Thursday, November 29, 2012

Nimrod - Establishing the Sumerian Civilization

Repeating Hugh Nibley's quote from the earlier section: "Nimrod was a very righteous king when he was young. He had great intelligence and great strength, and the Lord rewarded him for his service to the human race by giving him the bow ... Men at that time [following the flood] were threatened by the beasts; they couldn't defend themselves against the wild animals ... Men weren't up to it, so God gave Nimrod the bow to protect the human race ... Now comes the.... test. God gives a capable man wealth and see what he will do with it.  Nimrod was the first person to establish kingship, fortifications, armies, and things like that  (Hugh Nibley, Teachings of the Book of Mormon--Semester 1: Transcripts of Lectures Presented to an Honors Book of Mormon Class at Brigham Young University, 1988--1990, p. 230)."
Did he pass the test?  We shall see as his story unfolds.
Apparently things went well at first and Nimrod worked for the well being of his family and friends.
When Nimrod was 40 years of age he became a leader among his brethren of the family of Cush. They were in the power of their enemies, the sons of Japheth.  Nimrod organized an army to liberate and defend his people.  He and his men were blessed by the Lord in defeating their enemies and bringing them into subjection, apparently using their new found weapon, the bow.  His followers thereupon make him king and Nimrod organized a government with princes, judges, rulers, etc.  This kingdom was to last for 185 years until his death (see Jasher 27:16).
"And ... Nimrod ... began to be a mighty one in the earth.  He was a mighty hunter before the Lord: wherefore it is said, Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar (Gen. 10:8-10)."
Referring again to Jasher: "And Nimrod strengthened himself, and he rose up from amongst his brethren, and he fought the battles of his brethren against all their enemies round about.  And the Lord delivered all the enemies of his brethren in his hands, and God prospered him from time to time in his battles, and he reigned upon earth."
"And when Nimrod was forty years old, at that time there was a war between his brethren and the children of Japheth, so that they were in the power of their enemies.  And Nimrod went forth at that time, and he assembled all the sons of Cush and their families, about four hundred and sixty men, and he hired also from some of his friends and acquaintances about eighty men, and be gave them their hire, and he went with them to battle, and when he was on the road, Nimrod strengthened the hearts of the people that went with him.
And he said to them, Do not fear, neither be alarmed, for all our enemies will be delivered into our hands, and you may do with them as you please.  And all the men that went were about five hundred, and they fought against their enemies, and they destroyed them, and subdued them, and Nimrod placed standing officers over them in their respective places.  And he took some of their children as security, and they were all servants to Nimrod and to his brethren, and Nimrod and all the people that were with him turned homeward.  And when Nimrod had joyfully returned from battle, after having conquered his enemies, all his brethren, together with those who knew him before, assembled to make him king over them, and they placed the regal crown upon his head.  And he set over his subjects and people, princes, judges, and rulers, as is the custom amongst kings.  And he placed Terah the son of Nahor [who, inccidently was a Semite] the prince of his host, and he dignified him and elevated him above all his princes.  And whilst he was reigning according to his heart's desire, after having conquered all his enemies around, he advised with his counselors to build a city for his palace, and they did so.  And they found a large valley opposite to the east, and they built him a large and extensive city, and Nimrod called the name of the city that he built Shinar, for the Lord had vehemently shaken his enemies and destroyed them.  And Nimrod dwelt in Shinar, and he reigned securely, and he fought with his enemies and he subdued them, and he prospered in all his battles, and his kingdom became very great.  And all nations and tongues heard of his fame, and they gathered themselves to him, and they bowed down to the earth, and they brought him offerings, and he became their lord and king, and they all dwelt with him in the city at Shinar, and Nimrod reigned in the earth over all the sons of Noah, and they were all under his power and counsel (Book of Jasher 7:31-45)."
From his nucleus of four cities, Nimrod established a vast empire which eventually held influence from the Caspian Sea to the Gulf of Arabia, and from India to the Mediterranean.  Starting with a small group of friends and relatives, the population increased into the millions, and included all the various ethnic groups in the surrounding areas.  Many of these were full fledged citizens, while many others were only servants or slaves.   They developed a vast agricultural complex in the lower Tigris Euphrates valley, which included canals and an elaborate irrigation system.  They expanded their cities, enclosing them with walls, and constructing civic centers utilizing advanced architectural techniques.  Skilled occupations and trades were developed and flourished in the cities.  Long distance commerce was established exporting their agricultural produce, and importing wood, metal, stones, and other exotic materials.  
They utilized and refined all the knowledge and science Noah had passed on to his posterity from the pre-flood culture.  This included a system of writing and educational centers.  They developed a unique system of writing, later called Cuniform, which was inscribed with a stylus onto damp clay.  Many other advances were introduced at this time.  Nimrod's genius and leadership inspired all of this initial development.  
The Sumerian civilization appeared on the scene fully developed.  It did not evolve from the primitive to the complex.  All it required was a population base to begin developing its potential. Utilizing and expanding on the knowledge passed down from Noah and his posterity, the Sumerians maximized their culture and developed their civilization.  
One of the advantages of centralizing a population into large communities is that such knowledge and technology can by maximized.  However, normally the disadvantages of urban life outweigh these advantages.  This was one of the reasons that the Lord had counseled against congregating in cities, and had commanded that the population should disperse. 
For a full treatise on the Sumerain culture, refer to my blog on Sumerian Origins.


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