My article “Ur and Haran: Abraham’s Background,” originally written in 1997, has been uploaded in PDF format and is available for download. Below is an excerpt from the article:
The migration of the patriarchs from their place of origin into the land of Canaan is emphasized several times in the Old Testament as an integral ingredient of biblical history. In fact, the early life of Abraham is characterized by his migrations from Mesopotamia to Canaan, to Egypt, and back to Canaan. This emphasis is consistent with the biblical view that the patriarchs came from outside of Canaan. Joshua, in retelling the mighty acts of the God of Israel to the new generation of Israelites, reminded them of this important fact in the history of the young nation: “Long ago your forefathers, including Terah the father of Abraham and Nahor, lived beyond the River” (Josh. 24:2 NIV). The river mentioned by Joshua was the Euphrates.
The migration of Abraham and his family from Mesopotamia to Canaan probably is related to the vast migration of nomadic and semi-nomadic people that occurred in the Fertile Crescent in the first half of the second millennium B.C. To the writers of the Old Testament, who understood the events of history from the perspective of divine sovereignty, the migration of Abraham and his family was portrayed as a response of faith to God’s call. This call involved God’s promise that Abraham would become a great nation, that he would receive the land of Canaan as his own inheritance, and that he would become a blessing to the nations.
You can read or download the article here.
Professor of Old Testament
Northern Baptist Seminary