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father of Nahor, dwelt on the other side of the flood (or Euphrates) in old time.* Again, from Ur in Mesopotamia, near the Tigris, the way to Canaan, whither Terah intended to go, was directly by Haran; but if he had resided by the lakes of Babylonia, his direct way had been through Arabia Deserta; or to avoid that inhospitable desert, he had chosen a more northerly rout, still his direct road lay considerably south from Haran.t
Haran is, in the Septuagint and in the New Testament, rendered Charran, and in classic authors Charræ. This city was built by Terah, and named Haran, in memory of his deceased son, the father of Lot. It stood in the west, or north-west part of Mesopotamia, on a river known to the Greek writers by the same name, which flows into the river Chaboras, the Chebar, one of the tributary streams of the Euphrates. [It was the principal abode of the Sabians, or worshippers of the heavenly bodies, who had a celebrated temple there. It was one of the towns which the predecessors of Sennacherib captured. It rose afterwards to be a great
* Joshua xxiv. 2.
+ The birthplace of Abraham is supposed to have been on the site of the modern town Orfa, which, according to the missionary Wolff, is by an immemorial tradition of the oriental Jews, still called Ur of the Chaldees, and is, on account of its venerable associations, resorted to by many pilgrims. It lies two days' journey east from the Euphrates, and sixty-seven miles north-east from Beer, in 700 north latitude. Mr Buckingham describes the modern town as a pleasant and comfortable situation, plentifully supplied with good water, which issues chiefly from a beautiful fountain at the south-western extremity of the town, which pours its limpid streams into a small lake called “the lake of Abraham the beloved.' Anciently, however, the aspect of the surrounding country at least was very different, Ammianus Marcellinus describing the whole region as a desolate wilderness, where there was a scarcity of all the necessaries of life, and which was fit only for the occasional resort of nomadic shepherds. If it was as barren and uninviting in the days of Abraham, we may easily judge how attractive, in the eyes of a pastoral chief as he was, would be the promise of a rich and luxuriant land like Canaan.- Editor.
* Isaiah xxxvii. 12.
and flourishing town, which carried on an extensive trade with Tyre,* for which its situation was exceedingly favourable, as it was the point whence the great road leading from the Euphrates to the countries of the east branched off.] In more recent times, it became famous
among the Romans for the total defeat of their army by the Parthians, and the death of Crassus their general, who was killed in the battle.
In obedience to the command of God, who appeared to Abraham in Mesopotamia, Terah, with all his family except Nahor, left the land of his fathers, and proceeded to Haran, on his way to Canaan, the future inheritance of his remote descendants. In that city Terah ended his days; and after his death, Abraham, in consequence of a second admonition, prosecuted his journey to the land of promise.
SUPPLEMENTARY OBSERVATIONS ON ASSYRIA, CHAL ·
DEA, AND MESOPOTAMIA.
[The country where the heaven-defying conspiracy of Babel had been formed, and where the usurper Nimrod afterwards established an iron despotism on the ruins of the primitive patriarchal government, was, as has already been remarked, distinguished by the name of Shinar, or the scattering,' a name commemorative of the signal overthrow of the builders of the tower, and
* Ezekiel xxvii. 23.
+ Wells' Hist. Geog. vol. i. p. 132. [This place having preserved its name through all succeeding ages, there is no difficulty or doubt about its site. Haran, according to Buckingham, is eight hours, according to Niebuhr's guide, two days' journey south-south-east from Orfa, and it lies in the direct road to the ford of the Euphrates at Rakka, which is the nearest, and every way the most convenient route to Palestine. By the same way by which Abraham travelled from Ur to the land of promise, the invading armies of Alexander, Antiochus, Trajan, and Julian, passed at different periods into Chaldea.)-Editor.
it seems to have retained that designation among the people of God ever after, at least so far as we have evidence, down to the time of Daniel.* The growing splendour of Babylon, however, which in the days of that prophet had reached its zenith, and had drawn towards itself the admiration and tribute of the whole world, had totally eclipsed the memory of that appalling dispensation, and by a natural and very common transition, the whole district had come to be called by the name of the capital to which it owed all its importance and glory. At first the word Babylonia was restricted to the country that lay around Babylon, but in process of time it came to be applied in a larger sense, as embracing that extensive territory that is bounded on the north by Mesopotamia, on the south by the Persian Gulf, on the east by the Tigris, and on the west by Arabia Deserta, i. e. on either side of the Shat-el-Arab, the united stream of the Euphrates and the Tigris, though in both of these latter directions the limits varied considerably at different periods. It thus corresponded to the modern province of Irak-elArabia. Whether, as some suppose, it was from a colony of Chaldeans, who were planted on the southwest borders by the Assyrians, or whether it arose from that people being afterwards associated with the Babylonians under the same government, Babylonia and Chaldea came to be interchangeable terms, the latter term being invariably used by Jeremiah and Ezekiel in the same extensive sense with the former.
[The country all around Babylon has been celebrated from the earliest times for the pure and salubrious air of the climate, as well as for the extraordinary productiveness of the soil. Although at certain seasons of the year the heat is intense, yet the atmosphere is generally dry and temperate. And although rain seldom falls, yet availing themselves of the periodical overflow of the Euphrates, by which the whole country
* Daniel i, 2.
was inundated, and became as it were ' a desert of the sea,'* the ancient inhabitants cut numerous canals or sluices along which they directed the streams, and when necessary made use of machines for forcing and diffusing the water ; thus, along with the refreshing moisture, securing a rich deposit of fresh earth, brought down from the mountains, by which their fields were both irrigated and fattened. With a soil so favoured by nature, and so judiciously cultivated by human industry, no wonder that the most glowing descriptions have been transmitted to us of a fertility that has seldom been equalled, never surpassed. Herodotus, Strabo, and many others, concur in declaring that the land was so well adapted for corn, that it generally yielded two hundred, and in very favourable seasons three hundred fold;—a statement which, extraordinary as it seems, is confirmed by the testimony of a modern traveller, who declares that there cannot be a doubt, if proper means were taken, that this country would with ease be brought into a high state of culture.' Might it not have been these well known capabilities of the land of Shinar that attracted the attention of the sagacious and aspiring Nimrod, and invited him to effect a settlement there, where, moreover,
way for the invasion of his followers seemed so easy, in consequence of the flight and dispersion of its former inhabitants.t
* Isaiah xxi. 1.
+ ' Those splendid accounts of the Babylonian lands,' says Captain Mignan, ‘ yielding two or three hundred fold, compared with the modern face of the country, afford a remarkable proof of the singular desolation to which it has been subjected. The canals, by which it was so plentifully watered, can only be traced by their decayed banks.
• The Divine malediction,' says Mr Bell,' seems not only to have been verified on Babylon itself, but on the whole surrounding region also; so that what was once the residence of a powerful and wealthy people,--what was once filled with numerous and populous cities and villages,—what was once the abode of civilization, agriculture, manufactures, and commerce,-and where temples and trophies reared their heads in every direction, is now
[Washed by the two great navigable rivers, the Euphrates and the Tigris, Babylonia was most advantageously situated for commerce, inasmuch as the productions of Syria and Asia Minor could be carried down the first, the exports of Armenia and Media conveyed along the latter, while the Persian Gulf on the south opened a passage for the admission up the Pasitigris, or Shat-el-Arab, of the treasures of Arabia, Persia, India, Egypt, and every part of Africa. To give a detailed account of the wide commercial relations which this country maintained with almost every quarter of the then inhabitable world, would far exceed our limits, suffice it therefore to say that, in point of fact, so extensive was the scale on which traffic was carried on, that Babylonia is styled ' a land of traffic; the city of merchants.
[ Various branches of home manufacture were also encouraged and cultivated with great spirit and enterprise, some of which were carried to so high a pitch of perfection as to become regular articles of export, in return for the foreign commodities of art and luxury, of which Babylonia was the depòt. In particular,
a sterile desert, except on the immediate banks of the Euphrates, where here and there a village or a camp of wandering Arabs may perchance be met with.' • This extensive region,' says Gibbon, was filled with villages and towns; the fertile soil was in a high state of cultivation.'- Editor.
* Ezekiel xvii. 4. [ That the Babylonians possessed a maritime navigation when their power was at its height, may be gathered in general from the predictions of the contemporary Jewish prophet Isaiah:-“ Thus saith the Lord their deliverer : for your sakes have I sent to Babel, and thrown to the ground all their nobles, and the Chaldeans, who exult in their ships," chap. xliii. 14. This is a graphic description of a people no less proud of their ships than of their gates and ramparts. But more definite information is preserved to us in the Greek writers, who deserve the utmost attention of the historical inquirer. Æschylus, in one of his plays, enume. rating the nations who composed the armies of the great king, speaks as follows :-Babylon, too, that abounds in gold, sends forth a promiscuous multitude, who both embark in ships, and boast of their skill in archery.'— Heeren on the Politics, Commerce, déc. of the Asiatic Nations.-Editor.