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Ur Kasdim

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Ur Kasdim

Ur Kaśdim or Ur of the Chaldees (אוּר כַּשְׂדִים) is a biblical place mentioned in the Book of Genesis that refers to a location that the Patriarch Abraham may have been from. Not only is there much debate in interpreting Ur Kaśdim as Abraham's birthplace, but also identifying this location.

Identifying Ur Kaśdim

In 1927 Joshua 24:2)

One of the traditional sites of Abraham's birth is placed in the vicinity of Edessa — Both Islamic tradition and classical Jewish authorities, such as Maimonides and Josephus, placed Ur Kaśdim at various northern Mesopotamian sites such as Urkesh, Urartu, Urfa, or Kutha.

Jewish tradition

Ur Kaśdim is mentioned four times in the Tanakh, with the distinction "Kaśdim" usually rendered in English as "of the Chaldees." In Genesis, the name is found in 11:28, 11:31 and 15:7. Although not explicitly stated in the Tanakh, it is generally understood to be the birthplace of Abraham. Genesis 11:27-28 names it as the birthplace of Abraham's brother Haran, and the point of departure of Terah's household, including his son Abram.

In Isaac seemingly reinforce the traditional Jewish understanding.

The Talmud (Yoma 10a) identifies the Biblical city of Erech with a place called "Urichus". (See Uruk (biblical Erech) with Ur Kaśdim. However, no tradition exists equating Ur Kaśdim with Urichus or Erech/Uruk.


The Book of Jubilees states that Ur Kaśdim was founded in 1687 Anno Mundi by "'Ur, son of Keśed", presumably the offspring of Arphaxad, adding that wars began on Earth that same year.

"'Ur son of Keśed built the city of 'Ara of the Chaldees, and called its name after his own name and the name of his father." (Jubilees 11:3)

Jubilees also portrays Abraham's immediate ancestry as dwelling in Ur Kaśdim, beginning with his great-grandfather Serug.

Islamic tradition

The traditional site of Abraham's birth according to Islamic tradition is a cave in the vicinity of the ancient Seleucid city Edessa, now called Şanlıurfa. The cave lies near the center of Şanlıurfa and is the site of a mosque called the Mosque of Abraham. The Turkish name for the city, Urfa, is derived from the earlier Syriac ܐܘܪܗܝ (Orhāy) and Greek Ορρα (Orrha). The tradition connecting Ur Kaśdim with Urfa is not exclusive to Islam. The 18th-century anthropologist Richard Pococke noted in his publication Description of the East that this traditional identification of Ur Kaśdim with Urfa was the universal opinion within contemporary Judaism.

Scholars are skeptical of the identification of Ur Kaśdim with Urfa. Although the origin of the Greek and Syriac names of the city are uncertain, they appear to be based on a native form, Osroe, the name of a legendary founder, the Armenian form of the Persian name Khosrau. Similarity with "Ur" would thus be accidental.

Classical views

second Persian Empire.

Ur located at Tell el-Mukayyar, which in ancient texts was named Uriwa or Urima.


External links

  • Biblical Archaeology Review May/June 2001: Where Was Abraham's Ur? by Allan R. Millard
  • Prophet Abraham and Sanliurfa Islamic traditions connecting Abraham's early life and Sanli Urfa.
  • Cyrus H. Gordon, Abraham and the Merchants of Ura, Journal of Near Eastern Studies 17 (1958), pp. 28–31.
  • Ur of the Chaldees by Kyle M. Pope
  • COJS: Royal Tombs of Ur, 2600-2500 BCE
  • Woolley’s Ur Revisited, Richard L. Zettler, BAR 10:05, Sep/Oct 1984.he:אור כשדים
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