Nimrod

Nimrod is an interesting character mentioned in the Bible. We know from the Bible that he was the grandson of Noah and son of Ham whose people settled primarily in Africa. He built the cities of Babel (later known as Babylon), Erech, and Accad in Shinar and then went on to build Nineveh and Caluah among others in Assyria. He is described as a mighty man and hunter. This is about all that is given by the Bible but ancient Israelite histories and traditions give much more information on him. The well-known and highly regarded writings of Jewish historian Josephus and the Book of Jasher are arguably considered the two most reliable ancient histories available. The Book of Jasher was referenced multiple times in the Bible for a source for more information on a subject being discussed there and Josephus mentioned it as a reliable source. The following information on Nimrod is taken primarily from these two sources.

Nimrod was said to have been born 252 years after the flood and he initially won several wars. He was said to have left the Ethiopian area and invaded Mesopotamia. He conqueror the city of Shinar, where he ruled from, and surrounding areas as described by the Bible. He went on to conquer Syria and surrounding areas and ruled over the first great kingdom after the flood. However, he turned against God and wanted revenge on God for destroying his forefathers. He set up idols for the people to worship and most of the people eventually turned from God due to his influence. He set up a tyrannical government to bring the people into a constant dependence on his power and preached reliance on themselves rather than a fear of God. He supervised the construction of the Tower of Babel either to attack heaven to do battle with God or to defend against against another flood from God by building a tower too high for the waters to reach (both reasons are listed in different sources). As the Bible relates, God came down and confused the people’s speech and scattered them.

Afterwards, one of the kings of an area subject to Nimrod, Chedolaomer, rebelled against him and Nimrod lost a subsequent war between them and was thereafter subject to him. Chedalaomer later attacked and defeated Sodom and Gomorrah, a city that was initially under his rule but had rebelled, and captured Lot, an event described in the Bible. Abraham attacked and freed Lot and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah, also described in the Bible.

Nimrod was reportedly killed by Esau in the same year Abraham died over a dispute over who was the mightier hunter. Nimrod was 215 years old. Esau reportedly, thinking he would be captured and executed for the murder, sold his birthright to Jacob. However, everyone was relieved Nimrod was dead and Esau was not punished.

Other interesting facts presented were that Nimrod was said to have obtained the skins made by God for Adam and Eve for clothes after they had sinned and by wearing them he obtained great strength and hunting skills and the Father of Abraham, Terah, was one of Nimrod’s main princes serving under him and was initially an idol worshiper before repenting due to Abraham’s influence. Further, Abraham was instructed in the ways of God by Noah and was cast into a fiery furnace by Nimrod for challenging his idol worshiping but miraculously survived.

Although interesting to contemplate, we cannot be sure all of the above is true and some current scholars dispute whether Abraham could have been a contemporary of Nimrod but where it intersects with information in the Bible these ancient histories line up and they were and are well-respected sources of ancient history. One thing all of the ancient Jewish traditions are consistent on is that Nimrod was the archetypal evil king who led most of the people to rebel against God even though only shortly after the judgment of the flood.