At the dawn of history in the middle of the fifth millennium before Christ we find in the Euphrates Valley a number of city-states, or rather city-monarchies, in rivalry with one another and in such a condition of culture and progress, that this valley has been called the cradle of civilization, not only of the Semitic world, but most likely also of Egypt. The people dwelling in this valley were certainly not all of one race; they differed in type and language. The primitive inhabitants were probably of Mongolian ancestry, they are styled Sumerians, or inhabitants of Sumer, Sungir, Sennaar. They invented the cuneiform script, built the oldest cities, and brought the country to a great height of peaceful prosperity.
Ur, Abraham's birthplace, about twenty-five miles northeast of Eridu, at present Mughair
And very interesting:
(5) According to Genesis 11:28 and 31, Abraham was a Babylonian from the city of Ur. It is remarkable that the name Abu ramu (Honored Father) occurs in the eponym lists for 677 B.C., and Abe ramu, a similar name, on a contract-tablet in the reign of Apil-Sin, thus showing that Abram was a Babylonian name in use long before and after the date of the Patriarch. His father removed from Ur to Harran, from the old centre of the Moon-cult to the new. Talmudic tradition makes Terah an idolater, and his religion may have had to do with his emigration. No excavations have as yet taken place at Harran, and Abraham's ancestry remains obscure. Aberamu of Apil-Sin's reign had a son Sha-Amurri, which fact shows the early intercourse between Babylonia and the Amorite land, or Palestine. In Chanaan Abraham remained within the sphere of Babylonian language and influence, or perhaps even authority. Several centuries later, when Palestine was no longer part of the Babylonian Empire, Abd-Hiba, the King of Jerusalem, in his intercourse with his over-lord of Egypt, wrote neither his own language nor that of Pharao, but Babylonian, the universal language of the day. Even when passing into Egypt, Abraham remained under Semitic rule, for the Hyksos reigned there.
(6) Considering that the progenitor of the Hebrew race was a Babylonian, and that Babylonian culture remained paramount in Western Asia for more than 1000 years, the most astounding feature of the Hebrew Scriptures is the almost complete absence of Babylonian religious ideas, the more so as Babylonian religion, though Oriental polytheism, possessed a refinement, a nobility of thought, and a piety, which are often admirable. The Babylonian account of creation, though often compared with the Biblical one, differs from it on main and essential points for
- it contains no direct statement of the Creation of the world: Tiamtu and Apsu, the watery waste and the abyss wedded together, beget the universe; Marduk, the conqueror of chaos, shapes and orders all things; but this is the mythological garb of evolution as opposed to creation.
- It does not make the Deity the first and only cause of the existence of all things; the gods themselves are but the outcome of pre-existent, apparently eternal, forces; they are not cause, but effect.
- It makes the present world the outcome of a great war; it is the story of Resistance and Struggle, which is the exact opposite of the Biblical account.
- It does not arrange the things created into groups or classes, which is one of the main features of the story in Genesis.
- The work of creation is not divided into a number of days — the principal literary characteristic of the Biblical account.