Jump to content
JWTalk - Jehovah's Witnesses Online Community

The Royal Game of Ur

Recommended Posts

Did ancient Bible characters play board games? If you can't imagine Abraham, Jacob or Moses playing chess or backgammon, you might find this post interesting. This board game, called the Royal Game of Ur, was found in a Sumerian tomb in the city of Ur, dated around 2600 BCE (actually most probably three or four centuries later since that would predate the Flood!):




A cuneiform tablet was found describing the games rules, so we know more or less how it was played. It was a two-player game played with dice, more or less similar to backgammon or parcheesi. You had to roll the dice and advance your token along the squares. Enemy tokens can be captured and sent back to the initial square. The first player to complete the whole board with all his tokens wins. It seems the game was very popular in Ur in the time of Abraham, so it's likely that he and Sarah would play some matches durign their long idle summer evenings in Canaan. :)


One interesting detail about this game: We were visiting the Assyrian section of the British Museum and were admiring the huge and imposing statues guarding both sides of Khorsabad gates. You can see them here:




Then we noticed this shape carved at the foot of one of the statues:




Yes, it's the same board game, almost 2000 years later! It seems the night shift was too long and boring for the sentries and they killed time playing this game. So it's possible that the Jews who were taken to exile in Babylon shortly after that, learnt this game there too.


A copy of the game is sold at the shop of the British Museum. We bought one and it's quite fun to play. We call it "Abraham's game": :lol:


This link from the British Museum contains all the technical information about the original piece:


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Nice Carlos! :)

I like "Abraham's Game".

I never thought of these biblical men and women playing games, so that is fun to think about.


So I was thinking about this and what if Chess was played in the days of Jacob. Then the scriptures might state this instead:

(GE 25:27-34)

"As the boys got bigger, Eʹsau became a skilled hunter, a man of the field, but Jacob was a blameless man, dwelling in tents.  And Isaac loved Eʹsau because it meant game in his mouth, whereas Re·bekʹah loved Jacob. On one occasion Jacob was boiling some stew when Eʹsau returned from the field exhausted. So Eʹsau said to Jacob: “Quick, please, give me some of the red stew that you have there, for I am exhausted!” That is why his name was Eʹdom.

 To this Jacob said:

“First play me in chess for your right as firstborn!” And Eʹsau continued: “What use is a birthright to me? Sure I will play you!

And Jacob added: “Swear to me first, that if I checkmate you that I win your right as firstborn!” So he swore to him and when Jacob with his Queen and Knight checkmated Esau's king, then Esau gave his right as firstborn to Jacob. Then Jacob gave Eʹsau bread and lentil stew with a big smile  :)

"Create in me a pure heart, O God, And put within me a new spirit, a steadfast one" (PS 51:10)


Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation with your brothers and sisters!

You can post now, and then we will take you to the membership application. If you are already a member, sign in now to post with your existing account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    • No registered users viewing this page.

About JWTalk.net - Jehovah's Witnesses Online Community

Since 2006, JWTalk has proved to be a well-moderated online community for real Jehovah's Witnesses on the web. However, our community is not an official website of Jehovah's Witnesses. It is not endorsed, sponsored, or maintained by any legal entity used by Jehovah's Witnesses. We are a pro-JW community maintained by brothers and sisters around the world. We expect all community members to be active publishers in their congregations, therefore, please do not apply for membership if you are not currently one of Jehovah's Witnesses.

  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.

JWTalk 23.8.11 (changelog)