“Ur of the Chaldeans” (Gen 11:28-31): A Model for Dealing with Difficult Texts

Scholars are still puzzled over the appearance of “Ur of the Chaldeans” in Gen 11:28 and 31. Proposed solutions to the problem have either called it an anachronism or an example of post-Mosaic textual updating, or else they hold that Moses wrote the text just as it stands because he knew about the Chaldeans in his day. This article offers linguistic, genealogical, and historical evidence in supporting the last of these options. Linguistically, “Chaldeans” could be a later spelling of the term Kaśdîm in Gen 11:28, 31, according to this option. This solution is consistent with Moses’ knowing the Aramean origins of Abraham and his family as reflected in Gen 10:22; 31:47; and Deut 26:5, but such origins have been issues that have been open to debate. Genealogically, certain connections raise the possibility that the Chaldeans were relatives of Abraham. Historically, the problem is that extrabiblical references to the Chaldeans do not occur until the times of Ashurnasirpal II or III (883-859 B.C.). Yet such is a problem only if one subjugates the early biblical (i.e., Mosaic) references to later secular texts. Secular sources need not have greater authority than the Bible. Extrabiblical evidence itself has some hints that the Chaldeans’ rise to power may have preceded the time of Moses. Though it is impossible at this point to resolve the problem fully, the option supported by linguistic, genealogical, and historical evidence best accords with one’s adherence to the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.

Read this article from the Masters Seminary Journal article in PDF format here.

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