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image of Vetus Testamentum

The intent of this paper is to examine the story of Nimrod in Genesis x 8-12, offering fresh insight on both the historical background and the literary development of the passage. The article deals first with the passage's literal meaning, syntax and the extant text. The geographic context of the passage is shown to be distinctly Mesopotamian-Nimrod being the "builder" of Babylon, Erech, Accad and other southern Mesopotamian cities and then moving north to Assyria. After surveying previous attempts to identify an "historical" Nimrod, the author then suggests that the biblical figure is modeled after the combined traditions about Sargon of Akkad and his grandson, Naram-Sin. Nimrod is the son of "Cush"; Sargon began his royal career at Kish right after the flood. The Sargon-Naram-Sin traditions reached the Levant during the second millennium BCE, being combined by time and distance into a composite personality. The tradition reached its final form during the reign of Sargon II of Assyria, who added such themes as hunting to the story. The later editors of the Book of Genesis dropped much of the story and the Nimrod tradition was thus lost to later generations, save five remaining verses in the tenth chapter of Genesis.


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