Genesis 10:9
He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: why it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(9) He was a mighty hunter.—When men were still leading a pastoral life, and were but poorly armed, the war with wild beasts was a most important and dangerous occupation. Probably from single combats with fierce animals, Nimrod, now recognised as a public benefactor, was led to organise hunts upon a large scale, and so, like Romulus, became the chief of a band of the most spirited and vigorous shepherds. “With their aid, he next undertook the more serious duty of introducing order and rule among men who had hitherto lived in scattered groups without control, and without the means of suppressing feuds and of punishing deeds of violence.

Before the Lord.—A strong superlative. (Comp. Genesis 13:13.)

Genesis 10:9. Nimrod was a mighty hunter — In the Septuagint it is, He was a giant hunter: — the Arabic has it, He was a terrible giant before the Lord: and the Syriac, He was a great warrior. It is probable he began with hunting, and for this became famous to a proverb. He served his country by ridding it of wild beasts, and so insinuating himself into the affections of his neighbours, he got to be their prince. And perhaps, under pretence of hunting, he gathered men under his command, to make himself master of the country. Thus he became a mighty hunter, a violent invader of his neighbours’ rights and properties. Great conquerors are but great hunters before the Lord. Alexander and Cesar would not make such a figure in Scripture history as they do in common history. The former is represented in prophecy, but as a he-goat pushing, Daniel 8:5.10:8-14 Nimrod was a great man in his day; he began to be mighty in the earth, Those before him were content to be upon the same level with their neighbours, and though every man bare rule in his own house, yet no man pretended any further. Nimrod was resolved to lord it over his neighbours. The spirit of the giants before the flood, who became mighty men, and men of renown, Ge 6:4, revived in him. Nimrod was a great hunter. Hunting then was the method of preventing the hurtful increase of wild beasts. This required great courage and address, and thus gave an opportunity for Nimrod to command others, and gradually attached a number of men to one leader. From such a beginning, it is likely, that Nimrod began to rule, and to force others to submit. He invaded his neighbours' rights and properties, and persecuted innocent men; endeavouring to make all his own by force and violence. He carried on his oppressions and violence in defiance of God himself. Nimrod was a great ruler. Some way or other, by arts or arms, he got into power, and so founded a monarchy, which was the terror of the mighty, and bid fair to rule all the world. Nimrod was a great builder. Observe in Nimrod the nature of ambition. It is boundless; much would have more, and still cries, Give, give. It is restless; Nimrod, when he had four cities under his command, could not be content till he had four more. It is expensive; Nimrod will rather be at the charge of rearing cities, than not have the honour of ruling them. It is daring, and will stick at nothing. Nimrod's name signifies rebellion; tyrants to men are rebels to God. The days are coming, when conquerors will no longer be spoken of with praise, as in man's partial histories, but be branded with infamy, as in the impartial records of the Bible.In this episode Genesis 10:8-12, the author turns aside from the table of nations to notice the origin of the first great empires that were established on the earth. "And Kush begat Nimrod." The author had before enumerated the sons of Kush, who were heads of nations. Here he singles out one of his sons or descendants, who became the first potentate of whom we have any record. He notices his qualities for rising to this position among men. "He began to be a mighty one in the land. He was mighty in hunting, before the Lord." Hunting is a comprehensive term, indicating the taking of any species of animal, whether of the air, the sea, or the land. Nimrod's distinction in this respect was so great as to become proverbial. The expression, "before the Lord," intimates, not merely that the Lord was cognizant of his proceedings, for he knoweth all things, but that Nimrod himself made no secret his designs, pursued them with a bold front and a high hand, and at the same time was aware of the name and will of Yahweh. This defiant air gives a new character to his hunting, which seems to have extended even to man, as the term is sometimes so applied (1 Samuel 24:12 (1 Samuel 24:11), Jeremiah 16:16). His name, which literally means "we shall rebel," is in keeping with the practice of an arbitrary and violent control over men's persons and property.8. Nimrod—mentioned as eclipsing all his family in renown. He early distinguished himself by his daring and successful prowess in hunting wild beasts. By those useful services he earned a title to public gratitude; and, having established a permanent ascendancy over the people, he founded the first kingdom in the world [Ge 10:10]. He was a mighty hunter, first of beasts, and by that occasion of men. For when men were few, and lived dispersedly, and wild beasts abounded, and most of all in those parts, by hunting and destroying of those beasts he got much reputation and favour with men, who thereby were secured in their dwellings. In confidence hereof, and having this occasion to gather great companies of the youngest and strongest men together to himself, by their help he established a tyranny and absolute power over men, insnaring, hunting after, and destroying like beasts all those men who opposed his dominion. Tyrants and persecutors are oft in Scripture called fowlers and hunters, as Psalm 91:3 Jeremiah 16:16 Lamentations 3:52, am 4:18.

Before the Lord; an aggravation of his crime, that it was done in of God’s presence, impudently and in contempt both God, who had so lately manifested his detestation of this sin, by the destruction of the world, amongst other sins, for this very sin of violence, Genesis 6:13, and of his great-grandfather Noah, then living and preaching, who probably did admonish him of the wickedness and danger of this practice. Thus he showed that he neither feared God nor reverenced man, if they withstood him in his unsurpation of dominion. It became a proverb, when any man was haughty, and cruel, and tyrannical, and that joined with impudence and obstinacy, That he was another Nimrod. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord,.... Which might be literally true; for, from the time of the flood to his days, wild beasts might increase very much, and greatly annoy men who dwelt very likely for the most part in tents scattered up and down in divers places: so that he did a good office in hunting and destroying them. An Arabic writer (o), of some authority in the eastern parts, says, that by hunting he got food sufficient for the builders of Babel, while they were employed therein; and Aben Ezra interprets it in his favour, that he built altars, and the creatures he took in hunting he offered them on them a burnt offering to God. But neither of these is probable; however, it may be observed, that in this way by hunting he arrived to the power and dominion over men he afterwards had; for not only he ingratiated himself into their favour by hunting down and destroying the wild beasts which molested them, but by these means he might gather together a large number of young men, strong and robust, to join him in hunting; whereby they were inured to hardships, and trained up to military exercises, and were taught the way of destroying men as well as beasts; and by whose help and assistance he might arrive to the government he had over men; and hunting, according to Aristotle (p), is a part of the military art, which is to be used both on beasts, and on such men who are made to be ruled, but are not willing; and it appears, from Xenophon (q), that the kings of Persia were fitted for war and government by hunting, and which is still reckoned in many countries a part of royal education. And it may be remarked, that, as Nimrod and Bacchus are the same, as before observed, one of the titles of Bacchus is "an hunter". Cedrenus (r) says, that the Assyrians deified Nebrod, or Nimrod, and placed him among the constellations of heaven, and called him Orion; the same first discovered the art of hunting, therefore they joined to Orion the star called the dog star. However, besides his being in a literal sense an hunter, he was in a figurative sense one, a tyrannical ruler and governor of men. The Targum of Jonathan is;"he was a powerful rebel before the Lord;''and that of Jerusalem,"he was powerful in hunting in sin before the Lord,''and another Jewish writer (s) says, he was called a mighty hunter, because he was all his days taking provinces by force, and spoiling others of their substance; and that he was "before the Lord", truly so, and he seeing and taking notice of it, openly and publicly, and without fear of him, and in a bold and impudent manner, in despite of him, see Genesis 6:11. The Septuagint render it, "against the Lord"; he intended, as Jarchi's note is, to provoke him to his face:

wherefore it is said; in a proverbial way, when any man is grown mighty and powerful, or is notoriously wicked, or is become a tyrant and an oppressor of the people, that he is

even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. This was a proverb used in the times of Moses, as it is common now with us to call a hunter Nimrod.

(o) Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. p. 18. (p) Politic. l. 1. c. 8. (q) Cyropaed. l. 1. c. 5. (r) Apud Abrami Pharum, l. 5. sect. 6. p. 128. (s) R. Gedaliah, Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 76. 2.

He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even {f} as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.

(f) His tyranny came into a proverb as hated both by God and man: for he did not cease to commit cruelty even in God's presence.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
9. a mighty hunter before the Lord] The phrase “before the Lord” is merely descriptive of magnitude, cf. Genesis 23:6, “a great prince” (Heb. a prince of God), Jonah 3:3, “Nineveh was an exceeding great city” (Heb. a city great unto God). But it is possible that the expression is traceable to some primitive traditions respecting the hunting exploits of Nimrod, and the favour shewn to him by his God.

The popularity of hunting scenes in Assyrian art may have led to a general impression that the founders of the Assyrian and Babylonian kingdoms were famous huntsmen.

It is noteworthy that in later times Nimrod was identified with Orion, both as a hunter and as a constellation. Hence some have fancifully explained these words to mean “a hunter in heaven.”

wherefore it is said] The quotation of a proverb: Nimrod’s name became proverbial for a great hunter.Verse 9. - He was a mighty hunter. Originally doubtless of wild beasts, which, according to Bochart, was the first step to usurping dominion over men and using them for battle. "Nempe venationum prsetextu collegit juvenum robustam manum, quam talibus exercitus ad belli labores induravit" ('Phaleg.,' 54:12). Before the Lord.

1. Ἐναντίον κυρίου (LXX.), in a spirit of defiance (Augustine, Keil, Murphy, Bush).

2. Coram Des, in God's sight, as an aggravation of his sin - el, Genesis 13:3 (Cajetan).

3. As a superlative, declaring his excellence - cf. Genesis 13:10; Genesis 30:8; Genesis 35:5; 1 Samuel 11:7; John 3:3; Acts 7:20 (Aben Ezra, Kimchi, Kalisch, ' Speaker's Commentary'). 4. With the Divine approbation, as one who broke the way through rude, uncultivated nature for the institutions of Jehovah (Lange). Cf. Genesis 17:18; Genesis 24:40; 1 Samuel 11:15; Psalm 41:12. Probably the first or the third conveys the sense of the expression. Wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the (a) mighty hunter before the Lord. The precise import of this is usually determined by the view taken of the previous phrase. Besides the tribes already named, there sprang from Cush Nimrod, the founder of the first imperial kingdom, the origin of which is introduced as a memorable event into the genealogy of the tribes, just as on other occasions memorable events are interwoven with the genealogical tables (cf. 1 Chronicles 2:7, 1 Chronicles 2:23; 1 Chronicles 4:22-23, 1 Chronicles 4:39-41).

(Note: These analogies overthrow the assertion that the verses before us have been interpolated by the Jehovist into the Elohistic document; since the use of the name Jehovah is no proof of difference of authorship, nor the use of ילד for הוליד, as the former also occurs in Genesis 10:13, Genesis 10:15, Genesis 10:24, and Genesis 10:26.)

Nimrod "began to be a mighty one in the earth." גּבּר is used here, as in Genesis 6:4, to denote a man who makes himself renowned for bold and daring deeds. Nimrod was mighty in hunting, and that in opposition to Jehovah (ἐναντίον κυρίον, lxx); not before Jehovah in the sense of, according to the purpose and will of Jehovah, still less, like לאלהים in Jonah 3:3, or τῷ Θεῷ in Acts 7:20, in a simply superlative sense. The last explanation is not allowed by the usage of the language, the second is irreconcilable with the context. The name itself, Nimrod from מרד, "we will revolt," points to some violent resistance to God. It is so characteristic that it can only have been given by his contemporaries, and thus have become a proper name.

(Note: This was seen even by Perizonius (Origg. Babyl. p. 183), who says, "Crediderim hominem hunc utpote venatorem ferocem et sodalium comitatu succinctum semper in ore habuisse et ingeminasse, ad reliquos in rebellionem excitandos, illud nimrod, nimrod, h.e. rebellemus, rebellemus, atque inde postea ab aliis, etiam ab ipso Mose, hoc vocabalo tanquam proprio nomine designatium," and who supports his opinion by other similar instances in history.)

In addition to this, Nimrod as a mighty hunter founded a powerful kingdom; and the founding of this kingdom is shown by the verb ותּהי with ו consec. to have been the consequence or result of his strength in hunting, so that the hunting was most intimately connected with the establishment of the kingdom. Hence, if the expression "a mighty hunter" relates primarily to hunting in the literal sense, we must add to the literal meaning the figurative signification of a "hunter of men" ("trapper of men by stratagem and force," Herder); Nimrod the hunter became a tyrant, a powerful hunter of men. This course of life gave occasion to the proverb, "like Nimrod, a mighty hunter against the Lord," which immortalized not his skill in hunting beasts, but the success of his hunting of men in the establishment of an imperial kingdom by tyranny and power. But if this be the meaning of the proverb, יהוה לפני "in the face of Jehovah" can only mean in defiance of Jehovah, as Josephus and the Targums understand it. And the proverb must have arisen when other daring and rebellious men followed in Nimrod's footsteps, and must have originated with those who saw in such conduct an act of rebellion against the God of salvation, in other words, with the possessors of the divine promises of grace.

(Note: This view of Nimrod and his deeds is favoured by the Eastern legend, which not only makes him the builder of the tower of Babel, which was to reach to heaven, but has also placed him among the constellations of heaven as a heaven-storming giant, who was chained by God in consequence. Vid., Herzog's Real-Encycl. Art. Nimrod.)

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