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NAHOR (Heb. נָחוֹר; cf. Assyrian personal names Naharu, Nahiri, Ur iii, Naharum).

(1) The son of Serug, the father of Terah, and the grandfather of Abraham. Of those enumerated in the genealogy of the descendants of Shem, he had the shortest life – 148 years (Gen. 11:22–25; i Chron. 1:26).

(2) The son of Terah, the brother of Abraham and Haran, and the grandson of Nahor (1). His wife was Milcah, the daughter of his brother Haran (Gen. 11:26–29).

This was a consanguineous marriage such as is common in the narratives of the Patriarchs (for example, that of Jacob with Rachel and Leah). According to E.A. Speiser, such marriages are to be seen in the light of a custom known from Horite law, whereby a girl was adopted as a daughter with the intention that the adoptive father or his son would marry her. Apparently Bethuel, the son of Nahor and Milcah, died while still young, and his children came under the protection of their grandfather Nahor. Hence Laban is called "the son of Nahor" (Gen. 29:5). However, "the son of Nahor" may constitute a clan name, as is sometimes the case in the Bible.

Abraham and Nahor are described as the progenitors of two clans which intermarried. In the ceremony marking the covenant between Jacob and Laban, the latter declared (31:53): "'May the God of Abraham and the god of Nahor' – their ancestral deities – 'judge between us'"; the patriarchal god of each family would judge in any dispute between them, this being customary also in treaties in the ancient Near East, in which each party cited his gods as witnesses to the pact.

The genealogy of Nahor states that his wife Milcah bore him eight sons and his concubine Reumah four. This represents a schematic genealogical outlook whereby 12 sons are ascribed to a progenitor, analogous to the 12 sons of Ishmael or of Jacob. B. Mazar holds that the genealogy of the sons of Nahor reflects an ancient historical reality which tallies with the expansion of the West Semitic tribes in the first half of the second millennium b.c.e. Support for this assumption is to be found in the reference to Aram as the grandson of Nahor, which indicates that the Aramean tribes were still a young and insignificant element. However, in the Table of the Nations, Aram is represented as descended from Shem himself, and Uz, the firstborn of Nahor, is represented as the firstborn of Aram (Gen. 10:22ff.). This genealogy points to a later period, when the Arameans had attained the pinnacle of their power in the Fertile Crescent. Thus the "Aramaization" of Bethuel and Laban (cf. Gen. 31:47) – and indirectly of Nahor himself, which contradicts the genealogical scheme of Nahor's sons – is to be apprehended as a later anachronism engendered after the rise and expansion of the Arameans in the region of Nahor and of Aram-Naharaim at the end of the 12th and in the 11th centuries b.c.e. The ascription of Nahor's sons to a wife and a concubine expresses a geographical and population distribution – the sons of the wife symbolizing tribes, clans, and geographical limits in the region of Aram-Naharaim and the middle Euphrates and on the borders of the Syrian desert, and the sons of the concubine, areas, tribes, and cities in the south of Syria and northern Transjordan.

(3) The city of Nahor (Assyrian Naḥur, Til Naḥiri). In Genesis 24:10 it is related that the servant of Abraham went to "Aram-Naharaim, to the city of Nahor." Whether this was a place named Nahor or a city in which Nahor's family lived cannot be determined. Those holding the latter view identify the place, on the basis of Genesis 27:43 and 29:4, with *Haran. Nahor is also mentioned in Akkadian sources dating from the beginning of the second millennium to the middle of the seventh century b.c.e., as the name of a city in the Balikh valley. Nahor is first mentioned in Assyrian documents from Kanish of the 20th–19th centuries b.c.e. as an important station in the Assyrian trade with Asia Minor. Much information on the city during this period is contained in the *Mari archives, from which it is clear that Nahor was a regional capital subject to Mari and a location of its agents. From Nahor supervision was exercised over the Balikh area and the upper stretch of the Habor river; in Nahor intelligence was collected from all parts of Aram-Naharaim. Nahor was also a center for nomadic tribes which, defying all authority, endangered the caravan trade. Accordingly, the rulers of Mari were from time to time constrained to employ military means to suppress their depredations.

In the Middle Assyrian period, Nahor belonged to the kingdom of Hanigalbat, whose rulers erected a palace there. In the 13th century it was captured by the Assyrian kings Adad-Nirari I and Shalmaneser I. During this period it was the seat of a governor, as attested by Assyrian documents, from which it appears that Nahor was included in a district whose capital was Haran, near which it was apparently situated. Although the sources, as well as the archaeological survey conducted in the region of Haran, do not help to fix the exact site of Nahor, it is to be located at an important junction on the caravan route.


On Nahor and the Sons of Nahor: G. May, in: jbl, 60 (1941), 123–6; B. Meisler (Mazar), in: Zion, 11 (1946), 1–16; R. de Vaux, in: rb, 55 (1948), 323–4; 72 (1965), 10; N. Schneider, in: Biblica, 33 (1952), 519–22; J.P. Hyatt, in: vt, 5 (1955), 130–6; A. Malamat, in: bies, 20 (1956), 71–72; idem, in: Sefer Y.F. Baer (1961), 1–7; idem, in: Compte rendu, xve Rencontre assyrienne internationale (1966), 129ff.; idem, in: em, 5 (1968), 805–7; K.T. Andersen, in: Studia Theologica, 16 (1962), 170ff.; E.A. Speiser, in: A. Altmann (ed.), Biblical and Other Studies (1963) 15–28; U. Cassuto, Commentary on the Book of Exodus (1964), 252. On the City of Nahor: W.F. Albright, in: basor, 67 (1937), 27; 78 (1940), 29–30; J. Lewy, in: Orientalia, 21 (1952), 272ff., 280ff.; A. Goetze, in: jcs, 7 (1953), 67; J. Bottéro and A. Finet, Archives royales de Mari, 5 (1954), 130, s.v.Naḫur; E. Weidner, in: afo, 17 (1955–56), 45–46; M. Falkner, ibid., 18 (1957), 20; F.J. Kupper, Les nomades en Mésopotamie… (1957), s.v.Naḫur; F.M. Tocci, La Siria nell'età di Mari (1960), s.v.Naḫur; M. Birot, in: Archives royales de Mari, 9 (1960), 91; G. Dossin, et al., ibid., 13 (1964), 81–82, 149; A. Finet, in: Revue d'assyriologie et d'archéologie orientale, 60 (1966), 17ff.; A. Malamat, in: em, 5 (1968), 807–8.