Genesis 10:10

And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel, and Erech, and Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.

And the beginning of his kingdom was Babel,.... The city of Babel, or Babylon, which was built by his direction; for though Babylon is by some writers said to be built by Semiramis, the wife of Ninus, and others by Ninus himself, yet the truest account is, that it was built by Belus, the same with Nimrod. Curtius {t} says, Semiramis built it; or, as most believe, adds he, Belus, whose royal palace is shown: and Berosus {u}, the Chaldean, blames the Greek writers for ascribing it to Semiramis; and Abydenus {w}, out of Megasthenes, affirms, that Belus surrounded Babylon with a wall: however, this was the head of the kingdom of Nimrod, as Onkelos renders it, or his chief city, or where he first began to reign. Here he set up his kingdom, which he enlarged and extended afterwards to other places; and from hence it appears, that what is related in this context, concerning Nimrod, is by way of anticipation; for it was not a fact that he was a mighty man, or a powerful prince possessed of a kingdom, until after the building of Babel, and the confusion of languages there; when those that continued on the spot either chose him for their ruler, or he, by power or policy, got the dominion over them. Artapanus {x}, an Heathen writer, relates, that the giants which inhabited Babylon being taken away by the gods for their impiety, one of them, Belus, escaped death and dwelt in Babylon, and took up his abode in the tower which he had raised up, and which, from him the founder of it, was called Belus; so that this, as Moses says, was the beginning of his kingdom, together with

Erech, and Accad, and Calneh in the land of Shinar, where the city and tower of Babel were built: for of these four cities, which were all in the same country, did the kingdom of Nimrod consist; they all, either by force or by consent, were brought into subjection to him, and were under one form of government, and is the first kingdom known to be set up in the world. Erech, according to the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem, is Hades, or Edessa, a city in Mesopotamia; but it is rather thought to be the name with the Aracca of Ptolemy {y}, and the Arecha of Marcellinus {z}, placed by them both in Susiana; though one would think it should be that city in Chaldea which took its present Arabic name of Erak from Erech: the Arabic writers say {a}, when Irac or Erac is absolutely put, it denotes Babylonia, or Chaldea, in the land of Shinar; and they say that Shinar is in Al-Erac. The next city, Accad, according to the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem, is Netzibin, or Nisibis, a city in Mesopotamia; in the Septuagint version it is called Archad; and Ctesias {b} relates, that at the Persian Sittace was a river called Argad, which Bochart {c} thinks carries in it a manifest trace of this name; and observes, from Strabo {d}, that that part of Babylon nearest to Susa was called Sitacena. And the other city, Calneh, according to the above Targums, is Ctesiphon, and is generally thought to be the place intended, and was a town upon the Tigris, near to Seleucia in Babylon; it was first called Chalone, and its name was changed to Ctesiphon by Pacorus, king of the Persians. It is in

Isaiah 10:9 called Calno, and by the Septuagint version there the Chalane, which adds,

"where the tower was built;''

and from whence the country called the Chalonitis by Pliny {e} had its name, the chief city of which was Ctesiphon; and who says {f} Chalonitis is joined with Ctesiphon. Thus far goes the account of Nimrod; and, though no mention is made of his death, yet some writers are not silent about it. Abulpharagius {g}, an Arabic writer, says he died in the tower of Babel, it being blown down by stormy winds; the Jewish writers say {h} he was killed by Esau for the sake of his coat, which was Adam's, and came to Noah, and from him to Ham, and so to Nimrod. When he began his reign, and how long he reigned, is not certain; we have only some fabulous accounts: according to Berosus {i}, he began to reign one hundred and thirty one years after the flood, and reigned fifty six years, and then disappeared, being translated by the gods: and, indeed, the authors of the Universal History place the beginning of his reign in the year of the flood one hundred and thirty one, and thirty years after the dispersion at Babylon {k}; and who relate, that the eastern writers speak of his reign as very long: a Persian writer gives his name a Persian derivation, as if it was Nemurd, that is, "immortal", on account of his long reign of above one hundred and fifty years: and some of the Mahometan historians say he reigned in Al-Sowad, that is, the "black country", four hundred years {l}.

{t} Hist. l. 5. c. 1.
{u} Apud Joseph. contra Apion. l. 1. c. 20.
{w} Apud. Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 9. c. 41. p. 457.
{x} Apud. Euseb. Evangel. Praepar. l. 9. c. 18. p. 420.
{y} Geograph. l. 6. c. 3.
{z} Lib. 23.
{a} Vid. Hyde in notis ad Peritsol. Itinera Mundi, p. 65.
{b} Apud Aelian. Hist. Animal. l. 16. c. 42.
{c} Phaleg. l. 4. c. 17.
{d} Geograph. l. 15. p. 503.
{e} Nat. Hist. l. 6. c. 26.
{f} Ibid. c. 27.
{g} Hist. Dynast. p. 12.
{h} In Pirke Eliezer, c. 24.
{i} Antiqu. l. 4. p. 28, 29.
{k} Vol. 1. p. 282. and vol. 21. p. 2.
{l} Apud Hyde's Hist. Relig. Pers. c. 2. p. 43.