Noahide Seven Commandments Torah classes
© 2017 by Rabbi Zvi Aviner
Torah Class THEFT-3/King Nimrod, the Great Communicator
”Let’s build a city”
1: From democracy to tyranny
Last class we learned about the first generations after the Flood. The passion of the day, we said, was to settle the land, cultivate and OWN it. They spoke one language, believed in the One True G-d, and lived in brotherhood and peace. In short: it was the dream of the UN coming true.
But the Torah tells us here that even when this dream society comes true, there is a possible trap waiting at the door: the development of a ruthless Tyranny. This is the story of King Nimrod, the ruler who could read everyone’s heart!
King Nimrod ascent to power
Last class we read about the Children of Ham, Yeffet and Shem who spread all over Earth. Now the Torah focuses on Noah’s grandson Kush:
The Children of Ham ruling Earth
On Noah’s son Ham it is said:
“And the sons of Ham were Kush, Egypt, Put and Canaan,
And Kush begot Nimrod…” (Genesis 10: 6)
Noah did curse Canaan, but not his father Ham. In fact, Ham’s other sons became the first powerful rulers of Earth after the Flood. Their list includes Kush, Egypt and Put, all fathers of mighty nations and great civilizations who stretched from Central Asia to the Middle East and Africa.
Ham’s firstborn son Kush was the first leader of Noah’s Seventy Families of Nations. He is described as a righteous person, wise, admired by all. His name is still preserved in the “Mountains of Kush” around the Caspian Sea. The Torah does not elaborate much about him but the fact that he was the Nimrod’s father, a great merit, as it says:
“And Kush begot Nimrod.
He began to be a mighty one in the Earth.
He was a mighty hunter before YHVH.
Therefore, they say: Like Nimrod, the Mighty Hunter before YHVH.
And the beginning of Nimrod Kingdom was
Babel, Erek and Acad and Calneh in the Land of Shinaar...” (Genesis 10:8-9)
Nimrod: The Mighty Man, the Hunter, the King
The verse describes four stages in Nimrod’s ascent to the throne:
(1) He was a ‘mighty man’ (What does it mean?)
(2) He was a ‘hunter before YHVH’ (How could the Merciful YHVH favor a hunter?)
(3) He became very famous, a nickname of a ‘Hunter before YHVH’
(4) His ”First kingdom” was Babylon (implying that later he ruled over the rest of the Seventy Nations of Noah)
The legends about King Nimrod hinge on several Hebrew words in the text:
1. The name ‘Nimrod’ means, in Hebrew, “Let us rebel” (against whom?)
2. The word ‘king’, melech, means in Hebrew ‘a ruler who consults, nimlach.’ (Whom did Nimrod consult?)
From these two words the rabbis re-constructed Nimrod ascent to power, as follows:
Stage 1: Nimrod, who ruled over himself
The Torah first introduces Nimrod as a “mighty man.” This may simply infer that he was physically strong, a mighty warrior. But the rabbis said: “Who is mighty? Whoever controls himself.” Hence Nimrod was spiritually strong who controlled HIMSELF before he controlled other peoples. He did not subject himself to wine, drugs and sex like his peers. He learned from Noah to TALKE TO HIS HEART (see our Rainbow class.)
Stage 2: Nimrod, the King of the Animals
He hunted by his mouth
Nimrod was ”a hunter before YHVH.” YHVH loved him. How could a hunter of animals be a favorite of the Merciful YHVH?
The rabbis therefore taught: Nimrod ‘hunted’ animals not by his mouth, rather than by his arrow. He could converse with the animals. So great were Nimrod skills as a communicator, that he could even communicate with the animals.
How could he converse with the animals? He got this from Noah. Here is the story:
When Nimrod was still a teenager prince, his father King Kush conferred privately with Noah. “Grandpa,” Kush sighted, “my son Nimrod worries me…”
“Why? Is he a bad boy?”
“No,” Kush said, “he is smart and obedient.
He controls his desires. When his peers go wild, saying Let Us Rebel against our parents, he refuses to join them (Hence his name Nimrod, meaning Let Us Rebel). Yet he takes thing to extreme. When they ask him to join them in hunting, he refuses. He says to them that he loves the animals. They laugh, and think that he is weird. And I warry: How could he become my heir? Moreover…” Kush silenced, as if ashamed to continue.
“Speak out, my grandson,” Noah urged
Nimrod’s weird wish
“Grandpa,” Kush continued in pains, “it seems that my son is out of his mind…he says that he has no interest in ruling over people, that he wishes to rule over…the animals!” Kush hid his face in his hands, trembling. “Is he out of his mind?”
Hearing him, Noah and Naama exchanged glances. To their ears, Nimrod seemed fine. Noah said: “Your son is very unique indeed, could we talk to him?”
“He is here, I’ve brought him with me” King Kush said, and he called in his son.
I want to be the animals’ king
When Prince Nimrod entered, Noah and Naama were stunned by the boy’s extraordinary beauty and grace. His dark skin shined (Kush means dark) and his body was strong and muscular. His eyes sparkled with wisdom. Naama could not let her eyes off of him. “Nimrod our great grandson,” Noah said softly, “your father says you wish to rule over animals. Why?”
Prince Nimrod said: “Has not ELoKiM blessed Adam and Eve saying, that they would rule over the Fish of the Sea and the Birds of the Sky? I wish to fulfill that blessing and become the ruler of all animals...”
“If so, why wouldn’t you hunt the animals by your bow and arrows, showing them that you are in charge?”
“No great grandfather, I do not want to kill them. I only wish to be their king…” Prince Nimrod said.
“And how would you accomplish that?” Noah asked.
“I want to be able to consult and understand them and cater to their wishes…as you and Naama did in the Ark during the Flood...”
The Miraculous Dress
Noah and Naama were astonished. They took out the miraculous Dress of Cain, which renders one the ability to comprehend the animals and placed it over Nimrod’s shoulders. This was the same miraculous dress that YHVH ELKM had given to Adam and Eve in Eden. Whoever wears these Dress, would not only comprehend the animals, but would also fly in his mind over Earth. Adam gave it to Cain before he went to exile in the woods. When Naama’s father, Lemech, killed Cain, the Dress came into the possession of Naama and Noah.
But the Dress miracle would not work on a person, unless he or she is worthy of it. That is why Naama and Noah watched intensely what would happen to Prince Nimrod.
To their delight, the Dress seemed to like Nimrod. It took Nimrod to a spiritual trip over Earth. In his mind he flew above the clouds, among birds whom he could understand. He then flew among herds of animals, and in the oceans among fish, whom he could comprehend. His experience, seeing Earth from above, would alter prompt him to build the Babylonian Tower.
When Prince Nimrod re finally re-appeared before Noah and Naama, the Dress hung over his shoulders like a royal garment. “Take it, the Dress is yours,” Naama and Noah told him, tears of happiness in their eyes. They finally had an heir they liked. And they added: “Our son, use this gift only for good purposes!”
Nimrod: Let’s rebel against the hunters!
From thereon, the young Prince Nimrod was seen riding high over eagle’s wings, or sitting over the back of ferocious animals, and huge elephants. The animals seemed to like him and subdue themselves to his command. Hence his nickname, “Nimrod, the King of the Animals.” This is why the Torah says that he was “A hunter before YHVH.” He ‘hunted’ the animals by his mouth, calling them, consulting them, and cater to their needs. He became a true heir of Naama and Noah. Y HVH liked him.
The name Nimrod also means Let Us Rebel. He told the animals: let us rebel against the hunters! And when the hunters came, Nimrod assembled the animals and chase them away.
Stage 3: Nimrod, the King Who Consulted
Kush’s haunting dreams
Several years passed, and Kush conferred again with Noah, his face fallen. “Great grandfather,” he said, “I can’t sleep! A terrible dream is haunting me night after night!”
“Tell me about it…” Noah said.
“In my dream,” Kush said slowly, painfully, “my son Nimrod ascends on my throne, as I wish. People offer him their petitions, but he can’t comprehend them! He answers them, but they can’t comprehend him! Then…” Kush pauses, as if afraid to continue.
“Go on!” Noah encouraged him.
“Then…” Kush said with ash face, “I see a bloody rebellion, swords being lifted in rage…and I see my son beheaded and his body thrown to the dogs…I wake up trembling, sweating, my heart beating fast and I can’t sleep anymore. Next night, that nightmare haunts me again, and again, night after night. What should I do? What does Heavens tell me about my son?”
A king is one who consult
“Heavens is telling you,” Noah said, “that your son is not yet ready to become your heir. He can communicate with animals, but not yet with people; not enough to be their king. The dream is telling you that you must prepare your son for his task…”
"Learn from ELoKiM. Before making Adam, He consulted all the entities that would participate in Adam creation, and to each one He said: ‘Let Us Make Adam in Our Form and Our Image.’ By this He taught Adam how to be a king, how to rule by the art of consultation. Teach this skill to your son…” Noah said.
Counseling the Seventy Nations
They say that after hearing Noah’s words, King Kush smiled and he slept well for the rest of the night. Next morning, he summoned the leaders of all the Seventy Noahide Nations to his palace. To each one he said, as they came: “In your opinion, how should I prepare my son to be my successor?"
And as King Kush anticipated, each of the leaders answered: “send your boy to me and I’ll teach him everything I know."
Kush thanked them all and then called for his son. Prince Nimrod arrived at his father’s palace accompanied by two lions by his sides, scattering away the frightened attendants. “Father, why did you call me?” Prince Nimrod asked.
“My son,” King Kush said, “the time has arrived to prepare you to sit on my throne. Now you need to learn how to understand people’s wishes. For the next few years you will visit all the Seventy Families of Nations. Their leaders will host you and teach you everything they know. Take advantage of their hospitality, my son. Learn their mindset, their culture and their aspirations. And as I know, some of them may even whisper words of rebellion in your ears against me, thinking that by this they would later gain a better access to your court. But be careful, my son, and never forget who you really are, my heir. And when you’ll finally return home, I’ll hand over my crown to you."
Nimrod, let’s rebel against your father!
Prince Nimrod then departed from his father and mother, and from the animals, and spent the next few years visiting all the Seventy Noahide Nations. And as his father said, they all welcomed him and taught him everything they knew. And as his father predicted, sometimes the leaders whispered words of rebellion in Nimrod’s ears, hence his name Nimrod which means Let Us Rebel. But remembering his father’s warning, Nimrod remained loyal to him. And when he finally returned home, King Kush showered on his great honor and placed his crown on Nimrod’s head. This is how Nimrod became the leader of all the Seventy Families Noahide Nations.
So far, we’ve seen several meanings for the name Nimrod:
1. Nimrod, let us rebel against our parents.
2. Nimrod: Let us rebel against the hunters, as he told the animals.
3. Nimrod: Let us rebel against your father, as his hosts whispered in his ears.
4: Nimrod, the hunter of people
“And the beginning of his Kingdom was Babel
and Erek and Acad and Calneh in the Land of Shinaar (Genesis 10: 10)
The Torah says that the beginning of Nimrod’s kingship was the city of Babel. From there It would spread all over the world. Nimrod ruled, at the beginning, by the art of consultation, by listening to his subject’s plights. His vast traveling among the Seventy Nations made him a master of communication. He could read the mind of every person and every nation, and answer their needs. The Midrash says that so skillful was he in the art of kingship, that each person on Earth felt as if Nimrod was his PERSONAL KING. This is another reason why he is called “A hunter before YHVH.” So successful he was, that he is called “A mighty man on Earth.” From Babylon his kingdom spread all over Earth. Everyone accepted him, personally.
How could this ultra-democratic kingship of Nimrod become the greatest tyranny on earth?
On that we’ll learn next class.
END OF TORAH CLASS THEFT-3