And it came about in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar,
Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and
Tidal king of Goiim,
Mesopotamia is derived from
the Greek words, mesos meaning, “middle,” and
potamos meaning “river,” which is known as the “land
between two rivers.” The two rivers are the
Tigris and the Euphrates. The word Aram Naharaim
is also used to describe this area and is used in
Then the servant took ten of his master’s camels and
left, taking with him all kinds of good things from his
master. He set out for Aram Naharaim and made his way to
the town of Nahor.
The Mesopotamia region
(see fig. 6 and 10) is about 300 miles long. The upper
region is called Akkad and the lower region is
called Sumer. The region is up to 250 miles wide
at some points and narrows as the two rivers merge for
the last 75 miles towards the Persian Gulf. The
Euphrates River is on the west and the Tigris River is
on the east. The source of these two rivers is in the
present day Armenian mountains (the ancient kingdom of
Urartu), which are referred to in the Bible as Ararat
(Genesis 8:4). Ararat
is a variation of Urartu. The Tigris River is about
1,000 miles long and has a fairly straight course. In
the upper reaches of the Tigris River you have the great
cities of Nineveh and Assur. The Euphrates is about
1,800 miles in length. Mari is located far up the
Euphrates. These two rivers come to their flood stages
in April/May and recede in June.
Temperatures vary; it can be in
the 70’s to 80’s in the winter, and unbearable in the
summer with temperatures reaching between 110 and 120.
The area only receives on average 6 inches, or less, of
rain in the lower area with a bit more in the upper
People who live in
Mesopotamia are people of the soil; their food comes
from the soil, their cloths comes from the soil (making
it out of flax), their pottery comes from the soil, and
the tablets they write on come from the soil. Since
there is very little rock, the buildings are built from
The Mesopotamia area
provides no natural barriers. Because it is a very
fertile place different groups would invade in an
attempt to take over. The archaeological evidence of the
area shows constant change. There were the Babylonians
in the very early days, the Assyrians, the Chaldeans,
the Persians, and then the Greeks. One group was always
supplanting the other.
And he said, “Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of
glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in
Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran,
and said to him, ‘LEAVE
AND YOUR RELATIVES, AND COME INTO THE LAND THAT I WILL
Ur of the Chaldees was always
famous because of the Bible, but no one knew where it
was until it was discovered around 1850. A ziggurat was
being excavated when an inscription was found that said,
“This was at Ur.”
Ur is about 220 miles south of present day
Baghdad, and is on the Euphrates River.
In 1922 through 1934
archaeologist Leonard Woolley spent time excavating the
city in a greater fashion.
Woolley found the “ram caught
in the thicket.” It was made out of gold and silver.
From an inscription a date of 2500 BC could be
determined. It took tremendous artisanship and it tells
us that in the city of Ur was quite accomplished.
(see fig. 8)
The city of Nippur was also
discovered about 100 miles south of Baghdad between 1890
and 1900. It was not explored again until 1948 through
1958 when over 40,000 stone tablets were found.
A map of the city was found,
which was a unique find. It was a complete map, which
showed where the temple of Enlil, one of their
chief gods, was. Tablets were found written in an
Akkadian language and a few were found written in an
even earlier Sumerian language.
Also found were Nippur
king lists, many of which showed ancient kings reigning
for thousands of years before a worldwide flood. This is
very similar to the biblical account of the long life
spans of the antediluvian fathers.
Another city called Uruk, Erech in
the Bible, was discovered in 1850. Additional
excavations did not take place again until 1912 through
1914, then again in 1928 through 1939, and then again in
1954 through 1959. Erech is mentioned in
Genesis 10:10. A
ziggurat was found there as well.
The beginning of his kingdom was Babel and Erech and
Accad and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.
Not found at Uruk, but at Nineveh,
were 12 stone tablets called the Gilgamesh Epic
describing a worldwide flood similar to Noah’s account
In 1853, the archaeologist Austen Henry Layard and his
team were excavating the palace library of the ancient
Assyrian capital Nineveh. Among their finds were a
series of 12 tablets of a great epic. The tablets dated
from about 650 BC, but the poem was much older. The
hero, Gilgamesh, according to the Sumerian King List,
was a king of the first dynasty of Uruk who reigned for
tablet tells of a great flood. The council of the gods
decided to flood the whole earth to destroy mankind. But
Ea, the god who made man, warned Utnapishtim, from
Shuruppak, a city on the banks of the Euphrates, and
told him to build an enormous boat:
“O man of Shuruppak,
son of Ubartutu:
Tear down the house and build a boat!
Abandon wealth and seek living beings!
Spurn possessions and keep alive living beings!
Make all living beings go up into the boat.
The boat which you are to build,
its dimensions must measure equal to each other:
its length must correspond to its width.’
An ancient city in Syria situated at the modern locality
of Tell Hariri, on the western bank of the Euphrates
river. It flourished from 2900 BCE until 1759 BCE, when
it was sacked by Hammurabi. Abraham himself is thought
to have passed through Mari on his way from Ur to
Harran. Mari was discovered in 1933 on the eastern flank
of Syria, near the Iraqi border. A Bedouin tribe was
digging through a mound for a gravestone that would be
used for a recently deceased tribesman, when they came
across a headless statue. After the news reached the
French authorities currently in control of Syria, the
report was investigated and digging on the site was
started on December 14, 1933 by archaelogists from the
Louvre in Paris. Discoveries came quickly, with the
temple of Ishtar being discovered in the next month.
Mari was classified by the archaelogists as the “most
westerly outpost of Sumerian culture.” Since the
beginning of excavations, over 25,000 clay tables in
Akkadian language written in cuneiform were discovered.
Mari has been excavated every year since 1933 (except
for the period 1939-1951). Less than half of the 1000 by
600 meter area of Mari has been uncovered as of 2005.
Although archaelogists have tried to determine how many
layers the site descends, it hasn’t proved possible.
According to French archaelogist Andre Parrot, “each
time a vertical probe was commenced in order to trace
the site's history down to virgin soil, such important
discoveries were made that horizontal digging had to be
i.e., “Syria of the two rivers”): The first great
civilization, located between the Tigris and Euphrates
rivers, was developed in 5000 B.C. Archaeologists and
historians discovered this “cradle of civilization”
buried under sandy mounds of the vast plain which were
the remains of Ancient Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia is
derived from the Greek words, mesos meaning
“middle,” and potamos meaning “river,” which
became known as the “land between two rivers.”
Mesopotamia no longer exists today. It is now known as
all the land in northern Syria, southern Turkey, and
most of Iraq. Researchers believe the peoples of
Mesopotamia influenced the development of the human race
in many ways. Mesopotamia is the name given by the
Greeks and Romans to the region between the Euphrates
and the Tigris (Gen. 24:10; Deut. 23:4; Judg. 3:8, 10).
In the Old Testament
it is also mentioned under the name “Padan-aram;” i.e.,
the plain of Aram, or Syria (Gen. 25:20). The northern
portion of this fertile plateau was the original home of
the ancestors of the Hebrews (Gen. 11; Acts 7:2). From
this region Isaac obtained his wife Rebecca (Gen. 24:10,
15), and here also Jacob sojourned (28:2-7) and obtained
his wives, and here most of his sons were
(35:26; 46:15). The petty, independent tribes of this
region, each under its own prince, were warlike, and
used chariots in battle. They maintained their
independence till after the time of David, when they
fell under the dominion of Assyria, and were absorbed
into the empire (2 Kings 19:13).
Ancient city of Babylonia, a Northern Sumerian
settlement on the Euphrates. It was the seat of the
important cult of the god Enlil, or Bel. Excavations at
Nippur have yielded the remains of several temples that
date from the middle of the 3rd millennium
were later rebuilt and restored many times. Over 40,000
clay tablets found there serve as a primary source of
information on Sumerian civilization. Assurbanipal
erected a ziggurat in Nippur. Relics of the Persian and
Parthian periods have also been unearthed at the site.
Nuzi was a city in the Hurrian kingdom of Arrapha, whose
capital is today buried under the Iraqi city of Kirkuk.
It was founded by the Hurrians around 1500 BC Arrapha
was situated along the southeastern edge of the area
under Mittanian domination. Babylonia lay to the south.
To the west was Assyria, whose revolt against the
Hurrian kingdom of Mittani probably led to Nuzi’s
destruction in the 14th century, and ultimately
contributed to Mittani’s collapse. The tablets, which
are in Akkadian, reveal much about ancient laws and
customs. Nearly 5000 tablets were found in the
excavations at Nuzi, mostly business and legal
documents, and they were located in both the palace as
well as in private residences.
ancient kingdom in Asia Minor, centred in the
mountainous region around Lake Van (presently in
Turkey), which existed from about 1000 BC, or earlier,
until 585 BC, and which, at its apogee, stretched from
northern Mesopotamia through the southern Caucasus. The
name Urartu is actually Assyrian, a dialect of
Akkadian, and was given to the kingdom by its chief
rivals to the south; it may have meant simply “mountain
country.” The kingdom was named Biainili
by its inhabitants. The name Urartu corresponds to the
of the Old Testament. Indeed, Mount Ararat is located in
ancient Urartian territory, approximately 120 km north
of its former capital.
Meaning: light, or the moon city a city “of the
Chaldees,” the birthplace of Haran (Gen. 11:28,31), the
largest city of Shinar or northern Chaldea, and the
principal commercial center of the country as well as
the center 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. 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.
(Sumerian Unug, Biblical Erech, Greek
Orchoë and Arabic Warka), was an ancient city
of Sumer and later Babylonia, situated east of the
present bed of the Euphrates, on the line of the ancient
Nil canal, in a region of marshes, about 140 miles SSE
from Baghdad. The modern name of Iraq is derived from
the name Uruk. It was one of the oldest and most
important cities of Babylonia. Its walls were said to
have been built by order of Gilgamesh who also
constructed, it was said, the famous temple, called
Eanna, dedicated to the worship of Inanna, or Ishtar.
Its voluminous surviving temple archive, of the
Neo-Babylonian period, documents the social function of
the temple as a redistribution center. In times of
famine, a family might dedicate children to the temple
as oblates. Uruk played a very important part in the
political history of the country from an early time,
exercising hegemony in Babylonia at a period before the
time of Sargon. Later it was prominent in the national
struggles of the Babylonians against the Elamite Empire
up to 2000 BC, in which it suffered severely;
recollections of these conflicts are embodied in the
Gilgamesh epic, in the literary and courtly form in
which it has come down to us.
GOD IS MY HELP.
and “son of his house,” that is, one of his large
household. He is named “Eliezer of Damascus” probably to
distinguish him from others of the same name (Gen. 15:2;
24). There can be little doubt that the Damascus Eliezer
is the nameless servant Abraham sent to his own country
and kindred to secure a bride for Isaac, his son of
promise. Of the search of Eliezer, Dr. C. I. Scofield
says that the entire chapter (Genesis 24) is highly
typical, and then he gives us this most helpful outline:
Abraham—type of a certain king who would make a marriage
for his son (Matt. 22:2; John 6:44).
The unnamed servant—type of the Holy Spirit who does not
speak of or from himself, but takes of the things of the
bridegroom with which to win the bride (John 16:13, 14).
III. The servant—type of the Spirit as enriching the
bride with the bridegroom’s gifts (1 Cor. 12:7-11; Gal.
The servant—type of the Spirit as bringing the bride to
the meeting with the bridegroom (Acts 13:4; 16:6, 7;
Rom. 8:11; 1 Thess. 4:14-17).
Rebekah—type of the Church, the ecclesia, the
“called out” virgin bride of Christ (Gen. 24:16; 2 Cor.
11:2; Eph. 5:25-32).
Isaac—type of the bridegroom “whom not having seen” the
bride loves through the testimony of the unnamed servant
(1 Pet. 1:8).
VII. Isaac—type of the bridegroom who goes out to meet
and receive His bride (Gen. 24:63; 1 Thess. 4:16, 17).
HE THAT SUPPLANTETH
The second son of Isaac and Rebekah, and a twin
brother of Esau. Jacob appeared a short time after Esau
and is therefore called the younger brother. Isaac was
sixty years old when Jacob and Esau were born. Jacob is
an outstanding illustration of the presence and conflict
of the two natures within a believer. Jacob is good and
bad; he rises and falls, yet in spite of his failures
was a chosen instrument. Jacob’s character then, is full
of interest and difficulty because of its weakness and
strength. His is not a life to be described by a single
word as, for example, the faith of Abraham or the
purity of Joseph. Jacob seemed to have a
many-sided life. He was a man of guile, yet a man
of prayer. Inconsistencies are everywhere. His
life began with a prophetic revelation of God to his
mother, but Jacob’s early years were a singular mixture
of good and bad—the bad being very bad.
was the victim of his mother’s partiality. “Rebekah
loved Jacob” (Gen. 25:28). This fault must be kept in
mind as we judge his character.
was selfish. When his brother came in from the fields
faint with hunger, Jacob would not give him food without
bargaining over it.
was naturally crafty and deceitful. He violated his
conscience when he allowed his mother to draw him away
from the path of honor and integrity. He practiced
deception upon his blind father with the covering of kid
skins. Then he told a deliberate lie in order to obtain
a spiritual blessing. He further sinned upon most sacred
ground, when he blasphemously used the name of the Lord
to further his evil plans.
thoroughness with which he carried out his mother’s plan
is one of the worst features in the life of this
misguided son. “Had it been me,” says Martin Luther, “I
would have dropped the dish.” It would have been better
for Jacob had he dropped that dish of venison. But his
proficiency in evil doing is to be despised.
life of this sharp trader who mended his ways, for there
were two remarkable spiritual experiences in his life—at
Bethel and Peniel—the preacher might find the following
points suggestive: Jacob cheated (Gen. 25:29-34);
deceived (Gen. 27:1-29); was compelled to flee (Gen
27:43; 28:1-5); was brought on to a higher level (Gen
28:10-22); had a romance spoiled, and was paid back in
his own coin of deception (Gen. 29:15-30); was
affectionate (Gen. 29:18); was industrious (Gen. 31:40);
was prayerful (Gen. 32:9-12, 24-30); received a divine
call to the promised land (Gen. 31); was disciplined by
God through affliction (Gen. 37:28; 42:36); was a man of
faith (Heb. 11:21); was blessed with sons who became the
foundation of a nation. The Hebrew nation is spoken of
as “the sons of Jacob” and “the children of Israel”
(Gen. 48; 49; Num. 24:19).
UR-NAMMU: king of the ancient city of Ur,
sometimes called Zur-Nammu or Ur-Engur. He founded a new
Sumerian dynasty, the third dynasty of Ur, which lasted
about a century. Ur-Nammu was the promulgator of the
oldest code of law yet known, older by about three
centuries than the code of Hammurabi. It consists of a
prologue and seven laws; the prologue describes Ur-Nammu
as a divinely appointed king who established justice
throughout the land. This code is of great importance to
the study of biblical law, which it predates by about
five centuries. The two most famous monuments of Ur-Nammu’s
reign are the great ziggurat (temple) at Ur and his
stele, of which fragments remain.