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Nimrod Before and After the Bible

  • K. van der Toorn (a1) and P. W. van der Horst (a1)

The biblical information concerning the figure of Nimrod is scarce. Post-biblical tradition has added supplementary details that cannot be found in the biblical text, however much they may be presented as results of exegesis of this text. This article first examines the biblical data about Nimrod and sees whether he can be identified with an extra-biblical, a pre-biblical, prototype. Second, it investigates the ways in which the few biblical data have given rise to post-biblical haggadic developments. K. van der Toorn has written the first part of this essay, P. W. van der Horst the second.

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1 Read wékullānâ instead of wékalneh, according to the emendation proposed by Albright, William F., “The End of ‘Calneh in Shinar’,” JNES 3 (1944) 254–55.

2 See Thompson, J. A., “Samaritan Evidence for ‘All of them in the Land of Shinar’ (Gen 10:10),” JBL 90 (1971) 99102.

3 In Gen 11:2 “the land of Shinar” is connected with Babylon. Genesis 14 mentions Amraphel king of Shinar alongside other unknown rulers from territories such as Ellasar, Elam, and Goiim. lQapGen 21.23 reads bbl instead of šn'r, indicating that Shinar had come to be a synonym of Babylonia, the common designation for southern Mesopotamia in the second and first millennia BCE. Josh 7:21 mentions a “mantle from Shinar” found by Achan among the spoils of Canaanite Ai. The passage gives no clue about the localization of Shinar. Isa 11:11, on the other hand, mentions Shinar in a list of territories inhabited by exiled Jews. Shinar is named between Elam and Hamath, and distinguished from Assyria, which brings us once more to the Babylonian homeland. In the younger texts of Zech 5:11 and Dan 1:2, Shinar has clearly become a designation for the Babylonian territory. This is confirmed by the LXX version of Zech 5:11, where 'eres Šin'ār has been translated en gē Babylonos.

4 See Giveon, R., “Toponymes Ouest-Asiatiques a Soleb,” VT 14 (1964) 245; Helck, Wolfgang, Die Beziehungen Agyptens zu Vorderasien im 3. und 2. Jahrtausend v. Chr. (2d rev. ed.; Agyptologische Abhandlungen 5; Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1971) 278.

5 See Monte, Giuseppe F. del and Tischler, Johann, Die Ortsund Gewässernamen der hethitischen Texte (Répertoire Géographique des Textes Cune'iformes 6; Wiesbaden: Reichert, 1978) 344.

6 Knudtzon, J. A., Die El-Amarna-Tafeln (Vorderasiatische Bibliothek 2; Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1915) no. 35:49.

7 Knudzton, , Die El-Amarna-Tafeln, no. 24 iv 95.

8 For a survey of opinions by Weber, O., see Die El-Amarna-Tafeln, 2. 1080–83; see also Mercer, Samuel A. B., The Tell El-Amarna Tablets (Toronto: Macmillan, 1939) 1. 1998–99, commentary on line 49.

9 See nn. 5–7 and Giiterbock, Hans G. in Laroche, E., “Documents hie'roglyphiques hittites provenant du palais d'Ugarit,” Ugaritica 3 (1956) 103 n. 3.

10 See, e.g., Deimel, Anton, “Šumer = Šin'ar,” Bib 2 (1921) 7174; Deimel, A., “Nimrod (Gen 10:8-12),” Or 26 (1927) 7680.

11 For a recent discussion of the various problems involved, see Zadok, R., “The Origin of the Name Shinar,” ZA 74 (1984) 240–44.

12 See, e.g., Deimel, , “Šumer,” 72.

13 See Weippert, Manfred, “Kanaan,” in Edward, D. O., ed., Reallexikon der Assyriologie (7 vols.; Berlin/New York: de Gruyter, 1932-1989) 5. 352. The earliest mention of “Canaanites” (immediately preceded by the habbatum, “robber”) occurs in a letter from Mari (A 3552), published by Dossin, Georges, “Une mention de Canaan6ens dans une lettre de Mari,” Syria 50 (1973) 277–82; cf. Durand, Jean-Marie, “Villes fantomes de Syrie et autres lieux,” MARI: Annales de Recherches Interdisciplinaires 5 (1987) 219–20. It is doubtful whether kinahhu or kinahnu is to be distinguished from qinahhu, analysed by Benno Landsberger as consisting of the noun qina, “purple” (cf. Syr. qena' ), followed by the grammatical element -hh-[ Landsberger, , “fiber Farben im Šumerisch-Akkadischen,” JCS 21 (1967) 166–67]. Apparently, purple was traditionally associated with Canaan; it is unclear whether the region took its name from the produce or vice versa.

14 See Dossin, Georges, “Kengen, Pays de Canaan,” RSO 32 (1957) 3539; reprinted in Recueil Georges Dosiin: Melanges d'Assyriologie (1934–1959) (Akkadica Suppl. 1; Leuven: Peeters, 1983) 8589.

15 See Deimel, , “Šumer,” 74.

16 Wilcke, Claus, “Zum Konigtum in der Ur-III Zeit,” in Garelli, P., ed., Le Palais et la Royaute: XIXe Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale (Paris: P. Geuthner, 1974) 229–30 [Reference courtesy K. R. Veenhof, Leiden].

17 Erica Reiner, The Series HAR-ra = hubullu Tablets XX-XXIV (Materials for the Šumerian Lexicon 11; Rome: Pomificium Institutum Biblicum, 1974) 105:314 and 18:27'.

18 This is the solution of Zadok, “The Origin of the Name Shinar.”

19 Pace Zadok, , “Origin of the Name Shinar,” 241.

20 Dossin, Georges, “Le site de Rehobot-'Ir et de Resen,” Museon 47 (1934) 107–21. The article has been re-issued in idem, Recueil Georges Dossin, 70–84.

21 Lipiński, E., “Nimrod et Assur,” RB 73 (1966) 8485. The interpretation of réhōbōt- 'ir as “city squares” goes back, in fact, to Dhorme's, E. translation in the Bible de la Pléiade (Paris: Gallimard, 1956).

22 Sasson, Jack M., “Rehóvót 'ír,” RB 90 (1983) 9496.

23 See GKB § 132c 2; Joüon, P., Grammaire de I'hebreu biblique (Rome: Institut biblique pontifical, 1923) § 141d. The expression 'z mlk in Ps 99:4 might be another instance of this construction, if it is indeed to be translated as “the mightiest king.”

24 Rawlinson, Henry C. and Smith, George, The Cuneiform Inscriptions of Western Asia (4 vols.; London: Bowler, 1870) 3. no. 14:9. For a transcription and translation of the pertinent text, see Luckenbill, Daniel D., The Annals of Sennacherib (Oriental Institute Publications 2; Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1924) 79:9.

25 Speiser, E., “In Search of Nimrod,” Eretz-Israel 5 (FS. B. Mazar; Jerusalem: Israel Exploration Society and the Hebrew University, 1958) 32*; Lipiriski, , “Nimrod et Assur,” 8081.

26 English, P. T., “Cushites, Colchians and Khazars,” JNES 18 (1959) 50.

27 Sethe, Kurt, “Heroes and Hero-Gods (Egyptian),” ERE 6 (1913) 650a.

28 Meyer, E., Die Israeliten und ihre Nachbarstdmme (Halle an der Saale, 1906; reprint Tubingen: Max Niemeyer, 1967) 448.

29 Thus., e.g., Naor, M., “‘And Cush Begot Nimrod’ (Gen 10:8),” Beth Mikra 100 (1948) 4147 [Hebrew]. Naor proposes to read “Put” instead of “Cush” (pp. 46–47).

30 Oded, B., “The Table of Nations (Genesis 10)—A Socio-Cultural Approach,” ZAW 98 (1986) 1431, esp. 28.

31 Speiser, , “In Search of Nimrod,” 32*36*.

32 See McEwan, G. J. P., “Agade after the Gutian Destruction: the Afterlife of a Mesopotamian City,” in Hirsch, H., ed., Vortrdge gehalten aufder 28. Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale in Wien. 6–10. Juli 1981 (AfO Beiheft 19; Horn: F. Berger, 1982) 815.

33 Abramski, Sh., “Nimrod and the Land Nimrod,” Beth Mikra 82 (1980) 237–55; 83 (1980) 321–40 [Hebrew].

34 Such is also the opinion of Westermann, Claus, Genesis (BKAT 1/1; Neukirchen-Vluyn: Neukirchener, 1974) 687.

35 Grivel, J., “Nemrod et les Ventures cungiformes,” Transactions of the Society of Biblical Archaeology 3 (1874) 136–44. On p. 136 Grivel refers to the appendix of an article entitled “Le plus ancien Dictionnaire” that he wrote for the Revue de la Suisse catholique (08 1871) in which he first made his suggestion.

36 See the second part of this paper and n. 70.

37 Lipinski, , “Nimrod et Assur,” 7793.

38 The provisional cuneiform edition of this text has been published by Lambert, W. G. and Parker, Simon B., Enuma elis. The Babylonian Epic of Creation: The Cuneiform Text (Oxford: Clarendon, 1966). The widely used translation by Heidel, Alexander (The Babylonian Genesis [Chicago/London: The University of Chicago Press, 1942; reprinted Phoenix Edition, 1963]) has to be corrected and supplemented by the aforementioned cuneiform edition.

39 See Lambert, W. G., “The History of the m u š-h u š in Ancient Mesopotamia,” Borgeaud, Ph., Christe, Y., and Urio, I., eds., L'animal, I'homme et le dieu dans le Proche-Orient ancien (Leuven: Peeters, 1984) 8794.

40 Lipiński, , “Nimrod et Assur,” 78.

41 See Lambert, W. G., “Ninurta Mythology in the Babylonian Epic of Creation,” in Hecker, K. and Sommerfeld, W., eds., Keilschriftliche Literaturen. Ausgewdhlte Vortrage der 32. Rencontre Assyriologique Internationale (Berlin: Dietrich Reimer, 1986) 5561.

42 The text has been edited by Dijk, J. van, LUGAL UD ME-LAM-bi NIR-GAL Le recit epique et didactique des Travaux de Ninurta, du Deluge et de la Nouvelle Creation (2 vols.; Leiden: Brill, 1983). See also the translation by Jacobsen, Thorkild, The Harps That Once…Sumerian Poetry in Translation (New Haven/London: Yale University Press, 1987) 233–72.

43 For the Myth of Anzu see Vogelzang, M. E., Bin Sar dadme. Edition and Analysis of the Akkadian Anzu Poem (Groningen: Styx, 1988) and Saggs, H. W. F., “Additions to Anzu,” AfO 33 (1986 [1988]) 129. For a discussion of the appearance of Anzu see Hallo, William W. and Moran, W. L., “The First Tablet of the SB Recension of the Anzu-Myth,” JCS 31 (1979) 70.

44 For a survey, see Cooper, Jerrold S., The Return of Ninurta to Nippur (AnOr 52; Rome: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, 1978) 141–54.

45 Dijk, Van, LUGAL UD ME-LAM-bi N1R-GAL, 1718.

46 Budge, Ernest Alfred Wallis and King, Leonard W., Annals of the Kings of Assyria (London: Luzac, 1902) 84:vi 61–87:vi 84.

47 See King, Leonard W., Babylonian Magic and Sorcery (London: Luzac, 1896) no. 50:29 [“you are Sirius, (that is) Ninurta, the first among the great gods”]; Burrows, E., “Hymn to Ninurta as Sirius (K128),” Centenary Supplement to the Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society (London, 1924) PI. II, vss 8 and 12 [”(Ninurta) indefatigable arrow that [slays?] all the enemies... whose name in heaven is Arrow”]; Ebeling, Erich, Keilschrifttexte aus Assur religidsen Inhatts, vol. 1 (Wissenschaftliche Veroffentlichungen der Deutschen Orient-Gesellschaft 28; Leipzig: Hinrichs, 1919) no 76:14 [//Gurney, O. R., The Sultantepe Tablets II (London: The British Institute of Archaeology at Ankara, 1964) nos. 214–17 i 65], no. 83 i 4.

48 See Jacob, B., Das erste Buch der Tora: Genesis (Berlin: Schocken, 1934) 283. See also n. 96.

49 Livingstone, Alasdair, Mystical and Mythological Explanatory Works of Assyrian and Babylonian Scholars (Oxford: Clarendon, 1986) 154.

50 LUGAL-E, 11. 353–65. For the last lines I have followed the translation of Jacobsen, (The Harps That Once…, 253).

51 See Wilcke, Claus, “Philologische Bemerkungen zum Rat des Suruppag und Versuch einer neuen Ubersetzung,” ZA 68 (1978) 231–32. For Ninurta as a god of agriculture, see also Falkenstein, Adam, Sumerische Gotterlieder (Heidelberg: Winter, 1959) 1. 83:iii 22.

52 Seidl, U., “Die babylonischen Kudurru-Reliefs,” Baghdader Mitteilungen 4 (1968) 125–28.

53 Reisman, D., “Ninurta's Journey to Eridu,” JCS 24 (1973) 310. See also Falkenstein, , Sumerische Gotterlieder, 84; Sjoberg, Ake W. et al., The Collection of the Sumerian Temple Hymns (Texts from Cuneiform Sources 3; Locust Valley: Augustin, 1969) 136:463; Cooper, , The Return of Ninurta, 58:914.

54 The text has been edited by Cooper, The Return of Ninurta.

55 Saggs, H. W. F., “Additions to Anzu,” AfO 33 (1986 [1988]) 25:120–24.

56 Livingstone, , Mystical and Mythological Explanatory Works 124: VAT 8917; cf. Livingstone's commentary on p. 146.

57 See Hallo, William W., “Review of ‘The Return of Ninurta to Nippur’ by Jerrold S. Cooper,” JAOS 101 (1981) 253–55.

58 See E. Unger, “Babylon,” in Ebeling, Erich and Meissner, B., eds., Reallexikon der Assyriologie (7 vols. to date.; Berlin/Leipzig: de Gruyter, 1932—) 1. 361–62: § 120.

59 See Menzel, Brigitte, Assyrische Tempel (2 vols.; Studia Pohl Series Maior 10/1; Rome: Pontificium Institutum Biblicum, 1981) 1. 94.

60 Menzel, , Assyrische Tempel, 1. 83.

61 See, e.g., Lambert, W. G., “A New Look at the Babylonian Background of Genesis,” JTS 16 (1965) 298–99 n. 2.

62 See Sjoberg, A˚ke W., “Miscellaneous Sumerian Texts, III,” JCS 34 (1982) 6280, esp. 71 ad 1.18.

63 Greenfield, Jonas C., “Three Notes on the Sefire Inscription,” JSS 11 (1966) 100103; Zadok, R., “Babylonian Notes,” BO 38 (1981) 548.

64 Zadok, , “Babylonian Notes,” 548.

65 See Lambert, , “New Look at the Babylonian Background of Genesis,” 285300; Kramer, Samuel N., “The ‘Babel of Tongues’: A Sumerian Version,” JAOS 88 (1968) 108–11; Borger, Rykle, “Die Beschworungsserie Bit Meseri und der Himmelfahrt Henochs,” JNES 33 (1974) 183–96; Oden, R. A. Jr, “Divine Aspirations in Atrahasis and in Genesis 1–11,” ZAW 93 (1981) 197216. These studies are but a small sample of the available literature.

66 Alster, B., ‘“Ninurta and the Turtle,’ UET 6/1 2,” JCS 24 (1972) 120–25; Kramer, Samuel N., “Ninurta's Pride and Punishment,” Aula Orientalis 2 (1984) 231–37.

67 The Greek story of Orion's defeat by a scorpion could perhaps be adduced as a distant parallel of the Sumerian composition. Orion, though not a god, is a giant and a hunter. In response to his threat that he would exterminate all the living animals on earth, Gaia sent the scorpion to kill the arrogant hero. See Wehrli, P., “Orion,” PW. Neue Bearbeitung 18/1 (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1939) 1073–74.

68 See on this matter Holladay, Carl R., Fragments from Hellenistic Jewish Authors I: Historians (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1983) 158–59.

69 Translation by Holladay, , Fragments, 177.

70 Judaism and Hellenism (Philadelphia: Fortress, 1981) 2.60 n. 244. There Hengel polemicizes with Ben Wacholder, Zion, “Pseudo-Eupolemos’ Two Greek Fragments on the Life of Abraham,” HUCA 34 (1963) 94. Freudenthal, J., Alexander Polyhistor und die von ihm erhaltenen Reste juddischer und samaritanischer Geschichtswerke (Hellenistische Studien, I+II; Breslau: Skutsch, 1875) 94, quotes a remark from the “History of Armenia” by the early medieval Armenian Christian scholar Moses of Chorene to the effect that Belus and Nimrod are to be identified. Hengel is followed by Holladay, Fragments, 187 n. 46, and by P. W. van der Horst, “The Interpretation of the Bible by the Minor Hellenistic Jewish Authors,” in Mulder, Martin Jan, ed., Mikra: Text, Translation, Reading and Interpretation of the Hebrew Bible in Ancient Judaism and Early Christianity (CRINT 2.1; Assen: Van Gorcum; Philadelphia: Fortress, 1988) 541.

71 See IQapGen 2. 16 and / Enoch 106. 8 and cf. Lewis, Jack Pearl, A Study of the Interpretation of Noah and the Flood in Jewish and Christian Literature (Leiden: Brill, 1968) 14; see also the pertinent remarks in Schürer, Emil, The History of the Jewish People in the Age of Jesus Christ (rev. ed. by Vermes, G., Millar, F., Goodman, M.; Edinburgh: Clark, 1986) 3.1. 332–33.

72 Thus R. Doran in OTP 2.878.

73 The Greek text probably also had enantion, but the Armenian version, which is our only textual witness here, has a different word than the one used in the phrase “a giant before God.”

74 See also the useful comments in Winston, David and Dillon, John, Two Treatises of Philo of Alexandria: A Commentary on De gigantibus and Quod deus sit immutabilis (Chico, CA: Scholars Press, 1983) 69–71, 272.

75 See Grabbe, Lester L., Etymology in Early Jewish Interpretation. The Hebrew Names in Philo (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1988) 191.

76 On the evaluation of blacks in antiquity, see Snowden, Frank M., Blacks in Antiquity: Ethiopians in the Greco-Roman Experience (Cambridge, MA/London: Belknap, 1970).

77 I used the edition by Harrington, Daniel J. et al., Pseudo-Philon: Les antiquites bibliques (2 vols; Paris: Cerf, 1976) and Harrington's translation in OTP vol. 2.

78 On the role of Daniel 3 in this story, see also Vermes, Geza, “The Life of Abraham,” in his Scripture and Tradition in Judaism (Leiden: Brill, 1973) 88, and Beer, B., “Zur jüdischen Sagengeschichte,” MGWJ 4 (1855) 5965.

79 See e.g. Strack, Hermann L. and Billerbeck, Paul N., Kommentar zum Neuen Testament aus Talmud undMidrasch (Munich: Beck, 1928) 4. 1. 454 n. 4, and Bowker, John, The Targums and Rabbinic Literature (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press) 187–88.

80 Also in the second century BCE we find Philo Epicus stating that Abraham “left the splendid enclosure of the giants” (frg. 1, 4–5). This seems to imply that Babel was built by the giants, but the poet does not name Nimrod as one of them. Nevertheless it was clear that the haggadic process was fully on its way already in the middle of the second century BCE, which can also be seen in Jdt 5:5-8.

81 On Nimrod's role in Josephus’ rendering of Genesis, see the extensive and excellent discussion by Franxman, Thomas W., Genesis and the “Jewish Antiquities” ofFlavius Josephus (Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1979) 93121, esp. 96–98.

82 Levine, Etan, The Aramaic Version of the Bible (Berlin: de Gruyter, 1988) 35. Levine cites this instance as one of the many cases where in the very same targum one finds midrashic elements that are mutually contradictory. “This reflects the eclectic use of sources, the variant purposes to which midrash was put, and the latitudinarian approach to targum itself” (ibid.).

83 Levene, A., The Early Syrian Fathers on Genesis (London: Taylor's Foreign Press, 1951) esp. 123ff.

84 See the translation in Tonneau, R.-M., Sancti Ephraem Syri in Genesin et in Exodum commentarü (CSCO 153; Louvain: Durbecq, 1955) 5253.

85 See the translation in Eynde, C. van den, Commenlaire d'Hodad de Merv sur iAncien Testament, vol. 1 Genese (CSCO 156; Louvain: Durbecq, 1955) 143–46. On the matter of Hebrew in the Nimrod haggada, see also Ginzberg, Louis, “Die Haggada bei den Kirchenvatern und in der apokryphischen Literatur,” MGWJ 43 (1899) 468–70, 485. The following two works do not yield anything for our subject : Devreesse, Robert, Les anciens commentateurs grecs de I'Octateuque et des Rois (Vatican City: Bibliotheca Apostolica, 1959), and Petit, Franchise, Catenae graecae in Genesin et Exodum, vol. I (CChr Series Graeca 2.15; Turnhout: Brepols, 1977).

86 Levene (Early Syrian Fathers, 85) quotes from a Syriac MS on the Pentateuch in the Mingana collection the following section: “Of Nimrod, Scripture says, ‘He was a mighty hunter before the Lord.’ It was according to the will of God that he should be renowned; and he made war on those who built the tower and he first captured Babylon. Therefore it is said, ‘Be like unto Nimrod’ as when one blesses his neighbour with any kind of blessing.” Levene also makes the interesting observation that Ibn Ezra in his commentary discards the unfavorable traditions regarding Nimrod and does not deduce any “rebelliousness” from the name Nimrod, but explains that Nimrod was the first man to show the prowess of man over beast and that he built altars on which he offered burnt offerings to God. Ibn Ezra was censured for that by Nachmanides (ibid., 201–2).

87 Translation and discussion of this passage in Bowker, , Targums, 183, 187–88.

88 Thus Grossfeld, Bernard, The Targum Onqelos to Genesis (Edinburgh: Clark, 1988) 61. Cf. also Aberbach, Moshe and Grossfeld, Bernard, Targum Onkelos to Genesis (New York: Ktav, 1982) 6970.

89 See Klein, Michael L., The Fragment-Targums of the Pentateuch (2 vols.; Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1980) 1. 49 and 2. 11. Ddaut, Roger le, Targum du Pentateuque 1 (Paris: Cerf, 1978) 136–39. Klein's, Michael L.Genizah Manuscripts of Palestinian Targum to the Pentateuch (2 vols.; Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1986) has no material on Nimrod.

90 Dlaut, Roger le and Robert, Jean, Targum des Chroniques (AnBib 51; 2 vols.; Rome: Biblical Institute Press, 1971) 1. 40, 156; 2. 9, 142.

91 Levine, Etan, The Aramaic Version of Qohelet (New York: Sepher Hermon, 1978) 34. Cf. Levine's, Aramaic Version of the Bible, 184–85 n. 13.

92 Older surveys can be found in Beer, B., Leben Abraham's nach Auffassung derjüdischen Sage (Leipzig: Leiner, 1859) 719 with notes on pp. 105–16. Seligmann, M., “Nimrod,” Jewish Encyclopedia 9 (1905) 309. Gorion, M. J. bin, Die Sagen der Juden (4 vols.; Frankfurt: Ritter und Loening, 1913-1927) 2. 1725, 56–59, 73–74, 103–24, 160–61. Ginzberg, Louis, The Legends of the Jews (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1909) 1. 174217 with notes in vol. 5 (1925) 198–218. Rappoport, A. S., Ancient Israel: Myths and Legends I (reprinted London: Mystic, 1987) 226–53. See also the short notice by the editor in the EncJud 12 (1972) 1167.

93 The etymological play with mrd is also found in connection with 1 Chr 4:18, “the daughter of Pharaoh, whom Mered took,” about which it is remarked in b. Meg 13a: “Was Mered his name? Was not Caleb his name [cf. 1 Chr 4:15]? The Holy One, blessed be He, said: ‘Let Caleb, who rebelled (maraa”) against the plan of the spies, come and take the daughter of Pharaoh, who rebelled against the idols of her father's house. “There can be little doubt that Jerome goes back to Jewish etymological speculations when, in his Liber interpretationis hebraicorum nominum, he quotes as meanings of the name Nimrod: tyrannus, profugus, transgressor, apostata [Lagarde, P. de, ed., Onomastica Sacra (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck, 1870) 9, 52; also (CCSL 72; Turnhout: Brepols, 1959) 69, 124].

94 The elaboration of this theme can best be studied in the extensive Nimrod haggada in the Sefer ha-Yashar, which we leave out of account here since we want to limit the discussion to ancient sources. For the late date of Sefer ha-Yashar see Strack, Hermann L. and Stemberger, Günter, Einleitung in Talmud und Midrasch (Munich: Beck, 1982) 300.

95 See Bousset, Wilhelm, Hauptprobleme der Gnosis (Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1907, repr. 1973) 144ff. esp. 369–78. Bidez, Joseph and Cumont, Franz, Les mages hellenises: Zoroastre, Ostanes et Hystape d'apres la tradition grecque (2 vols.; Paris: Les Belles Lettres, 1938) 1. 4244; 2. 50–55, 60–61, 120–25. Preisendanz, Karl, “Nimrod (1),” PW 17 (1936) 624–27. Schoeps, Hans J., Aus frühchristlicher Zeit (Tubingen: Mohr/Siebeck, 1950) 1924. On the early medieval traditions about Nimrod as astrologer, see Haskins, C. H., Studies in the History of Mediaeval Science (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1924) 336–45. Bidez and Cumont (Mages, 2. 60–61) and Preisendanz, (“Nimrod,” 625) also discuss the identification of Nimrod with Orion, a giant and hunter (!) from Greek mythology, in some late sources; I leave this out of account for reasons of space and because this identification probably does not have a Jewish origin.

96 Cf. also the following remark by Epiphanius, , Panarion 1.3, 23: “Nimrod, the son of Cush the Ethiopian, the father of Asshur, ruled as a king. (…) The Greeks say that he is Zoroaster and that he went on further east and became the pioneer settler of Bactria. (3) Every transgression in the world was disseminated at this time, for Nimrod was an originator of wrong teaching, astrology and magic, which is what some say of Zoroaster. But in actual fact this was the time of Nimrod the giant; the two, Nimrod and Zoroaster, are far apart in time” ( Williams, F., trans., The Panarion of Epiphanius of Salamis, Book 1 [Leiden: Brill, 1987] 1617).

97 Bousset, , Hauptprobleme, 377. Cf. Schoeps's careful remark (Aus frühchristlicher Zeit, 32): “Die Identifikation Nimrod-Zoroaster konnte bereits rabbinisch sein.”

98 More passages on Nimrod in the haggadic midrashim can be found in the Index Volume to the Soncino translation of the Midrash Rabba. See Shir ha-Shirim Rab. 8.8.2; Vayyiqra Rab. 27.5, 28.4, 36.4; Midrash Tehillim 24.8; Pesiqta Rabbati 18.3, 33.4; Pesiqta de Rav Kahana 8.2; Tanhuma, Lekh lekha 2; etc.

99 See besides the surveys mentioned in n. 23, esp. the dissertation by Schützinger, H., Ursprung und Entwicklung der arabischen Abraham-Nimrod-Legende (Ph.D. diss., Bonn, 1962).

100 See Jellinek, Adolf, Beth ha-Midrasch, 1. 2534(Ma'aseh ‘Avraham ‘Avinu = August Wünsche.Ans Israels Lehrhallen 1. 14–34), 2. 188–19 (Ma'aseh ‘Avraham ‘Avinu = Wünsche 1. 42–45), 5. 40–41 (Midrash de ‘Avraham ‘Avinu = Wünsche 1. 46–47). References to other medieval sources can be found in Gaster, Moses, The Exempla of the Rabbis (1924; reprinted New York: Ktav, 1968) 185. For a discussion of medieval manuscript illustrations to Nimrod haggada see Appel, K., “Abraham als dreijahriger Knabe im Feuerofen des Nimrod,” Kairos 25 (1983) 3640.

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