Yesterday I began a series on kings of the bible. Today I turn to our first king — Nimrod.
Encyclopedia Britannica has a nice short summary entry on Nimrod that I share with you here to get us started:
“ Nimrod, also spelled Nemrod, legendary biblical figure of the book of Genesis. Nimrod is described in Genesis 10:8–12 as “the first on earth to be a mighty man. He was a mighty hunter before the Lord.” The only other references to Nimrod in the Bible are Micah 5:6, where Assyria is called the land of Nimrod, and I Chronicles 1:10, which reiterates his might. The beginning of his kingdom is said in the Genesis passage to be Babel, Erech, and Akkad in the land of Shinar. Nimrod is said to have then built Nineveh, Calah (modern Nimrūd), Rehoboth-Ir, and Resen.
“There is some consensus among biblical scholars that the mention of Nimrod in Genesis is a reference not to an individual but to an ancient people in Mesopotamia. The description of Nimrod as a “mighty hunter before the Lord” is an intrusion in this context, but probably, like the historical notices, derived from some old Babylonian saga. However, no equivalent of the name has yet been found in the Babylonian or other cuneiform records. In character there is a certain resemblance between Nimrod and the Mesopotamian epic hero Gilgamesh.”
If all you are looking for is history, we could stop right there — that’s a pretty good summary. But that’s not the point of this series. It isn’t just about history. It’s about more than that — it’s about the idea of kingship of humanity versus kingship of God.
Nimrod doesn’t get a whole lot of lines in Scripture. We don’t hear any dialogue from him either. It would be easy to just bypass him and move on. But I think there are some interesting things about Nimrod that reveal important points about kingship in relation to God.
Nimrod, although not specifically named a king here in Scripture, was kinglike. We’re told from Scripture that “he was the first on earth to become a mighty warrior.” (Genesis 10:8, NRSV)
Humanity has been stuck on the idea that kings are warriors — that they fight. Kings are supposed to fight for their people and kill off any threats that exist. It is a human ideal for kings that goes back eons. I just find it interesting that the first king mentioned in Scripture is a warrior. He sets the stage as an example for all future kings. And we…