Epic. 15 That Gilgamesh was a mighty hero, whose
exploits became proverbial throughout Mesopotamia, is
undoubted, but no empire as outlined in Gen. 10: 10–12
has been or can be attributed to him. 16
(ii) Sargon of Akkad is the other, much more likely
candidate for Nimrod. First, Sargon (Šarru-kin: “the
king is legitimate”) is a throne name, not a personal
name, so it is futile to try to link this phonetically with
Nimrod. 17 If we see Cush in Gen. 10: 8 as the ancestor
of Nimrod (which would be necessary even on the
Gilgamesh identification), then it is quite plausible to
identify Sargon as Nimrod. He certainly conquered
the entire Lower Mesopotamian region (“the land of
Shin’ar”), and then proceeded to Assyria, and even
as far as the northern Levant and the Mediterranean,
thus building the first known empire in human history.
Furthermore, he too became a legendary hero in his own
right, and a fearsome and ruthless warrior, as a proper
understanding of the Hebrew gibbōr șayid (Gen. 10: 9)
would indicate. 18 Hence Assyria became known as “the
land of Nimrod” in later lore (cf. Micah 5: 6), and even
today the site of ancient Calah (Akkadian Kalhu) is
known as “Nimrud”.
Patriarchal period: proposed correlations
Two clues arise in regard to the patriarchal period: one
specific regarding Abraham; the other general in regard to the
period as a whole.
1. We begin with Abraham. He should be placed at Ur in
Lower Mesopotamia, a major cultural centre for ancient
Sumer, known in Scripture as “the land of Shin‘ar”. Some
have tried to place him in Northern Mesopotamia, e.g.
Cyrus Gordon, 19 but his reasons are not cogent. As to
Figure 2. Ancient Sumerian city of Ur. In the foreground, residential dwellings; in the background, the famous tower-temple (ziggurat) of Nanna/Sîn, the