The City of Haran—2 Kings 19:12

Located in the northwest corner of Mesopotamia on one of the most important travel routes of the ancient world, connecting Mesopotamia with Asia Minor, Syria, Canaan, and ultimately Egypt, the city of Haran became a major trade center. The Bible mentions Haran as the place where Abraham’s father, Terah, died during their migration from Ur to Canaan (Gen. 11:31). Later, it was where Abraham sent his servant to find a wife for his son Isaac (Gen. 24:4) and where Jacob spent many years after fleeing from Esau (Gen. 27:43; 28:10; 29:4).

Assyrian records list Haran as one of the cities it conquered. Sennacherib’s Rebshakeh officer cited it to King Hezekiah (2 Kings 19:12) as an example of the punishment awaiting those who rebelled against the empire—a fate that Haran had met in 763 BC. Sargon II (721–705 BC) restored the city, then it fell to the Babylonians in 609 BC. The prophet Ezekiel mentions Haran as a trade partner of Tyre (Ezek. 27:23), a major commercial city of the ancient Near East. The city of Haran, along with Ur, was an important center for the cult of the moon god Sîn, and the Mari texts refer to its famous temples. Nabonidus, the last Babylonian king, restored one of them and appointed his mother as a priestess.

Scholars identify Haran with the site of Sultan Tepe. Excavations made there in 1951-1953 and 1959 indicate that it began to be occupied no later than Early Bronze Age III. Archaeologists have uncovered an important library of the later Babylonian period in the vicinity.