Nimrod the Rebel, Ninurta Lord of the Earth, Satan’s Anti-Hero?

Chapter 9 of Corrupting the Image vol 2: Nimrod the Rebel, Satan’s Anti-Hero


From Revelation, we know that Satan, the dragon with seven heads and ten horns, will give his power, throne and great authority to the Beast who shares the same features (Rev 13:1–2). Satan and the Beast share the same qualities because they become one in power, one in purpose and one in authority. Satan will only transfer these resources to someone if it serves his purpose and furthers his kingdom. This merging of roles and transference of power to the Beast discussed in Revelation is not the first time that Satan melded with a man.

After the Flood, Satan carried on with his scheme of world domination through his anti-hero. Satan (Enlil) found his rebellious champion and caused him to be a gibbor, a hero. [1] His champion was Nimrod, the son of Cush. In him, Satan found a willing participant who wanted to be the Son of Perdition, and who, for the promise of becoming a demigod (a gibbor), would lead a life in rebellion to God. He would also lead people to Babylon, the great whore who God vowed to destroy at the end of days.

Cush begot Nimrod; he began to be [heichel lihiot] a mighty one [gibbor] on the earth. He was a mighty hunter [gibbor tzayid] before the LORD; therefore it is said, “Like Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD”. And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar. From that land he went to Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth Ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah (that is the principal city) (Gen 10:8–12).

Satan did not have his former beauty and glorious covering to seduce Nimrod, which means he may have used his angel of light disguise to beguile him to follow his plan. Satan “transforms [μετασχηματίζω] himself into an angel of light” (2 Cor 11:14). He can appear like a hologram in spectacular beauty, but he cannot materialize at will (as far as we know). The word “transform” means “to feign to be what one is not, change/disguise oneself.”[2] In other words, Satan can pretend to be an angel of light which is not his true form; he is simply donning a disguise.

It is likely that before Satan offered the promise of his power, throne and authority to Jesus (and as we see in Revelation, he will later give to the Beast), he had first offered these enticements to Nimrod, who gladly accepted. By throwing himself down and worshiping Satan, Nimrod gained a legendary physique and handsome appearance, and earned the unique status of master of the world, patron of the hunt and supreme hero. He would be so great that humanity would worship him for generations to come. He would be immortal, invincible and immune from all hurt or illness.

Nimrod’s Name

In ancient rabbinical literature, “Nimrod is the prototype of a rebellious people, his name being interpreted as ‘he who made all the people rebellious against God.’”[3] Targum Jonathan (Targum Palestine) also plays on the root of Nimrod’s name as rebel:

“Nimrod … was a mighty rebel [lemrada למרדא] before the Lord; therefore it is said, From the day that the world was created there hath not been as Nimrod, mighty in hunting, and a rebel [meruda מרודא] before the Lord.”[4]

His name in Hebrew means “let us rebel” or “rebellion” [מרד]. Nimrod amassed a huge following by saying, “Let’s revolt! We will build our own cities with new rules contrary to God’s repressive ways.” However, Nimrod was not his given name; instead, it is the moniker that describes his nature and actions. His dad, Cush, did not look over at his wife and say, “Let’s name him Rebellion!” Can you imagine his parents saying: “Hey Rebellion, clean your room!” Parents want their kids to not be rebels. Rather, the biblical writer intentionally distorted[5] Nimrod’s name to reveal his character: the epitome of rebellion.

Nimrod is from the land of Shinar (Sumer); hence, the origin of his name is Sumerian rather than Hebrew. The evidence shows, “Nimrod is a corruption of the Sumerian god-name Ninurta, patron of the hunt.” [6] ANE scholar Amar Annus says it is “a clearly Sumerian name …. The element urta (= IB) has been most frequently interpreted to mean “earth”… thus, Nin-urta ‘the Lord (of) Earth.’” [7]

This name reflects the biblical truth that Satan was Lord of the Earth, and:

  • the ruler of this world [cosmos κόσμος] will be cast out (John 12:31, 14:30, 16:11).
  • the god of this age [aion αἰών] has blinded (2 Cor 4:4).
  • the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one (1 John 5:19).

According to the Epic of Anzu, Ninurta’s “exploits … placed him in charge of the Tablet of Destinies—he ‘won complete dominion.’”[8] The fact that Ninurta was in possession of the Tablet of Destinies meant that Satan had conferred on Ninurta all of his authority. Similarly, Satan will give the Antichrist his “power, his throne and his great authority” (Rev 13:2). The Bible is giving us an interpretation of the things that happened in Shinar to Ninurta—the person behind the name who was a rebel who defied the Most High. Thus, Ninurta, Lord of the Earth, was a haughty but accurate title.

The reason Nimrod is mentioned within the first eleven chapters of Genesis, which covers thousands of years, is that he was amazingly notable. He simply became known as “Let us rebel.” He was the first to become a gibbor and was a hunter / warrior in the face of the Lord. He founded Babel and inspired or helped build the Tower of Babel. The memory of Nimrod is all over the ancient world—just not by the name “Nimrod”. To find him in extra-biblical texts, we look for his traits:

  1. Rebel
  2. Hero of renown (god or demigod – made into a god)
  3. Hunter
  4. Founder of cities such as Erech, Babel and Akkad
  5. Builder of a ziggurat
  6. Controller of cosmic mountain
  7. Known by names with similar root letters as Nimrod

When we look for these qualities, we find a number of matches. We hear echoes of a deified Nimrod under a number of names such as Ninurta, Ningirsu, Marduk, Nergal, Ba’al, Melqart, Pabilsag, Heracles (Hercules), Tammuz and Gilgamesh. These associations from the Ancient Near East suggest that Nimrod, indeed, became a gibbor. The same epithets of Nimrod were used for these “gods”. In fact, we are going to see many parallels that will show us that the memory and legend of Nimrod lived on. According to David Rohl, in The Lost Testament: From Eden to Exile the Five-Thousand-Year History of the People of The Bible, Nimrod was:

“represented as both semi-divine hero and god. The Babylonians knew him as Ninurta, the hunter-god armed with bow, and linked him with Marduk, warrior-god and lord of vegetation. The Sumerians of Eridu themselves elevated the mortal King Enmer-kar (‘Enmer the hunter’) to godhood as Asar, ‘son’ of Enki. The Sumerians of the Early Dynastic times named him Ningirsu, god of war and agriculture. In the city of Lagash they built the House of Ninnu (E-Ninnu) as Ningirsu’s temple and gave him the epithet Enmersi after his ancient and original name. The Assyrians recognized Enmer/Asar as their state deity, Ashur. When the author of Genesis calls him Nimrod, this is a play on words in which the name Enmer is Hebraised into nmrd (‘we shall rebel’) because this king rebelled against Yahweh by building the Tower of Babel.”[9]

Scholars Sayce, Pinches and others agree regarding “the signs which constitute the name of Marduk, who also is represented as a hunter, are read phonetically ‘Amar Ud’; and ideographically they may be read ‘Namr Ud’—in Hebrew ‘Nimrod.’”[10] We thus see a linguistic connection between Nimrod and Marduk.

Ninurta, Hero of the Tablet of Destinies

Satan will give his “power, throne, and great authority” (Rev 13:2) to the Beast described in Revelation, which will be nothing more than a repeat of what he previously did with Nimrod (Ninurta), “whom Enlil has exalted above himself” and “Enlil the Great Mountain made obeisance to him.”[11]

We can be sure that Satan has no intentions of raising up a man and then bowing down to him! Satan does not imagine himself taking a back seat to a human; He hates Adam and refused to serve something lesser than himself. In Satan’s kingdom, he is the best, greatest, top dog; He is top of the food chain and the big cheese. If he thought he was so great that he staged a coup against God, why would he suddenly bow down to Ninurta? He does not really bow; rather, he makes empty promises to Ninurta / Nimrod that he would become a god; and then, Satan’s personality seeps inside and takes over the person until only Satan remains.

We will see this blending between Enlil (Satan) and Ninurta in many texts. We need to also keep in mind the melding together of traits and characteristics between the dragon (Satan) and the Beast in Revelation. We see that he will in fact give the Beast his power, throne and his great authority! What does that really mean?

Power is the ability to do something, to work and to accomplish. It is the energy in your battery that makes your phone work. It is the electricity coming into your home that runs your dishwasher, lights, washer, dryer and popcorn maker. Power is also the force of the sword. Roman soldiers enforced the will of Rome by using the sword against all who would not acquiesce to their demands. Satan lends the power of his energy and force to his lackey.

Throne is where a king sits. A king rules a kingdom, has subjects and servants, and in an absolute monarchy like Nebuchadnezzar’s, his word was law. When he spoke, people jumped. When he decreed the death of the wise men of Babylon, there was no appeal, no judges challenging his orders and no congress demanding his removal. Soldiers were immediately dispatched and began fulfilling his command. When the king ordered his troops to siege Jerusalem, they complied and even laid down their lives. We have seen that Enlil gives Ninurta his throne just as the dragon will give the Beast his throne.

Authority is the legal right to do something. After the Persians conquered Babylon, Daniel’s Babylonian enemies entrapped him through their understanding the Persian legal system. Persuading the king to sign a legal document, a decree, against anyone who would worship any other god for a set time, they then sprung their trap and found Daniel guilty of praying to another God. Realizing he had been tricked, the king sought a means of saving Daniel. Although he was king, he lacked the authority to overturn his own decree. With no authority to change the law, he was forced to have Daniel thrown into the lion’s den.

Satan / Enlil boasted to Jesus that he could give his authority “to whomever I wish” (Luke 4:6), and he is going to give the Beast his “power, throne and his great authority” (Rev 13:2). In ancient Sumer, Enlil’s authority was embodied in something called the Tablet of Destinies; The holder possessed the power to decree fates. Amar Annus explains:

The Tablet of Destinies was one of the cosmic “bonds” which chained together the various parts of the Mesopotamian cosmos, like some of the Mesopotamian temples and cities. It is called “the bond of supreme power” … Holding of the cosmic bonds (markasu) was a privilege which conferred absolute control over the universe on its keeper.[12]

The sad reality is that Satan successfully swindled Adam out of his dominion. Instead of being a faithful steward of the inheritance God granted to Adam, Satan stole it for himself. Then Satan gave this authority to Nimrod / Ninurta, who became the keeper of the Tablet of Destinies.

“Ninurta, ensigal of Enlil” is impressed on a sale document … important documents can be seen as the earthly counterparts of the Tablet of Destinies … Ninurta, as the seal-bearer of Enlil in Nippur, was probably authorized to act with Enlil’s authority and ratified the decrees issued by the divine council. Ninurta … the divine patron of scribal arts and is often invoked as the “Bearer of the Tablet of Destinies of the Gods”[13] (Emphasis mine).

“In Enuma eliš, the Tablet of Destinies is associated with the powers of Anu.”[14] Remember: Anu is the creator god in the Mesopotamian tradition. Enlil (Satan) boasts about taking control of the Earth from the Creator. The authority usurped by Enlil is flaunted in the ancient texts through a reenactment of Anu’s death in an annual celebration.

Akitu: A Blasphemous Reenactment of Killing the Creator

Satan flaunted his victory and his unchallengeable authority in the ancient world in the Akitu festival by reenacting the death of the creator (Anu)[15] and his theft of the dominion God gave to Adam. The ceremonial killing of Anu the creator and the taking of his authority illustrates the disdain Enlil (Satan) had for God; the same contempt is revealed in Revelation by the Beast with blasphemous names:

And I saw a beast coming up out of the sea. He had ten horns and seven heads. On his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names (Rev 13:1).

In the Akitu reenactment, the king and Marduk (Enlil / Satan) melded into one.[16] Then the earthly king performed reenactments of defeating the creator, and the celebration:

“day (of) Wrath is the day the King defeated Anu, the day King Marduk defeated Anu. … The house where he killed Anu … when the king wears a crown, is (when) Bel slashed […] Anu’s neck; having assumed kingship, he bathed and donned the royal garb.[17]

Again, while we are not necessarily equating Anu with the God of Abraham, it is still revealing that there would be an event in which the killing of the creator was reenacted in great detail. We also should not miss that the event, the day of wrath, is the day Anu is defeated. In the Bible, the Day of the Lord is the day when God will ultimately defeat Satan and his forces. Lastly, putting on the royal garb reminds us of the fallen one’s longing for clothing (covering) that was lost when God stripped Satan and his followers of their fire.

The reenactment is full of Satan slandering God. He assumes the “anutu,” that is to say, the creator’s authority (the Anu-ship). Nabû (a syncretization of Ninurta / Nimrod) becomes supreme god because he holds the “anutu” in the text below:

“Nabû … is dressed in the garment (befitting) his rank as supreme god (anutu).” He goes to the temple of his beloved Nanaya … and on the 7th day Nabû enters Anu’s garden near his temple Eanna in Uruk, takes Anu’s seat, assumes his kingship and wears Anu’s crown.[18]

Satan appears to be getting the last laugh through the Akitu reenactments. He is ridiculing God through drama and expressing his rage at Him.

In another text at Ninurta’s Akitu festival, Ninurta (son of Enlil) brings the vanquished gods, featuring Anu; and then even goes to the cosmological mountain, just like Satan claimed he would do in Isaiah! “Ninurta brought the vanquished gods before Enlil,” and “Enlil rejoiced over him (Ninurta) and sent a message of well-being (bussurat šulmi).”[19] Ironically, the message of well-being “bussurat šulmi” that Enlil receives about the death of his enemies (which includes the creator) is parallel to Hebrew besurah (gospel) and shalom (peace)! As the height of blasphemy, Enlil (Satan) revels in receiving the “gospel of peace” message of the Creator’s death.  However, such actions are completely in line with Satan the slanderer.

The mention of “the king of the Holy Mound,” in the calendar text implies that Ninurta, after having presented his vanquished enemies to Enlil, goes to the cosmological… to the “Mt. Olympus” of the gods in the middle heavens which was the place for assembly.[20]

The Akitu festival was clearly Satan thumbing his nose at God and reminding Him of his boast: “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God [אֵ֖ל El](Isa 14:13); I will be like the Most High” (Isa 14:14). He was exulting in the fact that he got away with it, and God did not stop him. Satan is clearly so full of himself that he is convinced that his wisdom equals that of God. Ancient History Encyclopedia boils down his insolent attitude:

“Enlil as the rebel who defies the laws of the gods to pursue his own desires changes in other myths into the authority who wields the power of divine law and whose judgments cannot be questioned.[xxi]

Is that not exactly what Satan / Heilel bragged in Isaiah? It was almost like he would have said: “Yeah, the Creator God is over there, doing other stuff. But if you humans want something done, you have to come to me. I am the one with all the authority.”

While the Akitu festival was not the means by which Satan and Nimrod merged, the fact that Satan gives his power, throne, and great authority to Ninurta, (the Beast who was) is evidence that a merge occurred; It strongly suggests they are the same person. Furthermore, it demonstrates that for Satan to give everything he has to this person means that the person would cease to act independently of Satan. The person is so completely controlled and owned by Satan that they cease to be who they were. Thus, when Nimrod became a gibbor, he unwittingly gave up his rights to be himself. His lust for power, fame and longevity ended in his essence being extinguished. Just as Nimrod became a gibbor, so too, Satan became Nimrod. They became one and the same for as long as the man’s body continued to live.

[1] Annus also notes the hero title of Ninurta / Ningirsu: “In Pre-Sargonic Lagaš the most popular divine epithet was that of Ningirsu, who was called very frequently ur-sag-dEn-líl-(lá), “the hero of Enlil.” Amar Annus, The God Ninurta in the Mythology and Royal Ideology of Ancient Mesopotamia, State Archives of Assyria Studies, Volume XIV Helsinki 2002. Pg. 138

[2] BDAG

[3]; cf. Pes. 94b; comp. Targ. of pseudo-Jonathan and Targ. Yer. to Gen. x. 9., and Midrash Haggadah.

[4] The Targums of Onkelos and Jonathan Ben Uzziel On the Pentateuch With The Fragments of the Jerusalem Targum From the Chaldee By J. W. Etheridge, M.A. First Published 1862

[5] The place name “Tophet” and the false god “Molech” both have the vowels from “boshet” meaning “shameful.”

[6] Amar Annus, The God Ninurta in the Mythology and Royal Ideology of Ancient Mesopotamia, State Archives of Assyria Studies, Volume XIV Helsinki 2002. Pg. 106

[7] Ibid.

[8] Ibid.

[9] David Rohl, he says: The Lost Testament: From Eden to Exile the Five-Thousand-Year History of the People of The Bible – 17 Oct. 2002.

[10] The Jewish Encyclopedia notes: “The difficulty of reconciling the Biblical Nimrod, the son of Cush, with Marduk, the son of Ea, may be overcome by interpreting the Biblical words as meaning that Nimrod was a descendant of Cush.”

[11] Amar Annus, The God Ninurta in the Mythology and Royal Ideology of Ancient Mesopotamia, State Archives of Assyria Studies, Volume XIV Helsinki 2002. Pg. 122

[12] Ibid. Pg. 83-pg 88

[13] Ibid.

[14] Ibid. Pg. 14.

[15] While Heilel in Isaiah 14 is undoubtedly the Sumerian Enlil, an absolute identification of Anu with the biblical creator should be tentative.

[16] Amar Annus, The God Ninurta in the Mythology and Royal Ideology of Ancient Mesopotamia, State Archives of Assyria Studies, Volume XIV Helsinki 2002. Pg. 59

[17] Ibid. Pg. 67

[18] Ibid.

[19] OECT 11 69+70, Cf Amar Annus, The God Ninurta in the Mythology and Royal Ideology of Ancient Mesopotamia, State Archives of Assyria Studies, Volume XIV Helsinki 2002. Pg. 78

[20] Ibid.

[xxi] Mark, Joshua J. “Enlil.” Ancient History Encyclopedia. Last modified January 24, 2017.