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Abraham in Mesopotamia

Was he born in Ur?

The nightly news, reporting on the war in Iraq, has been describing Mesopotamia's ancient city of Ur as the place where Abraham of the Old Testament was born. Bruce Feiler has written about it for Slate – an article posted on April 21, 2003.  He writes of Nightline, NBC Nightly News, the Associated Press and the New York Times repeating the story, and he asks, " Was Abraham really born in Ur?"

Feiler correctly points out that "The Bible doesn't say where Abraham was born." He writes:

Abraham first appears in the Bible in Genesis 11:27, which says that Terah, a descendant of Noah's son Shem, begets three children: Abram, Nahor, and Haran. (Abraham is called Abram at the moment, which means "the father is exalted." Not until he has a child of his own, decades later, will God change his name to Abraham, which means "father of many.") The next verse suggests that Abraham's youngest brother, Haran, was born in a place called Ur of the Chaldeans, where he dies (though not before fathering a son, Lot). It does not say that Abraham was born in Ur.

As the text makes clear, Terah and his family were pastoral nomads, wandering from place to place for varying periods of time. So, it's not inconceivable that Abraham and even Nahor might have been born someplace else. But where? And where was this place called Ur of the Chaldeans?

Feiler writes of a problem concerning the Chaldeans and of scholars agreeing that,

...the term Chaldeans is almost assuredly an anachronism, as it refers to a Semitic people who didn't show up in Ur until the 7th century B.C."  Abraham, by contrast, would have lived 1,300 years earlier, closer to 2,000 B.C.