Shabbat Parashat Noach 5774
Parashat Hashavua:Tyrants of the PastHarav Yosef Carmel
In our parasha, we meet the legendary and infamous leader Nimrod, who founded Ninveh and was the leader of the Assyrian Empire. He opposed Avraham, who taught mankind the principles of monotheism. Their confrontation reached its pinnacle when Nimrod tried to kill Avraham in the furnace at Ur Kasdim, as is hinted at in the end of the parasha.
This parasha also tells the story of the generation of the
The prophet Yeshaya wrote a scathing prophecy aimed at Bavel (also known as Masa Ashur). The prophecy (Yeshaya 14: 12-20) speaks about someone who viewed himself as being in the heavens, above the stars, or on the highest mountain, and even said: “I will liken myself to He Who Is Above.” The prophet informs him that he will be lowered to a deep pit and indeed into the grave. Indications are that Yeshaya was talking about Sargon II, the emperor of the powerful Assyrian empire many centuries after Nimrod operated in the region. Sargon II captured
It is possible that this pit refers to a jail, as it is called in the story of Yosef, or it can refer to a grave. Each one seems to have support from different phrases within the prophecy. It is likely that both are true. First, the king was imprisoned. Later on, he was killed in the field of battle.
Yeshaya’s prophecy, over a century before the destruction of the
Study of the Book of Daniel indicates that Nevuchadnetzar saw himself as a “spiritual” successor of Nimrod. He also built an idol, apparently a very tall one, upon which he sat as people bowed down before him. Just as Avraham rebelled against Nimrod, Chanaya, Mishael, and Azarya refused to take part in Nevuchadnetzar’s rebellion against Hashem. Just as Nimrod threw Avraham into a furnace, so did Nevuchadnetzar throw the three righteous men into the fire, but they escaped unscathed and thereby sanctified Hashem’s Name. Nevuchadnetzar found himself in a prison and was also exhumed from his grave (see Rashi to Yeshaya 14 and Daniel 3-4). The great, great grandchildren of Avraham continue his way in life, clinging to belief in monotheism and prepared to give their lives for it.
History is replete with stories of all-powerful leaders who build great towers and fantasize about ruling the universe. At the end, Hashem puts them in their places and ensures the continuity of the Jewish Nation. May we also see our haughty enemies fall, as Hashem saves us from their hands.
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