Where Was Abraham Born and Where Did He Live Most of His Life?

Abraham first saw the light of day in Ur of the Chaldeans, now known as Tell Muqayyar in Iraq. His father, Terah, uprooted the family to live in Haran, presently in southeast Turkey. Abraham then answered God’s call to journey to the land of Canaan, modern day Israel. However, a detour took him to Egypt for a while before he finally settled back in Canaan, calling it home till his last days.

God took Abraham on a spiritual journey that would grow him and strengthen his faith, and he took him on a geographical one too! Let’s take a closer look at where Abraham was born and where he lived.

abraham and his family moving to their new dwelling place

Where Was Abraham Born?

Abram (later Abraham) was born and raised in Ur of the Chaldeans. He also married Sarai (later Sarah) there. This was the area where the descendants of Noah’s son, Shem, lived following the dispersion after the Tower of Babel and following Noah’s big ark. Today, this is considered the city of Tell Muqayyar in southern Iraq.

Gen 11:27-28 (ESV) Now these are the generations of Terah. Terah fathered Abram, Nahor, and Haran; and Haran fathered Lot. Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his kindred, in Ur of the Chaldeans.

We learn something significant about Ur of the Chaldeans later in scripture when Joshua reminds the nation of Israel about God’s covenant with them. It was a place of spiritual darkness—the people who lived there did not worship the One True God, but idols. Abram was not brought up to worship God, but that didn’t disqualify him from being called out by God.

Joshua 24:2 (ESV) And Joshua said to all the people, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘Long ago, your fathers lived beyond the Euphrates, Terah, the father of Abraham and of Nahor; and they served other gods.

Where Did Abraham Live His Life?

We know Abram was born in Ur of the Chaldeans, but where did he go next? It turns out Abram went on quite a journey, before settling as a sojourner in Canaan. And God was with him, just as He promised He would be.

Abraham’s Time in Haran

Terah, Abram’s dad, moved away from Ur—and we’re not told why. Terah’s original plan was to head to Canaan (later referred to as the Promised Land), but on his way, he passed through Haran (southeastern Turkey) where he decided to stay (Gen 11:31). Haran is situated near a tributary of the Euphrates River—a place of greenery and abundance. This would’ve been a comfortable home for Terah and his family.

But it wasn’t God’s plan for Abram to stay in Haran; and after Terah died, we see God call Abram out in a remarkable way—through a promise! What Did God Promise Abraham?

Genesis 12:1-3 (ESV) Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Abraham’s Journey from Canaan to Egypt

Abram (with Sarai and his nephew, Lot) followed God to the land of Canaan, where God renewed His promise and declared that the land (currently occupied by Canaanites) would one day belong to Abram’s descendants. Abram built an altar at Shechem to commemorate God’s covenant with him (Gen 12:7). Then he, Sarai, and Lot continued journeying toward the Negeb Desert. 

It wasn’t long before they were affected by a famine in the land and went to stay nearby in Egypt (Gen 12:9-10) where a series of interesting events took place. God is sovereign and took care of Abram and Sarai:

  • Abram knew how beautiful Sarai was so he lied and told people she was his sister (technically, she was his half-sister) to avoid being killed as her husband (Gen 12:13). 
  • Pharaoh, enchanted by Sarai’s beauty, took her into his household (Gen 12:15).
  • God was displeased and cursed Pharaoh’s household and the truth came out (Gen 12:17). 
  • Pharaoh, understandably upset with Abram, immediately handed Sarai back (Gen 12:19).
  • Abram, Sarai, and Lot left Egypt wealthier than they’d arrived (Gen 12:20).

Abraham Goes Back to Canaan

Through the Negeb and back in Canaan, Abram and Lot parted ways on friendly terms to avoid arguing over grazing land for their livestock (Gen 13:11). Abram and Sarai settled as sojourners (temporary residents) in their tent in Hebron in Canaan and trusted God to be with them and fulfill His promise of a son to them—which he did many years later! Abraham wound up being blessed with 8 sons in total.

While God blessed Abraham with wealth, he never received the land of Canaan as an inheritance—just the promise that it would belong to his descendants (Acts 7:5). We see this come true when Joshua leads the nation into the Promised Land in Exodus almost 700 years later (Josh 24:13), long after Abraham died at an old age.

Abraham’s Life and Journey of Faith

Abraham was a sojourner from when he left Haran to when he died. He didn’t even have his own land to bury his wife, Sarah, and had to buy some (Gen 23:4). But he was content, upright, and is remembered for his obedience and faith in God’s promises (Heb 11:8-9).

It didn’t matter that the land of his birth was godless. It didn’t matter that he made mistakes and lost his way from time to time. God is faithful—He leads, equips, restores, provides, and keeps his promises!

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