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King Nimrod receives the homage from the stonemasons, detail of the Tower of Babel by Pieter Bruegel the Elder. Ä., 1563

Nimrod is an ancient oriental hero and king mentioned in the Tanach, the Bible and the Koran . Some researchers believe that Nimrod was a historical person. As a rule, however, one assumes that different myths and historical reminiscences are fused in this figure .


The personal name נִמְרוֹד nimrôd , German 'Nimrod' , comes from the root in Hebrewמרד mrd , German 'to oppose, rebel' derived. The hero who is strong in his name rebels against God , according to Flavius ​​Josephus and other accounts of early Jewish literature. It is probably not an originally Hebrew name, but a rendering of the Akkadian god name Ninurta . The Septuagint gives the name as Νεβρωδ "Nebrōd", the Vulgate as Nemrod .


Nimrod as a great hunter, Sebaldusgrab (1519), Nuremberg

In the Bible , Nimrod is in the lineage of Noach's son Ham and his son Kush, a great-grandson of Noah . According to the biblical narrative Gen 10.8-10  LUT and 1 Chr 1.10  EU , Nimrod was "the first to win power on earth", that is, the first person to attain royal dignity. He is also characterized as a "mighty hunter before the Lord".

According to the Bible, Nimrod carried out campaigns of conquest "to Assur " from the core area of ​​his empire, " Babel , Erech , Akkad and Kalne in the land of Shinar " ( Gen 10.10  EU ) and built Nineveh , Rehobot-Ir , Kelach and Resen between Nineveh and Kelach "( Gen 10.11-12  EU ).

The prophet Micha later equates Nimrod with the "Land of Assur" ( Mi 5.5  EU ). Attempts to identify him with a real ruler, however, were unsuccessful, for example with Amenhotep III. who was considered a great hunter and extended his empire to Mesopotamia. Édouard Lipiński identifies Nimrod with the Babylonian main god Marduk , Otto Procksch with his role model, the hunting and war god Ninurta , who corresponds to the constellation of Orion .

Jewish tradition

Nimrod (1939) by Itzhak Danziger

According to Jewish tradition, Nimrod was the founder of the Assyrian and Babylonian empires. The city of Nimrud on the Tigris is said to have been named after him. Nimrod is usually considered to be the one who inspired the construction of the Tower of Babel , a symbol for the fact that man's overestimation of himself towards God leads to decline. The wife of Nimrod is Semiramis in the rabbinical tradition .

Nimrod in Islam

The Islamic Tradition has been Namrud ibn Kan'an a tyrannical ruler, who was worshiped as a god. He is not mentioned by name in the Koran , but there are several passages that refer to him in exegesis. In order to ascend to heaven and see the God of Abraham , Namrūd built a huge tower in Babylon, but God collapsed it. Sura 16:26 should refer to this fact : “Even those before them were intrigues. But then God came over their building from the foundations, so that the roof collapsed from above, and the punishment reached them from where they did not suspect it. ”God let a fly fly through his nose into his head (frontal sinus) . Namrūd was tortured like this for 40 days before he died. In Surat al-Anbiya (21: 68-69) it is assumed that it was he who had Abraham thrown into the fire, but who was miraculously saved.

Nimrod in Hungarian tradition

In Hungarian mythology , Nimrod is regarded as the father of Hunor and Magor , the mythical forefathers of the tribes of the Huns and Magyars (Hungarians). To what extent this is an adaptation of the biblical-oriental Nimrod myth or whether independent traditions of eastern steppe peoples are identified here with only one figure of the same name is ultimately unclear.

Following these Eurasian Nimrod legends, Hungarians and Bulgarians derive the ancestry of their peoples to this day from a legendary figure called "Nimrod" (or Nimrud, Ménrót ). In the medieval Gesta Hungarorum only the name "Mén [ma] rót" is mentioned.

According to ancient chronicles , Attila , the king of the Huns , whom Hungarian tradition regards as the first Hungarian king in the Carpathian Basin , bears the title: “Attila, son of Bendegus, grandson of the great Nimrods, who was brought up in Engadi, by the grace of God King of the Huns, maggots, Goths and Danes , horrors of humanity and scourge of God ”. The Hungarian folk tradition also knows the manic hunter Nimrod as a "giant" who appears in numerous Hungarian folk tales. In Kalevala , Finland , the figure of Nyyrikki also bears the features of Nimrod, but here he acts as a friendly demon.

Nimrod as namesake

Nimrod is considered the founder of Urfa , the citadel is nicknamed “Nimrod's Throne”. Birs Nimrud ( Borsippa ) and the ruined city ​​of Nimrud (biblical Kalach, Kelach, Assyr. Kalchu, Kalne or Chalne, today Kalah) were named after the mythical hero in modern times.

Two mountains in today's Turkey also bear the name Nimrods , namely the Nemrut Dağı in the Taurus Mountains in southeast Turkey northeast of Adıyaman , on whose 2100 m high plateau there is an ancient sanctuary belonging to the world cultural heritage , and the now dormant volcano Nemrut near Tatvan in the outermost East of the country on Lake Van . In general, many gigantic buildings in the Orient, the construction of which would have exceeded the strength of normal people according to the general opinion, were traced back to Nimrod, just as in the Occident giants or hunts are known as the legendary authors of such buildings.

The medieval Nimrodsburg on a rock in the Golan bears his name. According to a local tradition, King Nimrod is said to have resided on the rock on which the Ayyubids then built the castle.

In the military, the name "Nimrod" is used for a wide variety of weapons.

The American punk rock band Green Day called their fifth album "Nimrod" . The Saudi Arabian black metal band Al Namrood uses the Arabic name Nimrods in English translation .

The ninth of the Enigma Variations by the British composer Edward Elgar is called Nimrod .

Historical reception

The church historian Epiphanios Scholastikos (6th century) described Nimrod as the inventor of magic , astrology and pharmacy .

In Dante's Divine Comedy (1307-1321), Nimrod occurs in XXXI. Singing up as one of the towering giants who guard the hell ground; he is held responsible for the Babylonian language confusion and speaks in confused, incomprehensible sentences a devilish language of confusion: "Raphel maì amecche zabì almi" (verse 67).

Martin Luther refers to the traditional characterization of Nimrod as a "godless ruler" and compares the papacy in De captivitate Babylonica ecclesiae, praeludium with the "rule of Nimrod, the mighty hunter".

The humanistic state theorist Jean Bodin (1530–1596) saw Nimrod with reference to Gratian as the first despotic king in world history (Six Books on the Republic, Book 2.2). The foundation of human society and the creation of legislation were first carried out by Cain , after the flood by Nimrod, "whom many call Ninus " (4.1). He made himself ruler of Assyria by using force . His name means "terrible and mighty lord".


In modern ancient oriental studies there are different attempts at interpretation. The British Assyriologist George Smith (1840–1876) identified Nimrod with the Sumerian legendary king Gilgamesh ; Archibald Henry Sayce (1845–1933) regarded him as the embodiment of the god Marduk . According to Ephraim Avigdor Speiser (1902–1965), the memory of Tukulti-Ninurta I (1244–1208 BC), who is also identified with Ninos , the legendary founder of Nineveh, lives on in the figure . Wolfram von Soden (1908–1996) sees the Sumerian god-king Ninurta in the biblical Nimrod .

The Israeli biblical scholar Yigal Levin suspects that the name of Nimrod is a memory of Naram-Sîn (2260–2223 BC), the great king of Akkad . The biblical description of Nimrod as the first ruler in world history, however, contains reminiscences of his grandfather Sargon (approx. 2324/34–2279 BC), the founder of the Akkade dynasty and the first centrally administered territorial state in Mesopotamian history. In Levin's view, the figure of Nimrod also reflects reflections of the history of the Neo-Assyrian Empire from the 9th to the 7th centuries. The ancient orientalist Peter Machinist argues similarly, but he also believes - not very convincingly - to recognize an echo of the neo-Babylonian expansion in the figure of the biblical hero.

In his book The Two Babylons, Alexander Hislop equates King Nimrod with the Babylonian god Tammuz . Accordingly, the religious tradition says that Nimrod was executed for his rebellious resistance against the God Noah ( YHWH ). Nimrod's followers regarded his violent death as a misfortune and made him a god whose idol they always wept on the first or second day of the lunar month of Tammuz.


  • Alfred Jeremias : Izdubar-Nimrod. An old Babylonian heroic saga depicted based on the cuneiform script fragments. Nabu Press 2010, ISBN 978-1-141-30821-7 .
  • Yigal Levin: Nimrod the mighty king of Kish, king of Sumer and Akkad. In: Vetus Testamentum. 52, 2002, pp. 350-366.
  • Heinrich Schützinger: Origin and development of the Arab Abraham-Nimrod legend . Self-published by the Oriental Seminar of the Univ. Bonn, Bonn, 1961.
  • Ephraim Avigdor Speiser : In search of Nimrod. In: Richard S. Hess, David Toshio Tsumura: I Studied Inscriptions from Before the Flood. Ancient Near Eastern, Literary, and Linguistic Approaches to Genesis 1-11 (= Sources for Biblical and Theological Study 4). Eisenbrauns, 1994, ISBN 0-931464-88-9 (English, online )
  • Dietz-Otto Edzard : Nimrod. In: The Little Pauly (KlP). Volume 4, Stuttgart 1972, column 133.

Web links

Commons : Nimrod  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Nimrod  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. René Bloch : Moses and the Myth. The examination of Greek mythology by Jewish-Hellenistic authors. (= Supplements to the Journal for the Study of Judaism, Volume 145) Brill, Leiden 2011, p. 208
  2. ^ Richard S. Hess: Studies in the Personal Names of Genesis 1-11 , Winona Lake 2009, pp. 73f.
  3. Cf. Abū Isḥāq Aḥmad b. Muḥammad aṯ-Ṯaʿlabī : Qiṣaṣ al-anbiyāʾ or ʿArāʾis al-maǧālis . German translation by Heribert Busse under the title: Islamic Tales of Prophets and Men of God. Wiesbaden 2006, p. 128f.
  4. László Veszprémy, Frank Schaer (ed.): Simonis de Kéza Gesta Hungarorum. Simon of Kéza: The Deeds of the Hungarians. Central European University Press, Budapest / New York 1999, ISBN 963-9116-31-9 (critical edition with English translation; p. 11 online at Google Books ); Compare articles hu: Ménrót and hu: Nimród (király) in the Hungarian Wikipedia.
  5. Martin Luther: From the Babylonian captivity of the church .
  6. Levie: Nimrod. 359-365.
  7. Machinist: "Nimrod", Anchor Bible Dictionary. IV, 1116-6.