Wednesday, March 21Exploring The Black Presence In The Bible

Nimrod: The Grandson of Ham, The First World Leader, and The Builder of Babel

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Who Was King Nimrod In The Bible?

Nimrod is arguably one of the most important people in the early parts of the Old Testament, but there is very little said about him in scripture overall. However, what is said changes the entire course of human history, mostly because of where he was from. Nimrod was the son of Cush, the grandson of Ham, and the great grandson of Noah.

Nimrod: The Son of Cush

Being a son of Cush, Nimrod himself would be classified as a Cushite. According to both scripture and history, Cushites were known for their black skin.

  • Kuwsh (Strong’s #3568): Probably of foreign origin; Cush (or Ethiopia), the name of a son of Ham, and of his territory; also of an Israelite — Chush, Cush, Ethiopia.
Cushites According To Josephus

“For of the four sons of Ham, time has not at all hurt the name of Cush; for the Ethiopians, over whom he reigned, are even at this day, both by themselves and by all men in Asia, called Cushites.” – Josephus, Antiquities of The Jews

Cushites According To Google

The ancient area known as Cush, encompassed both modern day Sudan and Ethiopia. The following map shows the African territory that the Bible refers to as Cush.


It was in this area that Nimrod was born, and would eventually depart from to establish the following important “Middle Eastern” Biblical cities (Genesis 10:10):

  • Babel
  • Erech
  • Accad
  • Calneh

These places were located in Shinar, the area currently known as Iraq. As we can see on the following map, Shinar is very close to Africa. We should also note that before African territory was renamed to “The Middle East” in the mid 1800s, this area was accepted as part of Africa, and referred to as Arabia.


Was Nimrod Black?

For those that believe the Bible is the inspired word of God, there is no question that major portions of the Middle East were established by dark skinned Africans. The same dark skinned Africans are related to Nimrod through his grandfather Ham, so there is no reason to believe that Nimrod was anything other than black. The following picture is of black Arabs that claim descent from Abraham’s grandson Kedar, which proves that not all “Middle Eastern” people are light brown:

Black Arabs

This brings us to another rarely made connection to Nimrod is Abraham. Abraham lived in Ur, which was located in Babylon, and fell under the rule of Nimrod. It is out of Nimrod’s kingdom that Abraham was chosen by God. According to Islamic belief, Abraham and Nimrod were adversaries. While I do not put spiritual stock in the Quran, it does contain several interesting stories concerning people in the Bible. Nimrod’s desire to kill Abraham is just one of those stories.

Nimrod The Mighty Hunter

According to scripture, Nimrod became a mighty hunter before the Lord, but there are scholars that point out that both tradition and the Hebrew word “before” indicates he hunted in defiance of the Lord.

King James Version

“And Cush begat Nimrod: he began to be a mighty one in the earth. He was a mighty hunter before the LORD: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD.” – Genesis 10:8-9 (KJV)

International Standard Version

Cush fathered Nimrod, who became the first fearless leader throughout the land. He became a fearless hunter in defiance of the Lord. That is why it is said, “Like Nimrod, a fearless hunter in defiance of the Lord.” – Genesis 10:8-9 (ISV)

As we can see in the translation of the second example, the idea that him being a powerful hunter isn’t always looked at in a positive light. The reason this is viewed as a possibility of being negative is due to the Hebrew word used:

  • Before (Strong’s #6440): panim or paneh – accept, anger, as long as, battle, because of, beseech, countenance

Since one of the possible translation of the words is anger, some believe that the type of hunting he may have been doing is what angered God. It is believed by some that Nimrod was a hunter of humans. While this may be tradition, the story is not found in scripture. Unfortunately, there is no way to verify if there is any truth to the claim that he hunted men for sport. This same verse also gives rise to the theory that Nimrod began changing into a nephilim.

Did Nimrod Become A Nephilim Giant?

here are some that believe that Nimrod may have somehow attempted to turn himself into or successfully turned himself into a nephilim, based on the phrase “began to be a mighty one”. There are several reasons turning into a nephilim is not what happened, but before we get into that, I want to share this email I received.

Minister Fortson, Thank you for the time and effort at informing the churched masses of these very controversial truths. I am curious about Nimrod, do you think that he somehow was attempting thru some sort of genetic “mysticism” to become a nephilim? I recently watched an excellent YouTube series on the high-tech society before the flood which seems to indicate that mankind had become very high-tech prior to the flood which would certainly back the Enochian book claims of the fallen angels trading, (I think technology), for worship and such. As I said I am curious and have no minister in my area who will even broach this subject….” – Sophie

In response to this email, mankind may have had a very high level of technology before the flood, but there is no evidence that Nimrod got his hands on that technology, with the purpose of turning himself into a hybrid. With that said, there is a concept in the works (probably already ready to go), that would turn adult humans into animal-human hybrids. In my opinion, it seems to indicate that the means to change people probably existed pre-flood, but again, the Bible doesn’t indicate that he was doing this.

Exhibit A – Nimrod Became A Mighty One

“And Cush begat Nimrod he began to be a mighty one in the earth” – Genesis 10:8

The entire theory of Nimrod turning into a nephilim is based on one verse, but more specifically, two Hebrew words in that verse. “Began” and “mighty one”. Mighty one is two words in English, but it is only one in Hebrew, gibbor. The plural of gibbor is gibborim, which we are going to define now.

  • Began: chalal (Strong’s #2490) – Began, begin, pierce
  • To Be: hayah (Strong’s #1961) – Became, come to pass, come
  • Mighty One: gibbor (Strong’s #1358) –  Strong, mighty one, warrior, tyrant

The word does not mean “giant”. It is a direct reference to power, not height or stature. The reason it is even associated with giants is because it appears in a verse with giants, which brings us to Exhibit B.

Exhibit B – The Nephilim Became Mighty Ones

In order to fully grasp why attempting to reinterpret the word gibborim as meaning nephilim is incorrect, we are going to compare two verses.

The Nimrod Verse

“And Cush begat Nimrod he began to be a mighty one in the earth” – Genesis 10:8

The Nephilim Verse

“There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.” – Genesis 6:4

If we read both verses carefully, we see that both Nimrod and the giants had to become “mighty”. Attempting to make the argument that Nimrod became “a hybrid”, would then force us to make the argument that the giants became hybrids, which doesn’t work. The giants were hybrids by birth, and therefore had no need to become gibborim.

Exhibit C – Hebrews Were Called Mighty Ones

Perhaps the most damning piece of evidence for this theory is that there are other Hebrews that are described as gibborim, but not once does anyone try to make the claim that they turned into nephilim.

“And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour.” – Judges 6:12

In the above verse, the judge Gideon is called gibborim. If we are applying definitions consistently, and not just where they make for the best controversy, then we would have to conclude that Gideon was turning into or had already been turned into a giant… but that’s not what’s happening here.

“The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.” – Zephaniah 3:17

Here we have God being referred to as gibborim, so once again, if we apply the definition equally, we would have to conclude that God is the same type of giant that we are to believe Nimrod was turning into… once again, that’s not what’s happening in the verse.

“These be the names of the mighty men whom David had: The Tachmonite that sat in the seat, chief among the captains; the same was Adino the Eznite: he lift up his spear against eight hundred, whom he slew at one time.” – 2 Samuel 23:8

Here we see that David had gibborim that were under his command. As we continue to dig, we see that the theory falls apart in three more places in scripture as well.

  • Joshua 1:14
  • Joshua 8:3
  • 2 Samuel 17:8

If we apply critical thinking, we have to ask ourselves, “why is gibborim ONLY interpreted as giant when certain teachers look at Nimrod, but not applied equally across the board?” They pick and choose to apply the interpretation as they see fit for the sole purpose of being controversial vs being scripturally accurate.

Exhibit D – Anyone Can Become A Mighty One

This final bit of evidence is moreso cause and effect. For someone that was not born into royalty or power, and manages to achieve power, at some point they “began to be” powerful (gibbor). We see the same indication with the nephilim in Genesis 6:4. They became gibborim. They were not born gibborim (powerful rulers), in the context of the verse. When we see theories like these, we really need dig deeper into scripture for the truth.

Nimrod Did NOT Turn Into A Nephilim

Is it possible that somehow Nimrod started to turn into a nephilim? Yes, but is it probable or likely? No. Because the same word is used to refer to individuals that were clearly not hybrids.

  • If we are to cast a blanket use over the word gibborim, we are forced to assume that David had nephilim as his personal guard in direct disobedience to God.
  • If we are choosing to selectively apply the definition to Nimrod and no one else, then we need to explain why we are applying a unique definition to him and no one else.

The most likely scenario is that Nimrod simply became someone very powerful, well respected, and feared because of his actions, not that he started to transform into a hybrid angel-human giant.

Suggested Reading

Who Were Nimrod’s Sons?

The Bible does not tell us whether or not Nimrod had any children, but there are stories and legends floating around. Chances are that he did have children because he was a leader. Powerful leaders usually had multiple women and multiple children. One such belief is that Nimrod had a wife named Semiramis and a son named Tammuz. Although Semiramis does not appear in scripture, Tammuz does, but is not linked to Nimrod.

“Then he brought me to the door of the gate of the LORD’S house which was toward the north; and, behold, there sat women weeping for Tammuz.” – Ezekiel 8:14

It is believed that Nimrod, Semiramis, and Tammuz were all worshiped as gods in ancient times.

Nimrod: Christmas Connection

Tammuz worship often included the erection and decoration of a tree, which passed on into modern culture as the Christmas Tree. This doesn’t directly connect Nimrod to Christmas, but it does give us a small connection to the overall origins of one of the main focal points of the Christmas tradition.

Nimrod and The Tower of Babel

In Genesis 10 the Bible tells us that Nimrod founded Babel, and in Genesis 11 we’re fast forwarded to a story about The Tower of Babel. The Bible doesn’t directly link the tower to Nimrod, but it would make sense that if Babel was his kingdom, and he was alive during that time, it would be his tower. The historian Josephus says a lot concerning Nimrod and directly links him to the tower of Babel.

“Now it was Nimrod who excited them to such an affront and contempt of God. He was the grandson of Ham, the son of Noah, a bold man, and of great strength of hand. He persuaded them not to ascribe it to God, as if it were through his means they were happy, but to believe that it was their own courage which procured that happiness. He also gradually changed the government into tyranny, seeing no other way of turning men from the fear of God, but to bring them into a constant dependence on his power. He also said he would be revenged on God, if he should have a mind to drown the world again; for that he would build a tower too high for the waters to reach. And that he would avenge himself on God for destroying their forefathers.

Now the multitude were very ready to follow the determination of Nimrod, and to esteem it a piece of cowardice to submit to God; and they built a tower, neither sparing any pains, nor being in any degree negligent about the work: and, by reason of the multitude of hands employed in it, it grew very high, sooner than any one could expect; but the thickness of it was so great, and it was so strongly built, that thereby its great height seemed, upon the view, to be less than it really was. It was built of burnt brick, cemented together with mortar, made of bitumen, that it might not be liable to admit water. When God saw that they acted so madly, he did not resolve to destroy them utterly, since they were not grown wiser by the destruction of the former sinners; but he caused a tumult among them, by producing in them diverse languages, and causing that, through the multitude of those languages, they should not be able to understand one another. The place wherein they built the tower is now called Babylon, because of the confusion of that language which they readily understood before; for the Hebrews mean by the word Babel, confusion …” – Josephus, Antiquities of The Jews, Chapter 4 (Concerning the Tower of Babylon, and the confusion of Tongues)

Josephus’ story seems to support the idea that Nimrod did indeed intend to defy God, and therefore there may be some truth to the tradition that he hunted men in defiance of God. Moreso, based on the words of Josephus, Nimrod may have hunted believers for sport. Again, not in scripture, but it does seem to be the missing piece that ties up a couple of loose ends:

  • Nimrod is directly linked to the building of The Tower of Babel.
  • Abraham may have been called out of Babel due to Nimrod’s hatred for God and those that worshiped him.

The Breakdown

Nimrod’s full story is shrouded in myth, legend, fact, and speculation, but somewhere in all of the “noise” we’ll find the truth. There is no doubt that there remains a lot that we don’t know about the world’s first leader, but what we do know is that the world he built or at least attempted to build, will remain a topic of conversation and study for generations to come.

Suggested Reading

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  • Delroy

    Hi Dante,

    Great article. In the article it is said and I quote “According to scripture, Nimrod became a mighty hunter before the Lord, but there are scholars that point out that both tradition and the Hebrew word “before” indicates he hunted in defiance of the Lord”

    If this is the case then how do we explain Abram in Gen 17:1? Nimrod was mighty “before the Lord” and the Lord told Abram to “walk before me” isn’t this the same or very similar scenarios? What I am trying to say is that he might have not been in defiance as we were told.

    We know from scriptures that Enoch and Noah walk with God (Gen 5:22,24 & 6:9) and Abram and Nimrod was before the Lord (Gen 10:9 & 17:1). Why was Nimrod in defiance and Abram?

    • Black History In The Bible

      Check the Hebrew. It’s not about the English since the Bible was not originally written in English. Both the Bible and the Quran say that Nimrod was defiant to God. Both come from that area.

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