The Great Events by Famous Historians, Vol 1

Author: Percy Handcock  | Date: ABOUT B.C. 2200

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Abraham Leaves Ur of Babylonia

ABOUT B.C. 2200

Percy Handcock, M.A.

In the early days of Babylonian history, the country was divided up into a number of small principalities or city-states, and the practical realization of the approved truism that "unity is strength" was only attained at a later date. In this respect also, the early history of Babylonian civilization presents a parallel to that of ancient Egypt, where we find the country similarly apportioned out into a series of districts or nomes, which in course of time tended to amalgamate and in fact crystalized into a northern and a southern kingdom. But in Egypt the process of unification was carried a step further, and at about the time of the First Dynasty, the inhabitants of Egypt owed allegiance to one lord and one lord only—the king of the north and the south, his dual sovereignty being emblematized by his assumption of the crown of the north, and the crown of the south.

It is of course impossible to fix the date of the first appearance of the Sumerians in Babylonia, but the sites of their earliest known settlements were all situated in Sumer or Southern Babylonia, their principal cities being Ur, Erech, Nippur, Larsa, Eridu, Lagash and Umma. It is equally impossible to give anything in the nature of a definite date for the occupation of Northern Babylonia or Akkad by the Semites, suffice it to say that at the earliest period of which historical records have been brought to light, there appears to be evidence of the presence of Semites or Akkadians in Akkad alongside of the Sumerians in Sumer. The principal centres of Semitic occupation were the city of Akkad or Agade, Babylon, Borsippa (Birs-Nimrûd), Cutha, Opis, Sippar and Kish.

On the accession of Gudea about 2450 B.C., the momentarilysmoking flame of Sumerian influence in Babylonia was kindled anew, and a strong anti-Semitic wave set in. This wave does not seem to have been characterized by a series of wars or battles, for the records of Gudea, the most powerful ruler among the later priest kings of Lagash, seldom refer to anything in the nature of military achievements, but the extensiveness of his building operations testifies to the abundance of resources at his command, while the names of the countries which he laid under contribution for building-materials conclusively prove that the influence exercised by Lagash during the reign of Gudea was considerable. The list of the places from which he derived wood and stone includes the mountains in Arabia and on the Syrian coast, while he obtained copper from the mines in the Elamite territory east of the Tigris.

But the importance of Lagash was soon to pass away, and Ur became the dominating power in Babylonia. The dynasty of Ur (circ. 2400 B.C.), which lasted close on 120 years, was rounded by Ur-Engur. He included the whole of Southern Babylonia within his sphere of influence, while in the north, he has left evidence of his architectural undertakings at Nippur; hence he styled himself the "King of Sumer and Akkad," but the fact that his son and successor Dungi found it necessary to reduce Babylon indicates that his authority in Akkad was not unquestioned. Dungi reigned 58 years, during which he reduced the whole of Babylonia beneath his sway, and apparently annexed the greater part of Elam. So firmly had he established his control over Elam, that we find the capital of that country (Susa) still retained by his successors, though frequent expeditions had to be undertaken to maintain the "status quo."

The dynasty of Ur would appear to have been brought to an end by an invasion of Elamites; at all events Ibi-Sin, the last king of Ur, was carried away by the Elamites.

Meanwhile the Semitic element in the north was gradually regaining its ascendency, and finally asserted itself as a concrete fact in the establishment of a dynasty by Sumu-abu, at the city of Babylon itself, about 2000 B.C.

At about this time the Elamites established themselves in Southern Babylonia at Ur and Larsa under Kudur-Mabuk andhis sons Arad-Sin and Rîm-Sin, and during the earlier part of the dynasty exercised a suzerainty over the whole of that region. Subsequently Rîm-Sin met with a severe defeat at the hands of Hammurabi, the most illustrious king of the dynasty and the Amraphel of the Book of Genesis.

Hammurabi consolidated the power of Babylon, and extended his influence on all sides, but his chief title to fame depends upon his codification of Babylonian law.


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Chicago: Percy Handcock, "Abraham Leaves Ur of Babylonia," The Great Events by Famous Historians, Vol 1 in The Great Events by Famous Historians. Lincoln Memorial University Edition, ed. Rossiter Johnson (Harrogate, TN: The National Alunmi, 1926), 16–17. Original Sources, accessed October 1, 2022,

MLA: Handcock, Percy. "Abraham Leaves Ur of Babylonia." The Great Events by Famous Historians, Vol 1, in The Great Events by Famous Historians. Lincoln Memorial University Edition, edited by Rossiter Johnson, Harrogate, TN, The National Alunmi, 1926, pp. 16–17. Original Sources. 1 Oct. 2022.

Harvard: Handcock, P, 'Abraham Leaves Ur of Babylonia' in The Great Events by Famous Historians, Vol 1. cited in 1926, The Great Events by Famous Historians. Lincoln Memorial University Edition, ed. , The National Alunmi, Harrogate, TN, pp.16–17. Original Sources, retrieved 1 October 2022, from