1. The last son listed of Shem’s five sons. Aram and his four sons, Uz, Hul, Gether, and Mash, constituted 5 of the 70 post-Flood families, and their descendants were the Aramaeans and Syrians.—Ge 10:22, 23; 1Ch 1:17.
2. The son of Kemuel and a grandson of Nahor, the latter being Abraham’s brother. Aram was, therefore, a grandnephew of Abraham and a first cousin once removed of Isaac. Rebekah, the daughter of Aram’s uncle Bethuel, was Aram’s first cousin. Nahor’s family did not leave Mesopotamia with Abraham, but years later “the report got through to Abraham” of Nahor’s progeny, including news of Aram.—Ge 22:20-23; 11:27, 31; 24:4, 10.
3. One of the four “sons of Shemer” (Shomer) of the tribe of Asher, and listed among the “heads of the house of the forefathers, select, valiant, mighty men, heads of the chieftains.” (1Ch 7:31, 32, 34, 40) Both Aram and his father were born in Egypt, since his grandfather and great-grandfather were numbered among the offspring of Jacob who ‘came into Egypt.’—Ge 46:8, 17.
5. The name Aram is used in a geographic sense, by itself and in conjunction with other terms, to refer to regions in which the descendants of Aram (No. 1) were concentrated.
Aram, used alone, basically applies to Syria and is generally so translated. (Jg 10:6; 2Sa 8:6, 12; 15:8; Ho 12:12) It included the region from the Lebanon Mountains across to Mesopotamia and from the Taurus Mountains in the N down to Damascus and beyond in the S.—See SYRIA.
Aram-naharaim (Ps 60:Sup) is generally translated with the Greek word “Mesopotamia,” which is understood to refer to “land between rivers.” The two rivers were the Euphrates and the Tigris. Stephen speaks of Abraham as living in Mesopotamia while yet down in Ur of the Chaldeans (Ac 7:2), and when sending his servant to seek a wife for Isaac many years later, Abraham told him to go to the city of Nahor in (Upper) Mesopotamia (Aram-naharaim). (Ge 24:2-4, 10) Balaam of Pethor was also from a mountainous region in the northern part of Mesopotamia.—De 23:4; compare Nu 23:7; see MESOPOTAMIA.
The Aramaeans, Semitic descendants of Aram, were to be found throughout all these areas. Additionally, the name of Uz, one of Aram’s four sons, is applied to the area of the Arabian Desert east of the Promised Land and touching on the borders of Edom. (Job 1:1; La 4:21) Aramaic, the language of the Aramaeans, was closely related to Hebrew and in time became an international language of both trade and diplomacy throughout the regions of the Fertile Crescent.—2Ki 18:26; see ARAMAIC.
It was doubtless due to Jacob’s 20-year residence in Aram with his Aramaean father-in-law Laban that Deuteronomy 26:5 speaks of him as a “Syrian” (literally, an “Aramaean”). Additionally, Jacob’s mother Rebekah was an Aramaean, as were his wives Leah and Rachel. The Israelites were therefore closely related indeed to the Aramaeans.
Aramaean Kingdoms. Aramaean kingdoms begin to be mentioned in the Bible record contemporaneously with the development of the nation of Israel. Cushan-rishathaim, a king from Aram-naharaim (Mesopotamia), subjugated Israel for eight years until Judge Othniel liberated them.—Jg 3:8-10.
Aram-Zobah was an Aramaean kingdom referred to as an enemy of Saul’s rule (1117-1078 B.C.E.). (1Sa 14:47) It appears to have been situated to the N of Damascus and exercised dominion N as far as Hamath and E to the Euphrates. When David was fighting Israel’s enemies he came into conflict with Hadadezer, powerful king of Aram-Zobah, and defeated him. (2Sa 8:3, 4; 1Ch 18:3; compare Ps 60:Sup.) Subsequent to this, the Aramaean marauder Rezon moved into power at Damascus, and this city soon became the most prominent Aramaean city (1Ki 11:23-25) and “the head of Syria.” (Isa 7:8) As such it manifested active hostility toward Israel throughout the entire history of the northern kingdom.—See DAMASCUS.
Aram-maacah is mentioned along with Zobah, Rehob, and Ishtob as among the Aramaean kingdoms from which the Ammonites hired chariots and horsemen to war against David. The king of Aram-maacah joined these mercenary forces, which David’s army soon put to flight. (1Ch 19:6-15; 2Sa 10:6-14) The kingdom of Maacah probably lay E of the Jordan, with Mount Hermon on its N side.—Jos 12:5; 13:11.
Geshur was a small Aramaean kingdom to the E of the Jordan and evidently just below Maacah, with its S boundaries extending down to the E side of the Sea of Galilee. Like Maacah, it lay within the territory assigned to the tribe of Manasseh.—De 3:14; Jos 13:11; see GESHUR No. 1.
By David’s conquest of Aramaean kingdoms he extended the boundaries of his kingdom far to the N so that it reached to the Euphrates River, not far from Haran of Paddan-aram. He thus fulfilled Jehovah’s promise concerning the extent of Israel’s inheritance in the Promised Land.—De 1:7; 11:24; Jos 1:4.
For further information concerning Israel’s relations with Aram, see SYRIA.
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