1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Harran
HARRAN, Haran or Charran (Sept. Χαῤῥάν or Χαῤῥά: Strabo, Κάῤῥαι: Pliny, Carrae or Carrhae; Arab. Harrān), in biblical history the place where Terah halted after leaving Ur, and apparently the birthplace of Abraham, a town on the stream Jullab, some nine hours’ journey from Edessa in Syria. At this point the road from Damascus joins the highway between Nineveh and Carchemish, and Haran had thus considerable military and commercial value. As a strategic position it is mentioned in inscriptions as early as the time of Tiglath Pileser I., about 1100 B.C., and subsequently by Sargon II., who restored the privileges lost at the rebellion which led to the conquest referred to in 2 Kings xix. 12 (= Isa. xxxvii. 12). It was the centre of a considerable commerce (Ezek. xxvii. 23), and one of its specialities was the odoriferous gum derived from the strobus (Pliny, H.N. xii. 40). It was here that Crassus in his eastern expedition was attacked and slain by the Parthians (53 B.C.); and here also the emperor Caracalla was murdered at the instigation of Macrinus (A.D. 217). Haran was the chief home of the moon-god Sin, whose temple was rebuilt by several kings, among them Assur-bani-pal and Nabunidus and Herodian (iv. 13, 7) mentions the town as possessing in his day a temple of the moon. In the middle ages it is mentioned as having been the seat of a particular heathen sect, that of the Haranite Sabeans. It retained its importance down to the period of the Arab ascendancy; but by Abulfeda it is mentioned as having before his time fallen into decay. It is now wholly in ruins. The Yahwistic writer (Gen. xxvii. 43) makes it the home of Laban and connects it with Isaac and Jacob. But we cannot thus put Haran in Aramnaharaim; the home of the Labanites is rather to be looked for in the very similar word Hauran.