Alice C. Linsley
Abraham's father was Terah, a great Kushite ruler and a descendant of Nimrod (Sargon the Great). His kingdom extended the length of the Euphrates River.
This kingdom was called Aram-Naharaim. In Old Syrian/Aramean aram means "high ground" and naharaim means "between the rivers." Genesis 24:10 says that Abraham's servant Eliezar took gifts and set out for the city of Terah in Aram-Naharain. This may refer to Damascus, and who better to send than his own son by his concubine Masek who was Syrian?
Other regions are designated as aram in the Bible. For example, the ruler of Aram Soba (Zobah) was defeated by Saul, according to 1 Samuel 14:47, and Joshua confiscated the land of the ruler of Aram Maaka, according to Joshua 12:16. It was typical for rulers to built their cities on high ground near sources of water. The Jebusites were especially famous for this and according to Joshua 15:63, the Israelites were never able to uproot the Jebusites from Jerusalem.
The rulers of Genesis controlled vast territories along the ancient rivers. The extreme boundaries of their territories were marked by the cities or settlements of their two wives. As the rivers were oriented more or less on a north-south axis, so were their wives. The ruler traveled between his wives on a north-south axis, as the sun travels between the horizons from east to west. Knowing the marriage custom helps us to identify the extent of Terah's territory. One wife lived in Ur to the south and the other wife lived in Haran to the north.
Abraham also set his wives on a north-south axis, with Sarah in Hebron and Keturah in Beersheba.
There is another explanation in Genesis for why the ruler's two wives were placed on a north-south axis rather than on an east-west axis. The explanation involves Lamech who bragged to his two wives Adah and Zillah (Gen. 4). Theodor H. Gaster noted that the names Adah and Zillah seem to have a relationship to words for dawn and dusk, suggesting a celestial or sacred marriage motif. However, it was not unusual for archaic rulers to brag about their greatness by claiming to control all the land from the sunrise to the sunset.
For the author of Genesis, Lamech the Elder is portrayed as a braggart and a murderer. As such, he set himself above God's law. In other words, he posed himself as God by placing his wives on an east-west axis, for this is the territory of the Creator, whose solar emblem moves daily from east to west.