He began to be a mighty one.--Heb., gibbor= warrior. (See Note on Genesis 6:4.) The LXX. translate giant, whence in fable Nimrod is identified with the Orion of the Greeks, in Hebrew Chesil, and in Arabic Jabbar; but this identification is entirely fanciful, as is probably the idea that he is the Izdubar of the Chaldean legends (Chald. Genesis, p. 321). Following the unscholarlike method of explaining Hamite names by Hebrew roots, commentators interpret Nimrod as meaning rebel; but the Biblical narrative speaks rather in his commendation, and the foolish traditions which blacken his reputation date only from the time of Josephus. Mr. Sayce connects his name with the Accadian town Amarda (Chald. Gen., p. 191).
he began to be a mighty man in the earth: that is, he was the first that formed a plan of government, and brought men into subjection to it; and so the Jews (m) make him to be the first king after God; for of the ten kings they speak of in the world, God is the first, and Nimrod the second; and so the Arabic writers (n) say, he was the first of the kings that were in the land of Babylon; and that, seeing the figure of a crown in the heaven, he got a golden one made like it, and put it on his head; hence it was commonly reported, that the crown descended to him from heaven; for this refers not to his gigantic stature, as if he was a giant, as the Septuagint render it; or a strong robust man, as Onkelos; nor to his moral character, as the Targum of Jonathan, which is,"he began to be mighty in sin, and to rebel before the Lord in the earth;''but to his civil character, as a ruler and governor: he was the first that reduced bodies of people and various cities into one form of government, and became the head of them; either by force and usurpation, or it may be with the consent of the people, through his persuasion of them, and on account of the mighty and heroic actions done by him.
(i) History of the World, B. 1. ch. 10. sect. 1. p. 109. (k) Elmacinus, p. 29. apud Hottinger. Smegma, p. 270. See the Universal History, vol. 1. p. 276. (l) Bibliothec. l. 2. p. 90. (m) Pirke Eliezer, c. 11. (n) Elmacinus, p. 29. Patricides, p. 16. apud Hottinger. Smegma, p. 271, 272. Abulpharag. Hist. Dynast. p. 18.