The country of Terah, and the birthplace of Abraham, Ge 11:28,31; 15:7. It is usually called "Ur of the Chaldees," Heb 9:7; Ac 7:4; and is located, with strong probability, in the north-west part of Mesopotamia. The city of Orfah, to which the Jews make pilgrimages as the birthplace of Abraham, is a flourishing town of 30,000 inhabitants, seventy-eight miles south-west of Diarbekir. Some, however, place Ur in Lower Chaldea, at extensive ruins now called Warka, in latitude 31 degrees 19' North, longitude 45 degrees 40' East.
light, or the moon city, a city "of the Chaldees," the birthplace of Haran (Ge 11:28,31), the largest city of Shinar or northern Chaldea, and the principal commercial centre of the country as well as the centre of political power. It stood near the mouth of the Euphrates, on its western bank, and is represented by the mounds (of bricks cemented by bitumen) of el-Mugheir, i.e., "the bitumined," or "the town of bitumen," now 150 miles from the sea and some 6 miles from the Euphrates, a little above the point where it receives the Shat el-Hie, an affluent from the Tigris. It was formerly a maritime city, as the waters of the Persian Gulf reached thus far inland. Ur was the port of Babylonia, whence trade was carried on with the dwellers on the gulf, and with the distant countries of India, Ethiopia, and Egypt. It was abandoned about B.C. 500, but long continued, like Erech, to be a great sacred cemetery city, as is evident from the number of tombs found there. (See Abraham.)
The oldest king of Ur known to us is Ur-Ba'u (servant of the goddess Ba'u), as Hommel reads the name, or Ur-Gur, as others read it. He lived some twenty-eight hundred years B.C., and took part in building the famous temple of the moon-god Sin in Ur itself. The illustration here given represents his cuneiform inscription, written in the Sumerian language, and stamped upon every brick of the temple in Ur. It reads: "Ur-Ba'u, king of Ur, who built the temple of the moon-god."
Ur was consecrated to the worship of Sin, the Babylonian moon-god. It shared this honour, however, with another city, and this city was Haran, or Harran. Harran was in Mesopotamia, and took its name from the highroad which led through it from the east to the west. The name is Babylonian, and bears witness to its having been founded by a Babylonian king. The same witness is still more decisively borne by the worship paid in it to the Babylonian moon-god and by its ancient temple of Sin. Indeed, the temple of the moon-god at Harran was perhaps even more famous in the Assyrian and Babylonian world than the temple of the moon-god at Ur.
Between Ur and Harran there must, consequently, have been a close connection in early times, the record of which has not yet been recovered. It may be that Harran owed its foundation to a king of Ur; at any rate the two cities were bound together by the worship of the same deity, the closest and most enduring bond of union that existed in the ancient world. That Terah should have migrated from Ur to Harran, therefore, ceases to be extraordinary. If he left Ur at all, it was the most natural place to which to go. It was like passing from one court of a temple into another.
Such a remarkable coincidence between the Biblical narrative and the evidence of archaeological research cannot be the result of chance. The narrative must be historical; no writer of late date, even if he were a Babylonian, could have invented a story so exactly in accordance with what we now know to have been the truth. For a story of the kind to have been the invention of Palestinian tradition is equally impossible. To the unprejudiced mind there is no escape from the conclusion that the history of the migration of Terah from Ur to Harran is founded on fact (Sayce).
Illustration: Clay Stamp for Bricks with Cuneiform Inscription Illustration: Cuneiform Inscription on Bricks Found at Ur
Of the Chaldees (Ge 11:28,31; 15:7; Ne 9:7), from which Terah, Abraham, and Lot were called. In Mesopotamia (Ac 7:2). Now Mugheir (a ruined temple of large bitumen bricks, which also "mugheir" means, namely, Um Mugheir "mother of bitumen"), on the right bank of the Euphrates, near its junction with the Shat el Hie from the Tigris; in Chaldaea proper. Called Hur by the natives, and on monuments Ur. The most ancient city of the older Chaldaea. Its bricks bear the name of the earliest monumental kings, "Urukh king of Ur"; his kingdom extended as far N. as Niffer. The royal lists on the monuments enumerate Babylonian kings from Urukh (2230 B.C., possibly the Orchanus of Ovid, Met. 4:212) down to Nabonid (540 B.C.) the last. The temple was sacred to 'Urki, the moon goddess; Ilgi son of Urukh completed it.
For two centuries it was the capital, and always was held sacred. One district was "Ibra," perhaps related to "Hebrew," Abraham's designation. Ur was also a cemetery and city of tombs, doubtless because of its sacred character, from whence the dead were brought to it from vast distances for 1,800 years. Eupolemos (in Eusebius, Praep. Ev. 9:17) refers to Ur as "the moon worshipping (kamarine; kamar being Arabic for moon) city." The derivation from Ur, "fire," led to the Koran and Talmud legends that Abraham miraculously escaped out of the flames into which Nimrod or other idolatrous persecutors threw him.
Ur lies six miles distant from the present coarse of the Euphrates, and 125 from the sea; though it is thought it was anciently a maritime town, and that its present inland site is due to the accumulation of alluvium (?). The buildings are of the most archaic kind, consisting of low mounds enclosed within an enceinte, on most sides perfect, an oval space 1,000 yards long by 800 broad. The temple is thoroughly Chaldaean in type, in stages of which two remain, of brick partly sunburnt, partly baked, cemented with bitumen.
was the land of Haran's nativity,
the place from which Terah and Abraham started "to go into the land of Canaan."
It is called in Genesis "Ur of the Chaldaeans," while in the Acts St. Stephen places it, by implication, in Mesopotamia.
These are all the indications which Scripture furnishes as to its locality. It has been identified by the most ancient traditions with the city of Orfah in the highlands of Mesopotamia, which unite the table-land of Armenia to the valley of the Euphrates. In later ages it was called Edessa, and was celebrated as the capital of Abgarus or Acbarus who was said to have received the letter and portrait of our Saviour. "Two, physical features must have secured Orfah, from the earliest times, as a nucleus for the civilization of those regions. One is a high-crested crag, the natural fortifications of the crested citadel....The other is an abundant spring, issuing in a pool of transparent clearness, and embosomed in a mass of luxuriant verdure, which, amidst the dull brown desert all around, makes and must always have made, this spot an oasis, a paradise, in the Chaldaean wilderness. Round this sacred pool,'the beautiful spring Callirrhoe,' as it was called by the Greek writers, gather the modern traditions of the patriarch." --Stanley, Jewish Church, part i.p.7. A second tradition, which appears in the Talmud, finds Ur in Warka, 120 miles southeast from Babylon and four east of the Euphrates. It was the Orchoe of the Greeks, and probably the Ereck of Holy Scripture. This place bears the name of Huruk in the native inscriptions, and was in the countries known to the Jews as the land of the Chaldaeans. But in opposition to the most ancient traditions, many modern writers have fixed the site of Ur at a very different position, viz. in the extreme south of Chaldaea, at Mugheir, not very far above-- and probably in the time of Abraham actually upon--the head of the Persian Gulf. Among the ruins which are now seen at the spot are the remains of one of the great temples, of a model similar to that of Babel, dedicated to the moon, to whom the city was sacred. (Porter and Rawlinson favor this last place.)