Father of Abraham, Nahor, and Haran (Gen. xi. 26). His original home was Ur of the Chaldees; but later he emigrated with his sons to Haran, where he died (Gen. xi. 32). According to Joshua's remarks at the assembly of the Israelites at Shechem, he was an idolater (Josh. xxiv. 2). Modern exegetes do not agree as to the etymology of the name "Terah," some identifying it with the Assyrian "turahu" (wild goat), with which the name of the Mesopotamian town Til-sha-turakhi might be compared, while others suppose it to be identical with the Syriac "taṛḥa." Recently the name "Terah" has been regarded as a mutilation of "yeraḥ" (moon); in this case it would refer to a mythological person.
According to the Midrash (Gen. R. xxxviii.), Terah, in addition to being an idolater himself, made and sold idols; and during his absence he compelled Abraham to act as a merchant for him. The "Sefer ha-Yashar" (ed. Leghorn, 1876, pp. 14b et seq.) regards him as a great general of Nimrod, whom he accompanied on all his campaigns. Angry at Abraham for the destruction of his idols, Terahaccused his son before Nimrod, who condemned him to be burned to death. Thereupon Abraham persuaded his father to emigrate to Canaan. See Abraham in Apocryphal and Rabbinical Literature.
- Hastings, Dict. Bible;
- Friedrich Delitzsch, Prolegomena zu einem Neuen Hebr.-Aram. Wörterbuche, p. 80, Leipsic, 1886;
- Nödeke, in Z. D. M. G. 1886, p. 167;
- Winckler, Gesch. des Volkes Israel, ii. 24, note 1, Leipsic, 1900.