🔼The name Haran in the Bible
There are two completely different Hebrew names that have ended up as the similar name Haran in English. We'll call them Haran I (הרן) and Haran II (חרן), and note that both versions occur in Genesis 11:31:
🔼The name Haran I: Summary
- Mountainous, Mountaineer
- From the noun הר (har), hill or mountain.
🔼The name Haran I in the Bible
The name Haran I is assigned two times in the Bible:
🔼Etymology of the name Haran I
The name Haran is probably derived of the word הר (har) meaning hill or mountain:
The noun הר (har) is the Bible's common word for mountain or hill. Intuition dictates that the root of the word for mountain probably has to do with being elevated, but that's not correct. In Hebrew thought, a mountain is not something that's high but rather a lot of something gathered. And so, a mountain became synonymous for a large but centralized group of people (Jeremiah 51:25), or even gods (Isaiah 14:13).
The obviously related verb הרה (hera) means to be or become pregnant. An association with the previous noun is obvious, although not because the stomach of a pregnant woman resembles a mountain. The Bible depicts nations as individual women even more than as mountains; the words אמה ('umma), meaning people and אם ('em), meaning mother are closely related. A pregnant woman is to her husband what a conceiving nation is to its deity.
The name Haran's post-fixed nun may serve as a personification (Hill Guy).
🔼Haran I meaning
For a meaning of the name Haran, both BDB Theological Dictionary and Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names propose Mountaineer. NOBSE Study Bible Name List has Mountainous.
🔼The name Haran II: Summary
- Freedom, Central Fire
- From the root חרר (harar), to be a central hub of heat.
🔼The name Haran II in the Bible
The name Haran II is assigned two times in the Bible:
- The city where Abram's family settled (Genesis 11:31), which probably personifies the Assyrian culture (it's most likely the same as the modern town of Harran in southeastern Turkey). Stephen refers to this Haran (Χαρραν; Charran) in his sermon to the High Council in Jerusalem (Acts 7:2 and 7:4).
- A son of Caleb and Ephah (1 Chronicles 2:46).
🔼Etymology of the name Haran II
The name Haran II probably comes from the verb חרה (hara), to burn, or חרר (harar), to be hot or even to be free:
The root חרר (harar) describes a society's central and enclosed source of heat. It thus may express a geographical depression, but more so a being hot and ultimately a being a ruler (whether by might, political clout or wisdom).
Verb חרר (harar I) means to be hot, burned or charred. Noun חרר (harer) denotes a parched place and noun חרחר (harhur) describes a violent heat or fever. The unused verb חרר (harar II) means to be free in cognate languages, which is the opposite of being a slave. Noun חר (hor) means noble or nobleman. The unused verb חרר (harar III) appears to refer to the enclosure of kilns and ovens, as the first ones were most likely built in natural hollows. The nouns חר (hor) and חור (hor) mean hole or cavern, but obviously relate to the previous word in that freemen surround themselves with walls and armies.
Verb חרה (hara) means to burn or ignite (in the Bible solely in an emotional way: to get angry). Noun חרון (haron) describes the burning of anger. Noun חרי (hori) refers to a general burning.
Verb חור (hawar) means to be or grow white (like ash or baked bricks). Nouns חור (hur) and חורי (huray) refer to any white stuff, including garments and linen, and noun חרי (hori) describes white bread or cake.
Verb נחר (nahar) looks very much like a passive or reflexive version of חרר (harar) or its participle. This verb isn't used in the Bible but nouns נחר (nahar) and נחרה (naharah) describe the vigorous snorting of a horse, and noun נחיר (nahir) means nostril (which in turn reminds of a cavern).
🔼Haran II meaning
For a meaning of the name Haran II, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads Very Dry. BDB Theological Dictionary sees a connection with an Assyrian word that means Road or Path, and suggests the name stems from Haran's location on a trade route.
Here at Abarim Publications we surmise that the name of this Haran reflects the same self-congratulatory attitude that imaged Rome to be the reigning center of all things. Obviously nothing but the unbiased understanding of natural law will ultimately be mankind's center of affairs (Colossians 2:3, Revelation 21:2).