Abraham, the Sumerian


A while back, I led a informal Bible Study. Small group, maybe eleven people, very nice, very kind to my leading. I have a natural desire to explore the historical, so I thought to introduce them to the Abraham that I think I know.

People generalize and see Abraham hanging around outside the gates of Ur, just waiting for an excuse to head east with his father.

Abraham can either be a cartoon cutout, or he can be a historical man from Ur.

I see him as a prominent citizen of Ur, probably of the ruling priestly class, it seems his father Terah was a priest. I don”t know if this was after the family arrived from Haran or if they had always been priests. I suspect that it was generationally handed down, even to Abraham.

When Akkad came down to conquer Sumer, it is likely that friends, neighbors, and allies came with them. It is also possible that they came later, knowing that a friendly Semitic kingdom had replaced Sumer.

Abraham was a Sumerian. Now that doesn’t mean he was Saggiga, or the Black Headed ones. They were the native Sumerians that were conquered about two hundred years earlier. The Akkadians had come down from the upper river, near the mountains and had conquered all the cities of the plains.

Each city king had surrendered, it might have been an inside job because Sargon, the first Akkadian king was already in the palace as a cupbearer. But certainly he found support from the Semitic people of Akkad, and their close allies.

Abraham was Semitic, the rulers were Semetic. Makes sense to see that Abraham was a full citizen if Ur, reading and writing in cuneiform, worshipping the gods of the city.

I didn’t get into the gods this time but I did provide a list of Sumerian proverbs. It makes sense that Abraham would have read some of the more popular ones. It makes me feel more connected to have the opportunity to read them as well .

Trying to think of a way to bring this concept home to our group, I read some of the proverbs and I thought of the experience of writing in cuneiform. After I asked them to write a word or two in clay, using a wedge shaped stylus, I felt I had brought a little bit of Abraham’s reality to life. It was a pretty good day,