Which Ur is Abraham’s Ur?

Everyone knows where Abraham’s hometown of Ur is, right? We’ve all been taught that it is in southern Iraq. It is common for Bible teachers to present a biblical explanation or interpretation as if it were an undisputed fact. Often this is because they do not know there are any other explanations. One reason this blog exists is to inform Christians about information and plausible alternative interpretations debated among scholars which somehow never filters down to the person in the pew.

Sometimes these sequestered ideas are very consequential to our faith, and others are mere curiosities. One such example of a disputed “fact” that falls in the curiosity category is the location of “Ur of the Chaldees.” 

Have we erred about Ur?

Until the 1920’s there was general consensus among Christians, Jews, and Muslims that Abraham’s Ur was in northern Mesopotamia in what is today southern Turkey. In the 1850s, British archaeologists identified Tell el-Muqayyar as the ancient Sumerian city-state of Ur. Tell el-Muqayyar is in southern Iraq about 150 miles northwest of the Persian Gulf. A tell (aka tel or tall) is a word meaning “mound.” Ancient cities were usually elevated above their surroundings.

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Genesis

Father Abraham Had Many Sons

Leaving home.

After describing the incident at the city of Babel, which revealed the origins of the world’s nations and cultures, Genesis resumes the genealogy of Shem and introduces us to Abraham. This short list of Shem’s descendants links the world of primeval history recorded in the first eleven chapters of Genesis to a man named Abram. Later on, God will rename him Abraham (Gen 17:5).

By some reckonings, Abraham was born as early as 2150 BC and died in 1975 BC. This is too early to fit the biblical narrative. Using information from the Bible, we can calculate that Abraham was born in 1951 BC and died in 1776 BC. 

When did Abraham live?

Abraham is probably the first person in the Bible whom we can date with confidence. Galatians 3:16-17 says that 430 years passed between the promise God made to Abraham and the giving of the law. God gave the law on Mount Sinai just a few months after the exodus from Egypt, but when was the exodus? 

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Genesis

A Tower With Its Top In The Heavens, Part 2

Tower of Babel.

Genesis 10 lists the clans and nations that we’ll encounter later in the Bible. It shows us Noah’s family tree, but it doesn’t explain how or why his descendants spread across the ancient world. The last verse summarizes what the chapter was about.

“These are the clans of the sons of Noah, according to their genealogies, in their nations, (Gen. 10:32a ESV)

It also transitions us to chapter 11 and sets the expectation that we’ll be told how and why the nations dispersed after the flood.

and from these the nations spread abroad on the earth after the flood.” (Gen. 10:32b ESV)

In the last blog post we examined why the Bible does not support some popular ideas about the tower of Babel story. In this post, we’ll focus on what the text really does say.

What really happened at the Tower of Babel?

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Genesis

A Tower With Its Top In The Heavens, Part 1

Tower of Babel.

The story of the Tower of Babel in Gen 11 is an account of the origin of the nations. These are the nations whom the Jewish people would encounter in the unfolding of their history. It is such a straightforward story, Bible students have difficulty accepting its simple and direct message at face value. People layer a great deal of interpretive baggage on top of this story; baggage which the text does not support.

Unsupported claims

Before looking at what this story does say, let’s take note of what it does not say. I will describe a few of the more popular interpretations below. Notice what they all have in common: this story is about God punishing the people for their arrogance.

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Genesis

Something Sketchy Happened In Noah’s Tent

Shocking behavior in Noah's tent.

God turned the world off and back on again. That’s pretty much what Noah’s Flood was all about. Mankind had become so wicked that God decided the best course of action was to start over. God had compassion on Noah and extended grace to him by sparing him and his family from the flood.

Noah found favor in the sight of God because he was righteous and blameless (Gen 6:9), but He was not perfect. Noah’s story is an echo of the story of the Garden. The world has been re-created and Noah finds himself in a vineyard (which is a kind of garden, Gen 9:20). He imbibes of the fruit of this garden resulting in drunkenness and becomes naked (Gen 9:21). Twice now in Genesis sin has left people in a vulnerable (naked) condition.

What happens next is somewhat unclear, but we can say for certain that Noah’s inebriated condition opens the door to some sketchy behavior by his son Ham. 

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Genesis