Haran

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Haran (1)

hā´ran (הרן, hārān, “mountaineer”):

(1) The eldest son of Terah, younger brother of Abraham and Nahor, and father of Lot (Genesis 11:27). He had two daughters, Milcah and Iscah (Genesis 11:29). He died before his father (Genesis 11:27), in Ur of the Chaldees.

(2) A Gershonite, of the family of Shimei (1 Chronicles 23:9).

(3) The son of Caleb of Judah (1 Chronicles 2:46) by his concubine Ephah.


Haran (2)

hā´ran (חרן, ḥārān; Χαῥῤάν, Charhrán, “parched;” or probably from the Accadian charana, meaning “a road”):

A celebrated city of Western Asia, now Harran, where Terah settled on his departure from Ur (Genesis 11:31 f); whence Abram set out on his pilgrimage of faith to Canaan (Genesis 12:1). Abram remained in Haran, after he left Ur of the Chaldees, till his father Terah died (Genesis 11:31, Genesis 11:32), when he continued his journey into the land of Canaan.

It was probably “the city of Nahor” to which Abraham's servant came to find a wife for Isaac (Genesis 24:10). Hither came Jacob when he fled from Esau's anger (Genesis 27:43). Jacob resided here with Laban (Genesis 30:43). Here he met his bride (Genesis 29:4), and in the neighboring pastures he tended the flocks of Laban. It is one of the cities named by Rabshakeh as destroyed by the king of Assyria (2 Kings 19:12; Isaiah 37:12). Ezekiel speaks of the merchants of Haran as trading with Tyre (Ezekiel 27:23).

It stood on the river Belik, an affluent of the Euphrates, about 70 miles above where it joins that river in Upper Mesopotamia or Padan-aram, and about 600 miles northwest of Ur in a direct line. It was on the caravan route between the east and west. It is afterwards mentioned among the towns taken by the king of Assyria (2 Kings 19:12; Isaiah 37:12). It was known to the Greeks and Romans under the name Carrhae.

The name appears in Assyro-Babalonian as Ḥarran, which means “road”; possibly because here the trade route from Damascus joined that from Nineveh to Carchemish. It is mentioned in the prism inscription of Tiglath-pileser I. It was a seat of the worship of Sin, the moon-god, from very ancient times. A temple was built by Shalmaneser II. Haran seems to have shared in the rebellion of Assur (763 BC, the year of the solar eclipse, June 15). The privileges then lost were restored by Sargon II. The temple, which had been destroyed, was rebuilt by Ashurbanipal, who was here crowned with the crown of Sin. Haran and the temple suffered much damage in the invasion of the Umman-Manda (the Medes). Nabuna'id restored temple and city, adorning them on a lavish scale. Near Haran the Parthians defeated and slew Crassus (53 BC), and here Caracalla was assassinated (217 AD). In the 4th century it was the seat of a bishopric; but the cult of the moon persisted far into the Christian centuries. The chief temple was the scene of heathen worship until the 11th century, and was destroyed by the Mongols in the 13th.

The ancient city is represented by the modern Ḥarrān to the Southeast of Edessa, on the river Belias, an affluent of the Euphrates. The ruins lie on both sides of the stream, and include those of a very ancient castle, built of great basaltic blocks, with square columns, 8 ft. thick, which support an arched roof some 30 ft. in height. Remains of the old cathedral are also conspicuous. No inscriptions have yet been found here, but a fragment of an Assyrian lion has been uncovered. A well nearby is identified as that where Eliezer met Rebekah.

It is called “Charran” in the Septuagint and in Acts 7:2, Acts 7:4, the King James Version gives the name as Charran.

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