[b-hebrew] Ur of the Chaldees

Peter Kirk peterkirk at qaya.org
Thu May 12 19:54:08 EDT 2005

On 12/05/2005 20:25, Karl Randolph wrote:

>----- Original Message -----
>From: "Walter R. Mattfeld" <mattfeld12 at charter.net>
>>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.
>First, while not denying the possibility, I never categorically claimed that Abraham was from Urfa (modern Edessa).

You both mean Edessa (modern Urfa). But, Karl, you did write the 
following which sounds like just such a claim:

>That there was an ancient town in a Semitic language speaking area with a name whose pronunciation was almost identical to the Biblical Ur pretty much clinches it for me.

>But unless you have documents to show that show that Abraham was a Sumerian, contradicting the document that we have, then you must admit that the Bible at least claims that Abraham was a Chaldean.

No, it doesn't. It states somewhere that he was an Aramean. And that he 
lived in Ur Kasdim, understood as Ur of the Chaldees. Even if Kasdim 
does mean "Chaldeans", that does not imply that every inhabitant of the 
city was an ethnic Chaldean, whatever that might mean. Indeed "Kasdim" 
may be an anachronistic editorial addition, to clarify that this Ur was 
the one in what was at his time (the reign of Josiah, perhaps?) known as 
Chaldea, and not perhaps the one which became Edessa. Remember that 
Nebuchadnezzar's Babylonians were also called Kasdim or Chaldeans.


>Let’s go back to archeology: unless the reports I heard were wrong, the tablets at Ebla mentioned that there were two cities named Ur, one was Ur of the Sumerians and the other Ur of the Chaldeas.

It would be good to have some kind of reference for this piece of data, 
as the whole of the rest of your argument depends on it. 
http://fontes.lstc.edu/~rklein/Documents/Ur.htm refers to Ebla tablets 
about Ur and seems a sensible argument, but makes no mention of these 
two named Urs. Millard here also mentions papers by Shanks and Gordon. 
Was it one of these who gave these data? 
http://www.pilgrimpromo.com/WAR/discovered/html/chapter06.htm is trying 
to argue the same point as you, but does not give this data. Could the 
reports you heard be wrong? It is important to clarify this as it is 
very easy for such statements to get into wide circulation on the 
Internet even when they are completely without support.

Peter Kirk
peter at qaya.org (personal)
peterkirk at qaya.org (work)

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