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Chapter XIII

Nimrod Becomes First King

Nimrod was the first man in the world who had the boldness to take to himself the title and prerogative of king, in the face of the yet lingering idea of God as king. And the name which he bears itself testifies to the fact that his action in this was considered by men, and also by the Lord, as precisely the bold thing which is here indicated. The word 'Nimrod' "signifies rebellion, supercilious contempt, and is equivalent to 'the extremely impious rebel.'"

The Bible record of Nimrod is that, "He began to be a mighty one in the earth." Another translation reads:

Cush begat Nimrod, who was the first to be a despot on the earth. He was an overbearing tyrant in Jehovah's sight; wherefore the saying, Even as Nimrod, the overbearing tyrant in Jehovah's sight.54

Genesis 10:8,9

That is, Nimrod was the first one to establish the might, the power, the authority, of human government, in the form of an organized State. He was the first man to assert the power and prerogatives, and assume the title of king over men. "And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar."55 Genesis 10:10


With the setting up of Nimrod's kingdom, the entire ancient world entered a new historical phase. The oriental tradition which makes that warrior the first man who wore a kingly crown, points to a fact more significant than the assumption of a new ornament of dress, or even the conquest of a province. His reign introduced to the world a new system of relations between the governor and the governed. The authority of former rulers rested upon the feeling of kindred; and the ascendancy of the chief was an image of parental control. Nimrod, on the contrary, was a sovereign of territory, and of men just so far as they were its inhabitants, and irrespective of personal ties. Hitherto there had been tribes - enlarged families - society: now there was a nation, a political community - THE STATE. The political and social history of the world henceforth are distinct, if not divergent. - Empires of the Bible, chap. 6, par. 7.

Such was the true origin of the State. The State was, and is, the result of the apostasy of men from God. It is the state's only possible origin; for if all men had always observed the two great commandments, it would have been impossible for there ever to have been any State. There could have been no human authority exercised. All would have been equally subject to God; He would have been the only sovereign.

Before Nimrod, there was society. Respect of the rights of persons and of their property was maintained. It was only when the apostasy grew, and men got farther and farther from God, that the monarchical idea was established and personified in Nimrod.

Let no one misunderstand. This is not to say, nor even to imply, that there should now be no human government, that there should be no State, nor even that there should be no monarchy. It is simply to say the truth - that if there never had been any apostasy from God, there never could have been on earth a State, nor any human government.

It is true that these things are the consequences of the apostasy from God. When men have apostatized from God, monarchies such as that of Nimrod or of Nero, became necessary, just in proportion to the degree of apostasy.

It is better that there should be a government, bad as it may be, than that there should be no government at all. Even such a government as Nimrod's or Nero's is better than none at all. But without apostasy there could never have been any human government; and without the apostasy having gone to a fearful length, there never could have been any such government as Nimrod's or Nero's.

Nimrod's example was eagerly followed by all the tribes around, until they were all absorbed in it. Society had passed away, and only States remained; and all of these States were idolatrous. In all that region, only Abraham believed God, even his own parents being idolaters. "They served other gods."56 Joshua 24:2

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