nimrod was a very significant man in ancient times, the grandson of Ham and great-grandson of Noah. Nimrod started his kingdom at Babylon (Gen. 10:10). Babylon later reached its zenith under Nebuchadnezzar (sixth century BC). Pictured above are mudbrick ruins of
Nebuchadnezzar's city along with ancient wall lines and canals in modern day Iraq. —(ABR file photo)
This was also part of Nimrod's kingdom (Gen. 10:11). Nineveh along the Tigris River continued to be a major city in ancient Assyria. Today
adjacent to modern Mosul, Iraq, the ruins of ancient Nineveh are centered on two mounds, the acropolis at Kuyunjik and Nebi Yunis (Arabic for “Prophet Jonah”).Pictured is Sennacherib's “palace without rival” on
Kuyunjik, constructed at the end of the seventh century BC and excavated by Henry Layard in the early 20th century. —(ABR file photo)
Often attributed to Nimrod, the Tower of Babel (Gen. 11:19) was not a Jack and the Beanstalk-type of construction, where people were trying to build a structure to get into heaven. Instead, it is best understood as an ancient ziggurat (Assyrian “mountaintop”), as the one pictured at ancient Ur of the Chaldees, Abraham's hometown (Gen. 11:31). A ziggurat was a man-made structure with a temple at its top, built to worship the host of heaven. —(ABR file photo)
Nimrod revealed The Bible states…
Cush was the father of Nimrod, who grew to be a mighty warrior on the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; that is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the LORD.” The centers of his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh in Shinar (Genesis 10:8-10).
Many consider this to be a positive, complimentary testimony about
Nimrod. It is just the opposite! First, a little background study is necessary. Cultural Connections in the Ancient Near East
Besides the stories of the Creation and Flood in the Bible there ought to be similar stories on clay tablets found in the cultures near and around the true believers. These tablets may have a reaction, or twisted version, in their accounts of the Creation and Flood.
In the post-Flood genealogical records of Genesis 10 we note that the sons of Ham were: Cush, Mizraim, Put and Canaan. Mizraim became the Egyptians. No one is sure where Put went to live. And it is obvious who the Canaanites were. Cush lived in the “land of Shinar” which most scholars consider to be Sumer. There developed the first civilization after the Flood. The sons of Shem-the Semites-were also mixed, to some extent, with the Sumerians.
The Babylonian Flood Story is told on the 11th tablet of the Gilgamesh Epic, almost 200 lines of poetry on 12 clay tablets inscribed in cuneiform script. A number of different versions of the Gilgamesh Epic have been found around the ancient Near East, most dating to the seventh century BC. The most complete version came from the library of Ashurbanipal at Nineveh. Commentators agree that the story comes from a much earlier period, not too long after the Flood as described in the story. —(ABR file photo)
Found at Khorsabad, this eighth century BC stone relief is identified as Gilgamesh. The best-known of ancient Mesopotamian heroes, Gilgamesh was king of Uruk in southern Mesopotamia. His story is known in the poetic Gilgamesh Epic, but there is no historical evidence for his exploits in the story. He is described as part god and part man, a great builder and warrior, and a wise man in the story. Not mentioned in the Bible, the author suggests Gilgamesh is to be identified with Biblical Nimrod (Genesis 10:8-12). -DAVID LIVINGSTON
We suggest that Sumerian Kish, the first city established in Mesopotamia after the Flood, took its name from the man known in the Bible as Cush. The first kingdom established after the Flood was Kish, and the name “Kish” appears often on clay tablets. The early post-Flood Sumerian king lists (not found in the Bible) say that “kingship descended from heaven to Kish” after the Flood. (The Hebrew name “Cush,” much later, was moved to present-day Ethiopia as migrations took place from Mesopotamia to other places.)
extremely binding on all who lived in it (except for the rulers, who were a law unto themselves). This system was to influence the Ancient Near East for over 3000 years. Other cultures which followed the Sumerian system were Accad, Babylon, Assyria, and Persia, which became the basis of Greece and Rome's system of rule. Founded by Cush, the Sumerians were very important historically and Biblically.
Was “Nimrod” Godly or Evil?
First, what does the name Nimrod mean? It comes from the Hebrew verb marad, meaning “rebel.” Adding an “n” before the “m” it becomes an
infinitive construct, “Nimrod.” (see Kautzsch 1910: 137 2b, also BDB 1962: 597). The meaning then is “The Rebel.” Thus “Nimrod” may not be the character's name at all. It is more likely a derisive term of a type, a representative, of a system that is epitomized in rebellion against the Creator, the one true God. Rebellion began soon after the Flood as civilizations were restored. At that time this person became very prominent.
In Genesis 10:8-11 we learn that “Nimrod” established a kingdom. Therefore, one would expect to find also, in the literature of the ancient Near East, a person who was a type, or example, for other people to follow. And there was. It is a well-known tale, common in Sumerian literature, of a man who fits the description. In addition to the Sumerians, the Babylonians wrote about this person; the Assyrians likewise; and the Hittites. Even in Palestine, tablets have been found with this man's name on them. He was obviously the most popular hero in the Ancient Near East.
The Gilgamesh Epic
The person we are referring to found in extra-Biblical literature was
Gilgamesh. The first clay tablets naming him were found among the ruins of the temple library of the god Nabu (Biblical Nebo) and the palace library of Ashurbanipal in Nineveh. Many others have been found since in a number of excavations. The author of the best treatise on the Gilgamesh Epic says,
The date of the composition of the Gilgamesh Epic can therefore be fixed at about 2000 BC. But the material contained on these tablets is undoubtedly much older, as we can infer from the mere fact that the epic consists of numerous originally independent episodes, which, of course, did not spring into existence at the time of the composition of our poem but must have been current long before they were compiled and woven together to form our epic (Heidel 1963: 15).
concern for the citizens of Uruk (his kingdom). They complained to the great god Anu, and Anu instructed the goddess Aruru to create another wild ox, a double of Gilgamesh, who would challenge him and distract his mind from the warrior's daughter and the noblemen's spouse, whom it appears he would not leave in peace (Roux 1966: 114).
The Epic of Gilgamesh has some very indecent sections. Alexander Heidel, first translator of the epic, had the decency to translate the vilest parts into Latin. Spieser, however, gave it to us “straight” (Pritchard 1955: 72).
With this kind of literature in the palace, who needs pornography? Gilgamesh was a vile, filthy man. Yet the myth says of him that he was “2/3 god and 1/3 man.”
Gilgamesh is Nimrod
How does Gilgamesh compare with “Nimrod?” Ancient historian Josephus says of Nimrod,
Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah-a bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God, as if it were through his means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness. He also gradually changed the government into tyranny-seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence upon his own power.
He also said he would be revenged on God, if he should have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would build a tower too high for the waters to be able to reach! and that he would avenge himself on God for destroying their forefathers! (Ant. I: iv: 2)
What Josephus says here is precisely what is found in the Gilgamesh epics. Gilgamesh set up tyranny, he opposed YHWH and did his utmost to get people to forsake Him.
Two of the premiere commentators on the Bible in Hebrew have this to say about Genesis 10:9,
Nimrod was mighty in hunting, and that in opposition to YHWH; not ‘before YHWH’ in the sense of according to the will and purpose of YHWH, still less,… in a simply superlative sense… The name itself, ‘Nimrod’ from marad, ‘We will revolt,’ points to some violent resistance to God… Nimrod as a mighty hunter founded a powerful kingdom; and the
founding of this kingdom is shown by the verb with consecutive to have been the consequence or result of his strength in hunting, so that hunting was intimately connected with the establishing of the kingdom. Hence, if the expression ‘a mighty hunter’ relates primarily to hunting in the literal sense, we must add to the literal meaning the figurative signification of a ‘hunter of men’ (a trapper of men by stratagem and force); Nimrod the hunter became a tyrant, a powerful hunter of men (Keil and Delitzsch 1975: 165).
“in the face of YHWH” can only mean ‘in defiance of YHWH’ as Josephus and the Targums understand it (op. cit.: 166).
And the proverb must have arisen when other daring and rebellious men followed in Nimrod's footsteps and must have originated with those who saw in such conduct an act of rebellion against the God of salvation, in other words, with the possessors of the divine promise of grace (loc. cit.).
After the Flood there was, at some point, a breakaway from YHWH. Only eight people descended from the Ark. Those people worshipped YHWH. But at some point an influential person became opposed to YHWH and gathered others to his side. I suggest that Nimrod is the one who did it. Cain had done similarly before the Flood, founding a new city and religious system.
Our English translation of the Hebrew of Genesis 10:8-10 is weak. The author of this passage of Scripture will not call Gilgamesh by his name and honor him, but is going to call him by a derisive name, what he really is-a rebel. Therefore we should translate Genesis 10:8-10 to read,
Cush begat Nimrod; he began to be a tyrant in the earth. He was a tyrannical hunter in opposition to the Lord. Thus it is said, 'Nimrod the tyrannical opponent of YHWH.'
Likewise, Gilgamesh was a man who took control by his own strength. In Genesis 10 Nimrod is presented as a type of him. Nimrod's descendents were the ones who began building the tower in Babel where the tongues were changed. Gilgamesh is a type of early city founders.
(Page numbers below are from Heidel 1963) He is a “shepherd” _______ page 18
From Uruk ________________ page 17 (Kramer 1959: 31 calls Uruk Erech.)
Builds cities ____________ page 17 Vile man “takes women” ___ page 18 Mighty hunter ____________ page 18 Gilgamesh Confronts YHWH!
The name of YHWH rarely appears in extra-Biblical literature in the Ancient Near East. Therefore we would not expect to find it in the Gilgamesh epic. But why should the God of the Jews rarely be
mentioned? The Hebrew Bible is replete with the names of other gods. On the other hand, the nations surely knew of Him even though they had no respect for Him. If so, how might His Name appear in their literature, if at all? The name of YHWH, in a culture which is in rebellion against His rule, would most likely be in a derisive form, not in its true form. Likewise, the writers of Scripture would deride the rebels.
This face supposedly represents Huwawa who, according to the Gilgamesh's Epic, sent the Flood on the earth. According to the story, Huwawa (Humbaba in the Assyrian version) was killed by Gilgamesh and his half man, half beast friend, Enkidu. The author suggests Huwawa is the ancient pagan perspective of Yahweh (YHWH), the God of the Bible. About 3 in (7.5 cm), this mask is dated to around the sixth century BC. Of an unknown provenance, it is now in the British Museum. —THORKILD JACOBSEN
Putting the Evidence Together—the Bible and the Gilgamesh Epic The Gilgamesh Epic describes the first “God is dead” movement. In the Epic, the hero is a vile, filthy, perverted person, yet he is presented as the greatest, strongest, hero that ever lived (Heidel 1963: 18). So that the one who sent the Flood will not trouble them anymore, Gilgamesh sets out to kill the perpetrator. He takes with him a friend who is a monstrous half-man, half-animal-Enkidu. Together they go on a long journey to the Cedar Mountain to find and destroy the monster who sent the Flood. Gilgamesh finds him and finally succeeds in cutting off the head of this creature whose name is “Huwawa” (“Humbaba” in the Assyrian version; see Heidel 1963: 34ff).
Is there a connection with the Gilgamesh epic and Genesis 10? Note what Gilgamesh says to Enkidu the half man, half beast, who accompanied him on his journey, found in Tablet III, lines 147-150.
“If I fall,” Gilgamesh says, “I will establish a name for myself. Gilgamesh is fallen, they will say, in combat with terrible Huwawa.”
But the next five lines are missing from all tablets found so far! Can we speculate on what they say? Let's try… We suggest that those five lines include,
“But if I win, …they will say, Gilgamesh, the mighty vanquisher of Huwawa!”
Why do we say that? Because Genesis 10:9 gives us the portion missing from the Gilgamesh tablets. Those lines include. “it is said, Nimrod (or Gilgamesh) the mighty vanquisher of YHWH.” This has to be what is missing from all the clay tablets of the Gilgamesh story. The Gilgamesh Epic calls him Huwawa; the Bible calls Him YHWH.
Heidel, speaking of the incident as it is found on Tablet V says,
All we can conclude from them [the lost lines] is that Gilgamesh and Enkidu cut off the head of Humbaba (or Huwawa) and that the expedition had a successful issue [ending] (1963: 47).
The missing lines from the Epic are right there in the Bible!
Because of the parallels between Gilgamesh and Nimrod, many scholars agree that Gilgamesh is Nimrod. Continuing with Gilgamesh's fable, he did win, he did vanquish Huwawa and took his head. Therefore, he could come back to Uruk and other cities and tell the people not to worry about YHWH anymore, he is dead. “I killed him over in the Lebanon mountains. So just live however you like, I will be your king and take care of you.” There are still other parallels between the Bible and the Gilgamesh epic: “YaHWeH” has a somewhat similar sound to “Huwawa.” Gilgamesh did just as the “sons of god” in Genesis 6 did.
The “sons of god” forcibly took men's wives. The Epic says that is precisely what Gilgamesh did.
The Bible calls Nimrod a tyrant, and Gilgamesh was a tyrant. There was a flood in the Bible; there is a flood in the Epic. Cush is mentioned in the Bible, Kish in the Epic.
Erech is mentioned in Scripture; Uruk was Gilgamesh's city.
likely Ham than Noah, since “Nimrod” was Ham's grandson!
Historically, Gilgamesh was of the first dynasty of Uruk. As Jacobsen points out (1939: 157), kings before Gilgamesh may be fictional, but not likely. The fact that the Gilgamesh epic also contains the Deluge story would indicate a close link with events immediately following the Flood. S.N. Kramer says,
A few years ago one would have strongly doubted his (historical) existence… we now have the certitude that the time of Gilgamesh
corresponds to the earliest period of Mesopotamian history. (Kramer 1959: 117)
What a contrast Psalm 2 is compared with the Gilgamesh Epic!
Why do the nations conspire and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the LORD and against his Anointed One. “Let us break their chains,” they say, “and throw off their fetters.” The One enthroned in heaven laughs, the Lord scoffs at them. Then he rebukes them in his anger and terrifies them in his wrath, saying, “I have installed my King on Zion, my holy hill.” I will
proclaim the decree of the LORD: He said to me, “you are my Son, today I have become your Father, Ask of me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession. You will rule them with an iron scepter; you will dash them to pieces like pottery.”
Therefore, you kings, be wise; he warned, you rulers of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry and you be destroyed in your way, for his wrath can flare up in a moment. Blessed are all who take refuge in him.
Who Were The Canaanites? by Wayne Blank
After The Flood, the earth was populated from the Sons Of Noah - Shem, Ham and Japheth. The Bible record of nations, from which all of us can find our most ancient ancestry, is amazingly detailed (Genesis 10).
Israel The sons of Ham were Cush, from whom came the Babylonians and Assyrians (Genesis 10:6,8-11), Mizraim, from whom came the Egyptians and Philistines (Genesis 10:13), Put, and Canaan. Coincidence or not, many of Israel's most powerful enemies, from ancient times to the present,
originated from the descendants of Ham.
From Canaan naturally came the Canaanite clans - Sidon, Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, Girgashites, Hivites, Arkites, Sinites, Arvadites, Zemarites and Hamathites. (Genesis 10:15). According to the Bible account, "Later the Canaanite clans scattered and the borders of Canaan reached from Sidon toward Gerar as far as Gaza, and then toward
Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, as far as Lasha." (Genesis 10:19). It's in this described area that the conflict between the Israelites and the "peoples of the land" began, and has continued right to the present day. You can turn on your television news and witness this ancient Biblical struggle continuing almost any day with your own two eyes.
A vital, very often overlooked point of the struggle for the land is that the earth belongs to God. He created it, He owns it, He decides what He wants to do with it. It is His property. Although others may have been allowed to live in the land before the arrival of the Israelites, God has owned the land right from the time of Creation before any humans even existed.
If someone owns a number of houses now that won't be needed until later, rather than letting them sit empty and neglected, they are usually rented to someone who can make use of them in the mean time. But then one day, if one of the owner's children reaches adult age and needs a place to live, the owner can choose not to renew the lease to one of those houses, which the owner has every legal and moral right to do, so that the designated heir may move in.
Even though the tenants of that particular house may have been living there for many years, caring for the property as if it were their own, they would be required to move when their lease is up - either to another house that the owner has available for rent, or hopefully by then they will have saved enough to purchase their own home. The process has nothing to do with fairness or unfairness, but is simply a matter of an owner having the right to do whatever he or she sees fit with their own property.
God is not unfair to anyone. God does not play favorites. The Canaanites have the same opportunity for salvation as the Israelites. But, God does have a Plan, and that Plan requires specific people to be in precise places at exact times.
Fact Finder: To whom did God give the land known today as Israel? (a) the descendants of Abraham, the Israelites