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Gen. 11:28 says that Haran died in the face (פְּנֵ֖י) of his father. I'm wondering if this is a euphemism for human sacrifice, that Haran was a sacrifice to gods sort of the way Isaac was later almost a human sacrifice. I know nothing of Hebrew and thank you in advance for your help.

Gen 11:28 - And Haran died upon the face of his father in the land of his birth in Ur of the Chaldeans (Dottard's literal translation)

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"upon the face of" is quintessential Hebrew idiom for "in the presence of". Thus, it helpfully translated by most modern versions (or a slight variation), eg,

  • NIV: While his father Terah was still alive, Haran died in Ur of the Chaldeans, in the land of his birth.
  • ESV: Haran died in the presence of his father Terah in the land of his kindred, in Ur of the Chaldeans.
  • BSB: During his father Terah’s lifetime, Haran died in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans.
  • NKJV: And Haran died before his father Terah in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans.
  • NASB: Haran died during the lifetime of his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans.
  • CSB: Haran died in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans, during his father Terah’s lifetime. -HCSB: Haran died in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans, during his father Terah’s lifetime.
  • NRSV: Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans.
  • YLT: and Haran dieth in the presence of Terah his father, in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldees.

There is no hint or anything sinister here and certainly no suggestion that Haran was sacrificed or similar. The text simply reported what was unusual - a son dying before his father.

Ellicott succinctly observes:

(28) Haran died before his father.—Heb., in the presence of his father. This is the first recorded instance of a premature death caused by natural decay.

Similarly, the Cambridge commentary says this:

in the presence of his father i.e. while his father Terah was still alive.

Interestingly, the Pulpit commentary mentions but completely discounts a Jewish fable about this verse:

Verse 28. - And Haran died before his father. Literally, upon the face of his father; ἐνώπιον τοῦ πατρὸς αὐτοῦ (LXX); while his father was alive (Munster, Luther, Calvin, Rosenmüller); perhaps also in his father s presence (Keil, Lange), though the Jewish fable may be discarded that Terah, at this time an 'idolater, accused his sons to Nimrod, who cast them into a furnace for refusing to worship the fire-god, and that Haran perished in the flames in his father s sight. The decease of Haran is the first recorded instance of the natural death of a son before his father.

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nope. The verse just meant he died prematurely. God state:

Obey the Lord, and you will live longer. The wicked die before their time. Proverbs 10:27 GNT

Hence might due to his evil deeds (worship idols)? Hope this simple answer can satisfy you in your study.

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  • Thanks for your help but I was hoping someone would do a search of the word to see if a related instance indicated human sacrifice. For instance, on the cross, God turned his face from Jesus, which seems to contrast with Abram's brother dying in the face of his father.
    – user14423
    Commented Sep 18, 2022 at 1:57
  • the fact that God stops Abraham from Sacrificing Isaac is the best proof that God does not allow Human sacrifices. Moreover is a TEST for a Burn offering (which at that time is common to sacrifice child to an idol worship)
    – VNPython
    Commented Sep 21, 2022 at 15:46

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