Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Parshas Noach 5778

What was special about Nimrod?

The Torah writes (Genesis 10:8-10):
Cush also begot Nimrod, who was the first man of might on earth. He was a mighty hunter by the grace of the LORD; hence the saying, “Like Nimrod a mighty hunter by the grace of the LORD.” The mainstays of his kingdom were Babylon, Erech, Accad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar.
Rashi (ibid) explains that he convinced others to build the Tower of Babel:

Mighty in causing the whole world to rebel against the Holy One, blessed be He, by the plan he devised for the generation that witnessed the separation of the races (דור הפלגה) to build the Tower of Babel.
Targum Jerusalem explains that he convinced people not to listen to Shem:
He was mighty in hunting and in sin before the Lord; for he was a hunter of the sons of men in their languages. And he said to them, Leave the judgments of Shem, and adhere to the judgments of Nimrod.

(see also this article connecting Nimrod with Hammurabi like this: Amraphel is Hammurabi, and Chazal connect Amraphel with Nimrod, and this Targum) 

Midrash Tanchuma (Lech Lecha 16) explains that Nimrod caused people to do idolatry: 
This refers to Nimrod the Wicked, who used to make images and lead astray the children of Adam; for idolatry resembles falsehood
Chizkuni (Genesis 10:12) explains that people worshiped Nimrod as a G-d:
... Ashur was being disgusted with his own children acclaiming Nimrod as deity, so much so that he decided to move far north east ...

Ibn Ezra and Radak explain that this referred to his hunting prowess:
MIGHTY - to show the strength of men over the animals for he was a great hunter. BEFORE THE LORD —for he built altars and sacrificed animals on them to G-d
Chizkuni (ibid) explains that this was a preparation for Abraham:
... as predicted in the name of the Lord.” ... The Torah tells us that G-d decreed that a person of the type of Nimrod had to arise in order for Avraham to demonstrate that one could prevail even against such mighty warriors who defied the Lord ... According to tradition no ferocious beast ever escaped alive in an encounter with Nimrod. He was aided by G-d in attaining such a reputation so that G-d could demonstrate in due course that such apparently invincible warriors could not prevail against Him.
Tur Ha-Aroch (Genesis 10:7) explains that this was singling him out because he did not create a nation:
On the other hand, Nimrod did not develop into being founder of a nation. We know this because the Torah describes his exploits in a different manner in verse 9. We would have expected the Torah to write: ובני כוש נמרד, following the pattern established since the beginning of the chapter.
HaEmek Davar (ibid) explains that this was about rulership:
FIRST MAN OF MIGHT - From him originated the concept of kingship and rule over men. Truly, this was the will of G-d in order to upkeep the world for without a government, a fellow would eat his friend alive, and Nimrod was the one who began this. MIGHTY HUNTER BEFORE THE LORD - for through this he completed the will of G-d ... and therefore they say this over a man who was wicked but his deeds are desirable before G-d, and it is a wonder  so they say "like Nimrod, a mighty hunter before the Lord".
Tur HaAruch (Genesis 10:13) explains in a similar way but referring to war:
The correct interpretation of our verse (author’s words) is that he was the first individual to assert his power over his fellow human beings, making them subject to his will. He introduced organized warfare, commencing with his capture of Babylon. He followed this up by subjecting Assyria to his rule.
Radak explains in a similar fashion but learns that Nimrod lived after the separation of the people:
Nimrod displayed his power and bravery either vis a vis one nation, or even vis a vis numerous nations by conquering them and being appointed or appointing himself as their ruler, their king. Until the time of Nimrod no one had possessed the effrontery to lord it wholesale over his fellow man. Nimrod invented the concept of “dictator.” These developments were a by-product of mankind having dispersed over different areas of the globe after the collapse of their attempt to “conquer” heaven.
Malbim (Esther 1:1) explains the type of monarchy Nimrod had:
There were two types of monarchies:
  • The first was a monarchy in which the king was elected by the people.
  • The second type of monarchy was rule by force, in which the king conquered the country and became its ruler against the wishes of the people.
This is what is told about Nimrod, and from these two appear two different types of governing:
  • A. The powers of the king in the first type of monarchy were limited. The limitations to his actions are known. The limits of his powers were legislated already at the time of his election. Upon taking office, the king swore to follow the laws and practices of the country.
  • B. In the second type of monarchy, however, the powers of the king were unlimited. He does what he desires. Though he might seek the advice of ministers, he did what he wanted, changing the laws of the country and its practices as he saw fit. He is the king and the law maker, all in one.

When Did Nimrod Attack Abraham?

Midrash Rabbah (Bereishis Rabbah 38:13) explains that this was when Abraham rebelled against his father:
Terah took Abraham and passed him off to [King] Nimrod. ... Nimrod replied: You're just speaking words - I only worship fire. I will throw you into it, and the God you worship can save you from it.
Rabbeinu Bachya (Genesis 15:8) writes that Nimrod also tried to kill Abraham at birth:
According to a comment in the Sefer Hayashar at the time Avram was born a certain star in the eastern sky “swallowed “ four other stars in four directions of the sky. At that time Nimrod’s advisors said to him: “at this moment a son has been born to Terach whose descendants will produce a nation which will inherit the whole earth as well as the hereafter. If you agree, let us give his father a house full of gold and silver and get his permission to kill the baby.”

How Did Nimrod Die?

Daas Zeikenim (Genesis 25:30) explains:
for I am tired, worn out;” according to tradition, on that day Esau had killed Nimrod the foremost hunter in the world up to that time, and its ruler. Nimrod had challenged him to a duel as he had not asked him for permission to use his hunting grounds. He had consulted with his brother what to do about this. Yaakov had told him that as long as Nimrod was wearing the garments which had once belonged to Adam he was invincible. As soon as he would take off those garments he could easily be overcome. Esau engineered to find him without those garments and killed him. On that day he was exhausted from that effort.

Who Was Related to Nimrod?

According to Targum Jonathan (Genesis 14:14) Eliezer was Nimrod's son:

And when Abram heard that his brother was made captive, he armed his young men who were trained for war, grown up in his house; but they willed not to go with him. And he chose from them Eliezer the son of Nimrod, who was equal in strength to all the three hundred and eighteen; and he pursued unto Dan.

(Chizkuni on Genesis 15:2 learns it was his grandson, not son)

Targum Jonathan (Genesis 16:5) says that Hagar was his granddaughter:
And Sara said to Abram, All my affliction is from thee. Being secure that thou wouldst do me justice, I left the land and house of my father, and came up with thee to a foreign land; and forasmuch as I was not able to become a mother, I set free my handmaid, and gave her to lie in thy bosom; and she seeth that she had conceived, and mine honour is despised before her. But now is my affliction manifest before the Lord, who will spread peace between me and thee, and the land shall be replenished from us, nor shall we need the help of the progeny of Hagar the daughter of Pharoh bar Nimrod, who threw thee into the furnace of fire.
The Talmud (Chagigah 13a) learns that Nebuchadnezzar was a descendant of Nimrod (see Rashi ibid):
Rabbi Yochanan the son of Zakai said, "What is the answer that the heavenly voice answered to the same evildoer when he said, "I shall ascend on the heights of dense ground to the One Above (Isaiah 14:14)"? A heavenly voice went out and said to him, 'Evildoer the son of an evildoer the grandson of Nimrod the evildoer, who made the whole earth rebel against His rule.'"

What Gift Did Nimrod Give to Abraham?

Pirkei DeRabbi Eliezer (16) says that he gave him Eliezer (who was Og):
"The elder of the house of Abraham" was Eliezer, his servant. How did he become his servant? When he (i.e. Abraham) was leaving Ur Kasdim, all the great people of the generation gave him gifts. Nimrod signed over his servant Eliezer to Abraham. When he did kindness with Isaac, his son, Abraham freed him and G-d have him rewards in this world and he became king - he was Og, the king of Bashan.
(see above that Eliezer was Nimrod son or grandson)

Targum Jonathan (Genesis 48:22) says this refers to the garments of Adam:
And I, behold, I have given thee one portion. Above thy brethren, the robe of the first Adam. Abraham the father of my father took it from the hands of Nimrod the Wicked, and gave it to Izhak my father; and Izhak my father gave it to Esau, and I took it from the hands of Esau my brother, not with my sword nor with my bow, but through my righteousness and my good works.

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