nim'-rod (nimrodh; Nebrod): A descendant of Ham, mentioned in "the generations of the sons of Noah" (Ge 10:1-32; compare 1Ch 1:10) as a son of Cush. He established his kingdom "in the land of Shinar," including the cities "Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh" (Ge 10:10), of which only Babel, or Babylon, and Erech, or Uruk, have been identified with certainty. "The land of Shinar" is the old name for Southern Babylonia, afterward called Chaldea ('erets kasdim), and was probably more extensive in territory than the Sumer of the inscriptions in the ancient royal title, "King of Shumer and Accad," since Accad is included here in Shinar. Nimrod, like other great kings of Mesopotamian lands, was a mighty hunter, possibly the mightiest and the prototype of them all, since to his name had attached itself the proverb: "Like Nimrod a mighty hunter before Yahweh" (Ge 10:9). In the primitive days of Mesopotamia, as also in Palestine, wild animals were so numerous that they became a menace to life and property (Ex 23:29; Le 26:22); therefore the king as benefactor and protector of his people hunted these wild beasts. The early conquest of the cities of Babylonia, or their federation into one great kingdom, is here ascribed to Nimrod. Whether the founding and colonization of Assyria (Ge 10:11) are to be ascribed to Nimrod will be determined by the exegesis of the text. English Versions of the Bible reads: "Out of that land he (i.e. Nimrod) went forth into Assyria, and builded Nineveh," etc., this translation assigning the rise of Assyria to Nimrod, and apparently being sustained by Mic 5:5-6 (compare J. M. P. Smith, "Micah," ICC, in the place cited.); but American Revised Version, margin renders: "Out of that land went forth Asshur, and builded Nineveh," which translation is more accurate exegetically and not in conflict with Mic 5:6, if in the latter "land of Nimrod" be understood, not as parallel with, but as supplemental to, Assyria, and therefore as Babylon (compare commentaries of Cheyne, Pusey, S. Clark, in the place cited.).
Nimrod has not been identified with any mythical hero or historic king of the inscriptions. Some have sought identification with Gilgamesh, the flood hero of Babylonia (Skinner, Driver, Delitzsch); others with a later Kassite king (Haupt, Hilprecht), which is quite unlikely; but the most admissible correspondence is with Marduk, chief god of Babylon, probably its historic founder, just as Asshur, the god of Assyria, appears in verse 11 as the founder of the Assyrian empire (Wellhausen, Price, Sayce). Lack of identification, however, does not necessarily indicate mythical origin of the name.
See ASTRONOMY, sec. II, 11; BABYLONIA AND ASSYRIA, RELIGION OF, IV, 7; MERODACH; ORION.