Saturday, September 29, 2012

Abraham of the Bible -- III

Who Was Abraham
Article III

Love is a powerful thing, and there is no earthly love stronger than that of a parent for their child.
Even though Abram’s father, Terah, had sworn his life and allegiance to King Nimrod, he formulated a plan to protect his newborn son, Abram, from the king. Nimrod, the powerful ruler of Babylon was the son of Kush, who was the son of Ham. Ham’s rebellion against God and his disrespect for his father, Noah, landed him in the position of being the least favored of Noah’s sons. Because of this, Nimrod suspected that his power-grab and declaration of kingship might one day be threatened by a descendant of Shem, one of Noah’s other sons. Whether or not Shem was the firstborn is debatable. It appears, however, that he was the favored son.

Nimrod’s priests warned him of the possibility of such an heir arriving on the scene, their prophecies precipitated, most likely, by their knowledge of Abram’s father, Terah, being a descendant of Shem. Should Terah have a son, his firstborn might well turn out to be such a threat. When Nimrod’s astrologers noticed a new and bright star rising in the east, they took that as a sign that a descendant of Shem had indeed been born. 

In response to his priest’s warnings, Nimrod decided that all newborn boys would have to be put to death. 

With a bit of bad timing, after years of trying, Terah, at the age of seventy, had recently become a potential father. His wife, Amathlai, was pregnant and about to give birth, a fact that she and Terah had managed to hide from the king. When Amathlai gave birth to Abram, Terah secreted his new son out of town and hid him in a cave. As it turned out, one of Terah’s servants also gave birth to a boy that night. Grasping the dark opportunity, Terah took the servant child and when the king’s messengers arrived, he passed the baby off as his own and turned the boy over to the king.

Abram lived in the cave until he was ten years old. What happened after that?
More to come in the next post.

As always, feel free to comment or offer additional information.

                                                           Abraham as a young adult

Thursday, September 06, 2012

Abraham II -- Who was King Nimrod

Abraham Article II
Who exactly was Nimrod?
When the flood waters receded to an acceptable level, Noah and his wife, Emzara disembarked from the Ark along with their sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and their respective wives.

The descendants of Shem became the Shemites, or Semites (Semitic line of descent); the descendants of Japheth,  the Indo-European nations, also known as the Gentiles; and the descendants of Ham, the Canaanites, Babylonians, Egyptians, and the Philistines. 

Since we’re exploring Nimrod, it should be noted that the story of Ham, observing and taking delight in seeing his father, Noah, naked, is a metaphor for Ham’s rebellion against God. In light of this, it is understandable that Ham’s son, Cush, and his grandson, Nimrod, might also be rebellious against God. Nimrod proved to be that and more. In fact, it might be said that it became his life’s work, his passion to persuade people away from God. His reputation of being a mighty hunter might come more from his capturing of men than from hunting down wild game. 

As Nimrod’s influence grew, he established the Cities of Erech, Nineveh, Babel, and Akkad among others, which would become the land of Shinar, or Sumer, the beginning of the kingdom of Babylonia. 

It has been suggested that Nimrod and Ninus (In Greek mythology, King of Assyria and founder of the city of Nineveh) was the same person. Even more interesting, theories have emerged, which indicate that Nimrod might have actually been Gilgamesh, the hero of a Babylonian epic, inscribed on ancient clay tablets, that parallels the Biblical story of Noah and the flood. According to the tablets, Gilgamesh was from Erech, a city attributed to Nimrod. Genesis 10:8-11, states that Nimrod established a kingdom. Since the Babylonian kingdom seems to be one of the earliest, if not the first kingdom on earth, it stands to reason that such an event would be recorded in extra-Biblical literature. And it was. Not only was the epic of Gilgamesh recorded on Sumerian tablets, but similar tales are found among the Assyrian and Hittite cultures as well. 

Scholars and translators of the cuneiform tablets that contain the Gilgamesh Epic agree that the text was composed around 2000 BC while the material written about, the numerous episodes of adventure, relate to a much earlier time period, probably not long after the flood. There are many similarities between Nimrod and Gilgamesh. Both were known as great builders and might warriors, they were from the same area, and arguably lived around the same time period. Nimrod seemed to be obsessed with the occurrence of a second flood. He built the tower of Babel, which was most likely a Mesopotamian Ziggurat, a pyramid shaped structure with staircases and ramps that led to a shrine on top, with the hope of constructing it high enough to escape the flood waters.

Nimrod was also obsessed with something else. Being a descendant of Ham, he feared that a descendant of Shem would someday show up and challenge his authority. That descendant would be Abram, later known as Abraham. I’ll cover more of this in the next post.

Pictured below is an example of clay tablet containing Gilgamesh Epic