🔼The name Nimrod: Summary
- From the verb מרד (marad), to rebel.
🔼The name Nimrod in the Bible
The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went forth into Assyria, and built Nineveh and Rehoboth-Ir and Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city.
The prophet Micah sings about the coming of the Ruler in Israel who is to come from Bethlehem Ephrathah, and whose goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity (Micah 5:2). Ruled by Him, we the people will shepherd Assyria with the sword and the land of Nimrod at its entrances (Micah 5:6).
Only in 1 Chronicles 1:10 this name is spelled נמרוד.
🔼Etymology of the name Nimrod
The name Nimrod probably has to do with מרד (marad) meaning to be rebellious or revolt:
The verb מרד (marad) means to be rebellious or to revolt. Nouns מרד (mered) and מרדות (mardut) mean rebellion.
The letter נ (nun), with which our name starts may be due to a grammatical construction that turns a verb passive (he was rebelled against), reflective (he turned himself against), or resultative (to be rebellious).
For a meaning of the name Nimrod, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Rebel. NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Strong for no immediately clear reason. BDB Theological Dictionary suggests a relation to the Babylonian god Marduk, or the star-god Namra-uddu. Some scholars propose that Nimrod is the same figure as the mighty Greek hunter Orion.
Tradition has Nimrod pegged as a not so positive guy but that might be not implied by the text. His epithet "mighty hunter before YHWH" (Genesis 10:9) seems to indicate that the Lord was quite taken with Nimrod's hunting skills. And what was he hunting for? His name suggests that he embodied the object of rebellion, but back when there was no empire to rebel against, the rise of empire was the actual rebellion.
In nature all chaos must increase (or entropy, rather), which means that constructing a modern empire will be opposed by nature itself. This also suggests that the final Jerusalem of the Revelator's vision will not be a fascist empire which can only function when all human enthusiasm is perpetually stifled, but rather one that resembles a natural jungle in which anything lunges for the light and grows into wherever there is room.
Nimrod created a string of cities, which obviously required both a battle against nature's forces and those of primitivity. The first city Nimrod created was Babel or Babylon, which became the very center of learning in which the exiled Judahites perfected the texts that we know as the Old Testament.
It stands to reason that Nimrod (probably not even a single person but rather a personified human endeavor) strove to rebel against primitivity and embrace culture and sophistication. Today some speak of science as "the pursuit of knowledge," which may be precisely what "mighty hunter before YHWH" means. The name Nimrod may literally mean Rebel but by implication it means Cultivation or even Enlightenment.
The word for hunter is ציד (sayyad) and derives from the verb צוד (sud), meaning to hunt or fish. This means that Nimrod was probably the first of the so-called "fishers of men" (Matthew 4:19):
The verb צוד (sud) means to hunt or fish, or more general: to get meat rather than veggies, and by working for it in the wild rather than purchasing it at a store. This verb obviously has a very strong cognitive connotation in the Bible, which would concern an active pursuit of problems and their solutions, rather than learning from whatever happens (veggies) or absorbing other people's theories at some school (food store).
Noun ציד (sayid) means a hunting or game. Noun ציד (sayyad) means hunter. Noun מצד (mesad) means fastness or stronghold (a typically defensive structure). Noun מצוד (masod) may mean siege works or hunting implement (like a net). Likewise, the nouns מצודה (mesoda) and מצודה (mesuda) mean net, fastness or stronghold.
Both nouns ציד (sayid) and צידה (seda) mean provisions or food. The denominative verb ציד (sid) means to supply oneself with food.