THE WORLD OF ABRAM
the first part of the book of Genesis, there is a pattern seen concerning the
Judgments of God. After God pronounces a
judgment upon sin, He follows that judgment by offering a way of escape and
salvation from that judgment.
WAY OF SALVATION
Adam & Eve
cast out of Garden of Eden.
redemption through seed of the Woman.
from the presence of God for murdering his brother.
God places a
mark on Cain so that no one will take vengeance.
upon the earth.
saved in Ark.
languages and nations dispersed.
Abraham to be a
blessing to the nations.
God cast Adam and Eve out of the Garden of Eden, He also gave them the first
promise of redemption through the Seed of the Woman. When God banished Cain from His presence
after he had murdered Abel, He set a mark upon Cain to protect him from anyone who
might be seeking revenge. When the Lord
brought a flood upon the earth to destroy all life, He allowed eight people to
be saved within the ark.
God confused the languages at the Tower
of Babel, He doomed the
world to an existence of misunderstanding, strife and confusion. We have seen the account of this judgment in
chapter 11. Now at the end of chapter
11, we have the introduction to one particular individual whom God chooses to
bless. His name is Abram. It will be through Abram that all of the
nations in the world will be blessed, just as they have previously been judged.
are not told how hold Abram was when he and his family left Ur
of the Chaldees, but in Genesis 12:4 we find that he was 75 years old when he
departed from Haran. This would have taken place in the year 2085
B.C. and the date of Abram's birth would be placed at 2160 B.C.
would mean that Abram departed from Ur
of the Chaldees at a time when it was at its zenith.
FAMILY OF TERAH
these are the records of the generations of Terah. Terah became the father of
Abram, Nahor and Haran; and Haran
became the father of Lot. 28 And Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land
of his birth, in Ur
of the Chaldeans. (Genesis 11:27-28).
begins another section of the book of Genesis.
We have already seen the generations of the heavens and the earth, the
generations of Adam, the generations of Noah and the generations of Shem. In each case, this introductory phrase has
gone on to tell about the descendants of the one who was named. The name Terah is used of no one else in the
Bible. The origins and the meaning of
his name are unknown.
family of Terah was beset by an untimely tragedy in the death of Haran. We are not told the details of his death, but
he left his son Lot fatherless. It would be Abram who would act as guardian
for this young man.
UR OF THE CHALDEES
Haran died in the presence of his father Terah
in the land of his birth, in Ur
of the Chaldeans. (Genesis 11:28).
C. Leonard Woolley spent 12 years excavating the city of Ur
located in Southern Mesopotamia (1922‑1934). Since that time, most scholars have felt that
this was the city of Abraham's
birth. Woolley found an ancient
metropolis with a population of 34,000 in the inner district and as much as a
quarter of a million in the outlying districts.
Ur was the scene of great war and great culture during
the days which Abram lived. For a time,
the king of this city was the supreme monarch over all of the cities of
Southern Mesopotamia, restoring Sumer
to the glory that it had held in the days of Sargon the Great, 300 years
Ur contained a number of schools where students were
taught reading, writing and arithmetic.
They learned to write in Sumerian cuneiform, pressing their wedged‑shaped
markers onto the lumps of soft clay.
religion of Ur involved the entire pantheon of Sumer. The city itself was home to the patron god
Nanna, the moon‑god. Abram and his
family originally participated in this pagan worship.
ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, namely Terah, the father of
Abraham and the father of Nahor, and THEY SERVED OTHER GODS. (Joshua 24:2b).
the name “Abram” reflects his pagan origins.
It means “exalted father” or “father of high places.” It is possibly a reference to the regular
worship atop the Ziggurat of Ur.
was the period of the golden age of Ur. That would not be the case a hundred years
later, but now Ur was the key city in Mesopotamia. It
was in the midst of this great economic prosperity that Yahweh would have
revealed Himself to Abram and commanded him to leave his home in Ur and travel to a
faraway land. Abram was not called out
of a country that was on the verge of destruction, but from one that was at its
very peak of prosperity.
NORTHERN LOCATION FOR UR?
problems arise in the identification of Leonard Wooley’s Ur
as the city of Abram's
birthplace. Therefore some have
speculated on the existence of another city by the name of Ur
located in northern Mesopotamia.
1. Southern Ur
was not associated with the Chaldeans until the 10th century B.C. It is possible that the mention of the
Chaldeans in our Genesis text is a scribal insertion to assist us in
determining the location of Ur
(it would be like speaking of the Ancient Mayans of Mexico).
2. The Septuagint reading of Genesis 11:31 does not say that
Abram came from Ur. Instead of “they went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans...”
the Greek reads, “led them out of the land of the Chaldeans...”
3. When Abraham was going to send for a wife for his son Isaac,
he gave his servant the following instructions:
you shall go to MY COUNTRY and to my relatives, and take a wife for my son
Isaac.” (Genesis 24:4).
The phrase translated "my country" refers to
“my land.” This was not just the people
of Abraham. This was also his land! Where did the servant go? He went to Haran. 
continues to be a city in what is today western Turkey
known as Urfa. It is located very close to Haran and the local traditions of this city
designate it as the birthplace of Abraham.
In support of this locale, Gary Rensburg points out that “if you were to
go from Ur in southern Iraq to Canaan, you would never go through Haran; it is simply not
on the way. But, if you began in this
northern Ur, you would indeed go through Haran on your way to Canaan.”
area of Northern Mesopotamia is from where the
original Chaldeans are said to have come.
Xenophon, writing a thousand years after Moses, states that the Chaldeans
lived close to the Armenians.
examination of the Nuzi Tablets indicates that the Patriarchs reflect more of
northern Mesopotamian culture than that of the Sumerians.
fact that the author goes out of his way to designate the city as Ur of the Chaldees
suggests that it was not that familiar of a city to the original readers of
Genesis. Rensburg points this out by way
of analogy. Let’s use an analogy — London, the great city of London,
England, and London, Ontario. We know, of course, that London,
Ontario must have been founded by people who
came from London, England, but let’s make one further
point on that. If I just said, “London,’ you would correctly think I was referring to London, England. If I have to refer to a second London, I have to add another term and I will indeed say,
“London, Ontario.” That’s why the Bible, to my mind, says “Ur of the Chaldees” or “Ur
of the Chaleans,” because if you just said “Ur,”
people would know you’re talking about the great Ur, the one in the south. 
the other hand, if the phrase “Ur
of the Chaldees” were reflective of a later insertion, it would identify the
southern location of the city. If this
reference is a scribal insertion from a later period, then at least it informs
us that the scribe intended us to consider this to be the city that was
excavated by Woolley.
it really matter whether Abram came from the northern city or the better known
southern city of Ur? Not really.
People traveled throughout the ancient world of that day and cultural
habits were regularly imported from far away places.
WIVES OF THE SONS OF TERAH
Abram and Nahor took wives for themselves. The name of Abram's wife was Sarai;
and the name of Nahor's wife was Milcah, the daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and Iscah. 30 And
Sarai was barren; she had no child. (Genesis 11:29-30).
evidently had a wife who gave birth to Lot,
but she is not mentioned. Instead we are
introduced to the wives of Abram and Nahor.
Of the two, it will be Sarai who shall play a key role in the family
that there was no injunction against marrying one’s niece. Even the law prohibiting the marrying of
one’s sister was not yet in effect.
The name Sarai means “my prince.”  If Abram will
be the father of the chosen people, then Sarai will be their mother. However, there was a problem. Sarai was barren. This must be seen in the light of the culture
of that day to understand the seriousness of this issue. A woman who was barren was considered to be
less than a woman. She would have no one
to sustain and to care for her in her older age.
Terah took Abram his son, and Lot the son of Haran, his grandson, and Sarai his
daughter‑in‑law, his son Abram's wife; and they went out together
from Ur of the Chaldeans in order to enter the land of Canaan;
and they went as far as Haran,
and settled there. 32 And the days of Terah were two hundred and five
years; and Terah died in Haran.
Stephen stood before the high priest in Jerusalem,
he stated that God had first appeared to Abraham while he was in Ur, before he moved to Haran.
was at the crossroads of the main highways from Mesopotamia
to the west. Indeed, the name “Haran” means
“crossroads.” Located on the Bilikh River
sixty miles north of where it empties into the Euphrates,
the city sits at the crossroads of three different continents. It is a central hub with spokes leading out
to Europe, Asia and Africa.
God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before
he lived in Haran,
3 and said to him, ‘Depart from your country and your
relatives, and come into the land that I will show you.’” (Acts 7:2‑3).
initial revelation of the Lord to Abram took place while he was still living in
Ur. He was told to leave both his country as well
as his relatives. The Genesis account of
Abram’s departure tells us that Abram was accompanied by his father and his
brothers. Was this corporate move in
disobedience to the command to leave his relatives? Perhaps not. It is possible that this part of the command
was not made known to Abram until after he had come to Haran.
have already mentioned that Abram was an idol worshipper before leaving Ur. There is no indication that Abram’s family
ever stopped worshipping these pagan gods.
the case of Laban, the nephew of Abram and the uncle of Jacob, the most that we
can say is that he considered Yahweh to be one of many tribal gods. Only in Abram do we find a man who worshipped
is not until the following chapter that we read of the Lord’s call to Abram,
yet already we see both Abram and his father and family relocating from their
original home of Ur of the Chaldeans to the city
of Haran. Furthermore, we are told that this was done
in order to enter the land
sort of migration was not unknown in the ancient world. There were not only families, but entire
people groups that are known to have migrated during this period. Yet the migration of Abram’s family had a
particular destination. It was in
order to enter the land
of Canaan. I do not think this necessarily means they
knew that Canaan was their final
destination. They were leaving their
home in Ur and this was in order to enter the land of Canaan, but that does not mean they were
aware of what was that final destination.
Why do I say that? Because the
writer to the Hebrews tells us that Abraham, when he was called, obeyed by
going out to a place which he was to receive for an inheritance; and he went
out, not knowing where he was going (Hebrews 11:8).
is an interesting lesson here. It is a
lesson of destination. Being unaware of
your final destination does not preclude you from getting there. The reason Abram made it to the Promised Land
was not because of his good planning; it was because he acted in faith and the
Lord brought him here.
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