Genesis 10:11
Out of that land went forth Asshur, and built Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah,
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(11, 12) Out of that land went forth Asshur.—So the LXX., Syriac, and Vulg.; but the Targum and most modern authorities rightly translate, “Out of that land he went forth into Assyria.” We have here nothing to do with Asshur the son of Shem (see Genesis 10:22), but are occupied with Nimrod and the Hamites, who, after firmly establishing themselves in Babylonia, subsequently extended their influence northward. This is confirmed by the cuneiform inscriptions, which prove that the southern portion of Mesopotamia was the chief seat of the Accadians, while in Assyria they came at an early date into collision with the Shemites, who drove them back, and ultimately subjugated them everywhere. It is not necessary to suppose that this spread of Hamite civilisation northward was the work of Nimrod personally; if done by his successors, it would, in Biblical language, be ascribed to its prime mover.

The Assyrian cities were:—

1. Nineveh.—So happily situated on the Tigris that it outstripped the more ancient Babylon, and for centuries even held it in subjection.

2. The City Rehoboth.—Translated by some Rehoboth-Ir, but with more probability by others, “the suburbs of the city:” that is, of Nineveh, thus denoting already the greatness of that town.

3. Calah.—A city rebuilt by Assur-natzir-pal, the father of Shalmaneser, and interesting as one of the places where the Assyrian kings established libraries (Chald. Gen., p. 26). The ruins are still called Nimroud.

4. Resen.—The “spring-head.” Of this town nothing certain is known. Canon Rawlinson places it at Selamiyah (Anc. Mon., 1:204), a large village half-way between Nineveh and Calah. As the vast ruins scattered throughout Mesopotamia are those of Assyrian buildings, Resen, though “a great city” in Hamite times, might easily pass into oblivion, if never rebuilt by the conquerors.

Genesis 10:11. Out of that land went forth Asshur — He was the son of Shem, Genesis 10:22 : and, it seems that, not being able to endure Nimrod’s tyranny, who possessed himself of other men’s territories, (Chaldea, which Nimrod had seized upon, being Shem’s part,) he went away beyond Tigris, where he founded the empire of Assyria, whose chief city was Nineveh, Isaiah 23:13.10:8-14 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.Out of that land came he forth to Asshur. - This may be otherwise rendered, "out of that land came forth Asshur." The probabilities in favor of the former translations are the following: First. The discourse relates to Nimrod. Second. The words admit of it. Third. The word Asshur has occurred hitherto only as the name of a country. Fourth. Asshur, the person, was considerably older than Nimrod, and had probably given name to Asshur before Nimrod's projects began. Fifth. Asshur would have been as great a man as Nimrod, if he had founded Nineveh and its contiguous towns; which does not appear from the text. Sixth. "The beginning of his kingdom" implies the addition to it contained in these verses. Seventh. And the phrases "in the land of Shinar, out of that land," and the need of some definite locality for the second four cities, are in favor of the former rendering.

Asshur was a country intersected by the Tigris. It included the part of Mesopotamia north of Shinar, and the region between the Tigris and Mount Zagros. Its extension westward is undefined by any natural boundary, and seems to have varied at different times. Nineveh was a well-known city of antiquity, situated opposite Mosul on the Tigris. The country in which it was placed is called by Strabo Aturia, a variation seemingly of Asshur. It's remains are now marked by the names Nebbi-yunus and Koyunjik. Rehoboth-ir, the city broadway or market, has not been identified. Kelah is said to be now marked by the ruin called Nimrud. This lies on the left bank of the Tigris, near its confluence with the greater Zab, Its name seems to be preserved in the Calachene of Strabo. It was about twenty miles south of Nineveh. It is possible, however, so far as we can conjecture from conflicting authorities, that Kelah may be Kileh Sherghat, about fifty miles south of Mosul, on the right bank of the Tigris. Resen is placed by the text, between Nineveh and Kelah, and is therefore probably represented by Selamiyeh, a village about half way between Koyunjik and Nimrud. If Kelah, however, be Kileh Sherghat, Resen will coincide with Nimrud. "That is the great city."

This refers most readily to Resen, and will suit very well if it be Nimrud, which was evidently extensive. It may, however, refer to Nineveh. This completion of Nimrod's kingdom, we see, contains also four cities. The Babylonian and Assyrian monarchies were akin in origin, and allied in their history and in their fall. They were too near each other to be independent, and their mutual jealousies at length brought about the ruin of the northern capital. A Kushite, and therefore a Hamite, founded this first world-monarchy or tyranny. Another Hamite power arose simultaneously in Egypt. A branch of the Kushites seem to have gone eastward, and spread over India. But another branch spread through the South of Arabia, and, crossing into Africa, came into contact, sometimes into alliance, and sometimes into collision with the Egyptian monarchy. The eastern empire is noticed particularly, because it intruded into Shemitic ground, and aimed continually at extending its sway over the nations descended from Shem.

11. Out of that land went forth Asshur—or, as the Margin has it, "He [Nimrod] at the head of his army went forth into Assyria," that is, he pushed his conquests into that country.

and builded Nineveh—opposite the town of Mosul, on the Tigris, and the other towns near it. This raid into Assyria was an invasion of the territories of Shem, and hence the name "Nimrod," signifying "rebel," is supposed to have been conferred on him from his daring revolt against the divine distribution.

Asshur; a man so called: either,

1. Asshur the son of Shem, who forsook the land, either being forced by or weary of Nimrod’s tyranny and impiety, and erected another kingdom. But it is not probable either that Moses would here relate an exploit of a man whose birth is not mentioned till Genesis 10:22, or that one single son of Shem would be here disorderly placed among the sons of Ham. Or,

2. Another Asshur of Ham’s race. But it seems most likely that Asshur is the name of a place or country, even of Assyria, which in the Hebrew is called Asshur; and that the words should be thus rendered, he, i.e. Nimrod, went forth out of his own land to Asshur, to war against it, and add it to his empire; for to go forth is commonly ascribed to those that go to war or to battle, as dg 2:15, dg 11:3, 2 Samuel 11:1 Psalm 60:10; and the particle to is here understood as it is 2 Samuel 6:10, Sa 10:2, compared with 1 Chronicles 13:13, Ch 19:2.

Nineveh, a famous and vast city near the river Tigris, but so ruined by time, that the learned are not agreed about the place where it was situate.

Of Rehoboth, see Genesis 36:37 1 Chronicles 1:48. Out of that land went forth Ashur,.... It is a question whether Ashur is the name of a man or of a country; some take it in the latter sense, and render the words, "and out of that land he went forth into Assyria"; so Onkelos; and in this way go Junius and Tremellius, Piscator, Bochart, Cocceius, and others, and the margin of our Bible, and interpret it of Nimrod; and the Targum of Jonathan is express for him, which is this:"out of that land went forth Nimrod, and reigned in Assyria, because he would not be in the council of the generation of the division, and he left four cities; and the Lord gave him therefore a place (or Assyria), and he built four other cities, Nineveh, &c.''so Theophilus of Antioch says (m), that Nebroth (Nimrod) built the same; but then the generality of interpreters which take this way give another and better reason for Nimrod's going out of Shinar or Babylon into Assyria than the Targumist gives; which is, that not content with his own dominions, and willing to enlarge them, he went out and made war upon Assyria, and seized upon it, and built cities in it, and added them to his former ones; in favour of this sense it is urged, that Moses is speaking of what Nimrod the son of Cush did, of the line of Ham, and not of the sons of Shem, among whom Ashur was; and that it is not probable he should introduce a passage relating to a branch of Shem, when he is professedly writing about that of Ham; nor is it agreeable to the history to speak of what Ashur did, before any mention of his birth, which is in Genesis 10:22 nor was it peculiar to him to go out of the land of Shinar, since almost all were dispersed from thence; add to which, that Assyria is called the land of Nimrod, Micah 5:6 to which it may be replied, that parentheses of this sort are frequent in Scripture, see 2 Samuel 4:4 besides, it seems appropriate enough, when treating of Nimrod's dominion and power, in order to show his intolerable tyranny, to remark, that it was such, that Ashur, a son of Shem, could not bear it, and therefore went out from a country he had a right unto; and as for the text in Micah 5:6 the land of Nimrod and the land of Assyria are manifestly distinguished from one another: add to this, that, if Nimrod so early made a conquest of Assyria, it would rather have been called by his own name than his uncle's; and it is allowed by all that the country of Assyria had its name from Ashur, the son of Shem; and who so likely to have founded Nineveh, and other cities, as himself? Besides these, interpreters are obliged to force the text, and insert the particle "into", which is not in it; and the order and construction of the words are more natural and agreeable to the original, as in our version and others, which make Ashur the name of a man, than this, which makes it a country: but then it is not agreed on who this Ashur was; some will have him to be of the posterity of Ham, and a son of Nimrod, as Epiphanius (n) and Chrysostom (o); but this is not probable, nor can any proof be given of it; Josephus (p) is express for it, that Ashur, the son of Shem, built Nineveh, and gave the name of Assyrians to those that were subject to him. The reason of his going out from Shinar, as given by Jarchi, is, when he saw his sons hearkening to Nimrod, and rebelling against the Lord, by building a tower, he went out from them; or it may be, he was drove out by Nimrod by force, or he could not bear his tyrannical government, or live where such a wicked man ruled: and as Nimrod built cities and set up an empire, Ashur did the same in his own defence and that of his posterity:

and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah. The first of these cities, Nineveh, the Greeks commonly call Ninus, is placed by Strabo (q) in Atyria, the Chaldee name of Assyria, who generally suppose it had its name from Ninus, whom Diodorus Siculus (r) makes the first king of the Assyrians, and to whom he ascribes the building of this city; and who, one would think, should be Ashur, and that Ninus was another name of him, or however by which he went among the Greeks; and so this city was called after him; or rather it had its name from the beauty of it, the word signifying a beautiful habitation, as Cocceius (s) and Hillerus (t) give the etymology of it; or perhaps, when it was first built by him, it had another name, but afterwards was called Nineveh, from Ninus, who lived many years after him, who might repair, adorn, and beautify it. It was destroyed by the Medes and Babylonians, as foretold by Nahum, and it is difficult now to say where it stood; the place where it is supposed to have been is now called Mosul; of which place Rauwolff (u) says, who was there in 1574, that"there are some very good buildings and streets in it, and it is pretty large, but very ill provided with walls and ditches;--besides this, I also saw, (says he,) just without the town, a little hill, that was almost quite dug through, and inhabited by poor people, where I saw them several times creep in and out as pismires in ant hills: in this place, or thereabouts, stood formerly the potent town of Nineveh, built by Ashur, which was the metropolis of Assyria;--at this time there is nothing of antiquities to be seen in it, save only the fort that lieth upon the hill, and some few villages, which the inhabitants say did also belong to it in former days. This town lieth on the confines of Armenia, in a large plain:''See Gill on Jonah 1:2, Jonah 3:1, Jonah 3:2, Jonah 3:3, Nahum 1:8 The next city, Rehoboth, signifies "streets", and so it is rendered in the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem; and, because in the Chaldee language streets are called "Beritha", Bochart (w) thinks that this Rehoboth is the city which Ptolemy (x) calls Birtha, on the west of Tigris, at the mouth of the river Lycus, though he places it by Euphrates; wherefore it should rather be Oroba, he places at the river Tigris (y), near to Nineveh also. The last city, Calah, or Calach, was a principal city in the country, by Ptolemy (z) called Calacine, and by Strabo (a) Calachene, and mentioned by both along with Adiabene, a country in Assyria.

(m) Ad Autolycum, l. 2. p. 106. (n) Contra Haeres. l. 1. p. 3.((o) In Genes. Homil. 29. (p) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 6. sect. 4. (q) Geograph. l. 16. p. 507. (r) Bibliothec. l. 2. p. 90, 91. (s) In Jonam, 1, 2.((t) Onomast. Sacr. p. 304, 431. (u) Travels, part 2. c. 9. p. 166. (w) Phaleg. l. 4. c. 21. col. 256. (x) Geograph. l. 5. c. 19. (y) Ibid. l. 6. c. 1.((z) Ibid. (a) Geograph. l. 11. p. 347, 365. & l. 16. p. 507.

Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah,
11. Out of that land, &c.] This verse preserves an historical tradition: (1) that the cities of Assyria were of later origin than those of Babylonia; (2) that they owed their existence to the development of the Babylonian power in a northerly direction; whether by conquest or by colonization we cannot tell.

into Assyria] or “Asshur.” There is no difference in the Hebrew between the name of the country and that of its first capital (see Genesis 2:14). The city Asshur was distant about 300 miles from Babylon.

The rendering of the R.V. marg. = A.V. went forth Asshur has no probability, though it has the support of LXX, Vulg., and Targ. Onk.

Nineveh] Assyr. Nina, the modern Kouyunjik, situated on the left bank of the Tigris, opposite to the modern Mosul. Nineveh was the capital of Assyria in its most famous period, but it was not until about 1000 b.c. that it became the royal residence of Assyrian monarchs. Nothing historical is known of its earliest days.

Rehoboth-Ir] Possibly to be identified, as some Assyriologists suggest, with Rêbit Nina, on the site of the modern Mosul, over against Nineveh.

Calah] The modern Kellach, at the confluence of the upper Zab and the Tigris, some 20 miles S. of Nineveh. It stands on the ruined mounds of Nimrud. The capital of Assyria was transferred by Shalmaneser I, circ. 1300 b.c., from Asshur to Calah.Verse 11. - Out of that land went forth Asshur, the son of Shem (ver. 22; LXX., Vulgate, Syriac, Luther, Calvin, Michaelis, Dathe, Rosenmüller, Bohlen). i.e. the early Assyrians retired from Babylon before their Cushite. invaders, and, proceeding northward, founded the cities after mentioned; but the marginal rendering seems preferable: "Out of that land went (Nimrod) into Asshur," or Assyria, the country northeast of Babylon, through which flows the Tigris, and which had already received its name from the son of Shem (the Targums, Drusius, Bochart, Le Clerc, De Wette, Delitzsch, Keil, Kalisch, Lange, et alii). And builded Nineveh. The capital of Assyria, opposite Mosul on the Tigris, afterwards became the largest and most flourishing city of the ancient world (Jonah 3:3; Jonah 4:11), being fifty-five miles in circumference (Diod., 2:3), and is now identified with the ruins of Nehbi-yunus and Kouyunjik (Layard's 'Nineveh,' vol 2. pp. 136 ft.). And the city Rehoboth. Rehoboth-ir, literally, the streets of the city (cf. Platea, a city in Boeotia), a town of which the site is unknown. And Calah. The mounds of Nimroud (Layard and Smith), though Kalisch and Murphy prefer Kalah Shergat (about fifty miles south of Nineveh), which the former authorities identify with Asshur, the original capital of the country. From Shinar Nimrod went to Assyria אשּׁוּר is the accusative of direction), the country on the east of the Tigris, and there built four cities, or probably a large imperial city composed of the four cities, or probably a large imperial city composed of the four cities named. As three of these cities - Rehoboth-Ir, i.e., city markets (not "street-city," as Bunsen interprets it), Chelach, and Resen - are not met with again, whereas Nineveh was renowned in antiquity for its remarkable size (vid., Jonah 3:3), the words "this is the great city" must apply not to Resen, but to Nineveh. This is grammatically admissible, if we regard the last three names as subordinate to the first, taking as the sign of subordination (Ewald, 339a), and render the passage thus: "he built Nineveh, with Rehoboth-Ir, Cheloch, and Resen between Nineveh and Chelach, this is the great city." From this it follows that the four places formed a large composite city, a large range of towns, to which the name of the (well-known) great city of Nineveh was applied, in distinction from Nineveh in the more restricted sense, with which Nimrod probably connected the other three places so as to form one great capital, possibly also the chief fortress of his kingdom on the Tigris. These four cities most likely correspond to the ruins on the east of the Tigris, which Layard has so fully explored, viz., Nebbi Ynus and Kouyunjik opposite to Mosul, Khorsabad five hours to the north, and Nimrud eight hours to the south of Mosul.

(Note: This supposition of Rawlinson, Grote, M. v. Niebuhr, Knobel, Delitzsch and others, has recently been adopted by Ewald also.)

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