Ur of the Chaldeans, Haran, and Canaan


The post is about Abraham’s decision to leave his homeland at the command of YHWH.
Map of Mesopotamia
Goran tek-en, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Just food for thought

Today, I’m going to provide you with some food for thought on Abraham’s decision, that is, to leave his homeland to immigrate to a foreign land.

Abraham (Abram) left his homeland, relatives, and father’s house and immigrated to Canaan by the command of Yahweh (Genesis 12:1). Although the text does not explicitly state the reason Yahweh had Abraham immigrate, people usually say that it was because many idols were overflowing in Ur of the Chaldeans.

However, there are several points to consider here.

1. Was there no idol in Canaan, Abraham’s destination?
1.1. Yes, there were.
1.2. Abraham was born about 260 years after Noah’s flood (calculated from the genealogy in Genesis 11). In the story’s context, it had been long since Noah’s descendants had scattered throughout the land and forgotten the God of Noah. So, it feels strange that he immigrated to a place where other idols were likewise overflowing to get away from his hometown idols. 

2. According to Genesis 15:7, God led Abraham out of Ur of the Chaldeans. However, according to Genesis 11:31-32, Abraham’s father, Terah, had already planned to immigrate to Canaan and actually left the homeland and arrived in Haran. So, it seems that Terah also had received God’s command even before Abraham. Could it be a mere coincidence if the land Terah planned to go was the land that God told to Abraham? If it wasn’t a coincidence, why is Terah’s case not recorded as having received God’s command? 

3. After receiving Yahweh’s command, Abraham left his father and went to Canaan, which was entirely based on his personal mysterious experience. 
3.1. Although the text records that he received the command of ‘Yahweh,’ the name ‘Yahweh’ was first given to Moses, who was much later than Abraham. 
3.2. Therefore, Abraham did not know that the God commanding him was ‘Yahweh,’. He was suddenly called by a certain god he did not know. 
3.3. Looking back now, it feels natural to obey that command, as it is clear that the God was Yahweh. However, can it be considered a reasonable judgment for a person from another religion to abandon the faith just because of his or her mysterious personal experience? 
3.4. Can we create our own religion based solely on our mystical experiences and abandon our faith? His decision may be justified in hindsight, but it is very dangerous to generalize his decision as a universal representation of faith.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top