In the Bible's Old Testament, Amraphel (Hebrew: אַמְרָפֶל ’Amrāp̄el) was a king of Shinar (Sumer) in Genesis 14, who invaded Canaan along with other kings under the leadership of Chedorlaomer, king of Elam. Chedorlaomer's coalition defeated Sodom and the other Cities of the Plain in the Battle of the Vale of Siddim.
Beginning with E. Schrader in 1888 this king was usually associated with Hammurabi, who ruled Babylonia from 1792 BC until his death in 1750 BC. However, according to The Oxford Companion to the Bible (1993), this view has been largely abandoned in recent years. According to John Van Seters in Abraham in History and Tradition, the existence of Amraphel is unconfirmed by any sources outside the Bible.
Amraphel in Jewish Tradition
Rabbinic sources such as Midrash Tanhuma Lekh Lekhah 6, Targum Yonatan to Exodus 14:1, and Eruvin 53a:2 identify Amraphel with Nimrod. This is also asserted in the 11th Chapter of the Sefer haYashar (Book of Jasher), attested from the early 17th century:
And Nimrod dwelt in Babel, and he there renewed his reign over the rest of his subjects, and he reigned securely, and the subjects and princes of Nimrod called his name Amraphel, saying that at the tower his princes and men fell through his means. - Book of the Upright (Jasher) 11
Genesis Rabbah 42 says Amraphel was called by three names: Cush, after his father's name (Gen. 10:8), Nimrod, because he established rebellion (mrd) in the world, and Amraphel, as he declared (amar) "I will cast down" (apilah).
- Genesis chapter 14, verses 1 and 9
- Cuneiform Inscriptions and the Old Testament, vol II (1888), pp 299ff
- Robert North (1993). "Abraham". In Bruce M. Metzger; Michael D. Coogan. The Oxford Companion to the Bible. Oxford: Oxford University Press. p. 5. ISBN 0-19-504645-5.
- "The Soncino Babylonian Talmud" (PDF). Halakhah.com. Retrieved 13 January 2017.
- Irving L. Finkel, The Ark Before Noah: Decoding the Story of the Flood (Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2014).