..To Ancient SDA's ............ To "What's New?"


The Death of Nimrod


Click here for a PDF version of this article.                                       Click here for a "Word" version


The Death of Nimrod


 The development of the “Mystery” of Babylon


Revelation 17:3-5.

So he carried me away in the spirit into the wilderness: and I saw a woman sit upon a scarlet coloured beast, full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.  And the woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet colour, and decked with gold and precious stones and pearls, having a golden cup in her hand full of abominations and filthiness of her fornication: and upon her forehead was a name written,





Job 31:26-28. [Spoken soon after the Flood.]

If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness and my heart has been secretly enticed, or my mouth has kissed my hand [in a sign of worship]: this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge: for I should have denied the God that is above.


Genesis  10:6-11.

And the sons of Ham [who eventually moved into Africa]; Cush, and Mizraim, and Phut, and Canaan.  And the sons of Cush; Seba, and Havilah, and Sabtah, and Raamah, and Sabtechah: and the sons of Raamah; Sheba, and Dedan.

And Cush begat Nimrod [who married Semiramis]: he began to be a mighty one in the earth.  He was a mighty hunter before [against] the LORD: wherefore it is said [today, in Moses’ time], “Even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the LORD”.  

And the beginning of his [Nimrod’s] kingdom was Babel [aka Babylon], and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.  Out of that land [he] went forth [to] Asshur [Assyria], and built Nineveh, and the city Rehoboth, and Calah [he established the nations and politics] . . .


Genesis 10:22-25.

The children of Shem; Elam, and Asshur, and Arphaxad, and Lud, and Aram.  

And the children of Aram; Uz, and Hul, and Gether, and Mash.  

And Arphaxad begat Salah; and Salah begat Eber. And to Eber were born two sons [twins, about 340 years after the Flood]: the name of one was Peleg [“Division”]; for in his days was the earth divided [at the tower of Babel]; and his brother's name was Joktan [“The younger one”].  


(The following article is from “The Two Babylons” by Alexander Hislop, chapter 2,

subsection IV, pages 55-70. I have added the emphasis and the words in the square brackets.)


Page 55:

How Nimrod died, Scripture is entirely silent. There was an ancient tradition that he came to a violent end. The circumstances of that end, however, as antiquity represents them, are clouded with fable . . .


Page 62:

It seems to have been now only when the dead hero was to be deified, that the secret Mysteries were set up.

The previous form of apostacy during the life of Nimrod appears to have been open and public. Now, it was evidently felt that publicity was out of the question. The death of the great ringleader of the apostacy was not the death of a warrior slain in battle, but an act of judicial rigour, solemnly inflicted. This is well established by the accounts of the deaths of both Tammuz and Osiris.

The following is the account of Tammuz, given by the celebrated Maimonides, deeply read in all the learning of the Chaldeans:

“When the false prophet named Thammuz preached to a certain king that he should worship the seven stars and the twelve signs of the Zodiac, that king ordered him to be put to a terrible death.

“On the night of his death all the images [of the false gods] assembled from the ends of the earth into the temple of Babylon, to the great golden image of the Sun, which was suspended between heaven and earth.

“That image prostrated itself in the midst of the temple, and so did all the images around it, while it related to them all that had happened to Thammuz. The images wept and lamented all the night long, and then in the morning they flew away, each to his own temple again, to the ends of the earth. And hence arose the custom every year, on the first day of the month Thammuz, to mourn and to weep for Thammuz.”

There is here, of course, all the extravagance of idolatry, as found in the Chaldean sacred books that Maimonides had consulted; but there is no reason to doubt the fact stated either as to the manner or the cause of the death of Tammuz.

In this Chaldean legend, it is stated that it was by the command of a “certain king” that this ringleader in apostacy was put to death. Who could this king be, who was so determinedly opposed to the worship of the host of heaven?  From what is related of the Egyptian Hercules, we get very valuable light on this subject. It is admitted by Wilkinson that the most ancient Hercules, and truly primitive one, was he who was known in Egypt as having, “by the power of the gods” * (i.e., by the SPIRIT) fought against and overcome the Giants.

* The name of the true God (Elohim) is plural. Therefore, “the power of the gods,” and “of God,” is expressed by the same term.

Now, no doubt, the title and character of Hercules were afterwards given by the Pagans to him whom they worshipped as the grand deliverer or Messiah, just as the adversaries of the Pagan divinities came to be stigmatised as the “Giants” who rebelled against Heaven.

But let the reader only reflect who were the real Giants that rebelled against Heaven. They were Nimrod and his party; for the “Giants” were just the “Mighty ones,” of whom Nimrod was the leader.

Who, then, was most likely to head the opposition to the apostacy from the primitive worship?  If Shem was at that time alive, as beyond question he was, who so likely as he?  In exact accordance with this deduction, we find that one of the names of the primitive Hercules in Egypt was “Sem.” If “Sem,” then, was the primitive Hercules, who overcame the Giants, and that not by mere physical force, but by “the power of God,” or the influence of the Holy Spirit, that entirely agrees with his character; and more than that, it remarkably agrees with the Egyptian account of the death of Osiris.

The Egyptians say, that the grand enemy of their god overcame him, not by open violence, but that, having entered into a conspiracy with seventy-two of the leading men of Egypt, he got him into his power, put him to death, and then cut his dead body into pieces, and sent the different parts to so many different cities throughout the country. The real meaning of this statement will appear, if we glance at the judicial institutions of Egypt.

Seventy-two was just the number of the judges, both civil and sacred, who, according to Egyptian law, were required to determine what was to be the punishment of one guilty of so high an offence as that of Osiris, supposing this to have become a matter of judicial inquiry. In determining such a case, there were necessarily two tribunals concerned.

First, there were the ordinary judges, who had power of life and death, and who amounted to thirty, then there was, over and above, a tribunal consisting of forty-two judges, who, if Osiris was condemned to die, had to determine whether his body should be buried or no, for, before burial, every one after death had to pass the ordeal of this tribunal. *

* DIODORUS. The words of Diodorus, as printed in the ordinary editions, make the number of the judges simply “more than forty,” without specifying how many more. In the Codex Coislianus, the number is stated to be “two more than forty.” The earthly judges, who tried the question of burial, are admitted both by WILKINSON and BUNSEN, to have corresponded in number to the judges of the infernal regions.
Now, these judges, over and above their president, are proved from the monuments to have been just forty-two. The earthly judges at funerals, therefore, must equally have been forty-two.

In reference to this number as applying equally to the judges of this world and the world of spirits, Bunsen, speaking of the judgment on a deceased person in the world unseen, uses these words in the passage above referred to: “Forty-two gods (the number composing the earthly tribunal of the dead) occupy the judgment-seat.” Diodorus himself, whether he actually wrote “two more than forty,” or simply “more than forty,” gives reason to believe that forty-two was the number he had present to his mind; for he says, that “the whole of the fable of the shades below,” as brought by Orpheus from Egypt, was “copied from the ceremonies of the Egyptian funerals,” which he had witnessed at the judgment before the burial of the dead. If, therefore, there were just forty-two judges in “the shades below,” that even, on the showing of Diodorus, whatever reading of his words be preferred, proves that the number of the judges in the earthly judgment must have been the same.

As burial was refused him, both tribunals would necessarily be concerned; and thus there would be exactly seventy-two persons, under Typho the president, to condemn Osiris to die and to be cut in pieces.

What, then, does the statement account to, in regard to the conspiracy, but just to this, that the great opponent of the idolatrous system which Osiris introduced, had so convinced these judges of the enormity of the offence which he had committed, that they gave up the offender to an awful death, and to ignominy after it, as a terror to any who might afterwards tread in his steps. The cutting of the dead body in pieces, and sending the dismembered parts among the different cities, is paralleled, and its object explained, by what we read in the Bible of the cutting of the dead body of the Levite's concubine in pieces (Judges 19:29), and sending one of the parts to each of the twelve tribes of Israel; and the similar step taken by Saul, when he hewed the two yoke of oxen asunder, and sent them throughout all the coasts of his kingdom (1 Sam 11:7).

It is admitted by commentators that both the Levite and Saul acted on a patriarchal custom, according to which summary vengeance would be dealt to those who failed to come to the gathering that in this solemn way was summoned. This was declared in so many words by Saul, when the parts of the slaughtered oxen were sent among the tribes: “Whosoever cometh not forth after Saul and after Samuel, so shall it be done to his oxen.”

In like manner, when the dismembered parts of Osiris were sent among the cities by the seventy-two “conspirators” – in other words, by the supreme judges of Egypt, it was equivalent to a solemn declaration in their name, that “whosoever should do as Osiris had done, so should it be done to him; so should he also be cut in pieces.”

When irreligion and apostacy again arose into the ascendant, this act, into which the constituted authorities who had to do with the ringleader of the apostates were led, for the putting down of the combined system of irreligion and despotism set up by Osiris or Nimrod, was naturally the object of intense abhorrence to all his sympathisers; and for his share in it the chief actor was stigmatised as Typho, or “The Evil One.” * [See Matthew 10:25.]

* Wilkinson admits that different individuals at different times bore this hated name in Egypt. One of the most noted names by which Typho, or the Evil One, was called, was Seth (EPIPHANIUS, Adv. Hoeres). Now Seth and Shem are synonymous, both alike signifying “The appointed one.” As Shem was a younger son of Noah, being “the brother of Japhet the elder” (Gen 10:21), and as the pre-eminence was divinely destined to him, the name Shem, “the appointed one,” had doubtless been given him by Divine direction, either at his birth or afterwards, to mark him out as Seth had been previously marked out as the “child of promise.” Shem, however, seems to have been known in Egypt as Typho, not only under the name of Seth, but under his own name; for Wilkinson tells us that Typho was characterised by a name that signified “to destroy and render desert.” (Egyptians)  Now the name of Shem also in one of its meanings signifies “to desolate” or lay waste. So Shem, the appointed one, was by his enemies made Shem, the Desolator or Destroyer – i.e., the Devil.

The influence that this abhorred Typho wielded over the minds of the so-called “conspirators,” considering the physical force with which Nimrod was upheld, must have been wonderful, and goes to show, that though his deed in regard to Osiris is veiled, and himself branded by a hateful name, he was indeed none other than that primitive Hercules who overcame the Giants by “the power of God,” by the persuasive might of his Holy Spirit.

In connection with this character of Shem, the myth that makes Adonis, who is identified with Osiris, perish by the tusks of a wild boar, is easily unravelled. * The tusk of a wild boar was a symbol. In Scripture, a tusk is called “a horn;” among many of the Classic Greeks it was regarded in the very same light. **

* In India, a demon with a “boar's face” is said to have gained such power through his devotion, that he oppressed the devotees or worshippers of the gods, who had to hide themselves. – (MOOR'S Pantheon) Even in Japan there seems to be a similar myth.

** Pausanias admits that some in his day regarded tusks as teeth; but he argues strongly, and, I think, conclusively, for their being considered as “horns.”

When once it is known that a tusk is regarded as a “horn” according to the symbolism of idolatry, the meaning of the boar's tusks, by which Adonis perished, is not far to seek. The bull's horns that Nimrod wore were the symbol of physical power. The boar's tusks were the symbol of spiritual power. As a “horn” means power, so a tusk, that is, a horn in the mouth, means “power in the mouth;” in other words, the power of persuasion; the very power with which “Sem,” the primitive Hercules, was so signally endowed. [Consider Revelation 2:16; 19:15.]

Even from the ancient traditions of the Gael, we get an item of evidence that at once illustrates this idea of power in the mouth, and connects it with that great son of Noah, on whom the blessing of the Highest, as recorded in Scripture, did specially rest. The Celtic Hercules was called Hercules Ogmius, which, in Chaldee, is “Hercules the Lamenter.” *

* The Celtic scholars derive the name Ogmius from the Celtic word Ogum, which is said to denote “the secret of writing;” but Ogum is much more likely to be derived from the name of the god, than the name of the god to be derived from it.

No name could be more appropriate, none more descriptive of the history of Shem, than this. Except our first parent, Adam, there was, perhaps, never a mere man that saw so much grief as he. Not only did he see a vast apostacy, which, with his righteous feelings, and witness as he had been of the awful catastrophe of the flood, must have deeply grieved him; but he lived to bury SEVEN GENERATIONS of his descendants. [Only Eber, his great-grandson outlived him.]

He lived 502 years after the flood, and as the lives of men were rapidly shortened after that event, no less than SEVEN generations of his lineal descendants died before him (Genesis 11:10-32). How appropriate a name Ogmius, “The Lamenter or Mourner,” for one who had such a history!

Now, how is this “Mourning” Hercules represented as putting down enormities and redressing wrongs?  Not by his club, like the Hercules of the Greeks, but by the force of persuasion. Multitudes were represented as following him, drawn by fine chains of gold and amber inserted into their ears, and which chains proceeded from his mouth. *

* Sir W. BETHAM'S Gael and Cymbri. In connection with this Ogmius, one of the names of “Sem,” the great Egyptian Hercules who overcame the Giants, is worthy of notice. That name is Chon. In the Etymologicum Magnum, apud BRYANT, we thus read: “They say that in the Egyptian dialect Hercules is called Chon.”

Compare this with WILKINSON, where Chon is called “Sem.” Now Khon signifies “to lament” in Chaldee, and as Shem was Khon – i.e., “Priest” of the Most High God, his character and peculiar circumstances as Khon “the lamenter” would form an additional reason why he should be distinguished by that name by which the Egyptian Hercules was known. And it is not to be overlooked, that on the part of those who seek to turn sinners from the error of their ways, there is an eloquence in tears that is very impressive.
The tears of Whitefield formed one great part of his power; and, in like manner, the tears of Khon, “the lamenting” Hercules, would aid him mightily in overcoming the Giants.

There is a great difference between the two symbols – the tusks of a boar and the golden chains issuing from the mouth, that draw willing crowds by the ears; but both very beautifully illustrate the same idea – the might of that persuasive power that enabled Shem for a time to withstand the tide of evil that came rapidly rushing in upon the world.

Now when Shem had so powerfully wrought upon the minds of men as to induce them to make a terrible example of the great Apostate, and when that Apostate's dismembered limbs were sent to the chief cities, where no doubt his system had been established, it will be readily perceived that, in these circumstances, if idolatry was to continue – if, above all, it was to take a step in advance, it was indispensable that it should operate in secret. The terror of an execution, inflicted on one so mighty as Nimrod, made it needful that, for some time to come at least, the extreme of caution should be used.

In these circumstances, then, began, there can hardly be a doubt, that system of “Mystery,” which, having Babylon for its centre, has spread over the world. In these Mysteries, under the seal of secrecy and the sanction of an oath, and by means of all the fertile resources of magic, men were gradually led back to all the idolatry that had been publicly suppressed, while new features were added to that idolatry that made it still more blasphemous than before.

That magic and idolatry were twin sisters, and came into the world together, we have abundant evidence. “He” (Zoroaster), says Justin the historian, “was said to be the first that invented magic arts, and that most diligently studied the motions of the heavenly bodies.” The Zoroaster spoken of by Justin is the Bactrian Zoroaster; but this is generally admitted to be a mistake. Stanley, in his History of Oriental Philosophy, concludes that this mistake had arisen from similarity of name, and that from this cause that had been attributed to the Bactrian Zoroaster which properly belonged to the Chaldean, “since it cannot be imagined that the Bactrian was the inventor of those arts in which the Chaldean, who lived contemporary with him, was so much skilled.” Epiphanius had evidently come to the same substantial conclusion before him. He maintains, from the evidence open to him in his day, that it was “Nimrod, that established the sciences of magic and astronomy, the invention of which was subsequently attributed to (the Bactrian) Zoroaster.”

As we have seen that Nimrod and the Chaldean Zoroaster are the same,
the conclusions of the ancient and the modern inquirers into Chaldean antiquity entirely harmonise.

Now the secret system of the Mysteries gave vast facilities for imposing on the senses of the initiated by means of the various tricks and artifices of magic. Notwithstanding all the care and precautions of those who conducted these initiations, enough has transpired to give us a very clear insight into their real character. Everything was so contrived as to wind up the minds of the novices to the highest pitch of excitement, that, after having surrendered themselves implicitly to the priests, they might be prepared to receive anything.

After the candidates for initiation had passed through the confessional, and sworn the required oaths, “strange and amazing objects,” says Wilkinson, “presented themselves. Sometimes the place they were in seemed to shake around them; sometimes it appeared bright and resplendent with light and radiant fire, and then again covered with black darkness, sometimes thunder and lightning, sometimes frightful noises and bellowings, sometimes terrible apparitions astonished the trembling spectators.” Then, at last, the great god, the central object of their worship, Osiris, Tammuz, Nimrod or Adonis, was revealed to them in the way most fitted to soothe their feelings and engage their blind affections. An account of such a manifestation is thus given by an ancient Pagan, cautiously indeed, but yet in such a way as shows the nature of the magic secret by which such an apparent miracle was accomplished:

“In a manifestation which one must not reveal . . . . there is seen on a wall of the temple a mass of light, which appears at first at a very great distance. It is transformed, while unfolding itself, into a visage evidently divine and supernatural, of an aspect severe, but with a touch of sweetness. Following the teachings of a mysterious religion, the Alexandrians honour it as Osiris or Adonis.”

From this statement, there can hardly be a doubt that the magical art here employed was none other than that now made use of in the modern phantasmagoria [magic lantern in those days, today a slide show, or holographs]. Such or similar means were used in the very earliest periods for presenting to the view of the living, in the secret Mysteries, those who were dead. We have statements in ancient history referring to the very time of Semiramis, which imply that magic rites were practised for this very purpose; * and as the magic lantern, or something akin to it, was manifestly used in later times for such an end, it is reasonable to conclude that the same means, or similar, were employed in the most ancient times, when the same effects were produced. 

* One of the statements to which I refer is contained in the following words of Moses of Chorene in his Armenian History, referring to the answer made by Semiramis to the friends of Araeus, who had been slain in battle by her: “I have given commands, says Semiramis, to my gods to lick the wounds of Araeus, and to raise him from the dead. The gods, says she, have licked Araeus, and recalled him to life.” If Semiramis had really done what she said she had done, it would have been a miracle. The effects of magic were sham miracles; and Justin and Epiphanius show that sham miracles came in at the very birth of idolatry.

Now, unless the sham miracle of raising the dead by magical arts had already been known to be practised in the days of Semiramis, it is not likely that she would have given such an answer to those whom she wished to propitiate; for, on the one hand, how could she ever have thought of such an answer, and on the other, how could she expect that it would have the intended effect, if there was no current belief in the practices of necromancy?

We find that in Egypt, about the same age, such magic arts must have been practised, if Manetho is to be believed. “Manetho says,” according to Josephus, “that he (the elder Horus, evidently spoken of as a human and mortal king) was admitted to the sight of the gods, and that Amenophis desired the same privilege.” This pretended admission to the sight of the gods evidently implied the use of the magic art referred to in the text.

Now, in the hands of crafty, designing men, this was a powerful means of imposing upon those who were willing to be imposed upon, who were averse to the holy spiritual religion of the living God, and who still hankered after the system that was put down. It was easy for those who controlled the Mysteries, having discovered secrets that were then unknown to the mass of mankind, and which they carefully preserved in their own exclusive keeping, to give them what might seem ocular [plain sight] demonstration, that Tammuz, who had been slain, and for whom such lamentations had been made, was still alive, and encompassed with divine and heavenly glory.

From the lips of one so gloriously revealed, or what was practically the same, from the lips of some unseen priest, speaking in his name from behind the scenes, what could be too wonderful or incredible to be believed?

Thus the whole system of the secret Mysteries of Babylon was intended to glorify a dead man; and when once the worship of one dead man was established, the worship of many more was sure to follow.

This casts light upon the language of the 106th Psalm, where the Lord, upbraiding Israel for their apostacy, says: “They joined themselves to Baalpeor [the worship of the female], and ate the sacrifices of the dead.” [v28] Thus, too, the way was paved for bringing in all the abominations and crimes of which the Mysteries became the scenes; for, to those who liked not to retain God in their knowledge, who preferred some visible object of worship, suited to the sensuous feelings of their carnal minds, nothing could seem a more cogent reason for faith or practice than to hear with their own ears a command given forth amid so glorious a manifestation apparently by the very divinity they adored.

The scheme, thus skilfully formed, took effect. Semiramis gained glory from her dead and deified husband; and in course of time both of them, under the names of Rhea and Nin, or “Goddess-Mother and Son,” were worshipped with an enthusiasm that was incredible, and their images were everywhere set up and adored. *

* It would seem that no public idolatry was ventured upon till the reign of the grandson of Semiramis, Arioch or Arius. (Cedreni Compendium)

Wherever the negro aspect of Nimrod was found an obstacle to his worship, this was very easily obviated. According to the Chaldean doctrine of the transmigration of souls, all that was needful was just to teach that Ninus had reappeared in the person of a posthumous son, of a fair complexion, supernaturally borne by his widowed wife after the father had gone to glory.

As the licentious and dissolute life of Semiramis gave her many children, for whom no ostensible father on earth would be alleged, a plea like this would at once sanctify sin, and enable her to meet the feelings of those who were disaffected to the true worship of Jehovah, and yet might have no fancy to bow down before a negro divinity.

From the light reflected on Babylon by Egypt, as well as from the form of the extant images of the Babylonian child in the arms of the goddess-mother, we have every reason to believe that this was actually done. In Egypt the fair Horus, the son of the black Osiris, who was the favourite object of worship, in the arms of the goddess Isis, was said to have been miraculously born in consequence of a connection, on the part of that goddess, with Osiris after his death, and, in point of fact, to have been a new incarnation of that god,
to avenge his death on his murderers.

It is wonderful to find in what widely-severed countries, and amongst what millions of the human race at this day, who never saw a negro, a negro god is worshipped. [Consider Buddha.] But yet, as we shall afterwards see, among the civilised nations of antiquity, Nimrod almost everywhere fell into disrepute, and was deposed from his original pre-eminence, expressly ob deformitatem, “on account of his ugliness.” *

* These are the words of Gradus ad Parnassum, referring to the cause of the downfall of Vulcan, whose identity with Nimrod is shown in Chapter 7, Section 1.

Even in Babylon itself, the posthumous child, as identified with his father, and inheriting all his father's glory, yet possessing more of his mother's complexion, came to be the favourite type of the Madonna's divine son.

This son, thus worshipped in his mother's arms, was looked upon as invested with all the attributes, and called by almost all the names of the promised Messiah. As Christ, in the Hebrew of the Old Testament, was called Adonai, The Lord, so Tammuz was called Adon or Adonis. Under the name of Mithras, he was worshipped as the “Mediator.” As Mediator and head of the covenant of grace, he was styled Baal-berith, Lord of the Covenant (Fig 24) (Judges 8:33).



To Ancient SDA's ............ To "What's New?"