Genesis

Abraham The Mercenary?

Abraham the mercenary.
Melchizedek blessing Abraham (1897 illustration by Charles Foster)

Abraham was likely a Habiru and possibly a mercenary. Some Habiru hired themselves out as mercenaries to provide protection for cities. It may surprise you to learn there is biblical evidence suggesting that Abraham may have been a Habiru mercenary.

Genesis 14 records the rebellion of five vassal kings from their distant overlords. One of the city-states that rebelled was Sodom where Abraham’s nephew, Lot, had taken up residence. The coalition of four kings who came to put down the rebellion took Lot, and others, captive.

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Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Genesis

Abraham The Habiru?

Habiru

The first time the word “Hebrew” appears in the Bible it describes Abram (Abraham):

“Then one who had escaped came and told Abram the Hebrew, who was living by the oaks of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and of Aner. These were allies of Abram.” (Gen. 14:13 ESV) 

Many Bible students speculate that the word Hebrew derives from “Eber” who was one of Abraham’s ancestors. According to Genesis 11, Eber was Abraham’s great-great-great-great grandfather and Eber himself was the great-great grandson of Noah. Eber had two sons and, combined, they in turn had more than a dozen sons. Clearly Eber’s descendants were numerous. 

Why aren’t all of Eber’s descendants called Hebrews?

If Abraham was called a Hebrew because he descended from Eber, why aren’t all of Eber’s descendants called Hebrews? The Bible restricts the description of Hebrew only to the nation of Israel and the Patriarchs who beget them. Abraham’s first born son, Ishmael, was a descendant of Eber, but he is never referred to as a Hebrew. The same is true of Lot and Esau (and many others). Since this is the case, we have reason to doubt that Abraham was called a Hebrew because of his ancestor Eber.[1]West, Stuart A. “The Habiru and the Hebrews from a Social Class to an Ethnic Group.” Dor le dor 7, no. 3 (1979): 102.

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References

References
1 West, Stuart A. “The Habiru and the Hebrews from a Social Class to an Ethnic Group.” Dor le dor 7, no. 3 (1979): 102.
Posted by Eddie Lawrence in Genesis

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