Not only did Abram’s (aka Avram) father, Terah worship idols, he was the Chief Minister of King Nimrod, with control of the armies, and the High Priest of the temple of UR, a temple dedicated to the worship of the moon god, Nanna.
Before Abram became Abraham, he lived an eventful ninety -nine years in and around the land of Sumer, (aka Shinar) a collection of city-states -- which included, among others, Kish, Babel (Babylon), Mari, UR, Erech, Akkad, and Caleh – located around the lower Tigris and Euphrates Rivers in what is now Southern Iraq.
The exact date being difficult to determine, scholars agree that Abram’s birth occurred somewhere between 2100 BC and 1800BC, which would place it in the middle of the Bronze Age period for that particular area. The eras, defined by types of metal being used, are not representative of fixed dates. Populations around the world discovered the knowledge for making different metals at different times. For example, archaeological evidence supports the emergence of the Bronze Age in Sumer as occurring around 3000 to 4000 BC.
Going back even further, the introduction of farming, which allowed people to produce food instead of having to hunt and gather, ushered in a monumental step-forward in human development. The farming concept, a decisive factor in enabling people to settle in permanent villages, emerged in the Sumer area between 11000 to 9000 BC. In contrast, the change from hunter-gatherer to farming occurred in Europe around 5000 BC. As would be expected, the onset of the Bronze Age emerged in Sumer perhaps thousands of years before the era reached Europe.
The significance of this is that Abram was born into the most advanced civilization of its time. His father was the High Priest of the temple of Ur and Chief Minister beneath King Nimrod. Far from being a wandering nomad, Abram was of noble birth into a high-class family.
However, his noble lineage would prove not to be his comfort, but rather his source of conflict. Abram was the tenth generation removed from Noah, and a direct descendant of Noah’s son, Shem, the father of all Semitic people. In contrast, Nimrod was a descendant of Ham, the lowest and least important of Noah’s sons, a son that was even cursed by Noah. Nimrod had feared that one day a descendant of Shem would appear to threaten his position. He’d grown to trust Abram’s father, Terah, who’d long ago became his servant and follower. To guard against the appearance of a possible rival, Nimrod ordered his stargazers and astrologers to watch the sky for any indication that such a thing might happen.
But who exactly was Nimrod?
In the next post, we’ll explore that question.
As always, comments are welcome.
Map of area where Abraham lived