As quoted in the Hagadah, Yehoshua 24:2 reminds the Jewish people that, “Your ancestors lived across the river: Terach, father of Avraham and of Nachor; and they served strange gods.” God then reminds the people how Esav’s descendants had been living comfortably on Mount Seir for centuries while “Ya‘akov and his sons went down to Mitzrayim.”

But why is Haran not mentioned? Haran’s descendants through Lot, Ammon and Moav, should have been equally on the people’s minds—certainly much more so than than Nachor’s in distant Aram.

[Or I might be misunderstanding the purpose of the mention of Nachor and Esav here—but no matter what the reason, why is Haran not mentioned?]

  • Why isn't Yishmael mentioned either?
    – Double AA
    Commented Apr 23, 2014 at 3:59
  • It would seem that female descendents of Haran are generally righteous but male ones are generally flawed. Horayot states that Lot was wicked but his daughters were righteous. Rivka, Rachel and Leah were female descendents through Milka (who may have been righteous, we don't know). Sara was his daughter and female descendents of Moav and Ammon like Ruth are allowed to convert and marry in.
    – CashCow
    Commented Apr 25, 2016 at 15:54

2 Answers 2


Malbim explains (and M'tzudas David alludes) that Terach and Nachor served idols, so that Avraham was surrounded on all sides, so to speak, by idolators: both his father and his brother. The sequel, describing his leaving that environment, is all the greater then. I suppose that either Haran didn't worship idols or, with one of Avraham's brothers mentioned, we know he was surrounded by idolators, so there was no need for the verse to mention another brother.

  • 1
    Especially in light of the medrash that Haran was thrown into the kivshan ha'esh after, and along with, Avraham. Sounds like he wasn't as committed of an idolater. Commented Apr 18, 2014 at 20:00

When I learned Yehoshua the explanations were based on the continuation that Avraham had Yitzchak and Yishmael, and Yitzchak had Yaakov and Eisav. That is this was a process of continuous refining until Yaakov had the twelve sons that were all worthy of becoming Am Hashem. Terach was the start of the process as shown by the fact that the Torah uses "Toldos Terach". to indicate the new beginning. Haran actually allowed himself to be killed as part of the fight against avodas zarah. It was Nachor and Avram who were actually the two who exemplified the refining process. Nachor continued in the path of idol worship (via Besuel and Lavan), while Avram became Avraham and continued the process that eventually led to the creation of Am Yisrael.

Note that Yehoshua, based on Yitzchak yikareh lcha zerah, doe not mention Yishmael at all. At this point in the refining process, "Avraham holid es Yistzchak" is the establishment on the line. Yishmael was not a removal of pesolas from the line of Terach but a rejected mixture from outside. Yitzchak had to strengthen the development that Avraham took from Terach. Avraham married Sarah, who the medrash says was the daughter of Haran (Yiscah) and wove her traits into the family to create Yitzchak. Yischak married Rivkah the daughter of Besuel to weave the good traits that Nachar received from Terach into the family and then refine out the bad traits via Eisav. It was then that Yaakov was able to complete the weaving of the traits from Leah and Rachel into Am Yisrael and complete the "three fold thread" that would take the three sons of Terach and make them into the progenitors of the nation.

  • Haran's other daughter Milcah was also part of the ancestory as she married Nachor and so the other matriarchs were descended from her
    – CashCow
    Commented Sep 21, 2015 at 11:13

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