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Plowing through History from the Aleph to the Tav

Topics Definition of Hebrew Names

Nimrod

By Jeff A. Benner

The name nimrod is not Hebrew but it is a Semitic name and is therefore closely related to Hebrew. The name comes from the Semitic root מרד (MRD) meaning "to rebel". In the Ancient Hebrew/Semitic cultures a person’s name was closely related to their character and therefore Nimrod's name fits well with his personality. The name is formed by placing the letter נ (N) before the root. A common means of forming words and names out of a root in Hebrew is by placing the letter מ (M) before the root while other Semitic languages use the letter נ (N). Because of this we know that Nimrod is of a non-Hebrew Semitic origin.

The person Nimrod is only mentioned in Genesis 10:8,9 but these two passages speak volumes about the character of Nimrod. The standard translation for verse 9 is something like "He was a mighty hunter before the LORD; therefore it is said, "Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before the LORD". It would appear that there is nothing out of the ordinary about Nimrod. So, why is he so often seen as such an evil person?

Only two persons in the Bible are identified as "hunters", Nimrod and Esav, the twin brother of Ya'acov. From the story of Esav and Ya'acov we know that Esav was not the most respectful person. Not only did he despise his birthright but to spite his parents married foreign women. From this we can conclude that from an Hebraic perspective hunters are seen in a negative light. In verse 8 it states "he was the first on earth to be a mighty man". The Hebrew phrase may also be translated as "He made a profaning by being a mighty one in the land". To add to this verse 9 states that he was a "mighty hunter 'before' Yahweh". The word for "before" in Hebrew is liph'ney and literally means "to the face of" and in this case "to the face of Yahweh" and can mean that he was a mighty hunter in place of Yahweh implying that he, rather than Yahweh is the provider of the people.

One final clue into the character into the personality of Nimrod is how the Semitic root MRD has been used even into our own time. The Ancient Semitic root MRD (marad) is the origin of our words MaRauDer and MuRDer.




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