Ur and surrounding area

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Genesis 11:28 Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldees.

Genesis 11:31 Terah took Abram his son, Lot the son of Haran, his son's son, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, his son Abram's wife. They went forth from Ur of the Chaldees, to go into the land of Canaan. They came to Haran and lived there.

Genesis 15:7 He said to him, "I am Yahweh who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldees, to give you this land to inherit it."

Nehemiah 9:7 You are Yahweh the God, who did choose Abram, and brought him forth out of Ur of the Chaldees, and gave him the name of Abraham,


kal'-dez ('ur kasdim; he chora (ton) Chaldaion): For more than 2,000 years efforts have been made to identify the site of this city. The writers of the Septuagint, either being unfamiliar with the site, or not considering it a city, wrote chora, "land," instead of Ur. Eupolemus, who lived about 150 B.C., spoke of it as being a city of Babylonia called Camarina, which he said was called by some Ouria. Stephen (Acts 7:2, 4) regarded the place as being in Mesopotamia. The Talmud, however, as well as some later Arabic writers, regarded Erech (the Septuagint Orek) as the city. The cuneiform writing of this city, Urnki, would seem to support this view, but Erech is mentioned in Genesis. Ammianus Marcellinus identified the city with the castle of Ur in the desert between Hatra and Nisibis, but this was only founded in the time of the Persians. Owing to its nearness to Haran, and because Stephen placed it in Mesopotamia, Urfa or Oorfa, named Edessa by the Greeks, has also in modern times been identified as the city. But Seleucus is credited with having built this city.

The most generally-accepted theory at the present time is that Ur is to be identified with the modern Mugheir (or Mughayyar, "the pitchy") in Southern Babylonia, called Urumma, or Urima, and later Uru in the inscriptions. This borders on the district which in the 1st millennium B.C. was called Chaldea (Kaldu).

This, some hold, accords with the view of Eupolemus, because Camarina may be from the Arabic name of the moon qamar, which refers perhaps to the fact that the ancient city was dedicated to the worship of the moon-god. Another argument which has been advanced for this identification is that Haran, the city to which Terah migrated, was also a center of moon-god worship. This, however, is precarious, because Urumma or Urima in Abraham's day was a Sumerian center, and the seat of Nannar-worship, whereas Haran was Semitic, and was dedicated to Sin. Although these two deities in later centuries were identified with each other, still the argument seems to have little weight, as other deities were also prominently worshipped in those cities, particularly Haran, which fact reminds us also that the Talmud says Terah worshipped no less than 12 deities.

It should be stated that there are scholars who hold, with the Septuagint, that Ur means, not a city, but perhaps a land in which the patriarch pastured his flocks, as for instance, the land of Uri or Ura (Akkad). The designation "of the Chaldeans" was in this case intended to distinguish it from the land where they were not found.

Still another identification is the town Uru (Mar-tu) near Sippar, a place of prominence in the time of Abraham, but which was lost sight of in subsequent periods (compare Amurru, 167). This fact would account for the failure to identify the place in the late pre-Christian centuries, when Urima or Uru still flourished. Western Semites-for the name Abram is not Babylonian-lived in this city in large numbers in the age when the patriarch lived. The Babylonian contract literature from this, as well as other sites, is full of names from the western Semitic lands, Aram and Amurru. This fact makes it reasonable that the site should be found in Babylonia; but, as stated, although the arguments are by no means weighty, more scholars at the present favor Mugheir than any other site.

A. T. Clay

UR, of the Chaldees, is not at Oorfah, as some suppose, for that city is not in Chaldea. It is at a ruin called Mugheir which means pitch, from the amount of that material found there. It is about 6 ms. s.w. of the Euphrates, see map No. 2. The name has been repeatedly found in the ruins. It is 125 ms. n.w. of the Persian gulf. An old temple, in ruins, is to be found still remaining, which was old in the time of Abram.
Strong's Hebrew
H218: Uwr

a city in S. Bab.

Upper Beth-horon
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