|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
11:27-32 Here begins the story of Abram, whose name is famous in both Testaments. Even the children of Eber had become worshippers of false gods. Those who are through grace, heirs of the land of promise, ought to remember what was the land of their birth; what was their corrupt and sinful state by nature. Abram's brethren were, Nahor, out of whose family both Isaac and Jacob had their wives; and Haran, the father of Lot, who died before his father. Children cannot be sure that they shall outlive their parents. Haran died in Ur, before the happy removal of the family out of that idolatrous country. It concerns us to hasten out of our natural state, lest death surprise us in it. We here read of Abram's departure out of Ur of the Chaldees, with his father Terah, his nephew Lot, and the rest of his family, in obedience to the call of God. This chapter leaves them about mid-way between Ur and Canaan, where they dwelt till Terah's death. Many reach to Charran, and yet fall short of Canaan; they are not far from the kingdom of God, and yet never come thither.
Verse 28. - And Haran died before his father. Literally, upon the face of his father; ἐνώπιον τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ (LXX); while his father was alive (Munster, Luther, Calvin, Rosenmüller); perhaps also in his father s presence (Keil, Lange), though the Jewish fable may be discarded that Terah, at this time an 'idolater, accused his sons to Nimrod, who cast them into a furnace for refusing to worship the fire-god, and that Haran perished in the flames in his father s sight. The decease of Haran is the first recorded instance of the natural death of a son before his father. In the land of his nativity. Ἐν τῇ γῇ ῇ ἐγεννήθη (LXX.). In Ur of the Chaldees. Ur Kasdim (Genesis 11:31; 15:7; Nehemiah 9:7). The Kasdim - formerly believed to have been Shemites on account of
(1) Abram's settlement among them,
(2) the preservation of the name Kesed among his kindred (Genesis 22:22),
(3) the close affinity to a Shemite tongue of the language known to modern philologists as Chaldee, an Arameean dialect differing but slightly from the Syriac (Heeren), and
(4) the supposed identity or intimate connection of the Babylonians with the Assyrians (Niebuhr) - are now, with greater probability, and certainly with closer adherence to Biblical history (Genesis 10:8-12), regarded as having been a Hamite race (Rawlinson, Smith); an opinion which receives confirmation from
(1) the statement of Homer ('Odyss. ,' 1:23, 24), that the Ethiopians were divided and dwelt at the ends of the earth, towards the setting and the rising sun, i.e., according to Strabo, on both sides of the Arabian Gulf;
(2) the primitive traditions
(a) of the Greeks, who regarded Memnon, King of Ethiopia, as the founder of Susa (Herod., 5:54), and the son of a Cissian woman (Strabo, 15:3, § 2;
(b) of the Nilotic Ethiopians, who claimed him as one of their monarchs; and
(c) of the Egyptians, who identified him with their King Amunoph III., whose statue became known as the vocal Memnon (vide Rawlinson's 'Ancient Monarchies,' vol. 1. p. 48);
(3) the testimony of Moses of Chorene ('History of Armenia,' 1:6), who connects in the closest way Babylonia, Egypt, and Ethiopia Proper, identifying Belus, King of Babylon, with Nimrod, and making him the son of Mizraim, or the grandson of Cush; and
(4) the monumental history of Babylonia, which shows the language of the earliest inscriptions, according to Rawlinson "differing greatly from the later Babylonian," to have been that of a Turanian people (cf. 'Records of the Past,' vol. 3. p. 3). The term Ur has been explained to be identical with It, a city (Rawlinson); the Zend Vare, a fortress (Gesenius); Ur, the light country, i.e. the land of the sun-rising (Furst); and even Ur, <[Vol 1/Genesis/173]PGBR> fire, with special reference to the legendary furnace already referred to (Talmudists). Whether a district (LXX., Lange, Kalisch) or a city (Josephus, Eusebius, Onkelos, Drnsius, Keil, Murphy, 'Speaker's Commentary'), its exact site is uncertain. Rival claimants for the honor of representing it have appeared in
(1) a Persian fortress (Persicum Castellum) of the name of Ur, mentioned by Ammianus Marcellinus (75. 100. 8) as lying between Nisibis and the Tigris (Bochart, Michaelis, Rosenmüller, Delitzsch);
(2) the modern Orfah, the Edsssa of the Greeks, situated "on one of the bare, rugged spurs which descend from the mountains of Armenia into the Assyrian plains" (Stanley's 'Jewish Church,' 1:7); and
(3) Hur, the most important of the early capitals of Chaldaea, now the ruins of Mugheir, at no great distance from the mouth, and six miles to the west, of the Euphrates (Rawlinson's 'Ancient Monarchies,' 1:15, 16; Smith's 'Assyrian Discoveries,' 12:233; 'Records of the Past,' vol. 3. p. 9). Yet none of them is quite exempt from difficulty. A military fort, to take the first-named location, does not appear a suitable or likely place for a nomade horde to settle in; while the second has been reckoned too near Charran, the first place of encampment of the emigrants; and the third, besides being exceedingly remote from Charran, scarcely harmonises with Stephen's speech before the Sanhedrim (Acts 7:2). Unless, therefore, Stephen meant Chaldsea when he said Mesopotamia (Dykes), and Abraham could speak of Northern Mesopotamia as his country (Genesis 24:4), when in reality he belonged to Southern Babylonia, the identification of Ur of the Chaldees with the Mugheir ruin though regarded with most favor by archaeologists, will continue to be doubtful; while, if the clan march commenced at Edessa, it will always require an effort to account for their coming to a halt so soon after starting and so near home; and the Nisibis station, though apparently more suitable than either in respect of distance, will remain encumbered with its own peculiar difficulties. It would seem, therefore, as if the exact situation of the patriarchal town or country must be left undetermined until further light can be obtained.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
And Haran died before his father Terah,.... In his father's presence, before his face, in his life time, as Jarchi; he seeing him, as Aben Ezra: it does not so much respect the time of his death, that it was before his father, though that is true, as the place where he died, his father being present there at the time this was:
in the land of his nativity, in Ur of the Chaldees; Ur, which Ben Melech renders a valley, was the place of his birth, as it was of Abram's; it was in Mesopotamia, that part of it next to Assyria being called the land of the Chaldeans; hence these are spoken of as the same by Stephen, Acts 7:2 mention is made by Pliny (b), of a place in those parts called Ura, which seems to be the same with this: Eupolemus (c) says,"that Abram was born at Camarine, a city of Babylon, some call Urie, and is interpreted a city of the Chaldeans;''now Camarine is from "Camar", to heat or burn, and Ur signifies fire, so that both words are of the same signification: Josephus (d) says, that Haran died among the Chaldeans, in a city called Ur of the Chaldees, where, he adds, his grave is shown to this day: the Jews (e) have a fable concerning the death of Haran; they say that Terah was not only an idolater, but a maker and seller of images; and that one day going abroad, he left his son Abraham in the shop to sell them, who, during his father's absence, broke them all to pieces, except one; upon which, when Terah returned and found what was done, he had him before Nimrod, who ordered him to be cast into a burning furnace, and he should see whether the God he worshipped would come and save him; and while he was in it, they asked his brother Haran in whom he believed? he answered, if Abraham overcomes, he would believe in his God, but if not, in Nimrod; wherefore they cast him into the furnace, and he was burnt; and with respect to this it is said, "and Haran died before the face of Terah his father"; but Abraham came out safe before the eyes of them all.
(b) Nat. Hist. l. 5. c. 24. (c) Apud Euseb. Praepar. Evangel. l. 9. c. 17. p. 418. (d) Antiqu. l. 1. c. 6. sect. 5. (e) Shalshalet, fol. 2. 1, 2. Jarchi in loc.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
28. Ur—now Orfa; that is, "light," or "fire." Its name probably derived from its being devoted to the rites of fire-worship. Terah and his family were equally infected with that idolatry as the rest of the inhabitants (Jos 24:15).
Genesis 11:28 Parallel Commentaries
Genesis 11:28 NIV
Genesis 11:28 NLT
Genesis 11:28 ESV
Genesis 11:28 NASB
Genesis 11:28 KJV
Bible Hub: Online Parallel Bible