Friday, February 22, 2013

The Book of Abraham and the Facsimile Image-Part X – Ur of the Chaldees

Continuing from the last few posts regarding the Book of Abraham and Joseph Smith’s translation along with the facsimiles used, we now look at Ur of the Chaldees, for more information on Abraham and where he was nearly sacrificed to Elkenah.
Abraham’s home in the Sumerian city of Ur (Ur Kasdim; Ur of the Chaldees), now in Iraq, where the sacrifice of Abraham was to take place, is claimed by archaeologists to have been first settled in the third millennium B.C. Though not stated specifically in the Tanakh (canon of the Hebrew Bible, the Masoretic Text or Miqra), Ur is widely accepted as the birthplace of Abraham, though in the Islamic world it is considered to be a cave near Adma, later called Edessa, and then Sanliurfa, in upper Mesopotama, now called Syria.
Ur is located along the banks of the Euphrates River; Egypt is in the lower left; Turkey (Asia Minor), is in the upper left; and Elam is to the middle right
During this time, around 2000 B.C., Ur was a major urban center on the Mesopotamian plain. It is possible that Shulgi (Dungi), son of Ur-Namma (Ur-Gur), the second king of the Sumerian Renaissance period in the Third dynasty of Ur, who reigned for 48 years, proclaiming himself a god in his 26th year as king, was the ruler during Abraham’s early years at the time of the attempted sacrifice.
Ur of the Chaldees, according to the Book of Jubilees (11:3), was founded by Ur, son of Keśed, presumably the offspring of Arphaxad. Jubilees also portrays Abraham’s immediate ancestry as dwelling in Ur Kaśdim, beginning with his great-grandfather, Serug, and including his grandfather, Nahor, and his father, Terah.
Based on the cuneiform inscriptions recently uncovered, and the Book of the Cave of Treasures, a sixth century A.D. sacred history written by a Jacobite, containing Jewish, Greek and Mesopotamian histories, and tracing the descent of Christ back to Adam, which was translated from the Syriac text of the British Museum (London 1927) by Sir Wallis Budge, much is known about Abraham’s day.
At the time, the inhabitants of Ur were given up wholly to idolatry, their Sumerian chief object of worship being Nannar (Nanna), the Moon-god (Sin to the Akkad, Assyria and Babylonia). The symbol of Nannar was the crescent moon (Sakar), and spelled Nanna-ar by the Assyrians. Sometimes called “Lord of Wisdom,” “Chief of the Gods,” “Father of the Gods,” and “Creator of All Things.” Nanna’s chief sanctuary at Ur was named E-gish-shir-gal (House of the great light). It was at Ur that the role of the En Priestess developed. This was an extremely powerful role held by a princess, most notably Enheduanna, daughter of King Sargon of Akkad, and was the primary cult role associated with the sect of Nanna/Sin.
According to Jubilees, not only did Abraham smash his father's idols when a youth, but under the divine guidance he freed himself from the Sumerian custom of offering up a son to devils. Further, when he saw his city attacked by hosts of enemies from the north and from the low-lying lands to the south, there was nothing left for him to do but migrate to the country which God promised to give him. Putting all the evidence together, it is clear that Abraham was a great, strong and independent chief in Mesopotamia, and that his power waxed greater when he established himself at Harrân.
Top 2 Images: An Ur street of well-preserved private houses excavated in 1920 built around the time Abraham and his father Terah were living in Ur. The interior walls were built of clay bricks and the floor of the courtyard paved with flat tile-like bricks. The gallery and roofs were supported on wooden pillars, and animals were stabled and stores were kept in the rooms on the ground floor which were entered through arched doorways. The sleeping and sitting rooms were entered from the gallery, and a stairway led from the ground floor to the gallery and the roof; Bottom: A typical Sumerian kitchen of Abraham’s time
What is not regularly known, or even accepted by many scholars once it was discovered by archaeologist C. Leonard Woolley in 1927 digging in the Royal Cemetery at Ur, was that ancient Sumerian kings, not even listed on the King’s List, were buried with their attendants who had been sacrificed for the burial. This startling discovery pointed out that what once was thought, and still believed by many today, was actually inaccurate and that there were far more early Sumerian kings than believed, and their practice of human sacrifice was quite evident, from as few as half a dozen, to as many as seventy to eighty, including courtiers, guards, musicians, handmaidens and grooms—in fact, a new examination of skulls from the royal cemetery at Ur appears to support a more grisly interpretation of human sacrifice associated with elite burials, including the driving of sharp pikes into their heads. This was also done in ancient Egypt and referred to as retainer sacrifice, including high officials.
We also find in the religion of the Semites, Babylonian-Assyrian priests who, under the name “Chaldeans,” practiced sacrifice (nisakku), and among the semitized Phoenicians, Amonites, and Philistines, these ominous deities found special veneration with howling and dancing priests who sought to appease the bloodthirsty Moloch by sacrificing children. Women and children were sacrificed to the Canaanite god Ba’al, also venerated by the Egyptians, and to Astarte, and during the time of King Achaz to that of Josias, thousands of innocent children were sacrificed to Moloch in the Valley of Hinnom near Jerusalem.
(Image D – At the time of Abraham: Left: The Ziggurat at Ur, the temple of the Moon God, Nanna(r); Right: A bald-headed Sem high priest of Sumeria
During Abraham's early years in Ur, there was a cult of Egyptian worshippers, with evidently a single main priest over the group and its followers. Whether he was named Elkenah, or there was an area named Elkenah (Kenah) from which he originally came, or he represented a god unknown to history named Elkenah, cannot be ascertained. It would appear, though that this priest was a bald-headed Sem (see above), a high priest, whether self-appointed, or so named by a distant Egyptian pharaoh, again is unknown.
However, it should be kept in mind that the area of Ur of the Chaldees was about 800 miles away as the crow flies, but some 1300 miles travel distance from Egypt. Any word or control would be slow in coming to Ur from the Pharoah or even the temple leadership. In any event, there was a custom in Ur of sacrificing the a son to appease the gods. In fact, it has been written after a lengthy dissertation on the birth and life of Serug and Nathan, and the introduction of the worship of idols, that:
“And in the days of Terah, in his ninetieth year, sorcery appeared on the earth in the city of Aôr (Ur), which Horon, the son of `Abhâr, built. Now, there was in the city a certain man who was very rich, and he died at that time. And his son made an image of him in gold, and set it up upon his grave, and he appointed there a young man to keep guard over it. And Satan went and took up his abode in that image, and he spake to the son of the rich man after the manner of his father. And thieves went into his house, and took everything that the youth possessed, and he went out to the tomb of his father weeping, and Satan said, "Weep not in my presence, but go and fetch thy little son, and slay him here as a sacrifice to me, and forthwith everything which thou hast lost shall be returned to me here." And the youth did as Satan told him, and he slew his son, and bathed in his blood. And Satan went forth immediately from that image of gold, and entered into the youth, and taught him sorcery, and enchantments, and divination, and the lore of the Chaldeans, how to tell fortunes, and foretell events, and destinies. And behold, from that time the children of men began to sacrifice their sons to devils and to worship idols, for the devils entered into the images, and took up their abodes therein.”
The Sumerians in Ur had a pantheon of gods, sorcerers, and man-gods at a time when Satan was rampant in Mesopotamia
At about this time, Terah agreed with the Sumerian priest to sacrifice Abraham, his son. And Abraham was taken and bound on the altar of Elkenah and would have been slain had it not been for the angel of the Lord (represented by the hovering bird in the vignette).
All of this Abraham depicted in his drawing known as Facsimile 1.

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