#24. Is Abraham’s birthplace Ur of the Chaldeans OR Haran? (Gen 11:28, 11:31, 15:7 vs Gen 12:4-5, 28:10, 29:4)
#25. Does Abraham set off toward the land of Canaan by his father’s hand OR by commandment from Yahweh? (Gen 11:31 vs Gen 12:1)

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Commentators have traditionally seen the Bible making two conflicting claims about Abraham’s birthplace. Genesis 11:28 states that Abraham’s father’s birthplace was “Ur of the Chaldeans” and 11:31 states that Abraham’s father, Terah, along with his extended family left “Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan.” Thus, according to this textual tradition Abraham’s birthplace is Ur of the Chaldeans.

The narrative beginning in the next chapter, however, introduces a new theme: Yahweh commands Abraham: “Go forth from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you” (Gen 12:1). The text—at least as we currently have it—then continues:

And Abram was seventy-five years old when he went out from Haran. And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their property that they had accumulated and the persons whom they had gotten in Haran; and they went out to go to the land of Canaan (Gen 12:4b-5).

Since this passage explicitly mentions twice that Abraham goes forth from Haran, immediately after Yahweh had declared to Abraham to leave his birthplace and his father’s house in 12:1, critics have seen this portion of the story as claiming Haran for Abraham’s birthplace. This is corroborated by later references to Jacob going back to Abraham’s birthplace, Haran, to find a wife (Gen 28:10, 29:4). But then Genesis 15:7 restates the former through the mouthpiece of Yahweh: “I am Yahweh, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans.” How are these conflicting textual data to be resolved?

It might first be noted that Genesis 12:4b-5 does not explicitly claim that Abraham’s birthplace is Haran; it merely states that Abram goes forth from Haran.1 The assumption that this is Abraham’s birthplace comes from the previous verse, 12:1, where Yahweh commands Abraham to go forth from your birthplace—i.e., Haran. The issue is further confounded by the fact that when both Isaac and Jacob are instructed to return to their father’s birthplace to pursue suitable wives, they return to Haran (28:10, 29:4) or the general locale, Aram Naharaim (24:10) or Paddan-Aram (28:2), “Aram between the rivers” and “the field of Aram” respectively. It is for this reason that critics have come to see Haran as Abraham’s birthplace. Ur of the Chaldeans, it is reasoned, must be part of a variant tradition.

There are other factors that have led commentators to conclude that what we have here are two once separate textual traditions that were later edited together. And as we shall presently see, each tradition or source presents the story of Abraham’s migration in their own unique manner. For instance Genesis 11:27-32 exhibits themes and interests dear to the Priestly writer—an interest in dates, genealogies, settlement records, and a repeated emphasis on Sarah and endogamous marriage practices (see the Priestly writer on the Yahwist in general).

Then, however, Genesis 12:1-4a seems to restart the whole story of Abraham’s migration from a new perspective, emphasizing themes we find in other Yahwist texts—the use of the name Yahweh, an anthropomorphic portrayal of the god, sacrifices to Yahweh (which never occur in P prior to the giving of the cultic legislation), the unconditional promise of the land (see #29), and mention of the blessing and cursing of Abraham’s friends and foes.

Thus in the Yahwist version, Yahweh commands Abraham:1 “Go from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house to the land that I will show you” (12:1). Yet the problem in the combined PJ text is that Yahweh’s commandment comes a little too late. As the text now stands Abraham has already left his birthplace and is presently in Haran when J’s decree comes! In other words, P’s version of Abraham’s migration has already been presented to the reader in Genesis 11:27-32, which then picks up again at Genesis 12:4b-5. But in between this P material, the Yahwist story has been spliced. Separating the two traditions, however, we arrive at the following, where we clearly see two unique and complete versions of the story:

P’s version (Gen 11:27-32, 12:4b-5)

11:27bTerah had fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran, and Haran had father Lot. 28And Haran died in the lifetime of Terah, his father, in the land of his birthplace, in Ur of the Chaldeans. 29And Abram and Nahor took wives. Abram’s wife’s name was Sarai, and Nahor’s wife’s name was Milcah, daughter of Haran—father of Milcah and father of Iscah. 30And Sarai was infertile. She did not have a child. 31And Terah took Abram his son, and Lot his grandson, son of Haran, and Sarai his daughter-in-law, the wife of Abram his son; and they went with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan. And they came as far as Haran, and they stayed there. 32And Terah’s days were five years and two hundred years. And Terah died in Haran.

12:4bAnd Abram was seventy-five years old when he went out from Haran. 5And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their property that they had accumulated and the persons whom they had gotten in Haran; and they went out to go to the land of Canaan.

J’s version (Gen 12:1-4a, 6- . . . 15:7)

12:1And Yahweh said to Abraham: “Go from your land and from your birthplace and from your father’s house to the land that I’ll show you. 2And I’ll make you into a great nation and I’ll bless you and make your name great, and you’ll be a blessing! 3And I’ll bless those who bless you, and those who affront you I’ll curse. And all the families of the earth will be blessed through you.” 4And Abraham went as Yahweh had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. 6And Abraham passed through the land as far as the place of Shechem, as far as the oak of Moreh. And the Canaanite was in the land then. 7And Yahweh appeared to Abraham and said: “I’ll give this land to your seed.” And he built an altar there to Yahweh . . .

15:7And he said to him: “I am Yahweh who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land, to posses it.”

If the Priestly writer wrote his version to correct or replace the earlier Yahwist version, as many scholars contend, then in what ways does P change the Yahwist storyline? And why?

When the two versions of the story of Abraham’s migration to Canaan are laid out separately, we see that each version stresses its own unique set of themes. J insists that Abraham’s migration and inheritance of the land of Canaan happens through Yahweh’s command, blessing, and promise of descendants and land, while P is silent on these issues. Likewise, while P introduces Abraham’s wife, J makes no mention of Sarah, nor Terah for that matter, and specifies that it was only Abraham and Lot that journeyed forth from their birthplace.

We might reasonably infer that the Priestly writer saw no inherent problem with the Yahwist version of the promise of the land and blessing. Other than the insertion at Genesis 12:4b-5, which specifies Abraham’s age, their property, and their settlement in the land of Canaan, the Priestly redactor has left the Yahwist storyline intact. But the Priestly writer adds significant details to the beginning of J’s story.

The most apparent addition to the Yahwist text is P’s insertion of a genealogy that takes us from Noah’s son Shem—the father of the S(h)emites—to Abraham. This is not just a haphazard insertion reflecting P’s interest in genealogies. It has a more significant function in its present context, and specifically for the Priestly writer’s audience.

Second, we notice that P’s genealogy highlights the fact that an older generation has passed away, and a younger one having been completely born and bred in Ur of the Chaldeans now leaves for the land of Canaan. More importantly P explicitly informs us that this new generation has taken wives from among their own people. In other words, the Priestly writer has added these themes into the narrative, and it is our task to ask why. What was the Priestly writer trying to communicate by highlighting these elements? And to whom?

Like the generation that has passed away and the new one that leaves behind the land of Babylon to travel to the promised land of Canaan, so too the exilic Jews in Babylon in the 6th century BC. A generation has passed and with the Persian conquest of Babylon in 539 BC groups of exilic Jews start their journey back to Canaan. Like Abraham, they will also take wives of their own community, rather than—as we know from later post-exilic texts—take wives from among the people of the land of Canaan, whom they come in contact with when they arrive there. As we will also see in subsequent P texts, Abraham is here being set forth as an example of observing endogamous marriage practices. This is a central concern for the Priestly writer and it reflects the issues of the post-exilic community that returns to Canaan and the danger of exogamous marriages with Canaanite women, as Lot, Ishamael, and Esau all do in P!

So P has radically shaped the narrative so that it now speaks to its exilic community, and has in short set Abraham up as a mirror and example for them to follow in their own present circumstance. They too are second generation Israelites in captivity in Babylon, who are returning to Canaan, with hopefully wives from their own people. The reference to Ur of Chaldeans is another give-away. The term Chaldeans as a synonym for Babylonia did not come into vogue until the 6th century BC. Thus the Priestly writer has painted Abraham in the same plight as his exilic audience. The main storyline of Abraham leaving upper Mesopotamia and migrating to the land promised by Yahweh to his descendants would have resonated with exilic Jews in Babylon as a narrative of hope and comfort.

In other words, stories of the past were told to shed light on present concerns and needs. Here the Priestly writer has altered the tradition he inherited, the Yahwist text, so that it spoke more directly of the concerns and needs relevant to his own historical circumstances. That is to say P has consciously changed the story that he himself had inherited! The Priestly writer felt free to change, or at least in this case, add elements into the story.

This, if anything, is what I want my readers to see. And if not convinced here, that’s OK, because we will see, literally, hundreds and hundreds of more examples like this. Here are some long term questions that we will return to over and over again, and are more or less the issues that I hope to raise, discuss, and debate on this site.

If the Priestly writer is consciously changing, altering, omitting and adding new narrative elements into the very stories that earlier texts have already written about (and our best textual evidence will come when we look at the Deuteronomist doing this), then how does the Priestly writer view these “stories”? As historical fact? The word of God? Historicized theology? Fiction? Stories that served pedagogical purposes? Kinda like a Cinderella story that can be modified to address different audiences and whose importance was its pedagogical or ethical message to its present audience? Or were they rather stories about the present than the past!?

Second, what does this reinterpretive endeavor tell us about the nature of the Bible, how it was composed, who wrote its stories, to whom, and for what purposes? This is what I mean when I advocate an objective study of the Bible. The textual data (hundreds and hundreds as we will see) of later authors consciously changing, adding, and contradicting narrative details in the stories that they themselves inherited leads us to conclude what about these stories, their uses, and the nature of what later generations will label “the Bible”?

Footnotes    

  1. In J there is no name change from Abram to Abraham. Abraham’s name is always Abraham in J. The change only happens in P (Friedman, ibid, 50).

27 thoughts on “#24. Is Abraham’s birthplace Ur of the Chaldeans OR Haran? (Gen 11:28, 11:31, 15:7 vs Gen 12:4-5, 28:10, 29:4)
#25. Does Abraham set off toward the land of Canaan by his father’s hand OR by commandment from Yahweh? (Gen 11:31 vs Gen 12:1)

  1. Great site, great info. Thanks so much for providing a place for serious explication of debatable issues.

    I’m surprised no one has mentioned that the Chaldeans didn’t emerge as a people until far too late to be contemporaneous with the supposed timeline of Abraham. IMO, the reference to “Ur of the Chaldees” does refer to the Chaldean Empire because it immediately preceded the time of the “Babylonian Captivity” and indicates a very late collation of lore.

    I personally have come to the conclusion that the books of the OT weren’t written till around 400 BC or later, for the purpose of monotheizing Judah. That is not to say the essence of the books didn’t precede that time, but the dating would indicate a strong likelihood that at least portions would be “tilted” toward a favored concept. The Lubavitch apparently date Ezra’s arrival in Judah to 348 BC. Other “experts” suggest 398 BC. In any event, after Persia lost Egypt and may have been concerned to establish a pro-Persian border stronghold.

    If Abraham was anywhere within “Chaldea” — which is pretty specific — then it wasn’t until at least 900 BC, which is not quite enough time to create the descendants and 400 years in Egypt, etc. etc.

    The Chaldean Empire (625 – 539 B.C.) The Chaldeans, who inhabited the coastal area near the Persian Gulf, had never been entirely pacified by the Assyrians. About 630 Nabopolassar became king of the Chaldeans. In 626 he forced the Assyrians out of Uruk and crowned himself king of Babylonia.

    Babylonian captivity: The dates, numbers of deportations, and numbers of deportees given in the biblical accounts vary. These deportations are dated to 597 BCE for the first, with others dated at 587/586 BCE, and 582/581 BCE respectively

    http://www.britannica.com/place/Chaldea

    and

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chaldea

    Chaldea (/kælˈdiːə/), from Ancient Greek: Χαλδαία, Chaldaia; Akkadian: māt Kaldu/Kašdu; Hebrew: כשדים‎‎, Kaśdim; Aramaic: —-‎‎, Kaldo, also spelled Chaldaea, was a small Semitic nation that emerged between the late 10th and early 9th century BC, surviving until the mid 6th century BC, after which it disappeared as the Chaldean tribes were absorbed into the native population of Babylonia. It was located in the marshy land of the far southeastern corner of Mesopotamia, and briefly came to rule Babylon.

  2. Esco, Not sure who you were responding to. However, Gen 11:31, even in its entirety doesn’t state Abraham’s birthplace was Haran…merely that while travelling to Canaan his family stopped to stay a while in Haran. I believed the topic of this discussion was the Biblical inconsistency of Abram’s (later changed to Abraham) BIRTHPLACE, Ur, or Haran, not places he lived before actually following God’s call. Re reading the applicable passages there is only one Gen 15:7 that would imply where Abram was born…God indicated “I am the Lord who called you out of Ur.” But even that passage doesn’t prove Ur was where Abram was born…just that he was living there upon receiving God’s call, even that would seem a logical conclusion. The whole series of events of his departure from Ur (with his family) and staying in Haran merely is a depiction of his not following his instructions…Gen 12:1 “leave your country, your people, and your father’s household and go to the land I will show you.”
    Sabba AbuShy, There are some of us in the world who believe that an overwhelming desire to point out seeming inconsistencies in the Bible is, in itself, a form of “preaching.” As I believe is the case in this topic “Inconsistency of “Abraham’s Birthplace” can very easily lead to “forcing” inconsistencies between passages where none exist. I use as an example another topic…whether Adam & Eve were really only restricted from eating from one tree in the Garden of Eden…The Tree of the Knowledge of Good & Evil…when there was another tree…The Tree of Life there also…hence an inconsistency. The comments implied that since man doesn’t live forever Adam & Eve didn’t from it, so there were really two trees they were restricted from eating its fruit…NOT just one as stated Since man fell, and were thereafter forbidden from ever again eating from the Tree of Life, does that mean that man NEVER was able to eat from it? Hardly. It could just as easily mean that its fruit had to be eaten on a regular basis in order to sustain that life. I may not be “preaching” anymore, but also may not be having many other comments either. Sometimes one must use other biblical tenets in order make passages make any sense. I don’t study it in order to gain an understanding of its literary meaning, but to gain its spiritual meaning. Without the spiritual side being allowed here, I will not have much else to contribute.

  3. Abraham’s father and Abraham set out from Ur to Canaan. “…But when they came to Haran, they settled there.” NIV Genesis 11:31. too bad you did not enter the full text of verse 31. I believe the word of God.

  4. Terry, as seen in your last paragraph, you are preaching here and that is a cardinal “no no!” on this site and has been said, is a sign of arrogance. I agree with your tone and for instance your point, “Gen 28:10 doesn’t corroborate Haran as the place of Abram’s birth.” Neither does Joshua 24 : 2-3 as I pointed out on April 13th. But facts are not going to work here. You gotta learn the system or else!

  5. one-man show communicating back and forth with himself—reading what he wants to read and responding to his own misreadings! Sounds like someone in a padded cell to me. “…Iran and Syria, two countries where Jews, Christians and Moslems live side-by-side in peace”.

    Maybe that is a typo. Robert meant Iraq instead of Iran. Either way, he is speaking of another time and place. Maybe Lebanon when it was called the Switzerland of the Middle East. But that was way before Yasser Arafat moved in in 1970. By 1976, Lebanon was in shambles, way before Israel had to go in and try to bring some semblance of order in a world given over to international terrorism. Or maybe he is thinking of Iraq back as late as the time when Saddam made everyone be nice to each other or he would gas them like he did the Kurds. But Robert is out there in space if he honestly thinks like that Christians, Jews, and Moslems all live in the Middle East somewhere in peace—sheesh man! This one’s for you! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Mvc4xyHOB7Y

  6. I found a typo in the second paragraph from the end in my earlier comment, beginning with Gen 28:10. Second sentence starts with Gen 12:1…that should be Gen 28:1. I need to proof read better…Sorry.

  7. Steven, I’m surprised you, and other critics find a inconsistency between Ur of the Caldeans, and Haran as Abram’s (Abraham) place of birth.
    Gen 11:27-31)–(27-28) states Terah begat Abram(later Abraham), Nahor & Haran (later vs 28 implied while living in Ur of the Chaldeans). Haran begat Lot. While Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Caldeans, his place of birth. (29)–Abram / Nahor married (Sarai & Milcah respectively)..would also have been while in Ur. Milcah was the daughter of Haran.
    11:31–Terah took his family, including Abram & his wife, along with his grandson Lot and set out from Ur to go to Canaan. While in route they came to Haran (about 1/2 way to Canaan) where they stayed. Gen 12:1 states, “The Lord HAD said (past tense) Leave your people, your father’s house & go to the land I will show you. Gen 15:7 clearly states God tells Abram He was the one who had called Abram from Ur…his place of birth. Therefore, the text clearly states the invite to “leave the worldly things” & follow God came to Abram while in Ur…not later in Haran. The fact Terah, and others went with Abram from Ur is more an indication Abram disobeyed God’s instructions to leave his family, than that Abram was leaving because of demands placed on him by his father. It would indicate Abram somewhat obeyed God’s command…left Ur, but disobeyed by taking his father (family) with him. The Haran “stay” as described in 11:31 becomes a delay in Abram’s following God’s leading, and a delay in realizing God’s blessings, resulting from a partial disobedience, not the place of Abram’s calling…big difference. Not unlike the many places in the O/T where delay, or ignoring God’s leading results delay, or even never experiencing God’s full intended rewards. But then that’s merely human nature at its finest, and why many times man doesn’t ever experience the rewards that God has intended for him. And then we complain when we aren’t fully blessed by Him.
    In 12:1-5 we also find that the stay in Haran caused Abram the additional burden of having to care for many more “things” when he finally left to “seek” the blessings God had promised him way back in Ur. He now left with Lot, many possessions, and implied many mouths to feed. Diverting some of his attention to his new responsibilities, rather than be free fully seek God’s blessings.
    Gen 28:10 doesn’t corroborate Haran as the place of Abram’s birth. 12:1 we see Isaac calling Jacob in to see him to admonish him not to marry any of the Canaanite women. Vs. 2 Jacob is told to go to Paddan Aram…to the house of your MOTHER’S father Bethuel to get your wife…from the daughters of Laban, your MOTHER’S brother. I’m not positive there aren’t passages that MAY describe where Laban lived was also Abram’s birthplace, but these passages DON’T… regardless what the critics say. Haran here simply describes it as the place Laban lived, Jacob’s MOTHER’S brother The fact that some of Jacob’s adult relatives would live in Haran would not be surprising. Except for Lot, we aren’t told any of the others left earlier when Abram did…only Lot, and many other people who went with them, not naming any others from Terah’s family tree .
    I look at the passages you cite as containing Biblical inconsistencies, and unless one adds “human assumptions” to the texts there aren’t any inconsistencies. There may be as you say divergent writing styles/ thoughts in the account, maybe implying a different author, but if one reads the words of the text as written this account has no inconsistencies. I also note you cite critics’ contentions they exist. Reminds me about how that Old Critic of God (serpent) successfully thwarted God’s Plan by asking Eve…(Gen 3:1)”Did God really say?” The Satanic “Did God REALLY say?” ploy seems to have found man eager to detract from/add to God’s statements, to fit his “needs” over the many centuries. It truly has paid handsome dividends for Satan. But what has worked well for him has worked to the ruination of man’s relationship with God over that same span of time.

  8. Dr. DiMattei – Thanks for your work and your excellent site. As Isaiah says, “Come, let us reason together.”

  9. Oh well. 21 is a basketball game. The rules are, there are no rules. I play with black America wherever I go. Great way to get to know people. You find something you have in common and go from there. As you said, you got no Jesus, so there you have it…

  10. “BTW, you imply that you live “over there”.”

    Nope, I didn’t say that or even remotely imply it. You are spring-loaded with false assumptions, and read what you want to read.

    Netanyahu and ISIS are one and the same, different pieces of the same turd. Cozy with the the Saudis, the Wahabbists; he wants war with Iran and Syria, two countries where Jews, Christians and Moslems live side-by-side in peace. But he’s in bed with Saudi Arabia, where a jew or Christian can be beheaded for having a Bible in their possession. Germany is simultaneously arming Iran and Israel, because Germany wants war between Iran and Israel. Germany wants millions of Jews and Iranians incinerated. And Bibi works for them.

    “Christian Zionists” are mostly well-meaning morons, mindless sheep, but their leaders are deceivers.

    I will respond to no more of your consummately ignorant and conceited posts.

    1. “You are spring-loaded with false assumptions, and read what you want to read.”

      Robert, that is certainly an accurate description of Sabba’s “engagement” here. He has repeatedly failed to read, comprehend, and assess what I am doing here in all of my messages relayed to him; one can only assume this is his M.O. when reading the biblical text as well. I have given up attempting to communicate with him since he is pretty much a one-man show communicating back and forth with himself—reading what he wants to read and responding to his own misreadings!

  11. Soooo, Mary is your Lord, huh? BTW I didn’t accuse you of being a Catholic. I grew up in Denver, graduated the class of ’70. Absolutely all my friends were Jews.At that time, I had no idea what a Jew was or what an Episcopalian was either, for that matter. I believed that Jesus died for my sins, was buried, and on the 3rd day rose from the dead. Period. No relationship with God at this time. Just with all the guys I played sports with and all the killer girls I took to the movies and the dances. Freaked my rather bigoted and ant-isemitc mom out: “Debbie Rosen! Why are you dating a Jewish girl?” I am not a jewish messianic. details, details. Missionary to Jews. You’d think I was a Jew. I know Bi’bi Netanyahu personally and talked to him at length twice about the issue of the 10 lost tribes of non-Jewish Israel coming back. He agreed and said he’d help set up a kibbutz system so that people like me could come and become citizens and “find out what it is like living among these Arabs.”

    BTW, you imply that you live “over there”. I have lived in the land of Canaan twice for over 3 years total and from the tip of the Sinai peninsula to half way up the Beqaa Valle;y in Lebanon. So let me ask you, how is ISIS working out for you? Do you know what a dhimmi is? You kind of sound like one to me. Your anti-Semitic replacement theology ways are starting to surface, you know?! But I appreciate you coming out like this. I really do.

    When I worked in the oilfield,,, the second time I lived there, just outside the Druze village of Daliyat al Carmel, they, the Shia Druze in the village, eventually, after getting to know me, gave me the handle I use here. The last half anyway. They said I.reminded them of the last time any non Druze had come to live in their village (the one, according to biblical tradition and local yore where Elihah had his confrontation with the prophets of Baal and Ashtoreth (re: 1 Kings 18-19. Very inspirational place there on top of Mt. Carmel. Down below you to the north is the Valley of Meggido. I worked near the Mountain of the same name. Where Har Meggido comes from: Armaggedon too. You look across the valley and to the east and you can see Nazareth on the other side of the valley)..

    Anyway, this guy was one of those British Zionist Christian visionairies you went out of your way to disparage ( just as much as you praised tamarra above0 who came to the village in 1900 and told them, while helping clean up the malarial swamps (and his wife dies in the process) HE TOLD THEM, I SAY, AS PER THE PROPHETS THAT THE JEWS WOULD HAVE A COUNTRY IN THE 20TH CENTURY. So one day, as a footnote to the above historical footnote, and because of his impact on the village, their imam and all of his disciples asked me to explain to me what they had found in the Bible……. ‘

    Ezekiel 34-39. We studied and talked for quite some time. Bottom line (this was 1986) they decided that they had made the right decision to become citizens of Israel, join the army, as they say, “the whole she-bang!”,

    Made quite an impression on them. They set up a shrine/museum in his honor. Look him up: Lawrence Oliphant. We didn’t find oil so no museum for me. Just a name of honor they and all moslems give to each other. I’m talking about the Arabic name I use and they called me: AbuShy (literally, the father of Isaiah). Sabba is what my grandchildren here in Texas call me. That is Hebrew and simply means: “grandpa”.

    We can continue to go back and forth if you like; so where in America were you born? Or put another way, (and this next question is not actually related to the one before about your place of birth—this next one will tell me about you and I will respond in kind. So….) “What. exactly comes to mind when I say this next number: ” 21 “. Hint, there is only one right answer and playing blackjack at the “Horseshoe Casino” is not one of the possibilities. So, honestly, what comes to mind: 21…(;~))

  12. Saba, you certainly are full of assumptions, such as what my “concept of Protestant” is. For your information, it is the well-known definition of Protestant, nothing more, nothing less. I’m afraid that we would disagree on no less than 10,000 things. I attended Messianic Jewish congregations (I’m not Jewish, either) 26 years ago. All nice people, but stuck in the fallacious rut of “restoring the nation of Israel” which is non-Biblical, and, like the Protestants, they do not follow the most important Covenant God ever created for humans. The history of the Hebrews is essentially a history of their breaking all the covenants that God made with them. They (not God) broke the covenants, including the covenant with Abraham. You need to re-read that covenant again very carefully; there’s an important condition in that Covenant besides circumcision. The Jews kept the condition of circumcision, but abandoned the other condition, thereby invalidating the covenant. They can forget about the red heifer and everything else. So called “Christian zionism” was nothing but a red herring cooked up by the European colonial powers as a pretext for military incursion into Ottoman lands (Palestine). First Napoleon used it, then the British, then the Germans. The famous Zionist Theodor Herzl was actually an agent of German Kaiser Wilhelm of Hohenzollern. And it was Hitler who actually created the modern state of Israel as a condition of the 1933 Transfer Agreement. In short, the people who created the (non-Biblical) modern state of Israel were the same people behind the Holocaust.

    The Jews repeatedly broke God’s covenants. That’s why God sent His Son, to institute a final New Covenant, which replaces (supersedes) all the previous covenants that failed. That New Covenant is the Eucharist, or, in our Church (in Aramaic), “Qurbana.” And Christ said “The bread I give you will be my very (actual) flesh, and the drink I give you my very (actual) blood. He used the Aramaic adjective for “very” or “actual,” to clarify that he wasn’t speaking figuratively. That’s why several followers left him at that point, saying “This man speaks harshly; we can no longer follow him.”

    We can accept this New Covenant or reject it; we have free will, and a brain.

    The Jews, the Messianic Jews and the Protestants just don’t get it.

    The Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox sort of get it, but their observances of the sacraments were diluted and changed through cultural diffusion and as a result of several ecumenical councils (of which the Nestorians were not part). The Nestorian observance of the sacraments is different than that of the other “catholic” churches. When the Portugese first arrived in Japan they forced the Nestorians there to convert to Roman Catholicism at the point of a sword; many refused and died. Same thing happened in India. In the medieval crusades, the European crusaders in the holy land killed not only moslems, but also killed jews and members of the Church of the East.

    The Jews did serve a purpose for God; he intended that His Son would rise from the root of Jesse. But the Jews went astray and were clueless, and didn’t know the heart of the law. Jesus showed this when preaching the Beatitudes, and elsewhere.

    The jews were clueless when Jesus was born; they didn’t know that the prophecy was being fulfilled. The angels announced it to shepherds in the field. The wise men from the East who came to worship the baby Jesus knew far more than the clueless Jews did; some of them were Zoroastrians; Zoroaster had prophesied (long before Isaiah was written) that a virgin would give birth to a “savior.” And btw there were not “three” wise men from the East; the Bible doesn’t specify how many there were, but the historical traditions of the Church of the East specify that there were 12 wise men. The lands where the wise men came from ((Persia, Parthia, Osroene) also had representatives at Pentecost. These were the regions that first accepted Christ; KIng Abgar of Osroene corresponded with Jesus by letter while Jesus was still alive, and begged him to come to Osroene.

    And, no, I did not have a Catholic upbringing. As a child my family attended the Methodist church, but I quit attending church in my early teens.

    I am very glad to hear that you were saved, Saba.

    S’lama d’ Maryan (Peace of our Lord)

  13. I was raised in the Episcopal church. I was SPIRITUALLY lost until age 19 when I gave my life to Christ and entered into a personal love relationship with him that is the defining feature of my life. I was “saved” in a secular setting. (university). I was basically born again in a college whore house. I am Messianic which means, in part, I keep Shabath. Our fellowship amiyisrael.org uses the Jewish “parashot” reading of Torah as the basis for our Saturday afternoon ‘midrash’ which takes us throughout the entire Bible. We just recently had a Passover Seder @ our house in which more than 30 people attended. I am not Jewish but I identify with and pray for the Jewish Nation called by who I am: Israel.

    Please define your concept of “protestant”. See if “born again, spirit-filled, evangelical, HYPOcharisMANIC, judeochristianzionist, bible thumpin’, non-Jewish Jacob, both 1/2 tribes of Menasseh put together/eldest son of the formerly lost 10 tribes of the House of Joseph—Messianic Jesus Freak” can somehow be “stuffed” inside your concept of who and or what is a “protestant”.

    Personally, I think we have a lot in common. I can speak several languages. oo-day oo-yay eak-spay ig-pay atin-lay? (;~)) I use the “I have nothing to hide” approach to life and live to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter into the joy of YHVH!”

    Lately, since the time is short, I basically just go around pointing out to whoever I meet, wherever that is the following: that we are NOT NOW living in the last days that Jesus spoke about just before returning to His Father—the days which He said would greatly resemble those of Sodom and Gomorrah and the times of Noah. I repeat, we are NOT LIVING IN THE LAST DAYS. We are living in the last seconds, minutes and hours. 2 Chronicles 7:14; 2Corinthians 13:5

    I commented on this page because the conversation was going 180 degrees out of phase w/reality…something that happens often when the basic premise is contradictionsinthebible. IMHO

  14. My name is Gipson, not Gibson. I don’t share highly personal things on open sites with strangers. I will say, however, that was drawn to my belief in God partly through my studies in physics in the late 1970s, especially the Fitzgerald-Lorentz Transformation, and that I was drawn to the Church of the East (the so-called “Nestorian” Church) in the mid-1980s due to experiences that are not rational and that I will not share with a stranger. I was baptized into the (Nestorian) Assyrian Church of the East in 1991, even though I’m not ethnically Assyrian (most of my Church are). Our liturgy is in Aramaic, it is the 1,800-year-old liturgy of Addai (Thaddeus). The Nestorian Church spread across Asia; they were in China in the 7th Century, and Japan in the 8th Century. Ancient Sintu Buddhist temples in Japan are built on top of the ruins of even more ancient Nestorian Christian churches. The Nestorians in Asia suffered the greatest holocaust of any Christian group; 10 million were killed.
    http://www.aina.org/guesteds/20101128232122.htm
    The Assyrians accepted the word of God, as delivered by Jonah, 700 years before the coming of Christ. Assyrians were the first to accept Christ. Jonah’s message was of repentance and it was heeded. Christ’s message was of love and it was heeded. The Assyrian church endeavored in the most remarkable missionary enterprise in Christian history, reaching to China, Mongolia, Korea, Japan and the Philippines. The Mongolian alphabet is based on Aramaic. The Buddhist ecclesiastical structure is modeled on the Assyrian Church of the East. The Assyrians accepted Jonah and his message from God, and for this God made them “the work of my hands” [Isaiah 19:23-25] and the “rod of my anger” [Isaiah 10:5]. He also assigned to them a task to be completed upon the Second Advent: The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here. [Matthew 12:41].

    It was the Church of the East (Nestorians), not the Roman Church, that first coined the term “Catholic.” But the Church of the East refused to adopt the changes made by the Western Church, such as changing the sabbath from Saturday to Sunday, and referring to Mary as the “mother of God” and “co-redemptress,” both of which are non-Biblical. In that sense, the Nestorians were the first “protestants, 1,100 years before Martin Luther. You sound like a Protestant. You should read the history behind the so-called “Nestorian controversy.” About Pulcheria and Cyril of Alexandria. Nuff said for now.

  15. Robert Gibson—I have been on this site for most of 2015. One of the other “Problems” here (like I said, I’m not going off in a huff and “taking my toys and going home”) is the fact that it is hard to navigate around this site. It would be much easier to refer you to other things I’ve said instead of starting from scratch. I have found that for me, until I can figure out a way to easily “go there” I had better remember and know where and when I have been some place on the site. It is easy to get “lost” and there is no sense having to keep bringing up the same points. I have covered other topics and it is fascinating to have such a location to discuss God’s Word in a world turned upside down. So I really do appreciate Dr. Steve’s work.

    As for me personally, I just approach things here like I do in life. When you keep the message simple and based on fact and truth, you win. You don’t have to deal with double mindedness and trying to figure which side of your mouth you were speaking out of. You just ALWAYS GO WITH THE TRUTH AS YOU SEE IT AND CAN PROVE IT IF CHALLENGED.

    In that sense, when it came to the Genesis passage discussed above, I felt that the comments above were disingenuous or just ill-informed. The method used to “get to the truth” on this site does anything but that. I don’t leave one site without dealing with the so-called contradiction and showing that it is just the view point that is skewered and makes a contradiction where there is none.

    My so called “extra-biblical” education is simply common sense. Dr. Steve has a flawed premise. In my opinion he injects it into each article he writes and then “proves” it using non-existent source material. I have pointed this out “a time or two before”.

    The Bible is spiritually discerned. No amount of intellectual “enlightenment” will enable someone who is “dead in their sins and trespasses” (the human condition, sans Jesus, for each and every one of us) from seeing, much less entering the Kingdom of God/Heaven which is what is being handled and bandied about here on this site, whether anyone knows it or not.

    I have used Enoch, Josephus, the Dead Sea Scrolls and other extra-biblical sources in some of my previous points in other places. I major on the prophets. I’m a tent-maker missionary to Israel. I have studied history and am acquainted with your religio/historical background which included some of, if not THE first missionary work in ancient China.

    Anyway, no insult intended. It is just that opinions are a dime a dozen when it comes to the Word of God. Show me why you believe, and I’ll listen and learn because I know truth and respond to it and expose counterfeit, for the sake of those who find themselves, for whatever the reason, like those described as living in Nineveh, book of Jonah 4:11. For those I will not put up with spiritual darkness!

    BTW, I came here thinking I might find the answer to just exactly why Moses was not permitted to enter the Holy Land and could only view it from the mountain top (in current day Jordan). While I didn’t find the answer dealt with directly that shed any light, while on an “unrelated matter” I did finally understand enough to satisfy me: the general rule that still holds true today was basically “imposed” starting with Moshe: no one lives past 120—Genesis 6:3

  16. Hi Sabba

    Thanks for taking the time to express your obviously heart-felt comments. I do not, as you infer, swallow things on this site “hook line and sinker.” For example, here is only one of may many criticisms of this site: Mr. Dimattei infers that none of the ancient scribes composing the individual books of the Bible were recording actual history. That inference is patently false. I’ve been studying the historicity of the Bible for many years.

    However, I agree with Mr. Dimattei that the Bible contains many contradictions. That is indisputable. That does not at all mean, however, that the Bible is a “book of lies” or a book of “purposeful deception” as you accuse this site of inferring. It is those very contradictions in the Bible (both in the New and Old Testaments) that are proof to me that the the accounts in the Bible were not made up by some one, as the atheists claim.

    As for my comments regarding Göbekli Tepe and Edessa, if you will please re-read them, you will note that I was merely making anecdotal observations, not at all claiming those observations to be fact. That is called “conversation.”

    You said: “I use Scripture to make commentary on Scripture. Others come up with other sources to make their points. Mine support what Scripture says. Others try to make it say things it doesn’t say, or that seem to be contradictory.”

    Then you said: “This is an “informed consent” clause: You “deduce” from your source material without presupposing your opinion.”

    Well, you didn’t get that last statement from scripture. You got it from your extra-Biblical education.

    And that’s a good thing. There’s plenty of extra-Biblical writing that supports scripture, including the writings of historians such as Josephus, and the Talmud, and other historical source. That includes the historical traditions of the Church of the East, which was the first Christian church, founded in Babylon by believing Jews who fled to Babylon immediately after the Crucifixion. Peter later was to write his first epistle from that church, while he was visiting them. The very first patently Christian country was Osroene, which encompassed the city Edessa, which I have mentioned.

    Not every writing that was sacred and holy (and true) made it into the Bible. For example, the Bible makes reference to ancient texts that are holy, but does not include them. The book of Enoch was not included in the Bible, most likely because the Jews compiling the “official” books of the Hebrew Bible deliberately kept the book of Enoch out because it too strongly supported the argument that Jesus was the Messiah. The Book of Enoch is, however, considered canonical by the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

  17. I should have said “don’t know how to do a DEDUCTIVE” instead of an inductive study.

    This is an “informed consent” clause: You “deduce” from your source material without presupposing your opinion. You “induce” when you make a premise and then see if you can find support for your premise from your source material, in this case the Bible. Induction is subjective by nature. You decide something has to be a certain way, and you prove it from Scripture.. Deduction is the opposite, at least when studying the Bible. You let it, not some unnamed sources that supposedly say something TOTALLY different from the legible, understandable, straight-forward reading that any open and fair minded person will read and understand as it, the Bible, was intended to be understood. As meaning exactly what it says. Back when it was written and today when we can read it freely. The Bible didn’t become the year in year out best selling book in the world for no reason. Especially not for being a book of lies, distortions, half truths, purposeful deception, or a place abounding in contradictions.

  18. Robert, you made the following comment: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.” Re: Abraham’s birthplace… I hate to tell you this, but your following claim, “7,500 years before Abraham’s birth, Göbekli Tepe, the world’s first known temple and astronomical observatory (chronicling the precession of the galaxies), was located in the outskirts of where Urfa subsequently arose” falls into that 90% category. Especially if you are unable to “put paid” to that ‘7500 years before Abraham’s birth’ claim. if you are unable to as I say, “attribute, pro favor”. What is your source. Put up a URL and we can all make our own judgments…

    This aspect of making statements that must be taken at face value is one of the things about this website that is a little weak (hey, I like this place, but we can all do the “tighten up”! (;~)) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uN7vm-k-AaA

    I use Scripture to make commentary on Scripture. Others come up with other sources to make their points. Mine support what Scripture says. Others try to make it say things it doesn’t say, or that seem to be contradictory. Please notice that all 4 four of the so-called “authoritative sources” are, at best, “anonymous”. Let us stay in the light. Hidden and esoteric sources and otherwise unnamed or those without any attribution should be questionable at best. I find that most folks on this site swallow these sources “hook, line, sinker, pole” and throw in the reel, the live bait, and the fishing lures for good measure. In other words, most, if not all of y’all don’t even read the Bible, Am I going to go fishing here and guess that most if not all don’t even own one, much less read it, or know how to do an inductive study of it? Or even know what I am talking about? This site is extremely subjective while claiming otherwise. With an agenda and inductive in its “reasoning”. Hence getting things out of context is a given around here… ‘jus sayin’ (;~))

  19. Tamara, Scripture tells us the exact opposite of what you claim. Going back to the Book of Acts 7, we read that “the God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, BEFORE HE LIVED IN HARAN (v.2, emphasis mine). Haran was about 600 miles north and west of Ur. In the book of Joshua, ‘In olden times your forefathers – Terah, father of Abraham and father of Nahor – LIVED BEYOND THE EUPHRATES (ditto) and worshipped other gods. But I took your father Abraham from BEYOND THE EUPHRATES (ditto) and led him through the whole land of Canaan’ (Josh. 24:2). Then the first thing it says in verse 3 is, “Then I took your father Abraham FROM BEYOND THE RIVER (ditto) and led him through all the land of Canaan…”

    A straight forward reading of Genesis 11:31 indicates that Terah, et al, “went out together from Ur of the Chaldeans” and then traveled to Haran to dwell there. They went to what was basically the half way point of their intended journey and then resumed it after Terah, the patriarch died. And when YHVH resumed His call, or you might say, “reminded” Abram of the call he first received in Ur to “Go to the land that I will show you…”

    There is more. Genesis 15: YHVH declares: “I am YHVH who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to possess it.”

  20. The Holy Bible never claims Abraham’s birthplace as Ur of the Chaldean… You have to re-read the passage of Genesis 11:28. It was his brother Haran who was born and later died there. Abram/Abraham (and family) at some point lived in Ur ( They possibly lived in Harran before they moved to Ur..which explains why they decided to “re” settle there instead of continuing on with their journey to Canaan Genesis 11:31)

  21. Outstanding work. There are a few contradictions you may have missed that I’d like to share with you some time. Fyi, whilst agnostic in my youth, I happen to be a Nestorian (for 23 years) who also ascribes to [Theodore] Sturgeon’s Law: “Ninety percent of everything is crap.” It is the other 10% that intrigues me, because it exists; as a golden thread threading, yet obscured, through all the narratives. Re: Abraham’s birthplace, I tend to lean toward Urfa. Incidentally, from the “two interesting coincidences” department, Urfa also later (as Edessa) became an important center of the Nestorian Christian Church; yet, 7,500 years before Abraham’s birth, Göbekli Tepe, the world’s first known temple and astronomical observatory (chronicling the precession of the galaxies), was located in the outskirts of where Urfa subsequently arose.

  22. I certainly don’t contest the two sources, in fact, there were at least four, if not more. But possibly I can shed a little light on the Ur vs Haran conflict.

    “Ur” was simply a Sumerian word meaning, “City” – there was in fact a major city in southern Mesopotamia named Ur, and it is generally assumed that this is the city to which the Bible has reference. However it is lesser known that there is a small town in southern Turkey, which would have been near the uppermost limit of northern Mesopotamia, named “Ur-fa,” located only 20 miles from Haran, which still, to this day, celebrates itself as being the birthplace of Abraham.

    Those in northern Mesopotamia would have been far more likely to have worshiped Amurru, the Amurrite god, aka, “El Shaddai,” than those of lower, more southern Mesopotamia.

    pax vobiscum,
    archaeopteryx

  23. I’m a little familiar with the documentary hypothesis and all the J P stuff. But you actually make it work. I mean what the different sources were up to is presented nicely. I’m off to check out another post. Thanks

    1. Thanks. That has really been the goal here. Not just to point out, here is P and here is J, but to actually demonstrate and discuss how the later Priestly writer modified the tradition he himself inherited (J) and why he did, and under what historical circumstances. We will get an even clearer picture of this when we get to the book of Deuteronomy (fall 2013?).

      Once we see this textual re-interpretive process going on, and just how pervasive it was, then we can entertain the more serious questions that I ended this post with. Questions that in sum ask us as a culture to think about whether our views and beliefs about these texts match those of the authors who wrote these texts. And if not, where to then…

      Cheers

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