Ha'ran appears in the Eng. Bible as the name of a place and also of three men, which, however, are represented by two essentially different Hebrew words. SEE BETH-HARAN.
1. HARAN (Heb. Haran', הָרָן, mountaineer; Sept. αῤῥαν), probably the eldest son of Terah, brother of Abraham and Nahor, and father of Lot, Milcah, and Iscah. He died in his native place-before his father Terah (an event that may in some degree have prepared the family to leave Ur), which, from the manner in which it is mentioned, appears to have been a much rarer case in those days than at the present (Ge 11:27 sq.). B.C. 2223 ante 2088. — Kitto. His sepulcher was still shown there when Josephus wrote his history (Ant. 1, 6, 5). The ancient Jewish tradition is that Haran was burnt in the furnace of Nimrod for his wavering conduct during the fiery trial of Abraham. (See the Targum Ps. — Jonathan; Jerome's Quaest. in Genesim, and the notes thereto in the edition of Migne). This tradition seems to have originated in a translation of the word Ur, which in Hebrew signifies "fire." SEE ABRAHAM.
2. CHARAN (Heb. Charan', חָרָן, probably from the Arabic, parched; Sept. Χαῤῥάν, also Josephus, Ant. i, 16, N.T., Ac 7:2, where it is Anglicized "Charran"), the name of the place where Abraham, after he had been called from Ur of the Chaldees, tarried till his father Terah died, when he proceeded to the land of Canaan (Ge 11:31-32; Ac 7:4). The elder branch of the family still remained at Haran, which led to the interesting journeys thither described in the patriarchal history (see Hauck, De profectionibus Abrahamie Charris [Lips. 1754, 1776]) —-first, that of Abraham's servant to obtain a wife for Isaac (Genesis 24); and, next, that of Jacob when he fled to evade the wrath of Esau (Ge 28:10). It is said to be in Mesopotamia (Ge 24:10), or, more definitely, in Padan-Aram 25:20), which is the "cultivated district at the foot of the hills"(Stanley, Syr. and Pal. p. 129, note), a name well applying to the beautiful stretch of country which lies below Mount Masius, between the Khabûr and the Euphrates. SEE PADAN-ARAM. Haran is enumerated among the towns which had been taken by the predecessors of Sennacherib, king of Assyria (1Ki 19:12; Isa 37:12), and it is also mentioned by Ezekiel (27:23) among the places which traded with Tyre. It is alluded to in the cuneiform inscriptions (q.v.). Jerome thus describes Haran: "'Charran, a city of Mesopotamia beyond Edessa, which to this day is called Charra, where the Roman army was cut off, and Crassus, its leader, taken"(Onomast. s.v. Charran). Guided by these descriptions and statements, which certainly appear sufficiently clear and full, sacred geographers have almost universally identified Haran with the Carrct (Kapptai) of classical writers (Herodian. 4:13, 7; Ptol. 5, 18, 12; Strabo, 16:747), and the Harran of the Arabs (Schultens, Index Geogr. in Vitam Saladini. s.v.). The plain bordering on this town (Ammian. Marc. 23:3) is celebrated in history as the scene of a battle in which the Roman army was defeated by the Parthians, and the triumvir Crassus killed (Plin. 5, 21; Dio Cass. 40:25; Lucan. 1, 104). Abulfeda (Tab. Syrice, p. 164) speaks of Haran as formerly a great city, which lay in an arid and barren tract of country in the province of Diar Modhar. About the time of the Christian era it appears to have been included in the kingdom of Eaessa (Mos. Chor. 2, 32), which was ruled by Agbarus. Afterwards it passed with that kingdom under the dominion of the Romans, and appears as a Roman city in the wars of Caracalla (Mos. Chor. 2, 72) and Julian (Jo.
Malal. p. 329). It is remarkable that the people of Harran retained to a late time the Chaldean language and the worship of Chaldean deities (Assemani, Bibl. Or. 1, 327; Chwolson's Sabier und der Sabismus, 2, 39).
About midway in the district above designated is a town still called Harran, which really seems never to have changed its appellation, and beyond any reasonable doubt is the Haran or Charran of Scripture (Bochart's Phaleg, 1, 14; Ewald's Geschichte, 1, 384). It is only peopled by a few families of wandering Arabs, who are led thither by a plentiful supply of water from several small streams. Its situation is fixed by major Rennell as being twenty-nine miles from Orfah, and occupying a flat and sandy plain. It lies (according to D'Anville) in 36° 40' N. lat., and 39° 2' 45"E. long. (See Niebuhr, Travels, 2, 410; Ritter, Erdk. 10:244; 11:291; Cellar. Notit. 2, 726; Mannert, 5, 2, 280; Michaelis, Suppl. 930.) Harran stands on the banks of a small river called Belik, which flows into the Euphrates about fifty miles south of the town. From it a number of leading roads radiate to the great fords of the Tigris and Euphrates; and it thus formed an important station on the line of commerce between Central and Western Asia. This may explain why Terah came to it, and why it was mentioned among the places which supplied the marts of Tyre (Eze 27:23). Crassus was probably marching along this great route when he was attacked by the Parthians. Dr. Beke, in his Origines Biblicae (p. 122 sq.), made the somewhat startling statement that Haran must have been near Damascus, and that Aram-Naharaim is the country between the Abana and Pharpar. After lying dormant for a quarter of a century, this theory was again revived in 1860. The Rev. J. L. Porter visited and described a small village in the plain, four hours east of Damascus, called Harran el-Awamid ("Harran of the columns"). The description having met the eye of Dr. Beke (in Five Years in Damascus, 1, 376), he at once concluded that this village was the site of the real "city of Nahor." He has since visited Harran el- Awamid, and traveled from it to Gilead, and is more confirmed in his view, though he appears to stand alone. His arguments have not been sufficient to set aside the powerful evidence in favor of Harran in Mesopotamia. The student may see the whole subject discussed in the Athenceunm for Nov. 23, 30; Dec. 7, 1861; Feb. 1, 15; March 1, 22, 29; April 6, 19; and May 24, 1862; also in Stanley's Lectures on the Jewish Church, 1, 447 sq.
3. CHARAN (Heb. same as last, meaning here noble, according to First; Sept. Α᾿ῤῥάν v.r. Α᾿ράμ). The son of Caleb of Judah by his concubine Ephah, and father of Gazez (1Ch 2:46). B.C. between 1618 and 1083.
4. HARAN (Heb. same as No. 1; Sept. Α᾿ράν v.r. Δάν). One of the three sons of Shimei, a Levite of the family of Gershon, appointed by David to superintend the offices at the tabernacle (1Ch 23:9). B.C. 1014.