1902 Encyclopedia > Nimrod


NIMROD (NE/4 A, LXX.), apart from the mere mention of his name in Micah v. 5 (A.V., v. 6), occurs only once in Scripture, namely, in Gen. x. 8-12 (1 Chron. i. 10), where, in a Jehovistic portion of the genealogy of the nations there given, we are told that " Cush begat Nimrod, who Noah the first to plant vines, so is Nimrod the first mighty ruler in the earth, and as such at the same time a mighty hunter before Jehovah, after the manner of the Oriental sovereigns of old. By the Hebrews the Assyrio-Babylonian empire was at all periods regarded as the prototype of the worldly power ; and it is of this kingdom that Nimrod here figures as the founder - not in its prehistorical As founder of the kingdom, Nimrod represents both Shem) is also by the Jehovist assigned to Cush. Shem for him seems to have a very narrow meaning, expressing merely the contrast between the Hebrew lords and their Canaanite subjects ; Cush, on the other hand (like 1v8oc with the Greeks), is a very comprehensive and vague word, which does not readily admit of clear geographical or ethnological definition, and therefore also cannot be brought into contrast with Shem if Shem be used in its modern application as indicating race. A god spoken of as "Marri with his hounds" was still worshipped in Harran after the introduction of Christianity (Assem., Bibl. Or., i. 327) ; that this Marri is akin to Nimrod is suggested on the one hand by his hounds and on the other by the etymology of the two names derived from the synonymous roots mry and ?lard. Nimrod looks like a Syriac imperfect of the root mrd, in which case it would seem to follow that the legend arose among the Syrians, the next neighbours of the Babylonians and Assyrians, and from them had passed over to the Hebrews. Then, further, Nimrod may be a modification of the name Merodach, the Babylonian chief god, the final syllable -aelt being dropped.2 To the later Jews Babylon was the complete embodiment of the enmity of the heathen world against the kingdom of God, and the idea they formed of Nimrod was influenced by this view. The arrogance of his character, which seemed to be implied in his very name, was conceived of as defiance of God, and he became a heaven-storming Titan. As such he built the tower of Babel, and as such was he identified with the giant in bonds in the constellation of Orion. Jewish legend made choice of Abraham to be his antithesis, the representative of God's kingdom over against the heathen autocrat. Nimrod cast the bold confessor of the true God into the fire of the Chaldwans (Ur Kasdim), whence, according to Gen. xv. 7, Isa. xxix. 22, Jehovah delivered him.3 The Jewish material was afterwards treated by Mohammed and the Arabian theologians, who mixed it up with other elements.

Compare Philo, .De Gigantibus, sec. 15 (Mang., p. 272) ; Jos., Ant., i. 4, 2; 6, 2; Citron. Pasch., p. 36 (Cedren., p. 14); Jerome and Jonathan on Gen. xi. 28 ; Tabari, i. pp. 319-325. (J. WE.)

About this EncyclopediaTop ContributorsAll ContributorsToday in History
Terms of UsePrivacyContact Us

© 2005-19 1902 Encyclopedia. All Rights Reserved.

This website is the free online Encyclopedia Britannica (9th Edition and 10th Edition) with added expert translations and commentaries