Take a map of the Middle East and place your finger on the northwest corner of the Persian Gulf. Then slide generally northwest, in a curving motion, stopping when you have finished approximately one-half of an arc, somewhat convex toward the northeast. Stop at about 23°51' N _ 39°02' E, just over the border of Turkey. You will notice that your finger has traversed the large land area through which the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers flow southward, joining at last to descend into the Persian Gulf. Because these two massive rivers and their dozens of tributaries dominate this extensive region, the Greeks called it Mesopotamia, translated loosely as “the land in the middle of the rivers.”
Your finger will also have discovered a city, which was founded about 2000 B.C., during the Third Dynasty of Ur. Thus, it was just over 200 years old when Abraham arrived there in the eighteenth century before Christ (Gen. 11:31; Acts 7:4). The name of that city is Haran (modern spelling, Harran), and we will come back to it presently.
Next, starting there at Haran, drag your finger down toward the southwest, tracing the arc’s other half, brushing the eastern shore of the Mediterranean, and ending in Egypt. You will observe that this second area, too, is dominated by river systems: the Orontes, the Barada, the Bekaa, the Jordan, and the Nile.
THIS ARTICLE ONLY AVAILABLE TO SUBSCRIBERS.
FOR QUICK ACCESS:
Patrick Henry Reardon is pastor emeritus of All Saints Antiochian Orthodox Church in Chicago, Illinois, and the author of numerous books, including, most recently, Out of Step with God: Orthodox Christian Reflections on the Book of Numbers (Ancient Faith Publishing, 2019).
calling all readers
"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand
"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor
• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!
Transactions will be processed on a secure server.
Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.
OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)
Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.
more from the online archives