Biblical Archaeology Review 41:5, September/October 2015

Strata: Milestones: Menahem Haran (1924–2015)

Eminent Biblical scholar Menahem Haran passed away in April at the age of 91. Not only did Haran serve as the head of two Bible departments—at Haifa University and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem—but he also was awarded the Israel Prize in 2000 for his work in Biblical studies.

Haran was born in Moscow, USSR, in 1924. Even though it was illegal to study Hebrew under Stalin’s rule, Haran’s father ensured that he had a Hebrew tutor. If discovered, the punishment for breaking this law would have meant being sent to Siberia. As a Zionist, Haran’s father thought it was worth the risk, and Haran’s teacher taught him the Book of Judges—his introduction to a field that would eventually become his career.

In 1933, Haran and his family emigrated from the USSR to Palestine when he was just nine years old. He served in the Zionist military and earned first an M.A. and later a Ph.D. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he studied under the world-famous Biblical analyst Yehezkel Kaufmann.

Haran specialized in the canonization of the Biblical texts, especially in regard to the Priestly literature.a Even though Haran pioneered his own ideas about Israelite religion and the composition of the Hebrew Bible, Kaufmann was a tremendous influence on his work.

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