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Was Semiramis The Wife of Nimrod Mentioned In The Bible?

The Question of an Earlier Semiramis, Legendary Queen Of Babylon

According to legend she was the wife of Nimrod, "the mighty hunter" mentioned in the Bible. She is traditionally equated to the Biblical "Queen of Heaven" of Jeremiah 7:18; 44:7-19 & 25.

Queen Semiramis, drawing by Janice MooreNote: This article is in the process of being written, what you are reading on this page is mostly placeholder material grafted in from my book review of the Two Babylons.

A look at the true identity of the historic Semiramis of Ancient Babylon compared to her legends. A speculative look into the origins of the original mythology of this famous woman of ancient history and times past. In the attempt to find the true story behind the legend. In the end we are left with the myth and fertile speculation.

CONTENT FROM BOOK REVIEW: The identity of a woman named Semiramis being the wife of Nimrod is questionable; as I have found out in my own research of ancient history and legends while trying to develop the story lines of my own fictional stories.

According to the Catholic Encyclopedia (Knight), Sammuramat was the wife of Adad-nirari III (812 to 783 B.C) who reigned during the time Jehoahaz was king of Israel.

According to The Oxford Classical Dictionary:

"Semiramis in history was Sammu-ramat, wife of Shamshi-Adad V of *Assyria, mother of Adad-nirari III, with whom she campaigned against *Commagene in 805 BC. Her inscribed stelae of kings and high officials in Assur. In Greek legend, she was the daughter of the Syrian goddess Derceto at Ascalon, wife of Onnes (probably the first Sumerian sage Oannes) and then of Ninos, eponymous king of *Nineveh; she conquered '*Bactria' and built' '*Babylon' ( *Berossus denied this). In Armenian legend, she conquered *Armenia (ancient *Uratu), built a palace and waterworks, and left inscriptions."
W. Schramm. Historia 1972, 513-21; F.W. Konig, Die Persika des Ktesias von Knidos, Archiv fur Orientforschung Beiheft 18 (1972), 37-40; V. Donbaz, Annual Review of the Royal Inscriptions of Mesopotamia Project (1990), 5-10; Moses Khorenats'I, History of the Armenians, ed, R.W. Thomson (1978), 93-104; (Hornblower, 1383)

In this entry Sammuramat is named as the wife of the father of Adad-nirari III, the earlier reference claims her as the wife of his son. Either way the dates involved are much too late for her to have been the wife of the Biblical Nimrod. And here lies the crux of the problem, for much of Hislop's notions on ancient Babel hinges on this one point, as witnessed by the full title of the book, The Two Babylons Or The Papal Worship: Proved To Be The Worship Of Nimrod and His Wife.

There Could Well Have Been An Earlier Semiramis

There is speculation that perhaps there was an earlier Semiramis, but at this point I have not been able to even establish if Sammuramat and Semiramis are indeed the same name, one being the Assyrian form and the latter being the Greek equivalent. The truth seems to be that the name Sammuramat "…is the only Assyrian or Babylonian name discovered so far having any phonetic resemblance to that of the famous legendary queen, Semiramis." Therefore, though the two names are often cited as being interchangeable (Ann, 347; Foryan; Self), that would not seem to constitute solid proof.

In Goddesses in World Mythology, Sammuramat is stated as being interchangeable with the name Semiramis. The entry reads:

Mesopotamia; Babylonia; Assyria
Wildbirds; Creater of Life; Love and Sexuality; Unhappiness; Selfishness

A goddess queen who ruled the city of Nineveh and founded the city of Babylon.
She left the earth as a dove, and was worshiped for fertility.

When Semiramis needed a lover to replace her husband, King Ninus, after he died, she chose Ara, but Ara rejected her advances because he loved his wife, Nvard. The angry Semiramis then tried to capture Ara with a large contingent of soldiers, but they killed him by mistake. Grief-stricken, Semiramis had his body taken to her palace in hopes that his life could be restored. When he did not return from the dead, she dressed another one of her lovers in Ara's clothing, and made love to him instead. (Ann, 347)

If you are familiar with my Seeker World Stories you may recognize the fact that my story of the Seeker is based in part on the legends behind this entry. If you have any knowledge of Armenian myth, you probably recognise Ara as the name of the first legendary king of Armenia. Considering this as a whole, this passage seems to substantiate that there was a Semiramis/Sammuramat who was the Biblical wife of Nimrod, as well as a few of Hislop's other concepts of ancient Babel, inclucing Nimrod and his wife; at least on the surface. But only as long as Ninus and Nimrod are indeed one and the same, but do we know for sure that Ninus and Nimrod are one and the same? Hislop says so. But, the only connection between the two given here is that Semiramis ruled Nineveh and "founded the city of Babylon." Is this proof? Remember, that in an earlier reference it is said that the Babylonian Historian Berosus denied that Semiramis/Sammuramat founded Babylon (Knight). Being much closer to that time period in question than we are wouldn't he be more of an authority?

One more possible hitch to Hislop's scenario is that most of the relative legends that do hint at memories of Semiramis/Sammuramat being the wife of the Biblical Nimrod - at least as far as I have been able to establish so far - seem to date back at the earliest to the Assyrians. That's perhaps a bit too late for the time of the Biblical Nimrod.

Ann, Martha and Dorothy Myers Imel. Goddesses In World Mythology: A Biographical Dictionary. New York: Oxford UP, 1993.

Hislop, Rev. Alexander. The Two Babylons Or The Papal Worship: Proved To Be The Worship Of Nimrod and His Wife. Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeauz Brothers, 1959.

Foryan, George E. "Semiramis: Legendary Mysterious Great Queen of Assyria". November 16 1999.

Graciano, Rod. (Personal E-mail Message - quoted with permission). November 13 1999.

Knight, Kevin, ed. The Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. 2, 1999. November 16 1999 .

Hornblower, Simon and Antony Spawforth, eds. The Oxford Classical Dictionary: The Ultimate Reference Work on the Classical World. 3rd ed. New York: Oxford UP, 1996.

Layard, Austen Henry. Nineveh And Babylon. London: J. Murray, 1849.

Self, Bryce. "Semiramis, Queen of Babylon". November 16 1999.

Woodrow, Ralph. The Babylon Connection? Palm Springs, CA: Ralph Woodrow Evangelistic Association, 1997.

Special Thanks To:
Charles Kimball, the Xenophile Historian, Pastor Rod Graciano & to Helena Lehman, author of THE ENOCH TABLETS and THE LANGUAGE OF GOD: book series for their much welcomed input & help editing the final drafts of this review.

For Further Reading

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