He was a mighty hunter before the Lord
Which might be literally true; for, from the time of the flood to his days, wild beasts might increase very much, and greatly annoy men who dwelt very likely for the most part in tents scattered up and down in divers places: so that he did a good office in hunting and destroying them. An Arabic writer F15, of some authority in the eastern parts, says, that by hunting he got food sufficient for the builders of Babel, while they were employed therein; and Aben Ezra interprets it in his favour, that he built altars, and the creatures he took in hunting he offered them on them a burnt offering to God. But neither of these is probable; however, it may be observed, that in this way by hunting he arrived to the power and dominion over men he afterwards had; for not only he ingratiated himself into their favour by hunting down and destroying the wild beasts which molested them, but by these means he might gather together a large number of young men, strong and robust, to join him in hunting; whereby they were inured to hardships, and trained up to military exercises, and were taught the way of destroying men as well as beasts; and by whose help and assistance he might arrive to the government he had over men; and hunting, according to Aristotle F16, is a part of the military art, which is to be used both on beasts, and on such men who are made to be ruled, but are not willing; and it appears, from Xenophon F17, that the kings of Persia were fitted for war and government by hunting, and which is still reckoned in many countries a part of royal education. And it may be remarked, that, as Nimrod and Bacchus are the same, as before observed, one of the titles of Bacchus is (zagreuv) , "an hunter". Cedrenus F18 says, that the Assyrians deified Nebrod, or Nimrod, and placed him among the constellations of heaven, and called him Orion; the same first discovered the art of hunting, therefore they joined to Orion the star called the dog star. However, besides his being in a literal sense an hunter, he was in a figurative sense one, a tyrannical ruler and governor of men. The Targum of Jonathan is;
``he was a powerful rebel before the Lord;''and that of Jerusalem,
``he was powerful in hunting in sin before the Lord,''and another Jewish writer F19 says, he was called a mighty hunter, because he was all his days taking provinces by force, and spoiling others of their substance; and that he was "before the Lord", truly so, and he seeing and taking notice of it, openly and publicly, and without fear of him, and in a bold and impudent manner, in despite of him, see ( Genesis 6:11 ) ( 13:13 ) . The Septuagint render it, "against the Lord"; he intended, as Jarchi's note is, to provoke him to his face:
wherefore it is said;
in a proverbial way, when any man is grown mighty and powerful, or is notoriously wicked, or is become a tyrant and an oppressor of the people, that he is
even as Nimrod the mighty hunter before the Lord.
This was a proverb used in the times of Moses, as it is common now with us to call a hunter Nimrod.
F15 Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. p. 18.
F16 Politic. l. 1. c. 8.
F17 Cyropaed. l. 1. c. 5.
F18 Apud Abrami Pharum, l. 5. sect. 6. p. 128.
F19 R. Gedaliah, Shalshalet Hakabala, fol. 76. 2.