Ur

Ur is mentioned many times in the Bible but it best known as the birthplace of Abraham.  Ur is located in modern day Iraq and was located near the Euphrates River.  It was one of the most ancient cities in existence believed to have been founded 6500 years ago.

Ur was the capital city of the Sumerian Empire, the first known empire of the world.  During Abraham’s time, the city was at its height and it was probably the greatest city in the world at that time, around 2100 BC.

Ironically, or perhaps not so ironically since God knows what the future holds, the city of Ur was destroyed about 100 years after God called Abraham to leave the city.  The city would be rebuilt and be mentioned several more times in scripture.  Eventually it faded from prominence as the Euphrates River shifted course and the location became less important.  Today Ur sits around twelve miles away from the Euphrates.

Ur is often mentioned as Ur of the Chaldeans.  The Chaldeans didn’t arrive until long after Abraham’s time as they were precursors to the Babylonians.  They came into being around 800 BC.  They Chaldeans are likely mentioned as a reference to the land where Abraham was from, much like we would say Iraq today so that we have a modern frame of reference.  Ur of the Chaldeans is not meant to imply that Abraham, coming from Ur, was a Chaldean.

ANE

ANE is an abbreviation which stands for “Ancient Near East.”  The term does not appear in the Bible but is often used by scholars when discussing Bible passages and the life and times of Bible days, particularly the Old Testament.

The Ancient Near East, geographically is what we commonly refer to as the Middle East today.  Usually when ANE appears however, it is not in reference to a geographical region.  Instead, it is typically used in reference to the cultural practices of the people of that region in that era of time.

One might commonly see ANE used in a reference such as “Treaties in the ANE were often  sealed through a blood sacrifice.”  In Bible related terms, ANE is usually referenced to show either that Israel’s practices were common among many people of the day or that God had instituted practices that were quite counter to common practices of the day.

Southern Kingdom

Following the death of Solomon, the nation of Israel split.  Solomon’s son Rehoboam acted with a heavy hand toward the people and many left to follow Jeroboam.  Rehoboam was left with the southern kingdom and David’s throne to reign from.

The southern kingdom is also known as the kingdom of Judah.  Judah was not only the largest tribe, it was the tribe of David so that made it the ruling tribe as well.  At times the tribe of Benjamin is overlooked even though it also was a part of the southern kingdom.  There are several places that only mention the tribe of Judah as a part of the kingdom but this was only because Benjamin was fairly small and ultimately not noteworthy in relation to Judah.  At some point half of the tribe of Manasseh also joins with the kingdom of Judah.

Unlike the northern kingdom, the southern kingdom has a mix of both good and bad kings. The best of this group was King Hezekiah.  He is the best overall king next to David.  Unfortunately, his son Manasseh is the worst king of Judah and he also reigns the longest at 55 years.  Manasseh is actually imprisoned for a period of time in Babylon where he appears to repent because God restores him to the throne and he tears down the idols that he had built.

While the northern kingdom fell in 722 BC, the southern kingdom continued to survive for around another 150 years.  Eventually it too falls however.  The southern kingdom is destroyed in three phases.  Beginning in 605 BC King Nebuchadnezzar attacks Jerusalem.  This first time he carries away a part of the royal family including Daniel.  A second attack follows in 597 BC.  Finally a rebellion is discovered and Nebuchadnezzar returns to the city in 586 BC.  This time he leaves nothing as he flattens the city to the ground, destroys the temple, and deports all but the poorest people to Babylon.

2 Chronicles closes by noting that the Jews would be in exile for 70 years as punishment because they had failed to celebrate the Sabbath years that God had commanded and so the land would rest to make up for the years that it had been ignored.

Northern Kingdom

Following the death of King Solomon, the nation of Israel split.  God had foretold that this would occur and that Jeroboam would lead the northern kingdom when it happened.  From a human perspective though, the split occurred because of the heavy handed approach of Solomon’s son Rehoboam.  The people rebelled and ten tribes split from the House of David and crowned Jeroboam king.

God had made a conditional promise that if Jeroboam followed the Lord, He would make his kingly line and everlasting one like David’s.  Unfortunately for Jeroboam, he fell into idolatry and God destroyed his line and descendants.

The northern kingdom is also commonly referred to as the kingdom of Israel – which isn’t to be confused with the nation of Israel which had split in two.  Prophetically the kingdom is sometimes called Ephraim because this was the largest tribe in the northern kingdom.  It is also sometimes called Samaria because this was its capital city for much of the time.

The northern kingdom is marked by ungodly kings.  There are nineteen kings in total and none of them could be considered good.  Many of the kings are assassinated – and then their assassins are usually killed.  Unlike the southern kingdom which always had a descendant of David as king, there are five separate “dynasties” in the northern kingdom.  Dynasties in this case simply means that a son follows his father on the throne.  The longest dynasty in the northern kingdom only amounts to four generations.

The most noteworthy king of the northern kingdom is also its worst.  King Ahab was downright despicable but probably surpassed in wickedness by his wife Jezebel.  He was confronted by the prophet Elijah and on Mount Carmel there is an epic showdown between Elijah and the prophets of Baal whom Jezebel personally took care of.  Of course Elijah won when God responded by fire and the prophets of Baal were killed.  Jezebel vowed revenge but she and Ahab were the ones who met a wretched end.

Things didn’t end well for the northern kingdom either.  After around 200 years, the Assyrians came and wiped them out in 722 BC.  Rather than carry the people away, the Assyrians simply moved other people into the land as well.  They intermarried with the Israelites and soon the people were no longer an Israelite culture.  This new culture – half Israelite, half Assyrian – was still around during Jesus’ day.  They were then known as the Samaritans.  Because the Jews considered them to be half-breeds, they were despised by “pure blood” Jews.

Unlimited Atonement

The Arminian belief that Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross was for the entire world making all of mankind savable.  The atonement is effective only for those who believe but is available to all.

While this sounds like the most basic understanding of John 3:16 as well as various other scripture passages, limited atonement contends that “the world” does not mean every person in the world.  Instead, limited atonement contends that Christ only died for the “elect” world, the ones that God had already chosen to save unconditionally.

Unlimited atonement is in direct opposition to the Calvinist point of limited atonement and is supported by more than a few people who are otherwise Calvinistic in their beliefs.  Calvinists who hold to this view but the other four points of Calvinism are known as four point Calvinists.