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Nimrod and Abraham

by Nissan Mindel

Talks and tales

  

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Nimrod was one of the sons of Kush. Kush was the son of Ham, the lowest and least important of Noah's three sons. Nimrod came from a line which was cursed by Noah: "Cursed be Canaan, a slave of slaves shall he be unto his brothers."

By birth, Nimrod had no right to be a king or ruler. But he was a mighty strong man, and sly and tricky, and a great hunter and trapper of men and animals. His followers grew in number, and soon Nimrod became the mighty king of Babylon, and his empire extended over other great cities.

As was to be expected, Nimrod did not feel very secure on his throne. He feared that one day there would appear a descendant of Noah's heir and successor, Shem, and would claim the throne. He was determined to have no challenger. Some of Shem's descendants had already been forced to leave that land and build their own cities and empires. There was only one prominent member of the Semitic family left in his country. He was Terah, the son of Nahor. Terah was the eighth generation removed, in a direct line of descendants from Shem. But Nimrod had nothing to fear from Terah, his most loyal and trusted servant. Terah had long before betrayed his family, and had become a follower of Nimrod. All of his ancestors were still living, including Shem himself, but Terah left his ancestral home and became attached to Nimrod. Terah, who should have been the master and Nimrod his slave, became the slave of Nimrod. Like the other people in that country, Terah believed that Nimrod received his kingdom as a gift from the "gods," and was himself a "god." Terah was prepared to serve Nimrod with all his heart. Indeed, he proved himself a very loyal and useful servant. Nimrod entrusted into his hands the command of his armies and made Terah the highest minister in his land.

One night the star-gazers noticed , a new star rising in the East. Every night it grew brighter. They informed Nimrod
Terah was short of nothing but a wife. So he found himself a wife, whose name was Amathlai. They looked forward to raising a large family, but they were not blessed with any children. The years flew by, and Terah still had no son. His father was only twenty-nine years old when he, Terah, was born. But Terah was getting closer to seventy than to thirty, and yet there was no son! He prayed to Nimrod and to his idols to bless him with a son, but his prayers were not answered. Little did he know that Nimrod felt happy about Terah's misfortune. For although Nimrod had nothing to fear from Terah, he could not be sure if Terah's sons would be as loyal to him as their father. Therefore, he was inwardly very pleased that his servant Terah had no children, and probably would never have any. But he could not be, sure, and Nimrod was not taking chances. He ordered his stargazers and astrologers to watch the sky for any sign of the appearance of a possible rival.

One night the star-gazers noticed , a new star rising in the East. Every night it grew brighter. They informed Nimrod.

Nimrod called together his magicians and astrologers. They all agreed that it meant that a new baby was to be born who might challenge Nimrod's power. It was decided that in order to prevent this, all new-born baby-boys would have to die, starting from the king's own palace, down to the humblest slave's hut.

And who was to be put in charge of this important task? Why, Terah, of course, the king's most trusted servant.

Terah sent out his men to round up all expectant mothers. The king's palace was turned into a gigantic maternity ward. A lucky mother gave birth to a girl, and then they were both sent home, laden with gifts. But if the baby happened to be a boy, he was put to death without mercy.


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Abraham
First Jew, and first of our three Patriarchs. Born into a pagan society in Mesepotamia in 1812 BCE, he discovered monethieism on his own. He was told by G-d to journey to the Land of Canaan where he and his wife Sarah would give birth to the Jewish People.
Noah
Tenth generation from Adam. Of all humankind, only he and his family survived the Flood which destroyed all civilization in the year 2106 BCE.
Canaan
The land which G-d promised to give to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Named after the Tribe of Canaanites who dwelt there at the time. Eventually, when the Israelites conquered the land in 1272 BCE, it was renamed the "Land of Israel."
G-d
It is forbidden to erase or deface the name of G-d. It is therefore customary to insert a dash in middle of G-d's name, allowing us to erase or discard the paper it is written on if necessary.