Submitted by michel gybels on Wed, 06/20/2018
Harran beehive houses (2018)
During the first half of the 6th century, BCE Babylonian King Nebuchadnezzar ruled Harran. The town was home to the Sabian worshippers of the moon god Sin. The mystical Sabian sect was, because of its belief in one God, recognised by Islam as on a par with Christianity and Judaism. The Sabian religion united Neo-Platonic philosophy with Babylonian astrology, considering the planets as embodying spiritual beings created by God as part of the universe, especially the moon, whose god they called Sin. The Sabians had a holy script, ceremony and a kind of communion. Facing always to the north, they prayed at dawn, midday and sunset. The principal deity was worshipped in the form of a pillar or holy stone, and under him were the sun god (Shamash), the moon god (Sin), Saturn (Kronos), Jupiter (Bel), Mars (Ares), Venus (Balti), and Mercury (Nabuq). Every day of the week was dedicated to one of these deities.
The main moon god sanctuary was at Harran where the cult was practised into the 12th century. In 830 CE, the caliph Al-Mamun was filled with indignation at the dress, long hair and scandalous behaviour of the Sabians and gave them the choice of converting to Islam or Christianity or face exile or hanging. One medieval Arab chronicler wrote of their wild practices: "There was no hill that was not moist with the blood of sacrifices and no high place that was empty of libations. Youths in multitudes were given as sacrifices, and maidens slaughtered to female idols and to the sun and the moon and Venus and other luminaries".
The original moon temple at Harran was one of the holiest sanctuaries of the Middle East, and the Harran astronomers were held in high regard by the brilliant court of the Abbasids in Baghdad in the 9th century. Their religious emblem of a crescent and an eight-pointed star was subsequently adopted by a variety of esoteric sects and the spread of the crescent and star symbol, still so prevalent in the Islamic world, seems to date from that time.
According to the Old Testament, Harran was also the place where Terah and his son Abraham, his grandson Lot and Abrahamís wife Sarah went after leaving Ur. It was 18 centuries before Christ that Abraham was called from Ur of the Chaldees to go to Canaan according to the Old Testament. He stopped at Harran for several years until God told him to move on:
"So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him: and Abram was seventy and five years old when he departed out of Harran. And Abram took Sarai his wife and Lot his brotherís son and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Harran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan (Genesis 12:4-5)."
Although Abraham went on to Canaan after his father Terah died, some relatives apparently remained. Much later Abraham sent a servant back to Harran to find a wife from among his relatives for his son Isaac. The traditional site of Jacob's Well, where Rebecca drew water for Abraham's servant is about one km west of the Harran city walls. According to tradition, Harran was where Jacob laboured for twenty years for his father-in-law Laban. Travellers keen on walking and at the same time supporting the local economy can follow the so-called "Abraham's Path" that begins in Turkey, runs for 170 km through flattish semi-arid landscapes and incorporates the major sights of Urfa, GŲbekli Tepe, the Well of Job, Harran, the Well of Jacob and Sogmatar.