Cush's son or descendant, Ham's grandson (Genesis 10:8). "Nimrod began to be a mighty one in the earth," i.e. he was the first of Noah's descendants who became renowned for bold and daring deeds, the Septuagint "giant" (compare Genesis 6:4; Genesis 6:13; Isaiah 13:3). "He was a mighty hunter before Jehovah," so that it passed into a proverb or the refrain of ballads in describing hunters and warriors, "even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before Jehovah." Not a mere Hebrew superlative, but as in Genesis 27:7 "bless thee before Jehovah," i.e. as in His presence, Psalm 56:13 "walk before God." Septuagint translated "against Jehovah"; so in Numbers 16:2 lipneey, "before," means opposition. The Hebrew name Nimrod means "let us rebel," given by his contemporaries to Nimrod as one who ever had in his mouth such words to stir up his band to rebellion. Nimrod subverted the existing patriarchal order of society by setting up a chieftainship based on personal valor and maintained by aggression. The chase is an image of war and a training for it.
The increase of ferocious beasts after the flood and Nimrod's success in destroying them soon gathered a band to him. From being a hunter of beasts he became a hunter of men. "In defiance of Jehovah," as virtually" before Jehovah" (Proverbs 15:11) means, Nimrod, a Hamite intruded into Shem's portion, violently set up an empire of conquest, beginning with Babel, ever after the symbol of the world power in its hostility to God. From that land he went forth to Asshur and builded Nineveh. The later Babylonians spoke Semitic, but the oldest inscriptions are Turanian or Cushite. Tradition points to Babylon's Cushite origin by making Belus son of Poseidon (the sea) and Libya (Ethiopia): Diodorus Siculus i. 28. Oannes the fish god, Babylon's civilizer, rose out of the Red Sea (Syncellus, Chronog. 28). "Cush" appears in the Babylonian names Cissia, Cuthah, Chuzistan (Susiana). Babylon's earliest alphabet in oldest inscriptions resembles that of Egypt and Ethiopia; common words occur, as Mirikh, the Meroe of Ethiopia, the Mars of Babylon.
Though Arabic is Semitic, the Mahras' language in southern Arabia is non-Semitic, and is the modern representative of the ancient Himyaric whose empire dates as far back as 1750 B.C. The Mahras is akin to the Abyssinian Galla language, representing the Cushite or Ethiopic of old; and the primitive Babylonian Sir H. Rawlinson from inscriptions decides to resemble both. The writing too is pictorial, as in the earliest ages of Egypt. The Egyptian and Ethiopic hyk (in hyk-sos, the "shepherd kings"), a "king," in Babylonian and Susianian is khak. "Tyrhak" is common to the royal lists of Susiana and Ethiopia, as "Nimrod" is to those of Babylon and Egypt. Ra is the Cushite supreme god of Babylon as Ra is the sun god in Egypt. (See BABEL.) Nimrod was the Bel, Belus, or Baal, i.e. lord of Babel, its founder. Worshipped (as the monuments testify) as Bilu Nipra or Bel Nimrod, i.e, the god of the chase; the Talmudical Nopher, now Niffer. Josephus (Ant. 1:4) and the tortures represent him as building, in defiance of Jehovah, the Babel tower.
If so (which his rebellious character makes likely) he abandoned Babel for a time after the miraculous confusion of tongues, and went and founded Nineveh. Eastern tradition pictures hint a heaven-storming giant chained by God, among the constellations, as Orion, Hebrew Keciyl, "fool" or "wicked." Sargon in an inscription says: "350 kings of Assyria hunted the people of Bilu-Nipru"; probably meaning the Babylon of Nimrod, nipru "hunter", another form of Nebrod which is the Septuagint form of Nimrod. His going to Assyria (Genesis 10:10-11-12) accords with Micah's designating Assyria "the hind of Nimrod" (Micah 5:6). Also his name appears in the palace mound of Nimrud. The fourfold group of cities which Nimrod founded in Babylonia answer to the fourfold group in Assyria. So Kiprit Arba, "king of the four races," is an early title of the first monarchs of Babylon; Chedorlaomer appears at the head of four peoples; "king of the four regions" occurs in Nineveh inscriptions too; after Sargon's days four cities had the pre-eminence (Rawlinson, 1:435, 438,4 47).
The early seat of empire was in the southern part of Babylonia, where Niffer represents either Babel or Calneh, Warka Erech, Mugheir Ur, Senkereh Ellasar. The founder (about 2200 B.C.) or embellisher of those towns is called Kinzi Akkad, containing the name Accad of Genesis 10:1. Tradition mentions a Belus king of Nineveh, earlier than Ninus; Shamas Iva (1860 B.C.), son of Ismi Dagon king of Babylon, founded a temple at Kileh Shergat (Asshur); so that the Scripture account of Babylon originating the Assyrian cities long before the Assyrian empire of the 13th century B.C. is confirmed. (Layard, Nineveh 2:231). Sir H. Rawlinson conjectures that Nimrod denotes not an individual but the "settlers," and that Rehoboth, Calah, etc., are but sites of buildings afterward erected; but the proverb concerning Nimrod and the history imply an individual; the Birs (temple) Nimrud, the Sukr (dam across the Tigris) el Nimrud, and the mound Nimrud, all attest the universal recognition of him as the founder of the empire.
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