Glimpses of Israel - Nimrod

by Joseph Hunting

In Israel there is always some spot to captivate our interest. Indeed, it would be difficult to find a more concentrated area to delve into ancient history. Some of Israel's more recent history is revealed in the massive masonry used by the Crusaders to build their castles through the length and breadth of the land.

The extent of Crusader influence throughout the Palestine of their day is revealed by the number of Crusader castles that extended from the Red Sea in the south to the foothills of Mount Hermon in the north.

The fortress-like castle of Nimrod is the most northerly and commands a magnificent view of Mt. Hermon and the fertile Huleh Valley. In their day these battlements would have been well-nigh impregnable. If it had not been for the earthquakes over the centuries many of the massive walls would still be standing.

I first explored Nimrod in 1972 and marvelled at the existing masonry. Apart from their fighting qualities, the Crusaders brought with them building skills that are still admired all over Israel. In choosing Nimrod to guard the northern approaches to the Holy Land, they could not have picked a more strategic location. From 1949 to 1967 it had served as a Syrian observation post for the artillery that constantly shelled the Israeli settlements below.

The ruins of Nimrod characterize the history of the Holy Land over the centuries. It was primarily a bastion for the preservation of one culture against another. Then it was Crusader versus Saracen. In more recent times it was a tottering Ottoman Empire against Allied forces in 1917. In modern times it is Jew versus his Arab cousin.

Names of locations in Israel sometimes throw light on historical and prophetical backgrounds. Nimrod comes from the Hebrew root, marad, to rebel, and in Genesis 10:8-10 we read that Nimrod the "mighty hunter" (probably of men as well as of wild animals) displayed his power early in the Babel episode and introduced rebellion to God and despotism towards men according to Josephus.