Ur of The Chaldees: The Forefather of the Hebrew Race
Ur Kaśdim: The Birth Place of a Nation.
Ur Kaśdim, or Ur of the Chaldees, (אוּר כַּשְׂדִים) is the town in the Hebrew Bible and related literature where Abraham (origin. Abram Gen. 17.5) may have been born. The traditional site of Abraham's birth is in the vicinity of Edessa, although Ur Kaśdim has been popularly identified since 1927 by Sir Charles Woolley with the Sumerian city of Ur, in southern Mesopotamia, which was under the rule of the Chaldeans — although Josephus, Islamic tradition, and Jewish authorities like Maimonides all concur that Ur Kaśdim was in Northern Mesopotamia — now south-eastern Turkey (identified with Urkesh, Urartu, Urfa, and Kutha respectively).
Ur Kaśdim is mentioned four times in the Tanakh or Old Testament, with the distinction "Kaśdim" traditionally rendered in English as "of the Chaldees", referring to the Chaldeans. In Genesis, the name is found in 11:28, 11:31 and 15:7. In Nehemiah 9:7, a single passage mentioning Ur Kaśdim is a paraphrase of Genesis.
Although not explicitly stated in the Tanakh, it is generally understood to be the place where Abraham was born. (Genesis 11:27-31 names it as the birthplace of Abraham's brother Haran, and the point of departure of Abraham's family.) The Book of Jubilees states that Ur Kaśdim was founded in 1687 Anno Mundi (year of the world) by 'Ur son of Keśed, presumably the offspring of Arphaxad, adding that in this same year, wars began on Earth.
"And 'Ur, the son of Keśed, built the city of 'Ara of the Chaldees, and called its name after his own name and the name of his father. (i:e, Ur Kaśdim = Ur of the Keśeds)" (Jubilees 11:3) It also represents Abraham's immediate ancestors as dwelling in Ur Kaśdim beginning with his great-grandfather, Serug.
Wikipedia, the free Encyclopaedia, Jewish sources say very little about the location of Ur Kaśdim. In Genesis 12:1, after Abraham and his father Terah had left Ur, Kaśdim for the city of Haran (spelled differently in the Hebrew text than the name of Abraham's brother) in Aram-Naharaim, God instructs him to leave his land, his moladet, and his father's house.
The traditional Jewish understanding of the word moladet is "birthplace". (See for example the Judaica Press translation.) In Genesis 24:4-10, similarly, Abraham instructs his servant to bring a wife for Isaac from his land and moladet, and the servant departs for Aram Naharaim. The general Jewish understanding is thus that the birthplace lay in Aram Naharaim. This view was noted in particular by Nachmanides (Ramban). This understanding of the term moladet as "birthplace" is not universally agreed; most translations, from the Septuagint to modern English versions, typically render it as "kindred" or "family". However, a further reference in Genesis 24 to the area of Aram Naharaim as being the eretz moladet, i.e. "land of nativity" of Abraham from which a wife is to be found for Isaac, appears to corroborate the traditional Jewish understanding.
The Talmud (Yoma 10a) identifies the Biblical city of Erech with a place called "Urichus". T. G. Pinches in The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and Babylonia, and A. T. Clay, writing in the International Standard Bible Encyclopaedia article, Ur of the Chaldees, understood this as an identification of Uruk (modern Warka) or Biblical Erech with Ur Kaśdim.
However no tradition exists equating Ur Kaśdim with Urichus and the latter is understood by modern scholars as a reference to Uruk which is indeed identified with Erech. The traditional site of Abraham's birth according to Islamic tradition is a cave in the vicinity of the ancient Seleucid city of Edessa. Edessa is now named Şanlıurfa, and the cave lies near the center of this modern city and is the site of a mosque called the Mosque of Abraham. The Turkish name Urfa for the city is derived from earlier Syriac ܐܘܪܗܝ, Orhāy and Greek Ορρα, Orrha.
The tradition connecting Ur Kaśdim with the site is not exclusively Islamic. The 18th century anthropologist Richard Pococke noted in his "Description of the East", that it was the universal opinion of the Jews that Urfa was Ur Kaśdim.
Scholars are skeptical of the identification of Ur Kaśdim with Urfa. Although the origin of the Greek and Syriac names of the city are uncertain, they appear to be based on a native form, Osroe, the name of a legendary founder, the Armenian form of the Persian name Khosrau (Chosroes). Similarity with "Ur" would thus be accidental. Ammianus Marcellinus in his Rerum Gestarum Libri (chapter VIII) mentions a castle named Ur which lay between Hatra and Nisibis.
A. T. Clay understood this as an identification of Ur Kaśdim although Marcellinus makes no explicit claim in this regard. In her Travels (chapter xx), Egeria mentions Hur lying five stations from Nisibis on the way to Persia, apparently the same location, and she does identify it with Ur Kaśdim. However, the castle in question was only founded during the time of the second Persian Empire. Eusebius in his Preparation for the Gospel (chapter 17) preserves a fragment of the work "Concerning the Jews" by the first century BCE historian Alexander Polyhistor, which in turn quotes a passage in "Concerning the Jews of Assyria" by the second century BCE historian Eupolemus, which claimed that Abraham was born in the Babylonian city Camarina, which it notes was also called "Uria". (Such indirect quotations of Eupolemus via Polyhistor are referred to as Pseudo-Eupolemus.)
This site is identified with the Sumerian city of Ur located at Tell el-Mukayyar, which in ancient texts was named Uriwa or Urima. Ur was the sacred city of the moon god and the name "Camarina" is thought to be related to the Arabic word for moon, qamar, although Camarina is in fact the name of an ancient city in Sicily. The identification with Ur Kaśdim accords with the view that Abraham's ancestors may have been moon-worshipers, an idea based on the possibility that the name of Abraham's father Terah is related to the Hebrew root for moon (y-r-h).
Jewish tradition relates, however, that Terah worshiped many gods and the argument along this line remains weak. Ur lay on the boundary of the region called Kaldu (Chaldea, corresponding to Hebrew Kaśdim) in the first millennium BCE, and the site remains the most popular identification of Ur Kaśdim amongst scholars.
Jubilees XI:3 And ’Ûr, the son of Kêsêd, built the city of ’Arâ of the Chaldees, and called its name after his own name and the name of his father (i.e., Ur Kaśdim = Ur of the Keśeds)". The identification of Arphaxad as Kesed-Kasdim, and the "father" of the Chaldean race, will place him as been one of the ancient fish men or wise men astrologers of ancient Chaldea and hence ancient Sumer.
If indeed one was to accept this to be true in light of the preceding narrative, then it would surely make Arphaxad, not so much the "father" of the Chaldeans, but rather one of the founding fathers of a priestly caste to which his son Ur, and subsequently all the Hebrew forefathers, ultimately belonged.
An unbroken priesthood stretching all the way to the very last of them all; Jesus Christ the son of God, and all bearing the same sacred symbol, that of the fish, a divine symbol whose roots lie in the cult of the god of the deep, En.ki, the Sumerian god who descended from another planet we are told, and who created mankind in the image of the gods of Sumer.
The story of Abraham and the Hebrews then is no ordinary story, and his call to worship was by no means a simple choice, the bloodline of the "fish men" would find fulfillment in the son of God, Jesus Christ "the fish". There is a quote from a well know Biblical historian concerning the ancient priesthood of the fish god Dagon which reads:
"As to the ritual of his worship (Dagon)... we only know from ancient writers that, for religious reasons, most of the Syrian peoples abstained from eating fish, a practice that one is naturally inclined to connect with the worship of a fish-god.". The Catholic Encyclopaedia, 1913, Encyclopaedia Press, Inc