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9. Post-diluvian Kings (§§62-65)

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9. Post-diluvian Kings (§§62-65)




62. According to Syncellus (ed. Mosshammer 58, 102 = ed. Dindorf 98, 170) the Biblical Mizraim, son of Ham, son of Noah, was the first king of the First Dynasty of Egypt, called Menes or Min in Classical Greek writers, Meni in the native Egyptian king-lists and Men in inscriptions from his own era, which confirm his historicity.




A close-up of Mizraim (Men, Narmer), the first king of Egypt


Men is thought to have been a personal name: the king’s “Horus name” (royal title) was Narmer (Egyptian nr-mr , or Mer-nar if the signs should be read in the alternative order, mr-nr). Men belonged to a warrior élite which arrived by ship from Mesopotamia in the predynastic Naqada II (or Gerzean) period, as archaeologists call it, corresponding to the archaeological era known as Jemdet Nasr in Mesopotamia. His reign in Egypt coincided roughly with the earlier phase of the Early Dynastic period, following Jemdet Nasr, in Mesopotamia.

His name is understandable if we take into account his Mesopotamian origin. The Hebrew Mizraim means “double boundary” (see Gesenius-Tregelles s. Mazor [māṣôr II]), and the singular is used as a geographical name, of Egypt, in Isa. 19. 6, 37. 25, II Ki. 19. 24 (Gesenius-Tregelles, ibid.). As a common noun it means “boundary, bulwark, fortification.” In Akkadian, the Semitic dialect spoken in Mesopotamia, the equivalent word is miṣru (which functions as a topographical name, Miṣru = Mizraim, Egypt) and this is represented by the Sumerian sign bulug. Bulug means, as does Akkadian miṣru, boundary, but more literally denotes a pointed boundary-stone (Akkadian pulukku), and it also means a pointed tool, a chisel or similar (Akkadian maggaru, maqqaru). The sign bulug can also be read nagar, which means craftsman. The word pulukku is sometimes written bulug.nagar, meaning the pointed tool (bulug) of a nagar (craftsman). The word nagar is also the name of a water-creature, and is used to signify the particular water-creature, crab, or tortoise (some animal “craftsman” of the water, using its claws, mandibles or other extremities as tools), seen in the Zodiacal sign of Cancer. In this form we have an exact duplicate of the Egyptian name Mer-nar, as bulug.nagar is formed of two signs: Sumerian bulug = Akkadian maggaru = Egyptian mr, “chisel”; and Sumerian nagar = Akkadian naggaru = Egyptian nr, water-creature. Egyptian mr-nr = Sumerian bulug.nagar = pulukku = miṣru = Heb. sing. Mazor, māṣôr = Egypt, but it is more precisely represented by the Heb. dual Mizraim, miṣraim, as Akkadian maggarunaggaru (= Sum. bulug.nagar [Eg. mr-nr]) is formed of two words from the identical root, meaning literally “chisel of the chiseler,” and the sign bulug itself can also be read nagar.


63. Byzantine chronographers, including Syncellus (ed. Mosshammer 89, 101 = ed. Dindorf 149, 169) further identified the first king named in the Bible, Nimrod son of Cush, son of Ham, with a primeval Babylonian king called Euechoios, who featured prominently in the chronicle of the Babylonian priest Berossus. (For the preserved fragments of Berossus’ chronicle, including his references to Euechoios, see §241ff., below, >>.) Eusebius, according to the Renaissance scholar Scaliger, anticipated the Byzantines in this equation: hence “Euechous,” alias Nimrod, appeared in the copy of Eusebius’ Canon (“in Chron. Can. p. 14”) consulted by Newton. (The identification with Nimrod is found in Syncellus, quoting Eusebius, as Scaliger thought, §252, below, >>.) Newton’s skepticism concerning the citation’s content, was based, not on any doubt that it was transmitted to the Byzantines by Eusebius, but on his mistaken belief that the last syllable in the name Euechous represented the name Cush (Jewish National and University Library, Yahuda Ms. 41: “The Original of Religions” 14r): “Eusebius tells us that ye Chaldeans first of all men proclaimed themselves kings & according to their tradition gives a list of their seven first kings the first of all which was [in Greek script:] Euechous [in Latin script:] Evechous. This King Eusebius takes to be Nebrod or Nimrod. But he was king of Assyria.” The Euechoios of Berossus was the king called in the Sumerian King List Enmekar or Enmerkar of the First Dynasty of Uruk. (For the post-diluvian sections of the Sumerian King List, see §589ff., below, >>, and for the particular section mentioning Enmekar, §591, below, >>.) His name appeared in Greek transcription as Euechoios, or Euechios, and once in the more correct form Euechoros. (For this last form of the name and a legend about his tyrannical rule, see §185, below, >>.) He was listed by Berossus as the first Babylonian king following the Flood of Xisouthros (= Ziusudra-Noah). Enmerkar was, as the Bible says of Nimrod, the first “mighty man” of the post-diluvian era. The Sumerian King List did name some post-diluvian kings, — the kings of the First Dynasty of Kish (see §590, below, >>) and a king of Eana, — before Enmerkar, but the Kish kings were out of strict chronological sequence, since some, if not all, of them were contemporary with the Dynasty of Enmerkar. (For details see §201, below, >>.) Of these, in any case, no notable political or military exploits were recorded. The most famous of them, Etana of Kish, was a sage rather than a “mighty man.” Enmerkar, on the other hand, was renowned for his military expeditions and his self-aggrandizement (see §107, below, >>, §335, below, >>), a typical “mighty man” in Biblical terminology. He is now known to be dateable to an archaeological period preceding Early Dynastic III and following the Flood of Ziusudra, for the dating of which see the following paragraphs. That would be (working back in time) in Early Dynastic II or I, or in the Jemdet Nasr or Uruk periods. (For a chart illustrating these archaeological periods go to §77.1, below, >>.) This chronology of Enmerkar, established independently by archaeologists in the modern era, tends to confirm the veracity of the Byzantine tradition: in the Bible and the Byzantine chronicles based on it, Nimrod is only separated by a single generation from his uncle Mizraim, and archaeologically the era of Mizraim-Menes’ migration to Egypt at a time corresponding to the Jemdet Nasr period in Mesopotamia and of his reign in Egypt at a time roughly coinciding with the beginning of the Early Dynastic period in Mesopotamia, allows sufficient time for the complete, or partial and continuing, reign of his nephew Nimrod-Enmerkar of the succeeding generation in the interval preceding Early Dynastic III.


64. Further confirming the validity of the Byzantine identification: the Sumerian name Enme(r)kar is written three ways, Enme-kar, Enme-er-kar and Enme-erum-kar. The first two signs in the name, en and me, both mean “lord,” and are a combination frequently found in early Sumerian names. En was originally a religious title, the “lord” being then more a “priest” or “prophet.” The final element kar (the sign kar2) means “to be bright, resplendent, inflamed.” Sumerian kar2 = Akkadian napahu and nabau, “shine, flare up,” or rather, it represents the “shining” (napahu and nabau) of glittering or glowing substances, viz. kar2, or the same sign reduplicated (making an intensive form of the verb) signifies specifically the “glittering of running water,” or “glare of daylight” or “shining of light.” The transferred sense is “flare up, be agitated, rebel.” In the first form of the name, Enme-kar, the element kar alone appears, preceded by the title enme. In the other two forms of the name Enme-er-kar (which is the common form of the name in epics composed about this king) and Enme-erum-kar (which only occurs in Jacobsen’s P2 text of the Sumerian King List [though Jacobsen reads ru3 for rum and suspects it to be a scribal error]), the middle element is er or erum, meaning “servant.” The Sumerian er and erum are translated into Akkadian as ardu or urdu, “servant, subordinate, slave, minister.” So Enme-er-kar might be translated into Akkadian as Naphu-urdu, “Rebellious (naphu, lit. flaring) subordinate (urdu).” By a common phonological development in Semitic dialects the “p” in Naphu is exchanged for “b” and “b” for “m,” the aspirated h softens into a breathing and disappears, and the two medial vowels (u-u) coalesce, producing the Hebrew form Nim-rod (Naphu-urdu > Namh-urd > Nam’-urd, Nam-rud [the Arabic form], Nim-rod [the Hebrew form, with earlier nam’ becoming nim’, like adq > idq, Gesenius-Kautzsch-Cowley, Hebrew Grammar, §9.5]) and the Greek (LXX) form Nebrod (p > b, rather than m). Actually the verb napahu in the sense “rebel” is attested in Akkadian also in a form with medial “b” and with the “h” softened to a breathing, naba’u (CAD v. naba’u B): from this is formed the substantive nabi’u, variant napihu, also nabihu, meaning “rebel, plunderer.” A striking example of the exchange of “b” for “m” in the representation of Babylonian names in Hebrew is the form Berodach-baladan, initial beth (b), II Kings 20. 12, for Merodach-baladan, initial mem (m), Isa. 39. 1. If, as is possible, the Akkadian scribes read the element kar2 as the intensive form of the verb napahu, viz. nuppuhu, “flare up intensively, repeatedly,” then the name could be read Nuppuh-urdu or (with dissimilation of the doubled consonants), Numpuh-urdu, and, with medial “b” and a breathing, Numbu-urdu. The latter, seemingly, is the form reflected in the “Nymbrotus” (= Numbrotus) of the Defloratio Berosi. Cf. also the Arabic form Numrud, §668, below, >> (otherwise Nimrud), as in Numrud/Nimrud, the modern name for the city Kalhu (Calah) in Assyria, meaning the city of Nimrod, and Birs-Numrud (otherwise Birs-Nimrud, the Tower of Nimrod), the modern name for Borsippa in Babylonia. The Scriptural Hebrew form, whilst representing a phonological equivalent of the Akkadian Naphu-urdu, also means “Rebellion” or “Suffering/Experiencing a rebellion,” from Heb. m-r-d, “rebel,” and thus duplicates the meaning, as well as the form, of the Mesopotamian royal name. In the original naming of the child the meaning intended was, perhaps, that Nimrod’s skin at birth showed traces of tanning, reddening or lividness, like that of his father Cush (see further §65, and §113, below, >>, naphu = “shining, resplendent,” but also “inflamed, swollen”). Ethiopians (Puntites), the descendants of Nimrod’s father Cush, were notably of a red complexion. Thus Enme-kar would properly mean “Inflamed one,” with the usual initial titular element enme. On rising to power, the middle element er or erum was added to emphasize the king’s authority over his subjects: “lord (enme) of the rebellious (kar, lit. flaring, inflamed) subordinate[s] (er).” This was the preferred form in the epics composed to glorify his martial prowess.


65. Nimrod in the Bible is the son of Cush, the son of Ham. In the Sumerian King List Enmekar is son of Mes-kianga-sher, the son of Utu (or, Puzur, see §312, below, >>). This last name is the name of the sun-god in Sumerian but it is written with a sign which is translated into the Semitic language of Babylonia as immu, “Heat,” from the root ememu, “to be hot.” Hebrew is related to Babylonian and the corresponding word in Hebrew is amam, “to be hot,” from which, or from the cognate word ḥûm, to be dark/black, is formed the word “Ham,” the “Hot, Dark or Black one.” In Akkadian, the Semitic dialect of Babylonia, we find the adjective Emmu or Ammu, from ememu, meaning “hot,” which corresponds exactly to the Hebrew form, Ham: the initial aspirated “h” in Hebrew is often, as in this case, turned into a vowel in Akkadian. (The word Ham in Biblical Hebrew has two meanings 1. “Shelterer” 2. “Hot [or, Dark, Black] one.” The original meaning of the patriarch’s name was “Shelterer,” but the latter has become the more popular interpretation, because of Ham’s connection with Africa. For detailed information on the name Ham go to §312, below, >>.) The Sumerian sign with which the name Utu or Puzur is written is UD. When pronounced like a long “u” (u4), UD is translated “umu,” meaning “day, daylight, heat of day,” in the Semitic dialect of Babylonia. That is, the Semites pronounced the word with a slight “m” sound at the end (u > um > umu). In Hebrew the word also has an initial aspirated (sharp) “h” sound: ḥom = “day, daylight, heat of day,” that is u > um > ḥum/ḥom. In the Sumerian King List the name read “Utu” by modern scholars is written with this sign UD (u4), which, for the reasons stated, might have been read by Semites simply as “Um” or “Ammu” (= “Ham”). In the Sumerian King List he appears as a god, not a mortal. There he is the divine, or rather divinized, father of Mes-kianga-sher, who ruled over the Temple Complex Eana before it developed into the city Uruk or Erech, and the grandfather of Enme(r)kar, who became the first king of Uruk-Erech, once that had been constructed. This further implies that Mes-kianga-sher, the son of Utu (Ammu, Ham) and father of Enmerkar (Nimrod), is the Biblical Cush, the son of Ham and father of Nimrod. The names, once again, have equivalent meanings. Mes-kianga-sher means “Comrade [mes-kianga] tanned one [sher, literally, burning, reddening, i.e. as of sunburn].” Cush likewise means “dark complexioned [and, as an ethnic term ‘Ethiopian’].” The Hebrew word kush (Cush) conveys the idea of “distinction” and “beauty” along with the idea of “dark complexion.” (The Jewish Encyclopedia s.v. Cush.) The name Cush is translated “dusky, sun-burned” already in the second century BC, in a tradition quoted by Eupolemus (§142f., below, >>). The Greek term Aithiops, “Ethiopian,” likewise means “Burning (or, burnt) appearance (or face).” Originally the Hebrew word kush seems to have meant “cut, knaw at, mark, char, cause peeling” (cf. the related words k-sh-sh, k-s-h/k-s-y, and k-s-s [with samekh], especially the latter), so Cush, strictly speaking, was the “Charred, or Peeled, one,” which closely parallels the meaning of the Sumerian Mes-kianga-sher. More than this, the first two elements in the name Mes-kianga-sher are titular, meaning “comrade, beloved,” lit. “lovely or beloved [kianga] male [mes],” and the significant element is the last element, “sher,” which is translated into Akkadian as Kasu (Kasû), the “Marked, or, Livid one.This gave rise, as must now be evident, to the national eponymus, Egyptian Kash = Hebrew Cush, Ethiopia: the ancient Cushites were of a notably red complexion, as referenced supra. See further on the meaning of the Sumerian and Hebrew forms of the name §113, below, >>. The Sumerian King List records of Mes-kianga-sher that: “He went down into the sea and went out to the mountains.” Considering the history of his brother, Mizraim, this is most probably a reference to the migration of Cush along with him to Africa across the Indian Ocean. There was an Iranian/Arabic tradition that Cush “Elephant-tooth” migrated to the Horn of Africa where he assumed divine honors. (For translations of the accounts go to §669, below, >>, §677ff., below, >>.) According to Mar Abas Catina (2nd century BC) Cush was worshiped as the sun-god (§92, below, >>). The same Iranian/Arabic tradition records Cush first went to the lands to the east of Mesopotamia, specifically India and (Indo-)China, from which he was brought back in fetters for acting tyrannically against the line of Shem, and only subsequently migrated to Ethiopia. This accords with the tenor of the note in the Sumerian King List. The Son of the Sun “went down into” the sea, like the sun, then “went out” to the mountains. The “sea” for Sumerians was the Persian Gulf, which actually runs south-eastwards towards the Indian Ocean and the rising of the sun. There is therefore also a play on words in the reference, implying Mes-kianga-sher “went down” towards the east and “went out” towards the west, in exact reverse of the sun’s daily motion. That is, he migrated first to the east (India), where he fell into disfavor (sunset), then traveled west (Ethiopia), where he rose to sun-like divinity (sunrise). Cush became the ancestor of the darker-complexioned Ethiopians dwelling along the Nile south of Elephantine (the River Gihon), and the sons of Mizraim settled the banks of the Nile northwards towards the Delta (the River Pishon).


First kings of Eana-Uruk after the Inundation (for the original King List on which this based go to §591, below, >>):

Mes-kianga-sher [Kasu = Cush], the son of the so-called (sun-)god Utu/Puzur [Ammu = Ham], was king of the Temple Complex Eana. He “went down into the sea [the Indian Ocean] and went out to the mountains [of East Africa].”

Enmerkar [Naphu-urdu = Nimrod], son of Mes-kianga-sher [Cush]. He was responsible for the construction of the city Uruk [Erech], centered on the Temple Complex Eana, and ruled as king there.

Lugal-banda (called a “god”)

Dumuzi (Tammuz) the “Fish-catcher” (called a “god”)

Gilgamesh (called a “god”).