Genesis 10:8
And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(8) Cush begat Nimrod.—This does not mean that Nimrod was the son of Cush, but only that Cush was his ancestor. In the days of Nimrod population had become numerous, and whereas each tribe and family had hitherto lived in independence, subject only to the authority of the natural head, he was able, by his personal vigour, to reduce several tribes to obedience, to prevail upon them to build and inhabit cities, and to consolidate them into one body politic.

He began to be a mighty one.—Heb., gibbor= warrior. (See Note on Genesis 6:4.) The LXX. translate giant, whence in fable Nimrod is identified with the Orion of the Greeks, in Hebrew Chesil, and in Arabic Jabbar; but this identification is entirely fanciful, as is probably the idea that he is the Izdubar of the Chaldean legends (Chald. Genesis, p. 321). Following the unscholarlike method of explaining Hamite names by Hebrew roots, commentators interpret Nimrod as meaning rebel; but the Biblical narrative speaks rather in his commendation, and the foolish traditions which blacken his reputation date only from the time of Josephus. Mr. Sayce connects his name with the Accadian town Amarda (Chald. Gen., p. 191).

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]. Cir. 2218 Whom he placeth last of all his sons, because he was to say more of him. And Cush begat Nimrod,.... Besides the other five sons before mentioned; and probably this was his youngest son, being mentioned last; or however he is reserved to this place, because more was to be spoken of him than of any of the rest. Sir Walter Raleigh (i) thinks that Nimrod was begotten by Cush after his other children were become fathers, and of a later time than some of his grandchildren and nephews: and indeed the sons of Raamah, the fourth son of Cush, are taken notice of before him: however, the Arabic writers (k) must be wrong, who make him to be the son of Canaan, whereas it is so clear and express from hence that he was the son of Cush. In the Greek version he is called Nebrod, and by Josephus, Nebrodes, which is a name of Bacchus; and indeed Nimrod is the same with the Bacchus of the Heathens, for Bacchus is no other than Barchus, the son of Cush; and Jacchus, which is another of his names in Jah of Cush, or the god the son of Cush; and it is with respect to his original name Nebrod, or Nebrodes, that Bacchus is represented as clothed with the skin of "nebris", or a young hind, as were also his priests; and so in his name Nimrod there may be an allusion to "Nimra", which, in the Chaldee language, signifies a tiger, and which kind of creatures, with others, he might hunt; tigers drew in the chariot of Bacchus, and he was sometimes clothed with the skin of one; though the name of Nimrod is usually derived from "to rebel", because he was a rebel against God, as is generally said; and because, as Jarchi observes, he caused all the world to rebel against God, by the advice he gave to the generation of the division, or confusion of languages, the builders of Babel: he seems to be the same with Belus, the founder of Babel and of the Babylonian empire, whom Diodorus Siculus (l) confounds with Ninus his son:

he began to be a mighty man in the earth: that is, he was the first that formed a plan of government, and brought men into subjection to it; and so the Jews (m) make him to be the first king after God; for of the ten kings they speak of in the world, God is the first, and Nimrod the second; and so the Arabic writers (n) say, he was the first of the kings that were in the land of Babylon; and that, seeing the figure of a crown in the heaven, he got a golden one made like it, and put it on his head; hence it was commonly reported, that the crown descended to him from heaven; for this refers not to his gigantic stature, as if he was a giant, as the Septuagint render it; or a strong robust man, as Onkelos; nor to his moral character, as the Targum of Jonathan, which is,"he began to be mighty in sin, and to rebel before the Lord in the earth;''but to his civil character, as a ruler and governor: he was the first that reduced bodies of people and various cities into one form of government, and became the head of them; either by force and usurpation, or it may be with the consent of the people, through his persuasion of them, and on account of the mighty and heroic actions done by him.

(i) History of the World, B. 1. ch. 10. sect. 1. p. 109. (k) Elmacinus, p. 29. apud Hottinger. Smegma, p. 270. See the Universal History, vol. 1. p. 276. (l) Bibliothec. l. 2. p. 90. (m) Pirke Eliezer, c. 11. (n) Elmacinus, p. 29. Patricides, p. 16. apud Hottinger. Smegma, p. 271, 272. Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. p. 18.

And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a {e} mighty one in the earth.

(e) Meaning, a cruel oppressor and tyrant.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
8–19 (J). Nimrod, Assyria and Babylon: Canaan and Egypt

8–12 (J). Nimrod

8. Cush begat Nimrod] In connexion with the “sons of Cush” we have here an Israelite tradition that the foundation of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires was due to “a son of Cush,” named Nimrod. What, if any, was deemed to be the connexion between Cush, and the origin of Babylon and Nineveh, is not related. At least, the explanation which has been hazarded, that some prehistoric Ethiopian monarch, having invaded and conquered Western Asia, founded the great cities of the Euphrates Valley, has not hitherto received confirmation.

Modern scholars call attention to the prominence of a people designated as the Cossaeans, Κοσσαῖοι, Assyr. Kashu, in Babylonian history. They were predominant in Babylonia between 1800 and 1200 b.c. It is suggested that the early Israelite tradition identified the name of this people with the similarly sounding name of the African Cush, and that, in the halo of romance and legend encircling the name of Nimrod, the Ethiopian origin of the founder of Babylon presented no serious difficulty.

Nimrod] Mentioned elsewhere in 1 Chronicles 1:10, Micah 5:6. Here he is described under two aspects: (1) as a mighty hunter, (2) as king of Babylonia, and founder of the chief cities in Assyria.

Assyriologists have been inclined to identify Nimrod with the mythical Babylonian hero, Gilgames, the hunter and lion-slayer, represented in Babylonian art as throttling, or gripping, a wild animal. No similarity in the name has yet been ascertained. Jeremias suggests that Nimrod is the Hebrew pronunciation of Nâmir-Uddu = “shining light.” Another conjecture would identify him with the Cassite, or Cossaean, king Nazi-maruttash (circ. 1350 b.c.): but, if so, Israelite tradition seems to have transferred the name of a comparatively recent king (more recent than the patriarchs) into the ages of legendary obscurity.

began to be a mighty one] A strange expression. The word “began” should be connected with “the beginning of his kingdom” in Genesis 10:10. “He was the first great monarch.” Compare “began to be an husbandman” (Genesis 9:20).Verse 8. - And Cush begat - not necessarily as immediate progenitor, any ancestor being in Hebrew styled a father - Nimrod; the rebel, from maradh, to rebel; the name of a person, not of a people; - Namuret in ancient Egyptian. Though not one of the great ethnic heads, he is introduced into the register of nations as the founder of imperialism. Under him society passed from the patriarchal condition, in which each separate clan or tribe owns the sway of its natural head, into that (more abject or more civilized according as it is viewed) in which many different clans or tribes recognize the sway of one who is not their natural head, but has acquired his ascendancy and dominion by conquest. This is the principle of monarchism. Eastern tradition has painted Nimrod as a gigantic oppressor of the people's liberties and an impious rebel-against the Divine authority. Josephus credits him with having instigated the building of the tower of Babel. He has been identified with the Orion of the Greeks. Scripture may seem to convey a bad impression of Nimrod, but it does not sanction the absurdities of Oriental legend. He began to be a mighty one - Gibbor (vide Genesis 6:4); what he had been previously being expressed in ver. 5 - in the earth. Not ἐπι τῆς γῆς (LXX.), as if pointing to his gigantic stature, but either among men generally, with reference to his widespread fame, or perhaps better "in the land where he dwelt, which was not Babel, but Arabia (vide ver. 6). 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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