Christian Churches of God
Nimrod and False Religion
(Edition 1.0 20030904-20030904)
And Cush begot Nimrod and he began to be a mighty one on the earth. This paper has been adapted from Chapters 5 of The Bible Story Volume 1 by Basil Wolverton Published by Ambassador College Press.
Christian Churches of God
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Nimrod and False Religion
After the Flood
Many years passed and Noah’s sons had lots of children and their children grew up and had more children. Soon there were many people on the earth again. All these people who came into the world were descended from Noah's three sons and their wives (Gen. 9:19).
As the years passed people increased in numbers. At this point in time the whole world spoke one language. As they moved east they found a plain in Shinar and settled there (Gen. 11:1-2). Men began putting up homes, barns, warehouses and all kinds of buildings. Before long towns were sprawling over the plain. More and more families chose that area in which to live. So people were moving together again just as they had done before the flood.
There were very few rocks or trees there. Probably no great city would have been built there if it hadn't been discovered that much of the soil was just right for making excellent bricks. These were made by pressing moist clay into block shapes and baking them in the sun or around fires. So the people used bricks instead of stone and bitumen for mortar to hold the bricks together (Gen. 11:3). Then they said "Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower whose top may reach to the heavens, and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered over the face of the whole earth."
This did not please God. He knew that when human beings huddled together in crowded buildings, they failed to get the best out of the good things He had created for men to find in the fields, the forests, the mountains, the streams and even in the seas and deserts. Besides, men were more likely to break God's rules of happy living when they existed in masses. God had told Noah and his family that people should spread out over the earth.
Nimrod Becomes a Hero
At this time in human history there was a man named Nimrod who was descended from one of Noah's sons, Ham. Actually he was Noah’s great-grandson and his father’s name was Cush.
Nimrod, if we accept a Hebrew basis for the origin of the name, means rebellion or the valiant from Strong’s Hebrew Dictionary 5248.
The Hebrews may well have associated this name with rebellion and hence their word came into use. Nimrod certainly lived up to his name if it was indeed rebellion.
However, the name may have come from the Mesopotamian Ninurta, which came to be applied to a war god who was also called the arrow, the mighty hero whose cult became widespread in the late Second Millennium BCE. His name was seen in the later kings and the Assyrian king, who was the first Assyrian to rule over all Babylonia, was named Tukulti-Ninurta I (ca 1246-1206 BCE). Scholars have recently tried to suggest that this king was actually the origin of the name Ninurta. However, it is far too late and it is more likely he was named for the previous Nimrod, and the cult of Ninus, another god of the east, was also linked to Ninurta. Both Ninurta and Ninus are probably derived from the earlier Nimrod.
Often, because Nimrod was a son of Cush, the Pharaoh Amenophis III (1411-1375) is associated with him by some scholars who don’t believe the truth of the Bible. This is based on the fact that the sons of Cush migrated from Mesopotamia to Ethiopia. However, they seem to have come from Kussu, which is east of Mesopotamia, and some of the sons of Cush may have also gone further east to the Indus River basin, in what is now Pakistan and on into India.
Assyria was also once called the land of Nimrod and he established cities at Babel or Babylon, Erech, Akkad and Calneh in Shinar which is the ancient name for Sumeria. It was associated with Asshur and Nineveh, which was once the mightiest city of the Assyrians and their capital at the height of the Assyrian Empire. These lands are in or near modern Iraq.
The Bible tells us Nimrod was a "mighty hunter before Yahovah (or the Lord)" and thus a very large, strong, fierce man. Because of his power and skill as a successful hunter of wild beasts that attacked people, he became a hero and a leader among his tribesmen (Gen. 10:8-9). Like most others of his time, he knew of his Creator's laws, but he hated those laws. Just as many people today have been led to believe, Nimrod believed that if he lived by God's rules he wouldn't enjoy life. He lived by his own laws, and tried to prove to others that they should do the same.
Nimrod became chief over the people who grouped together in the main sprawling town in the land of Shinar. Probably there were many families who didn't like the way he ordered them about, but whenever wild animals attacked, Nimrod and his warriors fought to protect the townspeople. Nimrod later built a wall around the growing town. Deeds like these helped to make him a strong leader, and caused more families to move in and settle under his rule.
Before many more years had passed, the town had grown into a city. It was the first large city to be built on the earth after the flood. It was such a wonder that people came from afar to gaze on the vast mass of buildings and high walls. That country later came to be known as Babylonia, and the name of the city was Babel or Babylon (Gen. 10:10). This word is of Akkadian origin and means ‘gateway to a god’ (see note on Gen.10:10 and 1:9, NIV Study Bible)
Nimrod Begins Idol Worship
Nimrod became the most feared man in the land. His power and wealth grew as Babylon grew. He made the laws, and those laws decreed that Babylonians should not look to the God of Noah as their ruler, but should be ruled by human governments. Nimrod also taught them that Satan should be honoured by worshipping objects they could see, such as the sun and snakes and other kinds of things (Rom. 1:21-23).
The name of the God of Babylon was Bel which is a form of Ba’al meaning lord or master. Another name was Merodach, who was a Babylonian "God of War." (Jer. 50:2). In the Hebrew language the name was Baal. He was the sun-god consort Ashtoreth or Ishtar or Easter for which the festival Easter is named. Bel was considered the chief god among the many idols. Nimrod strengthened his power over his subjects by making himself the high priest of Bel, or Baal, and of Merodach. There in ancient Babylon were born the false beliefs that have wormed their way into almost every religion. Even today millions and millions of people who may want to live according to the right ways are not aware that their manner of worship follows very closely that of ancient idol worship and pagan rites begun at Babel. People today, calling themselves Christians, keep the Babylonian festivals of the Solstice at Christmas and of Easter, which is the festival of Ishtar whose consort died on a Friday and was resurrected on a Sunday. This consort often carried many names in the mystery cults, such as Attis in the west and Adonis of the Greeks, or Orpheus and Dionysus among the Greeks or Bacchus among the Romans.
The Tower of Babel
One of Nimrod's schemes to hold people together under his rule was to build a tower so gigantic that it would excite everyone's awe and wonder. It was to be the highest temple ever built, and a monument to the sun god in the centre of a world-ruling government (Gen. 11:5).
Men slaved for a long time just to erect the base of the tower. Then little by little the temple took shape toward the sky. Nimrod's plan for a brick monster to loom up over the plain was working out well.
Then God stepped in. He saw that Babel was only the beginning of the things men would try to do. If they went unchecked they would develop knowledge at such a rate the world would be destroyed well within the six thousand years allowed to Satan for the control of mankind. They would become as elohim or gods and they had to be stopped (Gen. 11:6). Imagine what it would have been like if men such as Nimrod had been able to develop weapons such as we have today!
So the false system of worship at Babel was interrupted and dispersed and the languages confused because man was progressing in knowledge so fast that he would surely destroy the planet long before the time frame given to Satan.
Many Languages Begin
The Lord said " If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other" (Gen 11:5-5). Then something happened to the men working on the tower. They began to accuse each other of not talking plainly. Some talked one way, while others talked other ways. The less they understood one another, the more they argued. Arguments grew into fights. Work came to a halt (Gen.11:7-8). God caused them to speak in so many different ways that the lack of communication made it impossible to continue working on the temple. The tower was thereafter called "Babel" because "Babel" meant "confusion" in Noah's original language used there (SHD 894) and it has retained that meaning since.
Not understanding their neighbours, many of the families living in or near the city of Babylon moved away to seek a living in distant parts of the land. This was what God intended them to do (Gen. 10:25 and Deut. 32:7-8). His way of scattering them by confusing their language was a great blow to Nimrod's scheme for quick growth of his kingdom and greater control over man's habits and social behaviour and customs.
But during the next few years, while people were scattering out over the land, those who stayed at Babylon were increasing in numbers. Besides, many more people stopped there in their travels.
Nimrod plans to rule the earth
With the passing of years Nimrod built other cities on the plains of Shinar in Babylonia. He spread his kingdom into Assyria. The sons of Cush, his father, and his brothers, travelled into the continents of Asia and Europe and even down into the land of Egypt and Ethiopia in the continent of Africa. Everywhere this cult implanted the evil custom of worshipping the devil in the form of a snake or as the sun god. Nimrod claimed that Satan the devil had secret knowledge, which he alone was able to open up to his fellowmen. A name associated with Nimrod came to be understood among Bible students as a form of "Peter" or Pawtah, which is based on a prime root meaning "opener" in the language of Chaldea and Babylonia and later Hebrew.
Meanwhile, many of the earth’s inhabitants had little or nothing to do with Nimrod’s ways. Some tribes had travelled so far beyond Babylonia that they did not even know about the start of idol worship. Others didn’t care much about God or about idols.
A small number of the people still chose to obey their Creator. Shem, one of Noah’s sons, was a leader among God’s followers. For many years he worked against the wave of idol worship that spread out of Babylon.
Shem was the youngest son of Noah and the great uncle of Nimrod. Shem as priest of the Most High God had a duty to oppose Nimrod.
How Nimrod died is not clear. But he did die and Shem outlived him by many years. Shem’s priesthood was based at Jerusalem and some of the kings there were high priests named Melchizedek or Adonai-zedek meaning My King is Righteousness or My Lord is Righteousness. Abraham later tithed to Shem or one of his high priests at Jerusalem.
Nimrod’s death was a shocking surprise to his followers. They couldn’t understand how or why the high priest of the sun-god could be allowed to die. So many subjects lost faith in their hero that Nimrod’s religious system started to crumble.
But Satan was not about to give up his struggle to turn man against his Creator. He worked in a very shrewd way to use Nimrod’s death to shock men into going on with their worship of idols. Satan had a plan to make pagan religions something that would not only become more and more popular at that time, but which would cause them to last for thousands of years!
To understand how this happened, we must know something about Nimrod’s wife, called Ishtar or Easter. The Bible refers to her as Ashtoreth. Many people called her Semiramis. Her lustful type of practices are still carried on as far south in Africa as Uganda (cf. Frazer, The Golden Bough, ii, 275). The golden dove is associated with Semiramis and she is also known as the Phrygian Cybele and the Syrian Atargatis. The name Atargatis is a Greek rendering of the consort of the Baal of Tarsus in what is now Syria. The name was once Atheh-atheh which has the name of the goddess of Tarsus. Her cult was also north at a place named Hieropolis-Bambyce near the Euphrates River (cf Frazer ibid v, 162 & n 2,3).
When her husband was killed, she allegedly became the ruler over his kingdom. But because many of her subjects believed that Nimrod wasn’t the god-like being he claimed to be, Semiramis feared that she might lose control over them. She knew that she must think of something that would appear to be a great miracle – something that would fill the people with awe and show them that Nimrod was really a god.
Some time after Nimrod’s death, Semiramis gave birth to a baby boy. This was just what this evil woman needed to carry out her greedy plan. She gave out the news that the baby had no human father, but was brought into being by a magic beam of light from the great sun-god. He was said to be Nimrod’s son, come to restore his father’s government.
This terrible lie was probably too much for some to believe. Nevertheless, the queen succeeded in keeping control of the kingdom. Nimrod was looked upon more and more as the son-god. Furthermore, because of more of her efforts, Semiramis began to be worshipped as a mother of god. She was also knows as ‘The Virgin Mother’ and ‘Queen of Heaven’ (Jer. 7:18; 44:17-19,25). She was the first religious ruler of the world. The cult that followed her was the cult of Cybele as a Mother goddess in the Middle East.
All this happened more than four thousand years ago. It was the very beginning of various pagan religions, and it had such a strong effect down through the centuries that even today many people worship a ‘Queen of Heaven’ even though there never was such a person.
Satan worked in such a crafty way that those ancient idol-worship symbols, dates, customs, ideas and traditions, have become mixed in with the manner in which most people worship today. These things from the past, spoken of in the Bible as ‘hidden mysteries’ still hide the truth from millions who truly want to obey God.
Pagan holidays observed today
God tells us through the Scriptures not to learn the customs of idol-worshippers (Jer. 10:2 and Deut. 12:30-31). On the other hand, many religious leaders sincerely tell us that it would be pagan not to observe the 25th of December as a holiday. This date was celebrated by those ancient pagans as the day of the birth of the child of the Mother of Heaven associated with Nimrod and the god of the sun!
Semiramis and her followers allegedly claimed that on December 25th an evergreen tree grew up overnight from a dead stump in Babylon, and that Nimrod would secretly return at the same time each year to leave gifts on the tree. This was the real beginning of what is celebrated now as Christmas. Santa Claus came much later and we have examined that in another study. See the paper Why we don’t celebrate Christmas (No. CB24).
Another time observed by the worldwide religious festivals is that of the birth of Semiramis or Ishtar. She falsely claimed to have lived as a spirit before the flood, and to have come down from heaven in a huge egg dropped into the Euphrates river. The goddess in the Isthar egg (Easter egg) was none other than Semiramis under another name.
We find Easter is mentioned in the King James Bible (Acts 12:4). However, it was wrongly put there by translators in place of the word ‘Passover’. Passover is one of the times God wants us to observe, whereas Easter Sunday, with its ancient sunrise services, is entirely pagan (1Cor. 5:7-8). See the paper God’s Holy Days (No. CB22).
Now we can begin to understand how Satan worked through Nimrod and Semiramis to cause human beings to believe lies (Rev. 12:9); just as he caused Eve to believe the first lie.
The other gods of this story carry other lies such as the god Attis, who was held to be the one God which was both Father and Son and who came down to earth and was killed on a tree and sent down into Hell on a Friday and resurrected on a Sunday. This is the origin of the Easter story and is not the same as that of Christ being killed at the Passover. It is also the origin of the Triune God coming into Christianity.
This is the false system we term as Mysticism and it has penetrated all the world’s religions.
However, Satan will not always be able to deceive human beings. The time is soon coming when his power will be cut off for a thousand years (Rev. 20:1-3). Then the false religions will be blotted out. Then the world will happily receive all the truth – much of which has been kept from us for so long.