Home      Discussion      Topics      Dictionary      Almanac
Signup       Login
Nimrod (king)

Nimrod (king)

Discussion
Ask a question about 'Nimrod (king)'
Start a new discussion about 'Nimrod (king)'
Answer questions from other users
Full Discussion Forum
 
Encyclopedia

Nimrod is, according to the Book of Genesis and Books of Chronicles
Books of Chronicles
The Books of Chronicles are part of the Hebrew Bible. In the Masoretic Text, it appears as the first or last book of the Ketuvim . Chronicles largely parallels the Davidic narratives in the Books of Samuel and the Books of Kings...

, the son of Cush and great-grandson of Noah
Noah
Noah was, according to the Hebrew Bible, the tenth and last of the antediluvian Patriarchs. The biblical story of Noah is contained in chapters 6–9 of the book of Genesis, where he saves his family and representatives of all animals from the flood by constructing an ark...

 and the king of Shinar
Shinar
Shinar was a geographical locale of uncertain boundaries in Mesopotamia. The name may be a corruption of Shene nahar , Shene or , or Sumer .It has been suggested that Shinar must have been confined to the northern part of Mesopotamia Shinar (Hebrew Šin`ar, Septuagint Σεννααρ Sennaar) was a...

. He is depicted in the Tanakh
Tanakh
The Tanakh is a name used in Judaism for the canon of the Hebrew Bible. The Tanakh is also known as the Masoretic Text or the Miqra. The name is an acronym formed from the initial Hebrew letters of the Masoretic Text's three traditional subdivisions: The Torah , Nevi'im and Ketuvim —hence...

 as a man of power in the earth, and a mighty hunter. Extra-Biblical traditions associating him with the Tower of Babel
Tower of Babel
The Tower of Babel , according to the Book of Genesis, was an enormous tower built in the plain of Shinar .According to the biblical account, a united humanity of the generations following the Great Flood, speaking a single language and migrating from the east, came to the land of Shinar, where...

 led to his reputation as a king who was rebellious against YHWH. Several Mesopotamian ruins were given Nimrod's name by 8th century Arabs (see Nimrud
Nimrud
Nimrud is an ancient Assyrian city located south of Nineveh on the river Tigris in modern Ninawa Governorate Iraq. In ancient times the city was called Kalḫu. The Arabs called the city Nimrud after the Biblical Nimrod, a legendary hunting hero .The city covered an area of around . Ruins of the city...

).

Biblical account


The first mention of Nimrod is in the Table of Nations. He is described as the son of Cush, grandson of Ham
Ham, son of Noah
Ham , according to the Table of Nations in the Book of Genesis, was a son of Noah and the father of Cush, Mizraim, Phut and Canaan.- Hebrew Bible :The story of Ham is related in , King James Version:...

, and great-grandson of Noah
Noah
Noah was, according to the Hebrew Bible, the tenth and last of the antediluvian Patriarchs. The biblical story of Noah is contained in chapters 6–9 of the book of Genesis, where he saves his family and representatives of all animals from the flood by constructing an ark...

; and as "a mighty one on the earth" and "a mighty hunter before God". This is repeated in First Book of Chronicles
Books of Chronicles
The Books of Chronicles are part of the Hebrew Bible. In the Masoretic Text, it appears as the first or last book of the Ketuvim . Chronicles largely parallels the Davidic narratives in the Books of Samuel and the Books of Kings...

 and the "Land of Nimrod", used as a synonym for Assyria, is mentioned in the Book of Micah
Book of Micah
The Book of Micah is one of fifteen prophetic books in the Hebrew bible/Old Testament, and the sixth of the twelve minor prophets. It records the sayings of Mikayahu, meaning "Who is like Yahweh?", an 8th century prophet from the village of Moresheth in Judah...

.
Micah 5:6:
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
Babylon
Babylon was an Akkadian city-state of ancient Mesopotamia, the remains of which are found in present-day Al Hillah, Babil Province, Iraq, about 85 kilometers south of Baghdad...

, Uruk
Uruk
Uruk was an ancient city of Sumer and later Babylonia, situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates river, on the ancient dry former channel of the Euphrates River, some 30 km east of modern As-Samawah, Al-Muthannā, Iraq.Uruk gave its name to the Uruk...

, Akkad
Akkad
The Akkadian Empire was an empire centered in the city of Akkad and its surrounding region in Mesopotamia....

 and Calneh
Calneh
Calneh was said to be one of the four cities founded by Nimrod, according to Genesis 10:10 in the Bible. Its identity is uncertain, and remains a mystery. The verse in question reads, ...the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar, and W.F...

 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
Nineveh
Nineveh was an ancient Assyrian city on the eastern bank of the Tigris River, and capital of the Neo Assyrian Empire. Its ruins are across the river from the modern-day major city of Mosul, in the Ninawa Governorate of Iraq....

, Resen, Rehoboth-Ir
Rehoboth-Ir
Rehoboth-Ir is a biblical town named in Genesis 10:11 as among those founded by either Asshur or Nimrod. Its exact geographic location is unknown. Rehoboth-Ir may possibly have been in the vicinity of the town of Nineveh...

 and Calah (both interpretations are reflected in various English
English language
English is a West Germanic language that arose in the Anglo-Saxon kingdoms of England and spread into what was to become south-east Scotland under the influence of the Anglian medieval kingdom of Northumbria...

 versions).
. 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


Since Classical times, Nimrod has traditionally been considered the leader of those who built the Tower of Babel in the land of Shinar
Shinar
Shinar was a geographical locale of uncertain boundaries in Mesopotamia. The name may be a corruption of Shene nahar , Shene or , or Sumer .It has been suggested that Shinar must have been confined to the northern part of Mesopotamia Shinar (Hebrew Šin`ar, Septuagint Σεννααρ Sennaar) was a...

, 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
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

 (Chullin 89a, Pesahim
Pesahim
Pesahim is the third tractate of Seder Moed of the Mishnah and of the Talmud. It is concerned mainly with the laws of the Jewish holiday Passover as well as the Passover lamb offering...

94b, Erubin 53a, Avodah Zarah
Avodah Zarah
Avodah Zarah is the name of a tractate in the Talmud, located in Nezikin, the fourth Order of the Talmud dealing with damages...

53b), and later midrash
Midrash
The Hebrew term Midrash is a homiletic method of biblical exegesis. The term also refers to the whole compilation of homiletic teachings on the Bible....

such as Genesis Rabba
Genesis Rabba
Genesis Rabba is a religious text from Judaism's classical period. It is a midrash comprising a collection of ancient rabbinical homiletical interpretations of the Book of Genesis ....

. Several of these early Judaic sources also assert that the king Amraphel
Amraphel
In the Tanakh or Old Testament, Amraphel was a king of Shinar in Genesis xiv.1 and 9, who invaded the west along with Chedorlaomer, king of Elam, and others, and defeated Sodom and the other Cities of the Plain in the Battle of the Vale of Siddim.Beginning with E...

, who wars with Abraham later in Genesis, is none other than Nimrod himself.

Judaic interpreters as early as Philo
Philo
Philo , known also as Philo of Alexandria , Philo Judaeus, Philo Judaeus of Alexandria, Yedidia, "Philon", and Philo the Jew, was a Hellenistic Jewish Biblical philosopher born in Alexandria....

 and Yochanan ben Zakai
Yochanan ben Zakai
Johanan ben Zakai , also known as Johanan B. Zakkai was one of the tannaim, an important Jewish sage in the era of the Second Temple, and a primary contributor to the core text of Rabbinical Judaism, the Mishnah. He is widely regarded as one of the most important Jewish figures of his time...

 (1st century AD) interpreted "a mighty hunter before the Lord" (Heb. : לפני יהוה, lit. "in the face of the Lord") as signifying "in opposition to the Lord"; a similar interpretation is found in Pseudo-Philo
Pseudo-Philo
Pseudo-Philo is the name commonly used for a Jewish pseudepigraphical work in Latin, so called because it was transmitted along with Latin translations of the works of Philo of Alexandria but is very obviously not written by 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
Joktan
Joktan or Yoktan was the second of the two sons of Eber mentioned in the Hebrew Bible. His name means "small" or "smallness"....

 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
Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius
The Apocalypse of Pseudo-Methodius is a 7th-century apocalypse that shaped the eschatological imagination of Christendom throughout the Middle Ages. The work was written in Syriac in the late 7th century, in reaction to the Islamic conquest of the Near East, and is falsely attributed to the...

(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
Eber
Eber is an ancestor of the Israelites, according to the "Table of Nations" in and . He was a great-grandson of Noah's son Shem and the father of Peleg born when Eber was 34 years old, and of Joktan. He was the son of Shelah a distant ancestor of Abraham...

 and mother of Peleg
Peleg
__notoc__Peleg is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as one of the two sons of Eber, an ancestor of the Israelites, according to the "Table of Nations" in and . Peleg's son was Reu, born when Peleg was thirty, and he had other sons and daughters. According to the Hebrew Bible, Peleg lived to the age...

 (8:7). This account would thus make him an ancestor of Abraham, and hence of all Hebrews.

Josephus wrote:

"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
Clementine literature
Clementine literature is the name given to the religious romance which purports to contain a record made by one Clement of discourses...

) states that Nimrod built the towns of Hadâniûn, Ellasar, Seleucia
Seleucia
Seleucia was the first capital of the Seleucid Empire, and one of the great cities of antiquity standing in Mesopotamia, on the Tigris River.Seleucia may refer to:...

, Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon
Ctesiphon, the imperial capital of the Parthian Arsacids and of the Persian Sassanids, was one of the great cities of ancient Mesopotamia.The ruins of the city are located on the east bank of the Tigris, across the river from the Hellenistic city of Seleucia...

, Rûhîn, Atrapatene, Telalôn, and others, that he began his reign as king over earth when Reu
Reu
Reu or Ragau in Genesis was the son of Peleg and the father of Serug, thus being Abraham's great-great-grandfather.He was 32 when Serug was born and lived to the age of 239 , according to the Masoretic text...

 was 163, and that he reigned for 69 years, building Nisibis
Nisibis
Nusaybin Nisêbîn) is a city in Mardin Province, Turkey, populated mainly by Kurds. Earlier Arameans, Arabs, and Armenians lived in the city. The population of the city is 83,832 as of 2009.-Ancient Period:...

, Raha (Edessa
Edessa, Mesopotamia
Edessa is the Greek name of an Aramaic town in northern Mesopotamia, as refounded by Seleucus I Nicator. For the modern history of the city, see Şanlıurfa.-Names:...

) and Harran
Harran
Harran was a major ancient city in Upper Mesopotamia whose site is near the modern village of Altınbaşak, Turkey, 24 miles southeast of Şanlıurfa...

 when Peleg
Peleg
__notoc__Peleg is mentioned in the Hebrew Bible as one of the two sons of Eber, an ancestor of the Israelites, according to the "Table of Nations" in and . Peleg's son was Reu, born when Peleg was thirty, and he had other sons and daughters. According to the Hebrew Bible, Peleg lived to the age...

 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
Heaven
Heaven, the Heavens or Seven Heavens, is a common religious cosmological or metaphysical term for the physical or transcendent place from which heavenly beings originate, are enthroned or inhabit...

." 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
Ninus
Ninus , according to Greek historians writing in the Hellenistic period and later, was accepted as the eponymous founder of Nineveh , Ancient capital of Assyria, although he does not seem to represent any one personage known to modern history, and is more likely a conflation of several real and/or...

, who first appears in the Greek historian Ctesias
Ctesias
Ctesias of Cnidus was a Greek physician and historian from Cnidus in Caria. Ctesias, who lived in the 5th century BC, was physician to Artaxerxes Mnemon, whom he accompanied in 401 BC on his expedition against his brother Cyrus the Younger....

 as the founder of Nineveh. However, in another version, the Homilies (H 9.4-6), Nimrod is made to be the same as Zoroaster
Zoroaster
Zoroaster , also known as Zarathustra , was a prophet and the founder of Zoroastrianism who was either born in North Western or Eastern Iran. He is credited with the authorship of the Yasna Haptanghaiti as well as the Gathas, hymns which are at the liturgical core of Zoroastrianism...

.

The Syriac Cave of Treasures
Cave of Treasures
The Cave of Treasures, sometimes referred to simply as The Treasure, is a book of the New Testament apocrypha.-Origin:This text is attributed to Ephrem Syrus, who was born at Nisibis soon after AD 306 and died in 373, but it is now generally believed that its current form is 6th century or...

(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
Jerome
Saint Jerome was a Roman Christian priest, confessor, theologian and historian, and who became a Doctor of the Church. He was the son of Eusebius, of the city of Stridon, which was on the border of Dalmatia and Pannonia...

, 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
Sumer
Sumer was a civilization and historical region in southern Mesopotamia, modern Iraq during the Chalcolithic and Early Bronze Age....

, not Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

.

The Ge'ez Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan
Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan
The Conflict of Adam and Eve with Satan is a Christian pseudepigraphical work found in Ge'ez, translated from an Arabic original and thought to date from the 5th or 6th century AD....

(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
Ephrem the Syrian
Ephrem the Syrian was a Syriac and a prolific Syriac-language hymnographer and theologian of the 4th century. He is venerated by Christians throughout the world, and especially in the Syriac Orthodox Church, as a saint.Ephrem wrote a wide variety of hymns, poems, and sermons in verse, as well as...

 (306-373) relates a contradictory view, that Nimrod was righteous and opposed the builders of the Tower. Similarly, Targum Pseudo-Jonathan
Targum Pseudo-Jonathan
Targum Pseudo-Jonathan is a western targum of the Torah from the land of Israel . Its correct title is Targum Yerushalmi , which is how it was known in medieval times...

(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
Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer
Pirke De-Rabbi Eliezer is an aggadic-midrashic work on Genesis, part of Exodus, and a few sentences of Numbers, ascribed to R. Eliezer ben Hyrcanus , a disciple of Rabbi Yochanan ben Zakai and teacher of Rabbi Akiva. It comprises fifty four chapters...

(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
Esau
Esau , in the Hebrew Bible, is the oldest son of Isaac. He is mentioned in the Book of Genesis, and by the minor prophets, Obadiah and Malachi. The New Testament later references him in the Book of Romans and the Book of Hebrews....

 (grandson of Abraham
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

), ambushed, beheaded, and robbed Nimrod. These stories later reappear in other sources including the 16th century Sefer haYashar
Sefer haYashar (midrash)
The Sefer haYashar is a Hebrew midrash also known as the Toledot Adam and Dibre ha-Yamim be-'Aruk. It is known in English translation mostly as The Book of Jasher...

, which adds that Nimrod had a son named Mardon who was even more wicked.

In the History of the Prophets and Kings
History of the Prophets and Kings (book)
The History of the Prophets and Kings is a historical chronicle written in Arabic by Persian author and historian Ibn Jarir al-Tabari d...

by the 9th century Muslim
Muslim
A Muslim, also spelled Moslem, is an adherent of Islam, a monotheistic, Abrahamic religion based on the Quran, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God as revealed to prophet Muhammad. "Muslim" is the Arabic term for "submitter" .Muslims believe that God is one and incomparable...

 historian al-Tabari
Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari
Abu Ja'far Muhammad ibn Jarir al-Tabari was a prominent and influential Sunni scholar and exegete of the Qur'an from Persia...

, Nimrod has the tower built in Babil, Allah
Allah
Allah is a word for God used in the context of Islam. In Arabic, the word means simply "God". It is used primarily by Muslims and Bahá'ís, and often, albeit not exclusively, used by Arabic-speaking Eastern Catholic Christians, Maltese Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox Christians, Mizrahi Jews and...

 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
Eber
Eber is an ancestor of the Israelites, according to the "Table of Nations" in and . He was a great-grandson of Noah's son Shem and the father of Peleg born when Eber was 34 years old, and of Joktan. He was the son of Shelah a distant ancestor of Abraham...

 (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
Aram, son of Shem
Aram is a son of Shem, according to the Table of Nations in Genesis 10 of the Hebrew Bible, and the father of Uz, Hul, Gether and Mash. The Book of Chronicles confirms Aram as one of Shem's sons, confirming Uz, Hul, Gether and Mash, as also on the list of Shem's descendants. Aram son of Shem is ...

, 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 Armenia
Armenia
Armenia , officially the Republic of Armenia , is a landlocked mountainous country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia...

n 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
Hunor and Magor
Hunor and Magor were, according to a famous Hungarian legend, the ancestors of the Huns and the Magyars. The myth was promoted by the medieval historian Simon Kézai in his Gesta Ungarorum . Kézai's aim in providing a common ancestry for the Huns and the Magyars was to suggest historical continuum...

, 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
Huns
The Huns were a group of nomadic people who, appearing from east of the Volga River, migrated into Europe c. AD 370 and established the vast Hunnic Empire there. Since de Guignes linked them with the Xiongnu, who had been northern neighbours of China 300 years prior to the emergence 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
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

, 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
Monotheism
Monotheism is the belief in the existence of one and only one god. Monotheism is characteristic of the Baha'i Faith, Christianity, Druzism, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism, Samaritanism, Sikhism and Zoroastrianism.While they profess the existence of only one deity, monotheistic religions may still...

 against polytheism
Polytheism
Polytheism is the belief of multiple deities also usually assembled into a pantheon of gods and goddesses, along with their own mythologies and rituals....

. 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
Pseudo-Philo
Pseudo-Philo is the name commonly used for a Jewish pseudepigraphical work in Latin, so called because it was transmitted along with Latin translations of the works of Philo of Alexandria but is very obviously not written by Philo...

. The story is also found in the Talmud
Talmud
The Talmud is a central text of mainstream Judaism. It takes the form of a record of rabbinic discussions pertaining to Jewish law, ethics, philosophy, customs and history....

, 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
Semiramis
The real and historical Shammuramat , was the Assyrian queen of Shamshi-Adad V , King of Assyria and ruler of the Neo Assyrian Empire, and its regent for four years until her son Adad-nirari III came of age....

 worshipped as a goddess at his side. (See also Ninus
Ninus
Ninus , according to Greek historians writing in the Hellenistic period and later, was accepted as the eponymous founder of Nineveh , Ancient capital of Assyria, although he does not seem to represent any one personage known to modern history, and is more likely a conflation of several real and/or...

.)

A portent in the stars tells Nimrod and his astrologers of the impending birth of Abraham, who would put an end to idolatry
Idolatry
Idolatry is a pejorative term for the worship of an idol, a physical object such as a cult image, as a god, or practices believed to verge on worship, such as giving undue honour and regard to created forms other than God. In all the Abrahamic religions idolatry is strongly forbidden, although...

. 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
Manger
A manger is a trough or box of carved stone or wood construction used to hold food for animals . Mangers are mostly used in livestock raising. They are also used to feed wild animals, e.g., in nature reserves...

). 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 gnat
Gnat
A gnat is any of many species of tiny flying insects in the Dipterid suborder Nematocera, especially those in the families Mycetophilidae, Anisopodidae and Sciaridae.In British English the term applies particularly to Nematocerans of the family Culicidae...

s 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
Titus
Titus , was Roman Emperor from 79 to 81. A member of the Flavian dynasty, Titus succeeded his father Vespasian upon his death, thus becoming the first Roman Emperor to come to the throne after his own father....

, destroyer of the Temple in Jerusalem
Temple in Jerusalem
The Temple in Jerusalem or Holy Temple , refers to one of a series of structures which were historically located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem, the current site of the Dome of the Rock. Historically, these successive temples stood at this location and functioned as the centre of...

).

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
Eliezer
For the mathematician and Tamil activist see C.J. Eliezer; for the AI researcher and writer on rationality see Eliezer Yudkowsky; for the Levite priest of the Hebrew Bible, see Eleazar...

, 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
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

 and settling in Canaan
Canaan
Canaan is a historical region roughly corresponding to modern-day Israel, Palestine, Lebanon, and the western parts of Jordan...

 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
Jubilees
The Book of Jubilees , sometimes called Lesser Genesis , is an ancient Jewish religious work, considered one of the pseudepigrapha by Protestant, Roman Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox Churches...

); 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
Moses
Moses was, according to the Hebrew Bible and Qur'an, a religious leader, lawgiver and prophet, to whom the authorship of the Torah is traditionally attributed...

' birth (the cruel king killing innocent babies, with the midwives ordered to kill them) and from the careers of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego
Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are characters in the biblical Hebrew book of Daniel Chapters 1 – 3, known for their exclusive devotion to God. In particular, they are known for being saved by divine intervention from the Babylonian execution of being burned alive in a fiery furnace...

 who emerged unscathed from the fire. Nimrod is thus given attributes of two archetypal cruel and persecuting kings - Nebuchadnezzar
Nebuchadnezzar
Nebuchadnezzar was the name of several kings of Babylonia.* Nebuchadnezzar I, who ruled the Babylonian Empire in the 12th century BC* Nebuchadnezzar II , the Babylonian ruler mentioned in the biblical Book of Daniel...

 and Pharaoh. Some Jewish traditions also identified him with Cyrus
Cyrus the Great
Cyrus II of Persia , commonly known as Cyrus the Great, also known as Cyrus the Elder, was the founder of the Achaemenid Empire. Under his rule, the empire embraced all the previous civilized states of the ancient Near East, expanded vastly and eventually conquered most of Southwest Asia and much...

 whose birth according to Herodotus
Herodotus
Herodotus was an ancient Greek historian who was born in Halicarnassus, Caria and lived in the 5th century BC . He has been called the "Father of History", and was the first historian known to collect his materials systematically, test their accuracy to a certain extent and arrange them in a...

 was accompanied by portents which made his grandfather try to kill him.

A confrontation is also found in the Islamic Qur'an
Qur'an
The Quran , also transliterated Qur'an, Koran, Alcoran, Qur’ān, Coran, Kuran, and al-Qur’ān, is the central religious text of Islam, which Muslims consider the verbatim word of God . It is regarded widely as the finest piece of literature in the Arabic language...

, between a king, not mentioned by name, and the Prophet Ibrahim
Abraham
Abraham , whose birth name was Abram, is the eponym of the Abrahamic religions, among which are Judaism, Christianity and Islam...

 (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" "

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
Quando el Rey Nimrod
Quando el Rey Nimrod is a Sephardic folk song. It is sung in Judaeo-Spanish, the Jewish-Spanish language, and tells the story of the birth of Abraham, the biblical prophet.- Lyrics :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
Kingdom of Castile
Kingdom of Castile was one of the medieval kingdoms of the Iberian Peninsula. It emerged as a political autonomous entity in the 9th century. It was called County of Castile and was held in vassalage from the Kingdom of León. Its name comes from the host of castles constructed in the region...

.

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
Midrash
The Hebrew term Midrash is a homiletic method of biblical exegesis. The term also refers to the whole compilation of homiletic teachings on the Bible....

, a major compilation of Jewish Scriptural exegesis
Exegesis
Exegesis is a critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially a religious text. Traditionally the term was used primarily for exegesis of the Bible; however, in contemporary usage it has broadened to mean a critical explanation of any text, and the term "Biblical exegesis" is used...

. The part relating to Genesis, in which this appears (Chapter 38, 13), is considered to date from the sixth century.

נטלו ומסרו לנמרוד. אמר לו: עבוד לאש. אמר לו אברהם: ואעבוד למים, שמכבים את האש? אמר לו נמרוד: עבוד למים! אמר לו: אם כך, אעבוד לענן, שנושא את המים? אמר לו: עבוד לענן! אמר לו: אם כך, אעבוד לרוח, שמפזרת עננים? אמר לו: עבוד לרוח! אמר לו: ונעבוד לבן אדם, שסובל הרוחות? אמר לו: מילים אתה מכביר, אני איני משתחוה אלא לאוּר - הרי אני משליכך בתוכו, ויבא אלוה שאתה משתחוה לו ויצילך הימנו! היה שם הרן עומד. אמר: מה נפשך, אם ינצח אברהם - אומַר 'משל אברהם אני', ואם ינצח נמרוד - אומַר 'משל נמרוד אני'. כיון שירד אברהם לכבשן האש וניצול, אמרו לו: משל מי אתה? אמר להם: משל אברהם אני! נטלוהו והשליכוהו לאור, ונחמרו בני מעיו ויצא ומת על פני תרח אביו. וכך נאמר: וימת הרן על פני תרח אביו. (בראשית רבה ל"ח, יג)

(...) 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
Bible
The Bible refers to any one of the collections of the primary religious texts of Judaism and Christianity. There is no common version of the Bible, as the individual books , their contents and their order vary among denominations...

, Genesis 11:28, mentions Haran predeceasing Terach, but gives no details.]

Interpretations


Historians and mythographers have long tried to find links between Nimrod and figures from other traditions. The Christian Bishop Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea
Eusebius of Caesarea also called Eusebius Pamphili, was a Roman historian, exegete and Christian polemicist. He became the Bishop of Caesarea in Palestine about the year 314. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon...

 as early as the early 4th century, noting that the Chaldea
Chaldea
Chaldea or Chaldaea , from Greek , Chaldaia; Akkadian ; Hebrew כשדים, Kaśdim; Aramaic: ܟܐܠܕܘ, Kaldo) was a marshy land located in modern-day southern Iraq which came to briefly rule Babylon...

n historian Berossus
Berossus
Berossus was a Hellenistic-era Babylonian writer, a priest of Bel Marduk and astronomer writing in Greek, who was active at the beginning of the 3rd century BC...

 in the 3rd century BC had stated that the first king after the flood was Euechoios of Chaldea, identified him with Nimrod. George Syncellus
George Syncellus
George Syncellus was a Byzantine chronicler and ecclesiastic. He had lived many years in Palestine as a monk, before coming to Constantinople, where he was appointed syncellus to Tarasius, patriarch of Constantinople...

 (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
Gilgamesh
Gilgamesh was the fifth king of Uruk, modern day Iraq , placing his reign ca. 2500 BC. According to the Sumerian king list he reigned for 126 years. In the Tummal Inscription, Gilgamesh, and his son Urlugal, rebuilt the sanctuary of the goddess Ninlil, in Tummal, a sacred quarter in her city of...

 who appears in the oldest copies of Aelian
Claudius Aelianus
Claudius Aelianus , often seen as just Aelian, born at Praeneste, was a Roman author and teacher of rhetoric who flourished under Septimius Severus and probably outlived Elagabalus, who died in 222...

 (c. 200 AD) as Euechoros, with the name of the founder of Uruk known from cuneiform sources as Enmerkar
Enmerkar
Enmerkar, according to the Sumerian king list, was the builder of Uruk in Sumer, and was said to have reigned for "420 years" ....

.

J.D.Prince, in 1920 also suggested a possible link between the Lord (Ni) of Marad
Marad
Marad was an ancient Sumerian city. Marad was situated on the west bank of the then western branch of the Upper Euphrates River west of Nippur in modern day Iraq and roughly 50 km southeast of Kish, on the Arahtu River.The city's ziggurat E-igi-kalama was dedicated to Ninurta the god of...

 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
Ninurta
Ninurta in Sumerian and Akkadian mythology was the god of Lagash, identified with Ningirsu with whom he may always have been identical...

, who had cult centers in Babel and Calah, and was a patron god of the Neo-Assyrian kings. Marduk
Marduk
Marduk was the Babylonian name of a late-generation god from ancient Mesopotamia and patron deity of the city of Babylon, who, when Babylon became the political center of the Euphrates valley in the time of Hammurabi , started to...

 (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
Kings of Assyria
The list of Assyrian kings is compiled from the Assyrian King List, an ancient kingdom in northern Mesopotamia with information added from recent archaeological findings. The Assyrian King List includes regnal lengths that appear to have been based on now lost limmu lists...

 Tukulti-Ninurta I
Tukulti-Ninurta I
Tukulti-Ninurta I was a king of Assyria.He succeeded Shalmaneser I, his father, as king and won a major victory against the Hittites at the Battle of Nihriya in the first half of his reign...

 (Dalley et al., 1998, p. 67). Alexander Hislop
Alexander Hislop
Alexander Hislop was a Free Church of Scotland minister infamous for his outspoken criticisms of the Roman Catholic Church. He was the son of Stephen Hislop , a mason by occupation and an elder of the Relief Church...

, in his tract The Two Babylons
The Two Babylons
The Two Babylons is an anti-Catholic religious pamphlet produced initially by the Scottish theologian and Presbyterian Alexander Hislop in 1853. It was later expanded in 1858 and finally published as a book in 1919...

(Chapter 2, Section II, Sub-Section I) decided that Nimrod was to be identified with Ninus
Ninus
Ninus , according to Greek historians writing in the Hellenistic period and later, was accepted as the eponymous founder of Nineveh , Ancient capital of Assyria, although he does not seem to represent any one personage known to modern history, and is more likely a conflation of several real and/or...

, who according to Greek
Greek mythology
Greek mythology is the body of myths and legends belonging to the ancient Greeks, concerning their gods and heroes, the nature of the world, and the origins and significance of their own cult and ritual practices. They were a part of religion in ancient Greece...

 legend was a Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia
Mesopotamia is a toponym for the area of the Tigris–Euphrates river system, largely corresponding to modern-day Iraq, northeastern Syria, southeastern Turkey and southwestern Iran.Widely considered to be the cradle of civilization, Bronze Age Mesopotamia included Sumer and the...

n king and husband of Semiramis
Semiramis
The real and historical Shammuramat , was the Assyrian queen of Shamshi-Adad V , King of Assyria and ruler of the Neo Assyrian Empire, and its regent for four years until her son Adad-nirari III came of age....

 (see below); with a whole host of deities throughout the Mediterranean world, and with the Persian Zoroaster
Zoroaster
Zoroaster , also known as Zarathustra , was a prophet and the founder of Zoroastrianism who was either born in North Western or Eastern Iran. He is credited with the authorship of the Yasna Haptanghaiti as well as the Gathas, hymns which are at the liturgical core of Zoroastrianism...

. 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
Clementine literature
Clementine literature is the name given to the religious romance which purports to contain a record made by one Clement of discourses...

.

David Rohl
David Rohl
New Chronology is the term used to describe an alternative Chronology of the ancient Near East developed by English Egyptologist David Rohl and other researchers beginning with A Test of Time: The Bible - from Myth to History in 1995...

, like Hislop, identified Nimrod with a complex of Mediterranean deities; among those he picked were Asar
Asar
Asar may refer to:*A 19th century transcription of the name Osiris, an Ancient Egyptian deity of the underworld and resurrection*Asar, a horse-god revered in ancient Palmyra, possibly of Arabian origin...

, Baal
Baal
Baʿal is a Northwest Semitic title and honorific meaning "master" or "lord" that is used for various gods who were patrons of cities in the Levant and Asia Minor, cognate to Akkadian Bēlu...

, Dumuzi and Osiris
Osiris
Osiris is an Egyptian god, usually identified as the god of the afterlife, the underworld and the dead. He is classically depicted as a green-skinned man with a pharaoh's beard, partially mummy-wrapped at the legs, wearing a distinctive crown with two large ostrich feathers at either side, and...

. In Rohl's theory, Enmerkar
Enmerkar
Enmerkar, according to the Sumerian king list, was the builder of Uruk in Sumer, and was said to have reigned for "420 years" ....

 the founder of Uruk
Uruk
Uruk was an ancient city of Sumer and later Babylonia, situated east of the present bed of the Euphrates river, on the ancient dry former channel of the Euphrates River, some 30 km east of modern As-Samawah, Al-Muthannā, Iraq.Uruk gave its name to the Uruk...

 was the original inspiration for Nimrod, because the story of Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta
Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta
Enmerkar and the Lord of Aratta is a legendary Sumerian account, of preserved, early post-Sumerian copies, composed in the Neo-Sumerian period ....

(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
Eridu
Eridu is an ancient Sumerian city in what is now Tell Abu Shahrain, Dhi Qar Governorate, Iraq. Eridu was considered the earliest city in southern Mesopotamia, and is one of the oldest cities in the world...

, which Rohl postulates was the site of the original Babel.

George Rawlinson
George Rawlinson
Canon George Rawlinson was a 19th century English scholar, historian, and Christian theologian. He was born at Chadlington, Oxfordshire, and was the younger brother of Sir Henry Rawlinson....

 believed Nimrod was Belus
Belus (Babylonian)
Belus or Belos in classical Greek or classical Latin texts in a Babylonian context refers to the Babylonian god Bel Marduk. Though often identified with Greek Zeus and Latin Jupiter as Zeus Belos or Jupiter Belus, in other cases Belus is euhemerized as an ancient king who founded Babylon and...

 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
Book of the Bee
The Book of the Bee is an historical/theological compilation containing numerous bible legends. It was written by Syrian Nestorian Solomon, Bishop of Bassora . It was written in Syriac.-Book:...

.

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
Sumerian king list
The Sumerian King List is an ancient manuscript originally recorded in the Sumerian language, listing kings of Sumer from Sumerian and neighboring dynasties, their supposed reign lengths, and the locations of "official" kingship...

, 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
Enshakushanna
Enshakushanna was a king of Uruk in the later 3rd millennium BC who is named on the Sumerian king list, which states his reign to have been 60 years. He conquered Hamazi, Akkad, Kish, and Nippur, claiming hegemony over all of Sumer...

 and Lugal-Zage-Si
Lugal-Zage-Si
Lugal-Zage-Si of Umma was the last Sumerian king before the conquest of Sumer by Sargon of Akkad and the rise of the Akkadian Empire, and was considered as the only king of the third dynasty of Uruk...

 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
Freemasonry
Freemasonry is a fraternal organisation that arose from obscure origins in the late 16th to early 17th century. Freemasonry now exists in various forms all over the world, with a membership estimated at around six million, including approximately 150,000 under the jurisdictions of the Grand Lodge...

, 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.

Popular culture

  • In the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri
    Dante Alighieri
    Durante degli Alighieri, mononymously referred to as Dante , was an Italian poet, prose writer, literary theorist, moral philosopher, and political thinker. He is best known for the monumental epic poem La commedia, later named La divina commedia ...

     (written 1308-21), Nimrod is a figure in the Inferno
    Inferno (Dante)
    Inferno is the first part of Dante Alighieri's 14th-century epic poem Divine Comedy. It is followed by Purgatorio and Paradiso. It is an allegory telling of the journey of Dante through what is largely the medieval concept of Hell, guided by the Roman poet Virgil. In the poem, Hell is depicted as...

    . Nimrod is portrayed as a giant
    Giant (mythology)
    The mythology and legends of many different cultures include monsters of human appearance but prodigious size and strength. "Giant" is the English word commonly used for such beings, derived from one of the most famed examples: the gigantes of Greek mythology.In various Indo-European mythologies,...

     (which was common in the Medieval period) and is found with the other giants Ephialtes
    Aloadae
    In Greek mythology, the Aloadae were Otus and Ephialtes , sons of Iphimedia, queen of Aloeus, by Poseidon, whom she induced to make her pregnant by going to the seashore and disporting herself in the surf or scooping seawater into her bosom. From Aloeus they received their patronymic, the Aloadai...

    , Antaeus
    Antaeus
    Antaeus in Greek and Berber mythology was a half-giant, the son of Poseidon and Gaia, whose wife was Tinjis. Antaeus had a daughter named Alceis or Barce.-Mythology:...

    , Briareus
    Hekatonkheires
    The Hecatonchires, or Hekatonkheires , were figures in an archaic stage of Greek mythology, three giants of incredible strength and ferocity that surpassed that of all Titans whom they helped overthrow. Their name derives from the Greek and , "each of them having a hundred hands and fifty heads"...

    , Tityos
    Tityos
    Tityos was a giant from Greek mythology.-Story:Tityos was the son of Elara; his father was Zeus. Zeus hid Elara from his wife, Hera, by placing her deep beneath the earth. Tityos grew so large that he split his mother's womb, and was carried to term by Gaia, the Earth. Once grown, Tityos...

    , Typhon
    Typhon
    Typhon , also Typhoeus , Typhaon or Typhos was the last son of Gaia, fathered by Tartarus, and the most deadly monster of Greek mythology. He was known as the "Father of all monsters"; his wife Echidna was likewise the "Mother of All Monsters."Typhon was described in pseudo-Apollodorus,...

     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
    Raphèl maí amèche zabí almi
    Raphèl maí amèche zabí almi is a verse written by Dante Alighieri in Canto XXXI, line 67, in his epic poem Divine Comedy.The verse is shouted out by Nimrod, who is a giant in the epic poem, but not one in Biblical texts...

    ".

External links