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the East.' Padan-Aram is the cultivated field of the highlands,' apparently either an upland vale in the hills, or a fertile district immediately at their foot.”
Haran has been identified with the modern Harrán, the Carræ of the Romans, noted in Roman annals as the place near which the triumvir Crassus suffered death at the hands of the Parthian general Surena (B.c. 53), where twenty thousand Roman soldiers were killed, and ten thousand taken prisoners. Harrán stands on a stream which falls into the Euphrates.
TARAN was the first stage in the journey undertaken by
Abraham at the command of God (Acts vii. 2). He was under the power of the Divine command when he left Ur; but the point of special trial to his natural sympathies and
household affections was when he departed from HaranS “ So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him; and A Lot went with him: and Abram was seventy and five years
old when he departed out of Haran. And Abram took Sarai his *wife, and Lot his brother's son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came" (ver. 4, 5). He went out under the promise of a great blessing, and with the light of the Lord's countenance resting upon him, as the man of faith :—“I will make thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing. And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee, and in thee shall all the families of the earth be blessed" (ver. 2, 4). Passing from Haran to the south-west, they reached the region which the descendants of the fourth son of Ham, Canaan, had originally taken possession of (Gen. x. 15–20). “And Abram passed through the land unto the place of Sichem, unto the plain of Moreh. And the Canaanite was then in the land.” In his journey westward he met the course of the Jabbok, the modern Wady Zurka, which has cut for itself a deep channel through the mountains, and winds its way to the plain of the Jordan on the west. In later times, Jacob returned from Haran by the same route. “He pitched,” we are told, “in Mount Gilead,” which lies on the south of the Jabbok, the stream on the banks of which the angel wrestled with him (chap. xxxi. 22–25, and xxxii. 24). The mention of Sichem and Moreh shows that Abram and his household had entered Canaan by one of the richest and most beautiful tracts of that land. "The place of Sichem” includes the district around the city, Sychem, Shechem, or Sychar, the ancient Neapolis, now known as Nâblus, or Naplouse. Recent travellers all dwell with delight on the beauty of its situation, the fertility of the surrounding district, and
the grandeur of the scenery in the neighbourhood. “The situation of Shechem,” says Dr. Stanley, “is soon described. From the hills through which the main route of Palestine must always have run, and amongst which Shiloh is secluded, the traveller descends into a wide plain, the wildest and the most beautiful of the plains of the Ephraimite mountains, one mass of corn unbroken by boundary or hedge, from the midst of which start up olive-trees, themselves uninclosed as the fields in which they stand. Over the hills which close the northern end of this plain, far away in the distance, is caught the first glimpse of the snowy ridge of Hermon. Its western side is bounded by the abutments of two mountain ranges, running from west to east. These ranges are Gerizim and Ebal; and up the opening between them, not seen from the plain, lies the modern town of Nâblus. This is one of the few instances in which the Roman, or rather the Greek name, has superseded in popular language the ancient Semitic appellation— Nâblus' being the corruption of 'Neapolis,' the ‘New Town' founded by Vespasian after the ruin of the older Shechem, which probably lay farther eastward, and therefore nearer to the opening of the valley. A valley, green with grass, gray with olives, gardens sloping down on each side, fresh springs rushing down in all directions; at the end, a white town, embosomed in all this verdure, lodged between the two high mountains which extend on each side of the valley—that on the south Gerizim, that on the north Ebal. This is the aspect of Nâblus, the most beautiful, perhaps it might be said the only very beautiful spot, in Central Palestine.” M. Van de Velde, who approached this valley from the richer scenery of the north, was not less struck by it than those who contrast it with the barren hills of Judæa :-" The awful gorge of the Leontes is grand and bold beyond description; the hills of Lebanon, over against Sidon, are magnificent and sublime; the valley of the hill of Naphtali is rich in wild oak forest and brushwood; those of Asher, the Wâdy Kara, for example, present a beautiful combination of wood and mountain stream in all the magnificence of undisturbed originality. ...... Carmel, with its wilderness of timber trees and shrubs, of plants and bushes, still answers to its ancient reputation for magnificence. But the Vale of Shechem differs from them all. Here there is no wilderness, here there are no wild thickets, yet there is always verdure—always shade, not of the oak, the terebinth, and the carobtree, but of the olive grove, so soft in colour, so picturesque in form, that for its sake we can willingly dispense with all other wood. Here there are no impetuous mountain torrents, yet there is water-water,