What the BIBLE Tells Us About Nimrod

The following article is a sneak peek of the research being done for Rebooting the Bible, Part 2. (RTB, Part 2) Nimrod’s story as given to us from biblical revelation in Genesis 10 and 11, combined with archeology from ancient times in Mesopotamia, tells us what we can hold true about Nimrod – and dispels the many myths Evangelicals in the Bible Prophecy community today believe about him based on two books:  The Book of Jasher and The Two Babylons by Alexander Hislop. This 2,000 word article comes from a 17,000 word mega-chapter developed for RTB, Part 2.

A reminder:  To be ready for RTB, Part 2, you need to read RTB, Part 1. I am selling the existing two book package (Rebooting the Bible Part 1 and A Biography of the Bible (regularly $45.00 if purchased separately) for a special price of $25.00 plus shipping and handling. And I’ll sign them and inscribe them to you or a friend/family member (for a gift – Christmas is coming quick!)

First off, we need to make note that Nimrod is the son of Cush and grandson of Ham. While Canaan bears the primary shame of his father’s indiscretion (which is itself an important issue to clarify), the entire line of Ham saw itself as doomed to be the slaves to the other two lines of Japheth and Shem. “And he said, ‘Cursed be the servant Chanaan (Canaan), a slave shall he be to his brethren.’” (Genesis 9:25, LXX) And as Noah blesses Japheth and Shem, he reiterates the curse against Canaan, “And he said,’ Blessed be the Lord God of Shem, and Chanaan shall be his bond-servant. May God make room for Japheth, and let him dwell in the habitations of Shem, and let Chanaan be his servant.’” (Genesis 9:26-27)

The reason that Ham was not the subject of Noah’s curse was because Ham (along with his two brothers) had previously been blessed by God. “And God blessed Noe and his sons, and said to them, ‘Increase and multiply, and fill the earth and have dominion over it.’” Noah remembered God’s blessing to his sons – and despite Ham being the offender, his son Canaan received Noah’s curse, a curse that could not supersede God’s blessing.

Secondly, it is not a foregone conclusion that the Tower of Babel happened right after the Flood. Nor is it likely that Nimrod led the rebellion.  Remember, the Bible doesn’t say that Nimrod was the instigator. The Bible seems to take pains to point out it was a collective decision that all those gathered in the plain of Shinar, who came to dwell there, agreed to build a tower to make a name for themselves and so that they would not be scattered across the entire world. “’And they said one to another, ‘Go to, let us make brick…’ “And they said, “Go to, let us build us a city and a tower… and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad…” “So the Lord scattered them abroad … and they left off to build the city.” (Genesis 11:3, 4, 5) The name Nimrod is never mentioned.  “The people are one” (they were of one mind – they did not need Nimrod to motivate them to build a tower and a city.  Furthermore, after the tower is destroyed, the city itself is abandoned. This too, does not seem to be in keeping with Nimrod who becomes the city builder mentioned in Genesis, chapter 10.

Thirdly, we should discern that the story of the Tower is the story of how the dispersal of humanity began.  It is not about Nimrod. Chapter 10 chronicles the so-called Table of Nations. Chapter 11:1-9, gives us the reason why humanity was scattered.  This pattern is common in Genesis. As elsewhere, Genesis gives us an overview, and then supplies some important detail in a “side bar.” Chapter 11:1-9 is such a sidebar.

Next, we must notice that when the Scripture lists the six sons of Cush, the sixth son – Nimrod – is distinguished from the other five. “And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabteca.” (Genesis 10:7) “And Cush begat Nimrod…”(Genesis 10:8) Make no mistake: Cush was Nimrod’s father. But Nimrod was special. Genesis 10:8 states that Nimrod was the first on earth to be (become) a mighty man. Alternatively, the wording may better be translated, “he (Nimrod) began to be a mighty man on the earth.” (ESV). The LXX flat outs states what many authors today believe, “And Chus (Cush) begot Nebrod (Nimrod); he began to be a giant upon the earth. He was a giant hunter before the Lord God; therefore, they say, ‘As (Nimrod) the giant hunter before the Lord.’” The word chosen, giant, is gibbor in Hebrew. While it may only mean a strong man or great warrior, in this context it appears obvious that Nimrod is different than the other sons of Cush due to an attribute that amounts to far more than being the strongest of his brethren. It is possible that the narrative in Genesis 10 supplies a Nimrod pericope (a parenthetical comment in modern parlance) merely to emphasize that Nimrod became the first empire builder. And, it certainly seems important to underscore that Nimrod, as a descendant of Ham (and Cush) is warring against the curse which asserted that the line of Ham would be a servant to the other lineages. This attempt to reverse the curse against Cush, Nimrod forced when he conquered the cities built by the Sumerians who were likely a combination of tribes from Canaan (son of Ham) and Asshur (son of Shem) (about 200 years after the Tower of Babel event). But, as many have speculated, Nimrod may have become a demigod. If he was a hybrid, he mirrored the Nephilim of Genesis 6:4.  So, it begs the question, “Did something happen to Nimrod – altering his nature – so that he ‘began to be a giant?’” I join other authors in today’s prophecy community to speculate that it did. Exactly what happened we do not know. Perhaps his DNA was altered in a deal with the devil.  Perhaps he was possessed. As an archetype for the Antichrist, who some argue will be a hybrid like the Nephilim of old – Nimrod may have become a child of Satan, the seed of the serpent. Moreover, we wonder such things as: Did he grow 2-4 feet taller? Was he actually a giant? Did he have six fingers on each hand?  We can’t keep from speculating. But in the final analysis, we only know that something happened, not what and why it did.

The Face of Yahweh According to the Epic of Gilgamesh – Huwawa

Of course, we can be certain that Nimrod was a rebel. The word “before,” lipn in Hebrew, means “facing or stand in front of.”  Many interpret this to mean, “in opposition to.” And this seems accurate if for no other reason than the fact he sought to conquer and suppress the leadership of others.  However, there is a nuance to this statement that needs elaboration. Our modern-day phrase, “got in his face” might be a better translation of lipn.  Nimrod stood opposed to God and “got in His face.” This became his “second-nature” just as his gigantism became his literal physical second nature (a “mortal makeover” if you will).  Additionally, many have pointed out that the name Nimrod itself means “rebel.” The consonants, which M-R-D can be pronounced “marad” or “murad.” [1]

The connection between M-R-D and Marduk also points out that the god Mars – the warrior God – is tied to the archetype of the warrior, namely Nimrod. Bryce Self expands on this and drives home the fact that the name of Nimrod has substantial ancient roots:

It is remarkable that there is a syllable with the consonant value “MR” which is found everywhere in connection with the planet Mars, the god of Mars, and its associated emblem, the dragon. The source of all these words is to be found in the Semitic root “marah” (MR) which is Hebrew means bitterness as well as disobedience. From this root is derived “marad” (MRD), or rebellion, which is the original both of Nimrod (the Babylonian Nin-Mir-Rud), or (NMRD), as well as Marduk/ Merodach (MRDK). The Bible tells us that Nimrod was the founder of Nineveh, and Nineveh’s own half-legendary history ascribes that honor to one Ninur or Nimur(NMR).[2]

If we think of the word marauder, we may have a very accurate modern translation of the name of Nimrod. This word means “pirate, pillager, plunderer, looter, robber” – stealing something that does not belong to him.  When we recognize that Nimrod’s empire is built by conquering cities in Mesopotamia and later, Assyria (mostly notably Babylon in ancient Sumer – Shinar – and Ninevah in the northern parts of the land, between the Euphrates and the Tigris), Nimrod “takes over” and steals these cities.

Did Nimrod conquer the Sumerian cities after leading the Tower of Babel event? It would seem to be impossible. And the reason is yet another strong argument (reflected in Josephus and carried forward in the Talmud) against Nimrod having led this rebellion. Why? Because the cities in Sumer were already occupied. Nimrod conquered existing cities. If the people at the Tower of Babel on the plain in the land of Shinar (Sumer) were all in one place, no other cities would have been populated after the Flood and before the Babel event; that is, if we believe the Flood of Noah was universal and the Tower of Babel story speaks of why all (not just part) of humanity was scattered globally once the Tower was destroyed by an act of God. This is not to say that there weren’t ruins from antediluvian cities (such as those theorized that Cain, son of Adam, built.)

Likewise, it appears Nimrod may have created cities in the North rather than occupying them. The Bible states plainly that Nimrod built these. “The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech (Uruk) Accad (Akkad), and Calneh, in the land of Shinar (Sumer).  From that land he went into Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city. (Genesis 10:10-12, ESV)[3] It seems unlikely that the leader of a failed rebellion at Babel with a Tower destroyed and a city deserted would bounce back to build many more cities in Sumer and Assyria. It would more likely be the case that he would be run out of Sumer and Assyria both. However, while Nimrod is given credit for the Babel rebellion, he often gets no credit for what it appears he did in eastern and northern Africa. Based on the biblical information we have about his father and brothers, we should ask whether Nimrod’s empire transcended Sumer and Assyria; specifically, if it included another ancient civilization.

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[1] Ronald Hendel comments that Nimrod (from Nimrud) probably mimics the Mesopotamian god Ninurta. “Ninurta was a great hunter and warrior and was the patron-god of Mesopotamian kings, characteristics that make him an apt model for Nimrod.  The name Nimrod in Hebrew, however, is transparently a verbal form, from the root mrd, “to rebel,” and means either “we will rebel” or “let us rebel.” From Hendel, Ronald. “Genesis 1-11 and Its Mesopotamian Problem,” p. 30. Douglas Petrovich disagrees, first of all, stating that Ninurta did not possess an empire. Petrovich’s second reason is more problematic, claiming that Nimrod was never seen as divine (i.e., more than human): “Nimrod was fully human, having derived ultimately from Adam, through Ham and Cush. Ninurta was a Sumerian and Akkadian deity.” This may be true – however, his becoming a Gibbor according to the Bible deserves some consideration. Many believe that Nimrod was known as a gibbor, not because he was the first emperor, but because of something in his physical makeup that changed.  Petrovich, Douglas M. “Identifying Nimrod of Genesis 10 with Sargon of Akkad.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society. P. 291.

[2] Self, Bryce. (July 30, 2014). “Nimrod, Mars, and The Marduk Connection.” Retrieved November 10, 2019 from: Self goes on to point out a connection to the people of Atlantis, called Merodes (MRD), descendants of Merou (MR) or Merod (MR*D), and the angel Moroni and the Mormons.  Interesting reading to be sure. Hislop will argue that Nimr is the Chaldean name for leopard, and that Nimrod wore the leopard skins prepared by God to cover Adam and Eve’s nakedness – which became a symbol of sovereignty and kingship. They might have stunk a lot since they would have been about 2,500 years old in the LXX timeline. Additionally, Nimrod supposedly trained a leopard to be his hunting assistant. We see Gilgamesh with a lion under his arm. Was this a lion cub or a full-grown lion, illustrating that Nimrod was a giant as the legend of Gilgamesh asserts?

[3] The venerable Donald Grey Barnhouse (1895-1960) was of the opinion that Resen, Nineveh, and Calah were actually one great city – a metropolis – the first one in the antediluvian world.

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