Aram (region)

Aram is a region mentioned in the Bible located in present-day Syria, including where the city of Aleppo now stands. At its height, Aram stretched from the Lebanon mountains eastward across the Euphrates, including parts of the Khabur River valley in northwestern Mesopotamia on the border of Iraq. The region was known as The Land of the Amurru during the Akkadian Empire (2335-2154 BC), Neo-Sumerian Empire (2112-2004 BC) and Old Assyrian Empire (2025-1750 BC) in reference to its largely Amorite inhabitants. During the Neo-Assyrian Empire (911-605 BC), Neo-Babylonian Empire (612-539 BC) and Achaemenid Empire (539-332 BC) Aram was known as Eber-Nari.

Kingdoms of the Levant Map 830
The Levant c. 830 BCE


The etymology might be connected with the harami, arami, aramija or ahlamu, meaning "bandits". One standard explanation is an original meaning of "highlands". This has been interpreted to be in contrast with Canaan, or "lowlands".[1]

Early references

Judeo-Christian tradition claims the name is derived from the biblical Aram, son of Shem, a grandson of Noah in the Bible.[2]

The name Aram can be found from many ancient sources. The toponym A-ra-mu appears in an inscription at the East Semitic speaking kingdom Ebla listing geographical names, and the term Armi, which is the Eblaite term for nearby Aleppo, occurs frequently in the Ebla tablets (c. 2300 BC). One of the annals of Naram-Sin of Akkad (c. 2250 BC) mentions that he captured "Dubul, the ensi of A-ra-me" (Arame is seemingly a genitive form), in the course of a campaign against Simurrum in the northern mountains.[3] Other early references to a place or people of "Aram" have appeared at the archives of Mari (c. 1900 BC) and at Ugarit (c. 1300 BC).

There is little agreement concerning what, if any, relationship there was between the places or proof that the Aramu were actually Aramaeans. The earliest undisputed mention of Aramaeans as a people is in the inscriptions of the Assyrian king Tiglath Pileser I (1114–1076 BC) during the latter part of the Middle Assyrian Empire.[4]

Several of the Aramaean territories located within Aram are also referenced in the Hebrew Bible. They include Aram-Naharaim, Paddan-Aram, Aram-Damascus, Aram-Rehob, and Aram-Zobah.


The Arameans appear to have displaced the earlier Semitic Amorite populations of ancient Syria during the period from 1100 BC to 900 BC, which was a dark age for the entire Near East, North Africa, Caucasus, Mediterranean regions, with great upheavals and mass movements of people.

The Arameans emerged in a region which was largely under the domination of the Middle Assyrian Empire (1365-1050 BC), and soon after appearing they were conquered by Tiglath-Pileser I (1115- 1077 BC) of Assyria, and were incorporated into the Middle Assyrian Empire which encompassed much of the Near East and Asia Minor.[5]

However, Assyria fell into a temporary decline from the second half of the 11th century BC until the latter part of the 10th century BC, allowing the Arameans to establish a string of states across the Levant. During the period 1050 – 900 BC Arameans came to dominate most of what is now Syria but was then called Eber-Nari and Aramea.

Two medium-sized Aramaean kingdoms, Aram-Damascus and Hamath, along with several smaller kingdoms and independent city-states, developed in the region during the early first millennium BCE. The most notable of these were Bit Adini, Bit Bahiani, Bit Hadipe, Aram-Rehob, Aram-Zobah, Bit-Zamani, Bit-Halupe and Aram-Ma'akah, as well as the Aramean tribal polities of the Gambulu, Litau and Puqudu.

There was some synthesis with neo Hittite populations in northern Syria and south central Anatolia, and a number of small so called Syro-Hittite states arose in the region, such as Tabal. The east Mediterranean coast was largely dominated by Phoenician city states such as Tyre, Sidon, Berytus and Arvad.

With the advent of the Neo Assyrian Empire (911-605 BC) however, the region once more fell fully under the control of Assyria.[6] Large numbers of people living there were deported into Assyria, Babylonia and elsewhere. A few steles that name kings of this period have been found, such as the 8th-century Zakkur stele. The Assyrians and Babylonians themselves adopted a Mesopotamian form of Aramaic, known as Imperial Aramaic in the 8th century BC, when Tiglath-pileser III made it the lingua franca of his vast empire. The Neo Aramaic dialects still spoken by the indigenous Assyrians and Mandeans of northern Iraq, south east Turkey, north east Syria and north west Iran, descend from this language.

The Neo Assyrian Empire was riven by unremitting civil war from 626 BC onwards, weakening it severely, and allowing it to be attacked and destroyed by a coalition of its former vassals between 616 and 605 BC, although remnants of the Assyrian military and administration may have clung on in some northern regions until 599 BC.[7]

The region was subsequently fought over by the Babylonians and Egyptians, the latter of whom had belatedly come to the aid of their former Assyrian overlords. The Babylonians prevailed and Aram became a part of the short lived Neo-Babylonian Empire (612-539 BC) where it remained named Eber-Nari.

The Persian Achaemenid Empire (539-332 BC) overthrew the Babylonians and conquered the region. They retained the Imperial Aramaic introduced by the Assyrians, and the name of Eber-Nari.

In 332 BC the region was conquered by the Greek ruler, Alexander the Great. Upon his death in 323 BC this area became part of the Greek Seleucid Empire, at which point Greek replaced the Assyrian introduced Imperial Aramaic as the official language of Empire, as were the names Eber-Nari and Aramea. This area and other parts of the former Assyrian Empire to the east (including Assyria itself) were renamed Syria (Seleucid Syria), a 9th-century BC Hurrian, Luwian and Greek corruption of Assyria (see Etymology of Syria and Name of Syria), which had for centuries until this point referred specifically to the land of Assyria and the Assyrians, which in modern terms actually covered the northern half of Iraq, north east Syria, south east Turkey and the north western fringes of Iran, and not the bulk of modern Syria and Lebanon and its largely Aramean and Phoenician inhabitants.[8] It is from this period that the later Syria vs Assyria naming controversy arises, the Seleucids confusingly applied the name not only to the Mesopotamian land of Assyria itself, but also to the lands west of Euphrates which had never been part of Assyria itself, but merely Aramean, Phoenician, Neo-Hittite and Sutean inhabited colonies. When they lost control of Assyria itself to the Parthians, the name Syria survived but was dislocated from its original source, and was applied only to the land west of Euphrates that had once been part of the Assyrian empire, while Assyria-proper went back to being called Assyria (and also Athura/Assuristan). However, this situation led to both Assyrians and Arameans being dubbed Syrians and later Syriacs in Greco-Roman culture. This area, by now called Syria, was fought over by Seleucids and Parthians during the 2nd century BC, and later still by the Romans and Sassanid Persians. Palmyra, a powerful Aramean kingdom arose during this period, and for a time it dominated the area and successfully resisted Roman and Persian attempts at conquest.[5] The region eventually came under the control of the Byzantine Empire. Christianity began to take hold from the 1st to 3rd centuries AD, and the Aramaic language gradually supplanted Canaanite in Phoenecia and Hebrew in Israel (the Roman Palestine).

In the mid-7th century AD the region fell to the Arab Islamic conquest. The Aramaic language survived among a sizable portion of the population of Syria, who resisted Arabization. However, the native Western Aramaic of the Aramean Christian population of Syria is spoken today by only a few thousand people, the majority having now adopted the Arabic language. Mesopotamian Eastern Aramaic, which still contains a number of loan words from the Akkadian language, as well as structural similarities, still survives among the majority of ethnically distinct Assyrians, who are mainly based in northern Iraq, north east Syria, south east Turkey and north west Iran.

See also


  1. ^ Tristram, H. B. (1884). "Bible Places: Or, the Topography of the Holy Land, a Succinct Account of All the Places, Rivers, and Mountains of the Land of Israel, Mentioned in the Bible, So Far as They Have Been Identified : Together with Their Modern Names and Historical References". Gorgias Press – via Google Books.
  2. ^ See Genesis 10:22
  3. ^ "T2K3.htm".
  4. ^ Lipinski, 2000, p. 25-27.
  5. ^ a b Georges Roux – Ancient Iraq
  6. ^ Palacios, Isaac Asimov ; maps by Rafael (1981). Asimov's guide to the Bible : the Old and New Testaments (Reprint [der Ausg.] in 2 vol. 1968–1969. ed.). New York: Wings Books. p. 54. ISBN 0-517-34582-X.
  7. ^ ^ Assyria 1995: Proceedings of the 10th Anniversary Symposium of the Neo-Assyrian Text Corpus Project / Helsinki, September 7–11, 1995.
  8. ^ "The Terms "Assyria" and "Syria" Again" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 13 June 2011. Retrieved 19 June 2011.

Aram-Damascus ( or ) was an Aramaean state around Damascus in Syria, from the late 12th century BCE to 732 BCE.

Sources for this state come from texts that can be divided into three categories: Assyrian annals, Aramaean texts, and the Hebrew Bible.

The largest portion of the textual sources come from Assyria. There are, however, often several copies of the same texts. Most of the texts are annals from the Assyrian kings Shalmaneser III, Adad-Nirari III, and Tiglath-Pileser III. The texts mention Aram-Damascus (Ša-imērišu, Imērišu, Imirishu) from an Assyrian perspective, but are in many ways informative of the strength of the state, and give us several names of its rulers.

Aramaean royal inscriptions are rare, and only one royal stele from Aram-Damascus proper has been identified — the Tel Dan Stele. Other sources in Aramaic that shed light on the history of Aram-Damascus include two "booty inscriptions" from Eretria and Samos, and the Zakkur stele of the king Zakkur.

The Hebrew Bible gives more detailed accounts of Aram-Damascus' history, mainly in its interaction with Israel. For instance, there are texts of the Bible mentioning David's battles against Aramaeans in southern Syria in the 10th century BCE. (2 Samuel 10:6-19) In contrast, the sources for the early history of Aram-Damascus are almost nonexistent. In an annal dating to Tiglath-Pileser I (1114-1076 BCE), we learn that Aramaean people have begun settling in the southern half of Syria.

The first reliable data can be found in the 9th century BCE when Aramaean, Assyrian, and Hebrew texts all mention a state with its capital in Damascus. The state seems to have reached its peak in the late 9th century BCE under Hazael, who, according to Assyrian texts, fought against the Assyrians, and according to Aramaean texts, had some influence over the north Syrian state Unqi, and according to Hebrew texts, conquered all of Israel.(2 Kings 13:3)

To the southwest, Aram-Damascus reached over most of Golan to the Sea of Galilee.In the 8th century BCE, Rezin had been a tributary of Tiglath-Pileser III, the king of Assyria. In c. 732 BCE, he allied himself with Pekah, the king of Israel, to attack Ahaz, the king of Judah. However, Ahaz appealed to Tiglath-Pileser III for help. This the Assyrian king obliged, after Judah paid tribute to the Assyrian king. (2 Kings 16:7-9) As a result, Tiglath-Pileser III sacked Damascus and annexed Aram. According to 2 Kings 16:9, the population was deported and Rezin executed. Tiglath-Pileser also records this act in one of his inscriptions.Archaeological evidence of Aram-Damascus is close to nothing. Excavations in Damascus are hard to perform, owing to the continuous settlement of the city. Other cities of Aram-Damascus have not been positively identified from textual sources, and excavations of Iron Age sites around Damascus are almost nonexistent. The material culture at sites farther south (e.g. Tell-Ashtara, Tell er-Rumeith, et-Tell, Tel-Dan, Tell el-Oreme, to name but a few) do not show many features distinguishing from the material culture of ancient northern Israel.


Aram-Naharaim (Hebrew: אֲרַם נַֽהֲרַיִם‎ ’Aram Naharayim; Aramaic: ארם נהריים) is the biblical term for a region in Upper Mesopotamia along elbow of the Euphrates River. It is mentioned five times in the Hebrew Bible or Old Testament. In Genesis, it is used somewhat interchangeably with the names Paddan Aram and Haran to denote the place where Abraham stayed briefly with his father Terah's family after leaving Ur of the Chaldees, while en route to Canaan (Gen. 11:31), and the place from which later patriarchs obtained wives, rather than marry daughters of Canaan.

Battle of Qarqar

The Battle of Qarqar (or Ḳarḳar) was fought in 853 BC, when the army of Assyria led by king Shalmaneser III encountered an allied army of eleven kings at Qarqar, led by Hadadezer (also called Adad-idr and possibly to be identified with Benhadad II) of Damascus and King Ahab of Israel. This battle, fought during the 854 BC–846 BC Assyrian Conquest of Syria, is notable for having a larger number of combatants than any previous battle, and for being the first instance in which some peoples enter recorded history (such as the Arabs). The battle is recorded on the Kurkh Monolith. The ancient town of Qarqar at which the battle took place has generally been identified with the modern-day archaeological site of Tell Qarqur near the village of Qarqur in north-western Syria.

According to an inscription later erected by Shalmaneser, he had started his annual campaign, leaving Nineveh on the 14th day of Iyar. He crossed both the Tigris and Euphrates without incident, receiving the submission and tribute of several cities along the way, including Aleppo. Once past Aleppo he encountered his first resistance from troops of Irhuleni, king of Hamath, whom he defeated; in retribution, he plundered both the palaces and the cities of Irhuleni's kingdom. Continuing his march after having sacked Qarqar, he encountered the allied forces near the Orontes River.

Lot (biblical person)

Lot (; Hebrew: לוֹט, Modern: Lōt, Tiberian: Lōṭ, Lut (Arabic: لوط‎) "veil" or "covering") was a patriarch in the biblical Book of Genesis chapters 11–14 and 19. Notable events in his life include his journey with his uncle Abram (Abraham) and his flight from the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, during which Lot's wife became a pillar of salt, and Lot had sexual relations with his daughters so that they could bear children.

Nahor, son of Terah

In the account of Terah's family mentioned in Genesis 11:26-32, Nahor II (Heb. נָחֹור Nāḥōr) is listed as the son of Terah, amongst two other brothers, Abram and Haran (v.26,27). His grandfather was Nahor I, son of Serug. Nahor married the daughter of his brother Haran, Milcah, his niece (v.29). They may all have been born and raised in the city of Ur: the biblical account states that "Haran died before his father Terah in the land of his birth, in Ur of the Chaldeans" (Genesis 11:28).

In the King James Version, Nahor is also referred to as Nachor (Joshua 24:2).

When Abram had an encounter with God, this brother directed his family to leave their native land and go to the land of Canaan. Terah, their father, coordinated the gathering of his family to journey west to their destination (Genesis 11:31). They followed the Euphrates River, with their herds, to the Paddan Aram region. This was about halfway along the Fertile Crescent between Mesopotamia and the Mediterranean, in what is now southeastern Turkey. In this region, Nahor and his family settled except for his brother Haran, who had died sometime ago back in Ur (v.28). The city where they settled, Harran, is the place where Nahor's father would die (v.32).

Nahor II continued his own travels and settled in the region of Aram Naharaim, where he founded the town of Nahor (Gen.24:10). Here, he and Milcah had eight sons (Gen.22:20-23):

Uz, the firstborn







Bethuel, father of Rebekah, the wife of IsaacNahor and his concubine, Reumah, also had four sons: Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah (Gen.22:24).

Paddan Aram

Paddan Aram or Padan-aram (Aramaic: פדן ארם‬) was an early Aramean kingdom in Mesopotamia. Paddan Aram in Aramaic means the field of Aram. The name may correspond to the Hebrew “sedeh Aram,” or “field of Aram.” (Rashi to Gen. 25:20; e.g., Hos. 12:13.)


Zakkur (or Zakir) was the ancient king of Hamath and Luhuti (also known as Nuhašše) in Syria. He ruled around 785 BC. Most of the information about him comes from his basalt stele, known as the Stele of Zakkur.


Zobah or Aram-Zobah (Hebrew צובה or ארם צובא) was an early Aramean state which extended from the Beqaa Valley along the eastern side of the Anti-Lebanon Mountains reaching Hamath to the north and Damascus to the south, at one time of considerable importance. In I Samuel 14:47, the kings of Zobah were said to have fought with Israelite king Saul. The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges suggests that "the 'kings' were apparently independent chiefs", but by the time of King David there was a single king, Hadadezer bar Rehob.King Hadadezer bar Rehob allied with Ammon against David, who defeated Zobah and made the kingdom tributary to Israel (II Samuel 10). In this war, Arameans from across the Euphrates came to Hadadezer's aid (II Sam. 10:16). Upon the accession of Solomon, Zobah became independent of Israel (compare I Kings xi. 23 et seq.). Berothai, a city belonging to Hadadezer (II Sam. 8:8) is identified by many with Berothah (Ezekiel xlvii. 16), which was between Hamath and Damascus. Zobah was probably located near this city, though Joseph Halévy claims to have identified Zobah with Chalcis. On either view, the area in question would be found in the far south of Syria and parts of Lebanon.

After the 10th century BCE, Zobah is not mentioned in the Hebrew Bible, but the city of Subiti, which is mentioned in the annals of Ashurbanipal as having been conquered by him in the 7th century BCE, is probably identical with it (compare Schrader, "K. B." ii. 217). The same city is mentioned in some broken cuneiform lists of towns in connection with Hamath and Damascus. It also appears (as "Aram-Zobah") in the chapter-heading of Psalm 60.

From the 11th century, it was common Rabbinic usage to apply the term "Aram Zobah" to the area of Aleppo, and this is perpetuated by Syrian Jews to this day. However, Saadia Gaon (882‒942 CE), in his Judeo-Arabic translation (Tafsīr) of the book of Psalms has identified Aram-zobah with Nisibis.

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.