[b-hebrew] Ur of the Chaldees

Walter R. Mattfeld mattfeld12 at charter.net
Thu May 12 06:03:42 EDT 2005

Karl has argued that Abraham was a Semite and spoke a Semitic language, ergo 
he was _not_ a Sumerian from Ur of Lower Mesopotamia, but of Urfa (modern 
Edessa) in Northern Syria not far from biblical Haran, a site in some 
Islamic traditions associated with him.

The "problem" with Karl's reasoning is that he is apparently _unaware_ that 
quite early on, by the time Abraham flourished, Ur had become infiltrated by 
Semites. So, in Abraham's days, Semites _did_ live at Ur in Lower 
Mesopotamia !

The late Professor Kramer, an authority on Sumer, regarding a Semitic 
population _in_ Sumer by the 4th millennium BCE, which became _predominant_ 
by ca. 2900 BCE, long before Abraham's birth ca. 2100 BCE using the biblical 
chronology (the Ubaidians or Proto-Euphrateans build Sumer's first villages 
ca. 4900 BCE):

"The Ubaidians, however, did not long remain the sole and dominant power in 
ancient Sumer. Immediately to the west of Sumer lies the Syrian desert and 
the Arabian peninsula, the home of the Semitc nomads from time immemorial. 
As the Ubaidian settlers thrived and prospered, some of these Semitic hordes 
began to infiltrate their settlements both as peaceful immigrants and as 
warlike conquerors...even the oldest Sumerian inscriptions contain a number 
of Semitic loanwords, and the Sumerian pantheon contains not a few deities 
which are Semitic in origin...Finally, the first dynasty of Sumer whose 
existence can be historically attested at least to some extent, the 
so-called First Dynasty of Kish, which according to the ancients themselves 
followed immediately upon the subsidence of the Flood [dated 2900 BCE at 
Shurupakk], begins with a whole group of rulers bearing Semitic names...all 
in all it seems not unreasonable to conjecture that the Semites followed the 
Proto-Euphrateans into Sumer and that as a result of the cross-fertilization 
of their two cultures, there came into being the first high civilization in 
Sumer, one in which the Semitic element was probably predominant." (p. 42. 
"History: Heroes, Kings, and Ensi's." Samuel Noah Kramer. _The Sumerians, 
Their History, Culture, and Character_. Chicago. The University of Chicago 
Press. 1963. reprint 1972)

Here's what Leick (an Assyriologist and Anthropologist) has to say on the 
subject of Semitic religious concepts fused with Sumerian:

"What we define here as Babylonian myths are a number of texts which were 
written Akkadian during the second millennium BC...Most of these 
compositions, however, are preserved on tablets that were found in the great 
Neo-Assyrian and Neo-Babylonian archives, notably those of Nineveh, Uruk, 
_Ur_ and Babylon. We know from colophon entries and other reports that the 
majority of the texts were copies of older material...The oldest editions of 
some texts date from the Old Babylonian period...The Babylonians inherited 
the culture and religious structures of the Sumerians. The scribes of the 
Old Babylonian period copied and translated a number of Sumerian 
mythological texts...But there is also much that owes more to Syrian and 
Amorite concepts than Sumerian tradition." (pp. 23-24. "Babylonian 
Mythology."  Gwendolyn Leick. A Dictionary of Ancient Near Eastern 
Mythology. London & New York. Routledge. 1991, 1996, 1997. ISBN 
0-415-19811-9 pbk)


Karl  "errs" in thinking that because Abraham spoke a Semitic language that 
ergo he could not be of Ur in Sumer, because that location spoke a 
non-Semitic language. As noted by Kramer the Semites had become the 
_dominant ruling class_ of Sumer at least 800 years _before_ the birth of 
Abraham. So a Semitic-speaking Abraham would have had no problems in 
2100-2000 BCE, with Sumer's "Semitic" population.

Regards, Walter
Walter Reinhold Warttig Mattfeld y de la Torre, M.A. Ed.
mattfeld12 at charter.net

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