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Who Was Abraham - III

Who Was Abraham

Article III

 

Love is a powerful thing, and there is no earthly love stronger than that of a parent for their child.

Even though Abram’s father, Terah, had sworn his life and allegiance to King Nimrod, he formulated a plan to protect his newborn son, Abram, from the king. Nimrod, the powerful ruler of Babylon was the son of Kush, who was the son of Ham. Ham’s rebellion against God and his disrespect for his father, Noah, landed him in the position of being the least favored of Noah’s sons. Because of this, Nimrod suspected that his power-grab and declaration of kingship might one day be threatened by a descendant of Shem, one of Noah’s other sons. Whether or not Shem was the firstborn is debatable. It appears, however, that he was the favored son.

Nimrod’s priests warned him of the possibility of such an heir arriving on the scene, their prophecies precipitated, most likely, by their knowledge of Abram’s father, Terah, being a descendant of Shem. Should Terah have a son, his firstborn might well turn out to be such a threat. When Nimrod’s astrologers noticed a new and bright star rising in the east, they took that as a sign that a descendant of Shem had indeed been born.

In response to his priest’s warnings, Nimrod decided that all newborn boys would have to be put to death.

With a bit of bad timing, after years of trying, Terah, at the age of seventy, had recently become a potential father. His wife, Amathlai, was pregnant and about to give birth, a fact that she and Terah had managed to hide from the king. When Amathlai gave birth to Abram, Terah secreted his new son out of town and hid him in a cave. As it turned out, one of Terah’s servants also gave birth to a boy that night. Grasping the dark opportunity, Terah took the servant child and when the king’s messengers arrived, he passed the baby off as his own and turned the boy over to the king.

Abram lived in the cave until he was ten years old. What happened after that?

More to come in the next post.

 

As always, feel free to comment or offer additional information.

 

Abram, or Abraham as young Adult

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Gilgamesh and the Tower of Babel

Abraham Article II

Who exactly was Nimrod?

When the flood waters receded to an acceptable level, Noah and his wife, Emzara disembarked from the Ark along with their sons, Shem, Ham, and Japheth, and their respective wives.

The descendants of Shem became the Shemites, or Semites (Semitic line of descent); the descendants of Japheth,  the Indo-European nations, also known as the Gentiles; and the descendants of Ham, the Canaanites, Babylonians, Egyptians, and the Philistines.

Since we’re exploring Nimrod, it should be noted that the story of Ham, observing and taking delight in seeing his father, Noah, naked, is a metaphor for Ham’s rebellion against God. In light of this, it is understandable that Ham’s son, Cush, and his grandson, Nimrod, might also be rebellious against God. Nimrod proved to be that and more. In fact, it might be said that it became his life’s work, his passion to persuade people away from God. His reputation of being a mighty hunter might come more from his capturing of men than from hunting down wild game.

As Nimrod’s influence grew, he established the Cities of Erech, Nineveh, Babel, and Akkad among others, which would become the land of Shinar, or Sumer, the beginning of the kingdom of Babylonia.

It has been suggested that Nimrod and Ninus (In Greek mythology, King of Assyria and founder of the city of Nineveh) was the same person. Even more interesting, theories have emerged, which indicate that Nimrod might have actually been Gilgamesh, the hero of a Babylonian epic, inscribed on ancient clay tablets, that parallels the Biblical story of Noah and the flood. According to the tablets, Gilgamesh was from Erech, a city attributed to Nimrod. Genesis 10:8-11, states that Nimrod established a kingdom. Since the Babylonian kingdom seems to be one of the earliest, if not the first kingdom on earth, it stands to reason that such an event would be recorded in extra-Biblical literature. And it was. Not only was the epic of Gilgamesh recorded on Sumerian tablets, but similar tales are found among the Assyrian and Hittite cultures as well.

Scholars and translators of the cuneiform tablets that contain the Gilgamesh Epic agree that the text was composed around 2000 BC while the material written about, the numerous episodes of adventure, relate to a much earlier time period, probably not long after the flood. There are many similarities between Nimrod and Gilgamesh. Both were known as great builders and might warriors, they were from the same area, and arguably lived around the same time period. Nimrod seemed to be obsessed with the occurrence of a second flood. He built the tower of Babel, which was most likely a Mesopotamian Ziggurat, a pyramid shaped structure with staircases and ramps that led to a shrine on top, with the hope of constructing it high enough to escape the flood waters.

Nimrod was also obsessed with something else. Being a descendant of Ham, he feared that a descendant of Shem would someday show up and challenge his authority. That descendant would be Abram, later known as Abraham. I’ll cover more of this in the next post.

 

Clay Tablet of Cuneiform Script, which contains part of Gilgamesh Epic

 

The ruins of a Ziggurat at UR of the Chaldees. This is probably what the Tower of Babel resembled

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A Fantastic Vacation

Rainbows appeared and disappeared in the mist thrown up by the Sea Screamer, the water stinging my eyes and leaving the taste of salt in my mouth as the captain of the 70' boat piloted the craft through various turns in the bay area off Panama City Beach. The first mate entertained the guests by firing a signal-cannon at unsuspecting beach goers, and later diving for sand dollars. Seeming to understand the driving force behind the economy of places like Panama City, dolphins surfed the wake of the boat, breaking the surface of the water on occasion to perform aquatic tricks for the tourists.

It was magical.

If you're looking for a great vacation spot, I recommend Panama City Beach, Florida. We had a great time there. And if you want to see dolphins and get a great tour of the bay, I recommend The Sea Screamer.

 

 

 

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Amazon Promo

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What about Abraham?

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

 

 

 

 

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