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Haran

also known as: Harran

This is the name of 2 biblical men and a city.

  1. Haran, the eldest son of Terah

    He was a brother of Abraham and Nahor, and father of Lot, Milcah, and Iscah. He died before his father (Genesis 11:27), in Ur of the Chaldees.

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

Haran, a major ancient city now in Turkey

Hebrew: חָרָן —transliteration: Haran or Haran

Means: “parched;” or probably from the Accadian: charana, meaning “a road”

also known as: Harran, Ḫarrānu, Charran, Carrhae, City of Nahor, Hellenopolis

It is here that Abram remained, after he left Ur of the Chaldees, till his father Terah died (Genesis 11:31-32). Later, Abram left, continuing his journey into the land of Canaan—his promised land.

Laban lived in Haran with his daughters Rachel and Leah. Laban was a great-nephew of Abraham. He was Isaac’s brother-in-law, and Jacob’s father-in-law.

Jacob fled here and stayed for years, before returning to face his twin brother Esau in Canaan.

It is called Charran (the Greek name for Haran) in the Septuagint and in Acts 7:2 KJV, but modern translations say “Haran.”

…“Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran… —Acts 7:2 NASB

It is called the “city of Nahor” in Genesis 24:10.

It was known to the Greeks and Romans under the name Carrhae.

Haran was a major ancient city in northwest Mesopotamia—a river city on the caravan route between the east and west. In ancient times, the water table was probably much higher in this area. It stood on the continually flowing Balikh River (aka Belik) which drained the Harran Plain. Today, the diminished Balikh is still a major tributary of the Euphrates River, 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.

Haran is mentioned in the Ebla Tablets. It is among the towns later taken by a king of Assyria (2 Kings 19:12; Isaiah 37:12).

The modern Turkish city of Harran now stands on the ancient site.

Modern Harran, Turkey—satellite view

Relationship of Haran to Ur—and the moon-god Sin

Ur was consecrated to the worship of Sin, the Babylonian moon-god. It shared this honor, however, with another city, and this city was Haran, or Harran. Harran was in Mesopotamia, and took its name from the highroad which led through it from the east to the west. The name is Babylonian, and bears witness to its having been founded by a Babylonian king. The same witness is still more decisively borne by the worship paid in it to the Babylonian moon-god and by its ancient temple of Sin. Indeed, the temple of the moon-god at Harran was perhaps even more famous in the Assyrian and Babylonian world than the temple of the moon-god at Ur.

Between Ur and Harran there must, consequently, have been a close connection in early times, the record of which has not yet been recovered. It may be that Harran owed its foundation to a king of Ur; at any rate the two cities were bound together by the worship of the same deity, the closest and most enduring bond of union that existed in the ancient world. That Terah should have migrated from Ur to Harran, therefore, ceases to be extraordinary. If he left Ur at all, it was the most natural place to which to go. It was like passing from one court of a temple into another.

Article Version: September 3, 2017