Abrahams Departure from Ur

“The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he dwelt in Haran, and said to him, ‘Get out of your country and from your relatives, and come to a land that I will show you.’” (Acts 7:2-3 NKJV)


Why did Abraham leave Ur of the Chaldees?



  • The specific command was first to LEAVE

  • Abraham was to leave his COUNTRY. The word translated as “country” means “district, region, tribal territory”[1]  

  • The apocryphal book of Judith states, “And they sojourned heretofore in Mesopotamia, because they would not follow the gods of their fathers, which were in the land of Chaldea. For they left the way of their ancestors, and worshipped the God of heaven, the God whom they knew: so they cast them out from the face of their gods, and they fled into Mesopotamia, and sojourned there many days. Then their God commanded them to depart from the place where they sojourned”[2]

Some may think that Abraham left Ur ONLY because Abraham heard the command of God. Yet this view completely separates the events of Abraham’s life from the events in the previous chapters. It may be that God used the events of the previous chapters as partial motivation for Abraham.


  • Abraham was part of the entire earth that gathered in the plain of Shinar: “The whole earth had a common language and a common vocabulary. When the people moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there.” (Genesis 11:1–2 NET)

  • The article “Babel and What Really Happened”[3] describes the rebellion led by Nimrod that was designed to get the entire world to worship other gods.

  • Abraham, Terah, and Nahor were idolaters when they lived beyond the Euphrates who willingly joined in this idolatry: “Joshua told all the people, “Here is what the Lord God of Israel says: ‘In the distant past your ancestors lived beyond the Euphrates River, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor. They worshiped other gods,” (Joshua 24:2 NET)

  • Abraham, who was born 352 years after the Flood, lived at the time of the Tower of Babel



Jewish tradition supports the idea that Abraham lived under the rulership of Nimrod

  • The Jewish Timeline Encyclopedia states, “Jewish tradition indicates that Abraham destroyed the idols of Nimrod and was forced to leave[4].” 

  • Adam Clarke cited a Jewish tradition, “Abraham was a poor child of only three years of age; but he had the spirit of prophecy, and he refused to worship the idols which the old foolish king-Nimrod-had set up; therefore Nimrod cast him into a furnace of fire. But the Lord worked a miracle and delivered him. Yet here was no knowledge in Nimrod, and he would not be admonished  … Then Abraham left the country of the idolaters, where he had been imprisoned, and came and reigned over the land of Canaan; and Nimrod became poor in this world[5].” 

  • Perhaps Abraham and his family were at Babel when God scattered everyone from Babel by confusing their languages: “So the Lord scattered them abroad from there over the face of all the earth, and they ceased building the city.” (Genesis 11:8 NKJV)

  • The article “Ur and Babel”[6] indicates that Ur and Babel are the same place, which may shed light as to one of the many reasons that Abraham left Ur of the Chaldees.


leadership OF TERAH 

  • It was Abraham who received the command to depart from his family. Yet it was Terah who took Abraham, Lot, and Sarai OUT of Ur / Babel: “And Terah took his son Abram and his grandson Lot, the son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, his son Abram’s wife, and they went out with them from Ur of the Chaldeans to go to the land of Canaan.” (Genesis 11:29 NKJV)

  • Why would Terah be the leader of the departure from Ur/Babel when it was Abraham who received the command?

  • The article “Babel and What Really Happened”[7] describes the possibility that God actually came down the Tower of Babel: “But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the people had started building. And the Lord said, “If as one people all sharing a common language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be beyond them. Come, let’s go down and confuse their language so they won’t be able to understand each other.”” (Genesis 11:5–7 NET)

  • Perhaps God not only used his visit to Babel/Ur to confuse the languages, but at the same time gave a command to Abraham to depart and come to the land He would show.

  • Perhaps Terah was present when God was speaking to Abraham and knew that he must also follow this command to depart from his country.

Although Abraham was the person who received the command, Terah assumed his role as patriarch of the family and took his entire family away from Babel/Ur.


Abraham was previously under the dominion of Nimrod and was released to follow the command of God. In a similar manner, those who believe have been freed from the dominion of darkness to follow the one who leads us from darkness to light.

He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13–14 NET)


[1] James Strong, Enhanced Strong’s Lexicon (Woodside Bible Fellowship, 1995), ’erets OT:776; also accessed 7/30/2015 at 7/30/2015 at http://www.studylight.org/lexicons/hebrew/hwview.cgi?n=776

[2] Judith 5:6-9 KJV, accessed 8/1/2015 at http://apocrypha.org/kjv/judith/5.htm

[4] “The Jewish Timeline Encyclopedia - A Year by Year History from Creation to the Present”, by Mattis Kantor (Jason Aronson, Inc.; Updated edition (December 1, 1993), Year 1

[5] Adam Clarke's Commentary Ecclesiastes 4:13-14, accessed 7/7/2015 at http://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/view.cgi?bk=20&ch=4