Also see definition of "Mesopotamia" in Word Study
Study Dictionary
Index A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Meshobab | Meshullam | Meshullemeth | Mesobaite | Mesobaite, The | Mesopotamia | Mess | Messenger | Messiah | Messias | Metal


In Bible versions:

Aram Maacah: NET NIV
city of Nahor: NET
Aram Naharaim: NET
Aram-Naharaim: NET TEV
Syrians: NET
Aram-Maacah: AVS TEV
Aram-maacah: NRSV NASB
son of Shem son of Noah
son of Kemuel son of Nahor son of Terah
a people of Syria (northern Palestine), descendants of Aram
son of Shomer of Asher
a region NE of Palestine inhabited by Arameans
the region of the Arameans around Maacah
the Aramean people of Northwest Mesopotamia (NIVfn)
one of the people of Aram
first born son of Isaac & Rebeccah; Jacob's twin
country, or nation (Gen. 36:43)
resident(s) of the region of Edom
the country between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers
the region between (and around) the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers
a son of Hezron; father of Amminadab; an ancestor of Jesus
son of Hezron son of Perez son of Judah
son of Jerahmeel of Judah
a clan of the people of Buz (probably of Nahor)
the country to the north of Palestine
a country of north western Mesopotamia
members of the nation of Syria

highness, magnificence, one that deceives; curse
red, earthy; of blood
between two rivers
elevated; sublime ( --> same as Ramah)
Google Maps: Aram (34° 50´, 39° 7´); Aram-maacah (33° 12´, 36° 30´); Aram-naharaim (35° 5´, 42° 0´); Edom (30° 44´, 35° 36´); Mesopotamia (32° 32´, 44° 25´); Syria (33° 31´, 36° 18´)
Arts Topics: Back to Syria


Strongs #3318: Mesopotamia Mesopotamia

Mesopotamia = "between two rivers"

1) the entire country between the two rivers, the Tigris and the

3318 Mesopotamia mes-op-ot-am-ee'-ah

from 3319 and 4215; Mesopotamia (as lying between the Euphrates and
the Tigris; compare 0763), a region of Asia:-Mesopotamia.
see GREEK for 3319
see GREEK for 4215
see HEBREW for 0763

Strongs #689: Aram Aram

Aram or Ram = "high"

1) an ancestor of Christ

689 Aram ar-am'

of Hebrew origin (7410); Aram (i.e. Ram), an Israelite:-Aram.
see HEBREW for 07410

Strongs #4947: suria Suria

Syria = "exalted"

1) a region of Asia bounded on the north by Taurus and Amanus ranges,
on the east by the Euphrates and Arabia, on the south by
Palestine, and the west by Phoenicia and the Mediterranean

4947 Suria soo-ree'-ah

probably of Hebrew origin (6865); Syria (i.e. Tsyria or Tyre), a
region of Asia:-Syria.
see HEBREW for 06865

Strongs #4948: surov Suros

1) an inhabitant of Syria

4948 Suros soo'-ros

from the same as 4947; a Syran (i.e. probably Tyrian), a native of
see GREEK for 4947


Strongs #0758: Mra 'Aram

Aram or Arameans = "exalted"

n pr m
1) Aram or Syria the nation
2) the Syrian or Aramean people

Aram = "exalted"

n m
3) fifth son of Shem
4) a grandson of Nahor
5) a descendant of Asher

758 'Aram arawm'

from the same as 759; the highland; Aram or Syria, and its
inhabitants; also the name of the son of Shem, a grandson of
Nahor, and of an Israelite:-Aram, Mesopotamia, Syria,
see HEBREW for 0759

Strongs #0763: Myrhn Mra 'Aram Naharayim

Aram-naharaim = "Aram of the two rivers"

1) Mesopotamia

763 'Aram Naharayim ar-am' nah-har-ah'-yim

from 758 and the dual of 5104; Aram of (the) two rivers
(Euphrates and Tigris) or Mesopotamia:-Aham-naharaim,
see HEBREW for 0758
see HEBREW for 05104

Strongs #0761: ymra 'Arammiy

Syrian or Aramean = "exalted"

1) a thing or a person from Syria or Aram

761 'Arammiy ar-am-mee'

patrial from 758; an Aramite or Aramaean:-Syrian,
see HEBREW for 0758

Strongs #0123: Mda 'Edom or (fully) Mwda 'Edowm

Edom = "red"

1) Edom
2) Edomite, Idumean - descendants of Esau
3) land of Edom, Idumea - land south and south east of Palestine

123 'Edom ed-ome'

or (fully) oEdowm {ed-ome'}; from 122; red (see Gen. 25:25);
Edom, the elder twin-brother of Jacob; hence the region
(Idumaea) occupied by him:-Edom, Edomites, Idumea.
see HEBREW for 0122

Strongs #0130: ymda 'Edomiy or (fully) ymwda 'Edowmiy

1) Edomite

130 'Edomiy ed-o-mee'

or (fully) aEdowmiy {ed-o-mee'}; patronymic from 123; an
Edomite, or descendants from (or inhabitants of)
Edom:-Edomite. See 726.
see HEBREW for 0123
see HEBREW for 0726

Strongs #07410: Mr Ram

Ram = "high" or "exalted"

1) a Judaite, son of Hezron, father of Amminadab, and ancestor of David
2) a Judaite, son of Jerahmeel
3) a kindred of Elihu, the friend of Job

7410 Ram rawm

active participle of 7311; high; Ram, the name of an Arabian
and of an Israelite:-Ram. See also 1027.
see HEBREW for 07311
see HEBREW for 01027

Aram [EBD]

the son of Shem (Gen. 10:22); according to Gen. 22:21, a grandson of Nahor. In Matt. 1:3, 4, and Luke 3:33, this word is the Greek form of Ram, the father of Amminadab (1 Chr. 2:10).

The word means high, or highlands, and as the name of a country denotes that elevated region extending from the northeast of Palestine to the Euphrates. It corresponded generally with the Syria and Mesopotamia of the Greeks and Romans. In Gen. 25:20; 31:20, 24; Deut. 26:5, the word "Syrian" is properly "Aramean" (R.V., marg.). Damascus became at length the capital of the several smaller kingdoms comprehended under the designation "Aram" or "Syria."

Aram-naharaim [EBD]

Aram of the two rivers, is Mesopotamia (as it is rendered in Gen. 24:10), the country enclosed between the Tigris on the east and the Euphrates on the west (Ps. 60, title); called also the "field of Aram" (Hos. 12:12, R.V.) i.e., the open country of Aram; in the Authorized Version, "country of Syria." Padan-aram (q.v.) was a portion of this country.

Edom [EBD]

(1.) The name of Esau (q.v.), Gen. 25:30, "Feed me, I pray thee, with that same red pottage [Heb. haadom, haadom, i.e., 'the red pottage, the red pottage'] ...Therefore was his name called Edom", i.e., Red.

(2.) Idumea (Isa. 34:5, 6; Ezek. 35:15). "The field of Edom" (Gen. 32:3), "the land of Edom" (Gen. 36:16), was mountainous (Obad. 1:8, 9, 19, 21). It was called the land, or "the mountain of Seir," the rough hills on the east side of the Arabah. It extended from the head of the Gulf of Akabah, the Elanitic gulf, to the foot of the Dead Sea (1 Kings 9:26), and contained, among other cities, the rock-hewn Sela (q.v.), generally known by the Greek name Petra (2 Kings 14:7). It is a wild and rugged region, traversed by fruitful valleys. Its old capital was Bozrah (Isa. 63:1). The early inhabitants of the land were Horites. They were destroyed by the Edomites (Deut. 2:12), between whom and the kings of Israel and Judah there was frequent war (2 Kings 8:20; 2 Chr. 28:17).

At the time of the Exodus they churlishly refused permission to the Israelites to pass through their land (Num. 20:14-21), and ever afterwards maintained an attitude of hostility toward them. They were conquered by David (2 Sam. 8:14; comp. 1 Kings 9:26), and afterwards by Amaziah (2 Chr. 25:11, 12). But they regained again their independence, and in later years, during the decline of the Jewish kingdom (2 Kings 16:6; R.V. marg., "Edomites"), made war against Israel. They took part with the Chaldeans when Nebuchadnezzar captured Jerusalem, and afterwards they invaded and held possession of the south of Palestine as far as Hebron. At length, however, Edom fell under the growing Chaldean power (Jer. 27:3, 6).

There are many prophecies concerning Edom (Isa. 34:5, 6; Jer. 49:7-18; Ezek. 25:13; 35:1-15; Joel 3:19; Amos 1:11; Obad.; Mal. 1:3, 4) which have been remarkably fulfilled. The present desolate condition of that land is a standing testimony to the inspiration of these prophecies. After an existence as a people for above seventeen hundred years, they have utterly disappeared, and their language even is forgotten for ever. In Petra, "where kings kept their court, and where nobles assembled, there no man dwells; it is given by lot to birds, and beasts, and reptiles."

The Edomites were Semites, closely related in blood and in language to the Israelites. They dispossessed the Horites of Mount Seir; though it is clear, from Gen. 36, that they afterwards intermarried with the conquered population. Edomite tribes settled also in the south of Judah, like the Kenizzites (Gen. 36:11), to whom Caleb and Othniel belonged (Josh. 15:17). The southern part of Edom was known as Teman.

Mesopotamia [EBD]

the country between the two rivers (Heb. Aram-naharaim; i.e., "Syria of the two rivers"), the name given by the Greeks and Romans to the region between the Euphrates and the Tigris (Gen. 24:10; Deut. 23:4; Judg. 3:8, 10). In the Old Testament it is mentioned also under the name "Padan-aram;" i.e., the plain of Aram, or Syria (Gen. 25:20). The northern portion of this fertile plateau was the original home of the ancestors of the Hebrews (Gen. 11; Acts 7:2). From this region Isaac obtained his wife Rebecca (Gen. 24:10, 15), and here also Jacob sojourned (28:2-7) and obtained his wives, and here most of his sons were born (35:26; 46:15). The petty, independent tribes of this region, each under its own prince, were warlike, and used chariots in battle. They maintained their independence till after the time of David, when they fell under the dominion of Assyria, and were absorbed into the empire (2 Kings 19:13).

Ram [EBD]

exalted. (1.) The son of Hezron, and one of the ancestors of the royal line (Ruth 4:19). The margin of 1 Chr. 2:9, also Matt. 1:3, 4 and Luke 3:33, have "Aram."

(2.) One of the sons of Jerahmeel (1 Chr. 2:25, 27).

(3.) A person mentioned in Job 32:2 as founder of a clan to which Elihu belonged. The same as Aram of Gen. 22:21.

Syria [EBD]

(Heb. Aram), the name in the Old Testament given to the whole country which lay to the north-east of Phoenicia, extending to beyond the Euphrates and the Tigris. Mesopotamia is called (Gen. 24:10; Deut. 23:4) Aram-naharain (=Syria of the two rivers), also Padan-aram (Gen. 25:20). Other portions of Syria were also known by separate names, as Aram-maahah (1 Chr. 19:6), Aram-beth-rehob (2 Sam. 10:6), Aram-zobah (2 Sam. 10:6, 8). All these separate little kingdoms afterwards became subject to Damascus. In the time of the Romans, Syria included also a part of Palestine and Asia Minor.

"From the historic annals now accessible to us, the history of Syria may be divided into three periods: The first, the period when the power of the Pharaohs was dominant over the fertile fields or plains of Syria and the merchant cities of Tyre and Sidon, and when such mighty conquerors as Thothmes III. and Rameses II. could claim dominion and levy tribute from the nations from the banks of the Euphrates to the borders of the Libyan desert. Second, this was followed by a short period of independence, when the Jewish nation in the south was growing in power, until it reached its early zenith in the golden days of Solomon; and when Tyre and Sidon were rich cities, sending their traders far and wide, over land and sea, as missionaries of civilization, while in the north the confederate tribes of the Hittites held back the armies of the kings of Assyria. The third, and to us most interesting, period is that during which the kings of Assyria were dominant over the plains of Syria; when Tyre, Sidon, Ashdod, and Jerusalem bowed beneath the conquering armies of Shalmaneser, Sargon, and Sennacherib; and when at last Memphis and Thebes yielded to the power of the rulers of Nineveh and Babylon, and the kings of Assyria completed with terrible fulness the bruising of the reed of Egypt so clearly foretold by the Hebrew prophets.", Boscawen.

Aram [NAVE]

ARAM, the name of various regions, and of several men. The word signifies highlands, and is applied in its compounds to various highland districts of Syria. 1. The region where Balaam came from at Balak's command, Num. 23:7.
2. A region N. of Canaan, 1 Chr. 2:23.
3. Son of Shem, Gen. 10:22, 23; 1 Chr. 1:17.
4. Son of Kemuel, Gen. 22:21.
5. Son of Shamer, 1 Chr. 7:34.

Aram Naharaim [NAVE]

Gen. 24:10; Deut. 23:4; Judg. 3:8; 1 Chr. 19:6; Psa. 60:Header

Edom [NAVE]

EDOM, signifies red. 1. A name of Esau, possibly on account of his being covered with red hair, Gen. 25:25, 30; 36:1, 8, 19.
2. A name of the land occupied by the descendants of Esau. It extended from the Gulf of Aqabah to the Red Sea, and was called also Idumea, Gen. 32:3; 36:16, 17, 21; Jer. 40:11.
Noted for its wise men, Obad. 8.
Sins of, Obad. 10-14.
Prophecies concerning, Jer. 25:21-23; 27:1-11; Dan. 11:41.
See: Edomites.
of the foes of Zion, Isa. 63:1.
Wilderness of, 2 Kin. 3:8.

Edomites [NAVE]

EDOMITES, called also Edom. Descendants of Esau, Gen. 36.
Kings of, Gen. 36:31-39; Num. 20:14; 1 Chr. 1:43-50; Ezek. 32:29; Amos 2:1.
Dukes of, Gen. 36:9-43; Ex. 15:15; 1 Chr. 1:51-54.
Land of, Gen. 32:3; Deut. 2:4, 5, 12.
Protected by divine command from desolation by the Israelites, Deut. 2:4-6; from being held in abhorrence by the Israelites, Deut. 23:7.
Refuse to the Israelites passage through their country, Num. 20:18-21.
Saul makes war against, 1 Sam. 14:47.
David makes conquest of, 1 Kin. 11:14-16; 1 Chr. 18:11-13; garrisons, 2 Sam. 8:14; writes battle songs concerning his conquest of, Psa. 60:8, 9; 108:9, 10.
Become confederates of Jehoshaphat, 2 Kin. 3:9, 26.
Ruled by a deputy king, 1 Kin. 22:47.
The Lord delivers the army of, into the hands of Jehoshaphat, 2 Chr. 20:20, 23.
Revolt in the days of Joram, 2 Kin. 8:20-22; 2 Chr. 21:8-10.
Amaziah, king of Judah, invades the territory of, 2 Kin. 14:5-7, 10; 2 Chr. 25:11, 12; 28:17.
Join Babylon in war against the Israelites, Ezek. 35:5; Amos 1:9-11; Obad. 11-16.
A Jewish prophet in Babylon denounces, Psa. 137:7; Ezek. 25:12-14; 35:3-10.
Children of the third generation might be received into the congregation of Israel, Deut. 23:8.
Prophecies concerning, Gen. 25:23; 27:29, 37-40; Num. 24:18; Isa. 11:14; 21:11, 12; 34; 63:1-4; Jer. 9:25, 26; 27:1-11; 49:7-22; Lam. 4:21, 22; Ezek. 25:12-14; 32:29, 30; 35; 36:5; Joel 3:19; Amos 1:11, 12; 9:12; Obad. 1-21; Mal. 1:2-5.

Language [NAVE]

Unity of, Gen. 11:1, 6.
Confusion of, Gen. 11:1-9; 10:5, 20, 31.
Dialects of the Jews, Judg. 12:6; Matt. 26:73.
Many spoken at Jerusalem, John 19:20; Acts 2:8-11.
Speaking in unknown, in religious assemblies, forbidden, 1 Cor. 14:2-28.
Gift of, Mark 16:17; Acts 2:7, 8; 10:46; 19:6; 1 Cor. 12:10; 14.
Mentioned in scripture: Of Ashdod, Neh. 13:24; Chaldean, Dan. 1:4; Egyptian, Acts 2:10; Psa. 114:1; Greek, Luke 23:38; Acts 21:37; Latin, Luke 23:38; John 19:20; Lycaonia, Acts 14:11; Parthia and other lands, Acts 2:9-11; Syria, 2 Kin. 18:26; Ezra 4:7; Dan. 2:4.
See: Tongues.

Mesopotamia [NAVE]

The country between the Tigris and the Euphrates. Abraham a native of, Acts 7:2.
Nahor dwelt in, Gen. 24:10.
People who dwelt in, called Syrians, Gen. 25:20.
Balaam from, Deut. 23:4.
The children of Israel subjected to, eight years under the judgments of God, Judg. 3:8; delivered from, by Othniel, Judg. 3:9, 10.
Chariots hired from, by the Ammonites, 1 Chr. 19:6, 7.
People of, present at Pentecost, Acts 2:9.
See: Babylon; Chaldea.

Ram [NAVE]

1. Son of Hezron and an ancestor of Jesus, Ruth 4:19; 1 Chr. 2:9, 10.
Called Aram, Matt. 1:3, 4; Luke 3:33.
2. Son of Jerahmeel, 1 Chr. 2:25, 27.
3. An ancestor, probably of Elihu, mentioned in Job 32:2.
4. A sheep. Skins of, used for the roof of the tabernacle, Ex. 26:14; 39:34.
Seen in Daniel's vision, Dan. 8:3, 20.
Used in sacrifice. See: Offerings.
Trumpets made of the horns of. See: Trumpets.

Syria [NAVE]

SYRIA, highlands lying between the river Euphrates and the Mediterranean Sea. Called Aram, from the son of Shem, Gen. 10:22, 23; Num. 23:7; 1 Chr. 1:17; 2:23.
In the time of Abraham it seems to have embraced the region between the rivers Tigris and Euphrates, Gen. 24:10, with Gen. 25:20, including Padan-aram, Gen. 25:20; 28:5.
Minor kingdoms within the region: Aram-zobah, called also Zobah and Zoba, 1 Sam. 14:47; 2 Sam. 8:3; 10:6, 8; 1 Kin. 11:23; 1 Chr. 18:5, 9; 19:6; Psa. 60; Geshur, 2 Sam. 15:8; Aram-rehob, called also Beth-rehob, 2 Sam. 10:6, 8; Damascus, 2 Sam. 8:5, 6; 1 Chr. 18:5, 6; Hamath, 2 Sam. 8:9, 10.
Conquest of: By David, 2 Sam. 8:3-13; by Jeroboam, 2 Kin. 14:25, 28; by Tiglath-pileser, king of Assyria, 2 Kin. 16:7-9; 18:33, 34.
People of, colonized in Samaria by the king of Assyria, 2 Kin. 17:24.
Confederate with Nebuchadnezzar, 2 Kin. 24:2; Jer. 39:5.
The Roman province of, included the land of Canaan, Luke 2:2, 3; and Phenicia, Mark 7:26; Acts 21:3.
The fame of Jesus extended over, Matt. 4:24.
Paul goes to, with letters to apprehend the Christians; is converted and begins his evangelistic ministry, Acts 9:1-31.
See: Paul.
Paul preaches in, Acts 15:41; 18:18; 21:3; Gal. 1:21.
Damascus, the capital of, See: Damascus.
Wars between, and the kingdoms of Judah and Israel, See: Israel.
Prophecies concerning, Isa. 7:8-16; 8:4-7; 17:1-3; Jer. 1:15; 49:23-27; Amos 1:3-5; Zech. 9:1.


  1. The name by which the Hebrews designated, generally, the country lying to the northeast of Palestine; the great mass of that high tableland which, rising with sudden abruptness from the Jordan and the very margin of the Lake of Gennesaret, stretched at an elevation of no less than 2000 feet above the level of the sea, to the banks of the Euphrates itself. Throughout the Authorized Version the word is, with only a very few exceptions, rendered, as in the Vulgate and LXX., SYRIA. Its earliest occurrence in the book of Genesis is in the form of Aram-naharaim , i.e. the "highland of or between the two rivers." (Genesis 24:10) Authorized Version "Mesopotamia." In the later history we meet with a number of small nations or kingdoms forming parts of the general land of Aram; but as Damascus increased in importance it gradually absorbed the smaller powers, (1 Kings 20:1) and the name of Aram was at last applied to it alone. (Isaiah 7:8) also 1Kin 11:24,25; 15:18 etc.
  2. Another Aram is named in (Genesis 22:21) as a son of Kemuel and descendant of Nahor.
  3. An Asherite, one of the sons of Shamer. (1 Chronicles 7:34)
  4. Son of Esrom or Hezron, and the Greek form of the Hebrew RAM. (Matthew 1:3,4; Luke 3:33)






(between the rivers), the entire country between the two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. This is a tract nearly 700 miles long and from 20 to 250 miles broad, extending in a southeasterly direction from Telek to Kurnah . The Arabian geographers term it "the Island," a name which is almost literally correct, since a few miles only intervene between the source of the Tigris and the Euphrates at Telek . But the region which bears the name of Mesopotamia, par excellence , both in Scripture and in the classical writers, is the northwestern portion of this tract, or the country between the great bend of the Euphrates, lat. 35 degrees to 37 degrees 30?, and the upper Tigris. We first hear of Mesopotamia in Scripture as the country where Nahor and his family settled after quitting Ur of the Chaldees. (Genesis 24:10) Here lived Bethuel and Laban; and hither Abraham sent his servants to fetch Isaac a wife. Ibid. ver. 38. Hither too, a century later, came Jacob on the same errand; and hence he returned with his two wives after an absence of twenty-one years. After this we have no mention of Mesopotamia till the close of the wanderings int he wilderness. (23:4) About half a century later we find, for the first and last time, Mesopotamia the seat of a powerful monarchy. (Judges 3:1) ... Finally, the children of Ammon, having provoked a war with David, "sent a thousand talents of silver to hire them chariots and horsemen out of Mesopotamia, and out of Syria-maachah, and out of Zobah." (1 Chronicles 19:6) According to the Assyrian inscriptions Mesopotamia was inhabited in the early times of the empire, B.C. 1200-1100, by a vast number of petty tribes, each under its own prince, and all quite independent of one another. The Assyrian monarchs contended with these chiefs at great advantage, and by the time of Jehu, B.C. 880, had fully established their dominion over them. On the destruction of the Assyrian empire, Mesopotamia seems to have been divided between the Medes and the Babylonians. The conquests of Cyrus brought it wholly under the Persian yoke; and thus it continued to the time of Alexander. Since 1516 it has formed a part of the Turkish empire. It is full of ruins and mounds of ancient cities, some of which are now throwing much light on the Scripture.




(high, exalted).
  1. A son of Hezron and the father of Ammin-adab, born in Egypt after Jacob?s migration there. (Ruth 4:19) (B.C. 1706.) In (Matthew 1:3,4) and Luke 3:33 He is called ARAM in the Authorized Version, but RAM in the Revised Version of (Matthew 1:3,4) and ARNI in the Revised Version of (Luke 3:33)
  2. The first-born of Jerahmeel, and therefore nephew of the preceding. (1 Chronicles 3:25,27) (B.C. after 1706.)
  3. One of the kindred of Elihu. (Job 32:2) Ewald identified this Ram with ARAM in (Genesis 22:21)


is the term used throughout our version for the Hebrew Aram , as well as for the Greek Zupia . Most probably Syria is for Tsyria , the country about Tsur or Tyre which was the first of the Syrian towns known to the Greeks. It is difficult to fix the limits of Syria. The limits of the Hebrew Aram and its subdivisions are spoken of under ARAM. Syria proper was bounded by Amanus and Taurus on the north by the Euphrates and the Arabian desert on the east, by Palestine on the south, by the Mediterranean near the mouth of the Orontes, and then by Phoenicia on the west. This tract is about 300 miles long from north to south, and from 50 to 150 miles broad. It contains an area of about 30,000 square miles. General physical features . --The general character of the tract is mountainous, as the Hebrew name Aram (from a roof signifying "height") sufficiently implies. The most fertile and valuable tract of Syria is the long valley intervening between Libanus and Anti-Libanus. Of the various mountain ranges of Syria, Lebanon possesses the greatest interest. It extends from the mouth of the Litany to Arka , a distance of nearly 100 miles. Anti-Libanus, as the name implies, stands lover against Lebanon, running in the same direction, i.e. nearly north and south, and extending the same length. [LEBANON] The principal rivers of Syria are the Litany and the Orontes. The Litany springs from a small lake situated in the middle of the Coele-Syrian valley, about six miles to the southwest of Baalbek. It enters the sea about five miles north of Tyre. The source of the Orontes is but about 15 miles from that of the Litany. Its modern name is the Nahr-el-Asi , or "rebel stream," an appellation given to it on account of its violence and impetuosity in many parts of its course. The chief towns of Syria may be thus arranged, as nearly as possible in the order of their importance: 1, Antioch; 2, Damascus; 3, Apamea; 4, Seleucia; 5, Tadmor or Palmyra; 6, Laodicea; 7, Epiphania (Hamath); 8, Samosata; 9, Hierapolis (Mabug); 10, Chalybon; 11, Emesa; 12, Heliopolis; 13, Laodicea ad Libanum; 14, Cyrrhus; 15, Chalcis; 16, Poseideum; 17, Heraclea; 18, Gindarus; 19, Zeugma; 20, Thapsacus. Of these, Samosata, Zeugma and Thapsacus are on the Euphrates; Seleucia, Laodicea, Poseideum and Heraclea, on the seashore, Antioch, Apamea, Epiphania and Emesa (Hems), on the Orontes; Heliopolis and Laodicea ad Libanum, in Coele-Syria; Hierapolis, Chalybon, Cyrrhus, Chalcis and Gindarns, in the northern highlands; Damascus on the skirts, and Palmyra in the centre, of the eastern desert. History. --The first occupants of Syria appear to have been of Hamitic descent --Hittites, Jebusites, Amorites, etc. After a while the first comers, who were still to a great extent nomads, received a Semitic infusion, while most Probably came to them from the southeast. The only Syrian town whose existence we find distinctly marked at this time is Damascus, (Genesis 14:15; 15:2) which appears to have been already a place of some importance. Next to Damascus must be placed Hamath. (Numbers 13:21; 34:8) Syria at this time, and for many centuries afterward, seems to have been broken up among a number of petty kingdoms. The Jews first come into hostile contact with the Syrians, under that name, in the time of David. (Genesis 15:18; 2 Samuel 8:3,4,13) When, a few years later, the Ammonites determined on engaging in a war with David, and applied to the Syrians for aid, Zolah, together with Beth-rehob sent them 20,000 footmen, and two other Syrian kingdoms furnished 13,000. (2 Samuel 10:6) This army being completely defeated by Joab, Hadadezer obtained aid from Mesopotamia, ibid. ver. 16, and tried the chance of a third battle, which likewise went against him, and produced the general submission of Syria to the Jewish monarch. The submission thus begun continued under the reign of Solomon. (1 Kings 4:21) The only part of Syria which Solomon lost seems to have been Damascus, where an independent kingdom was set up by Rezon, a native of Zobah. (1 Kings 11:23-25) On the separation of the two kingdoms, soon after the accession of Rehoboam, the remainder of Syria no doubt shook off the yoke. Damascus now became decidedly the leading state, Hamath being second to it, and the northern Hittites, whose capital was Carchemish, near Bambuk , third. [DAMASCUS] Syria became attached to the great Assyrian empire, from which it passed to the Babylonians, and from them to the Persians, In B.C. 333 it submitted to Alexander without a struggle. Upon the death of Alexander, Syria became, for the first time the head of a great kingdom. On the division of the provinces among his generals, B.C. 321, Seleucus Nicator received Mesopotamia and Syria. The city of Antioch was begun in B.C. 300, and, being finished in a few years, was made the capital of Seleucus? kingdom. The country grew rich with the wealth which now flowed into it on all sides. Syria was added to the Roman empire by Pompey, B.C. 64, and as it holds an important place, not only in the Old Testament but in the New, some account of its condition under the Romans must be given. While the country generally was formed into a Roman province, under governors who were at first proprietors or quaestors, then procounsuls, and finally legates, there were exempted from the direct rule of the governor in the first place, a number of "free cities" which retained the administration of their own affairs, subject to a tribute levied according to the Roman principles of taxation; secondly, a number of tracts, which were assigned to petty princes, commonly natives, to be ruled at their pleasure, subject to the same obligations with the free cities as to taxation. After the formal division of the provinces between Augustus and the senate, Syria, being from its exposed situation among the province principis , were ruled by legates, who were of consular rank (consulares) and bore severally the full title of "Legatus Augusti pro praetore." Judea occupied a peculiar position; a special procurator was therefore appointed to rule it, who was subordinate to the governor of Syria, but within his own province had the power of a legatus. Syria continued without serious disturbance from the expulsion of the Parthians, B.C. 38, to the breaking out of the Jewish war, A.D. 66. in A.D. 44-47 it was the scene of a severe famine. A little earlier, Christianity had begun to spread into it, partly by means of those who "were scattered" at the time of Stephen?s persecution, (Acts 11:19) partly by the exertions of St. Paul. (Galatians 1:21) The Syrian Church soon grew to be one of the most flourishing (Acts 13:1; 15:23,35,41) etc. (Syria remained under Roman and Byzantine rule till A.D. 634, when it was overrun by the Mohammedans; after which it was for many years the scene of fierce contests, and was finally subjugated by the Turks, A.D. 1517, under whose rule it still remains. --ED.)


ARAM - a'-ram ('aram): (1) A son of Shem (Gen 10:22; 1 Ch 1:17). See ARAMEANS; SYRIA. (2) A grandson of Nahor (Gen 22:21). (3) A descendant of Asher (1 Ch 7:34). (4) Aram, King James Version: Greek form of Ram (thus the Revised Version (British and American) Mt 13:4; Arni Lk 3:33), grandson of Perez.


ARAM-MAACAH - a-ram-ma'-a-ka.



ARAM-NAHARAIM - a-ram-na-ha-ra'-im.



ARAMAEANS; ARAMEANS - ar-a-me'-ans: Often in the King James Version and the Revised Version (British and American) Syrians.



EDOM; EDOMITES - e'-dum, e'-dum-its 'edhom, "red"; Edom):

1. Boundaries:

The boundaries of Edom may be traced with some approach to accuracy. On the East of the `Arabah the northern border ran from the Dead Sea, and was marked by Wady el-Kurachi, or Wady el-Chasa. On the East it marched with the desert. The southern border ran by Elath and Ezion-geber (Dt 2:8). On the West of the `Arabah the north boundary of Edom is determined by the south border of Israel, as indicated in Nu 34:3 f: a line running from the Salt Sea southward of the Ascent of Akrabbim to Zin and Kadesh-barnea. This last, we are told, lay in the "uttermost" of the border of Edom (Nu 20:16). The line may be generally indicated by the course of Wady el-Fiqrah. How much of the uplands West of the `Arabah southward to the Gulf of `Aqaba was included in Edom it is impossible to say.

2. Character and Features:

The land thus indicated varies greatly in character and features. South of the Dead Sea in the bottom of the valley we have first the stretch of salt marsh land called es-Sebkha; then, beyond the line of white cliffs that crosses the valley diagonally from Northwest to Southeast, a broad depression strewn with stones and sandhills, the debris of an old sea bottom, rises gradually, and 60 miles to the South reaches a height of about 700 ft. above the level of the Red Sea, 2,000 ft. above that of the Dead Sea. From this point it sinks until it reaches the shore of the Gulf of `Aqaba, 45 miles farther South. The whole depression is known today as Wady el-`Arabah (compare Hebrew ha-`arabhah, Dt 2:8 the Revised Version (British and American), etc.). On either side the mountains rise steeply from the valley, their edges carved into many fantastic shapes by the deep wadys that break down from the interior (see ARABAH). The northern part of the plateau on the West forms the spacious grazing ground of the `Azdzimeh Arabs. The mountains rise to a height of from about 1,500 ft. to a little over 2,000 ft. This district was traversed by the ancient caravan road to South Palestine; and along the eastern side traces of the former civilization are still to be seen. The desert region to the South is higher, reaching to as much as 2,600 ft. The mountain range East of the `Arabah is generally higher in the South than in the North. Jebel Harun beside Petra, is 4,780 ft. above sea-level; while East of `Aqaba, Jebel el-Chisma may be as much as 5,900 ft. in height. Limestone, porphyry and Nubian sandstone are the prevailing formation; but volcanic rocks are also found. The range consists mainly of rough rocky heights with many almost inaccessible peaks separated by deep gorges. But there are also breadths of fertile land where wheat, grapes, figs, pomegranates and olives are grown to advantage. The northern district is known today by the name el-Jebal, corresponding to the ancient Gebal. Seir is the name applied to the eastern range in Gen 36:8; Dt 2:1,5; 2 Ch 20:23. It is also called Edom, and the Mount of Esau (Ob 1:8 f). Seir, however, is used for the western highlands in Dt 33:2. This seems to be its meaning also in Jdg 5:4, where it appears as the equivalent of "the field of Edom." With this same phrase, however, in Gen 32:3 it may more fitly apply to the eastern range.

See illustration under DESERT.

3. Origin of Name:

The name Edom, "red," may have been derived from the red sandstone cliffs characteristic of the country. It was applied to Esau because of the color of his skin (Gen 25:25), or from the color of the pottage for which he sold his birthright (Gen 25:30). In Gen 36:8 Esau is equated with Edom as dwelling in Mt. Seir; and he is described as the father of Edom (36:9, Hebrew). The name however is probably much older. It may be traced in the records of the Twelfth Dynasty in Egypt. In the Tell el-Amarna Letters (Brit Mus No. 64) Udumu, or Edom, is named; and in Assyrian inscriptions the name Udumu occurs of a city and of a country. The latter may have been named from the former: this again may have been derived from a deity, Edom, who may be traced in such a name as Obed-edom (2 Sam 6:10).

4. History:

The children of Esau are said to have "destroyed" the Horites who dwelt in Seir before them (Gen 14:6; Dt 2:22). This only means that the Horites were subdued. Esau married the daughter of Anah, a Horite (Gen 36:20--in verse 2 he is called a Hivite); and the lists in this chapter show that the races intermingled. The Horite government was in the hands of "dukes" (Gen 36:29 f, the Revised Version (British and American) "chiefs"). They were succeeded by dukes of the house of Esau (Gen 36:40 ff). This form of government gave way to that of an elective monarchy (Gen 36:31 ff); and this had existed some time before Israel left the wilderness. The then reigning king would not permit Israel to pass through the land (Nu 20:14 ff; 21:4). Israel was forbidden to "abhor an Edomite," on the ground that he was a brother; and children of the third generation might enter the assembly of the Lord (Dt 23:7 f). War with Edom was out of the question.

Some thirty years after the Exodus, Ramses III "smote the people of Seir." The Israelites could not have been far off. We first hear of war between Israel and Edom under Saul (1 Sam 14:47). David prosecuted the war with terrific energy, slaying 18,000 Edomites (so read instead of "Syrians") in the Valley of Salt (2 Sam 8:13 f) ; Joab remaining for six months in the country, which was garrisoned by Israelites, "until he had cut off every male in Edom" (1 Ki 11:15 f). Hadad of the blood royal of Edom escaped to Egypt, and later became a source of trouble to Solomon (1 Ki 11:14 ff,25). The conquest of Edom opened to Israel the ports of the Red Sea, whence the expeditions of Solomon and Jehoshaphat set out. In Jehoshaphat's time the king is called a "deputy" (1 Ki 22:47). Its king acknowledged the supremacy of Judah (2 Ki 3:9, etc.). Under Jehoram son of Jehoshaphat, Edom revolted. Jehoram defeated them at Zair, but was unable to quell the rebellion (2 Ki 8:20 ff). Amaziah invaded the country, slew 10,000 in the Valley of Salt, and took Sela which he named Joktheel (2 Ki 14:7). Uzziah restored the Edomite port of Elath (2 Ki 14:22). In the Syrian war Rezin regained Elath for Syria, and cast out the Jews. It was then permanently occupied by Syrians--here also probably we should read Edomites (2 Ki 16:6). From the cuneiform inscriptions we learn that when Tiglath-pileser subdued Rezin, among the kings from whom he received homage at Damascus was Qaus-malaka of Edom (736 BC). Later Malik-ram paid homage to Sennacherib. To Ezarhaddon also they were compelled to render service. They gave what help they could to Nebuchadnezzar, and exulted in the destruction of Jerusalem, stirring the bitterest indignation in the hearts of the Jews (Lam 4:21; Ezek 25:12; 35:3 ff; Ob 1:10 ff). The Edomites pressed into the now empty lands in the South of Judah. In 300 BC Mt. Seir with its capital Petra fell into the hands of the Nabateans.

5. Idumaea and the Idumeans:

West of the `Arabah the country they occupied came to be known by the Greek name Idumaea, and the people as Idumeans. Hebron, their chief city, was taken by Judas Maccabeus in 165 BC (1 Macc 4:29,61; 5:65). In 126 BC the country was subdued by John Hyrcanus, who compelled the people to become Jews and to submit to circumcision. Antipater, governor of Idumaea, was made procurator of Judea, Samaria and Galilee by Julius Caesar. He paved the way to the throne for his son Herod the Great. With the fall of Judah under the Romans, Idumaea disappears from history.

The names of several Edomite deities are known: Hadad, Qaus, Koze, and, possibly, Edom; but of the religion of Edom we are without information. The language differed little from Hebrew.

W. Ewing


MESOPOTAMIA - mes-o-ta'-mi-a.


RAM (1) [ISBE]

RAM (1) - ram (ram, "high," "exalted"):

(1) An ancestor of David (Ruth 4:19 (Arran); Mt 1:3,4 (Aram); in 1 Ch 2:9 he is called the "brother," but in 2:25, the "son of Jerahmeel" (compare 2:27). Ram as the son of Hezron appears more likely than Ram the son of Jerahmeel, since, according to the narratives of 1 and 2 Samuel, David cannot have been a Jerahmeelite.

(2) Name of Elihu's family (Job 32:2). It is an open question as to whether Ram should be taken as a purely fictitious name, invented by the author of the Elihu speeches, or whether it is that of some obscure Arab tribe. In Gen 22:21 Aram is a nephew of Buz (compare Elihu the Buzite), and the conjecture was at one time advanced that Ram was a contraction of Aram; but this theory is no longer held to be tenable. The suggestion that the initial "a" (the Hebrew letter, 'aleph) has been changed by a scribal error into "h" (the Hebrew letter, he) is more acceptable. Rashi, the rabbinical commentator, takes the quaint position that Ram is identical with Abraham.

Horace J. Wolf

RAM (2) [ISBE]

RAM (2) - ram: (1) The ordinary word is 'ayil, which is remarkably near to 'ayyal, "deer" (compare Latin caper, capra, "goat," and capreolus, "wild goat" or "roe-buck"; also Greek dorkas, "roe-buck" or "gazelle"). (2) dekhar, literally, "male" (Ezr 6:9,17; 7:17). (3) kar, "battering ram" (Ezek 4:2; 21:22); elsewhere "lamb" (Dt 32:14, etc.). (4) `attudh, properly "he-goat" ("ram," Gen 31:10,12 the King James Version).



SYRIA (1) - sir'-i-a (Suria (Mt 4:24; Lk 2:2)):

1. Name and Its Origin

2. Other Designations

3. Physical

(1) The Maritime Plain

(2) First MoUntain Belt

(3) Second Mountain Belt

(4) Great Central Valley

(5) The Eastern Belt

(6) Rivers

(7) Nature of Soil

(8) Flora

(9) Fauna

(10) Minerals

(11) Central Position

4. History

(1) Canaanitic Semites

(2) Sargon of Agade

(3) Babylonian Supremacy

(4) Hittite and Aramean

(5) Hittites and Egyptians

(6) Amarna Period

(7) Rameses II

(8) Philistines

(9) Tiglath-pileser I

(10) Aramean States

(11) Peaceful Development

(12) Shalmaneser II

(13) Tiglath-pileser III

(14) Shalmaneser IV and Sargon

(15) Pharaoh-necoh and Nebuchadnezzar

1. Name and Its Origin:

The name does not occur in the Massoretic Text nor the Peshitta of the Old Testament, but is found in the Septuagint, in the Peshitta of the New Testament and in the Mishna In the Septuagint it represents "Aram" in all its combinations, as Aram-zobah, etc. The name itself first appears in Herodotus vii.63, where he says that "Syrians" and "Assyrians" were the Greek and barbarian designations of the same people. Otherwise he is quite vague in his use of the term. Xenophon is clearer when he (Anab; vii.8, 25) distinguishes between Syria and Phoenicia. Syria is undoubtedly an extension of the name "Suri" the ancient Babylonian designation of a district in North Mesopotamia, but later embracing regions beyond the Euphrates to the North and West, as far as the Taurus. Under the Seleucids, Syria was regarded as coextensive with their kingdom, and the name shrank with its dimensions. Strabo, Pliny and Ptolemy give its boundaries as the Taurus Mountains, the Euphrates, the Syro-Arabian desert and the Mediterranean, and the territory within these limits is still politically designated Syria, though popularly Palestine is generally named separately.

2. Other Designations:

Homer (Iliad ii.785) and Hesiod (Theog. 304) call the inhabitants of the district "Arimoi," with which compare the cuneiform "Arimu" or "Aramu" for Arameans. The earliest Assyrian name was "Martu," which Hommel regards as a contraction of "Amartu," the land of the "Amurru" or Amorites. In Egyptian records the country is named "Ruten" or "Luten," and divided into "Lower" and "Upper," the former denoting Palestine and the latter Syria proper.

3. Physical:

(1) The Maritime Plain.

Syria, within the boundaries given, consists of a series of belts of low and high land running North and South, parallel to the Mediterranean. The first of these is the maritime plain. It consists of a broad strip of sand dunes covered by short grass and low bushes, followed by a series of low undulating hills and wide valleys which gradually rise to a height of about 500 ft. This belt begins in North Syria with the narrow Plain of Issus, which extends to a few miles South of Alxandretta, but farther South almost disappears, being represented only by the broader valleys and the smaller plains occupied by such towns as Latakia, Tripolis and Beirut. South of the last named the maritime belt is continuous, being interrupted only where the Ladder of Tyre and Mt. Carmel descend abruptly into the sea. In the Plain of Akka it has a breadth of 8 miles, and from Carmel southward it again broadens out, till beyond Caesarea it has an average of 10 miles. Within the sand dunes the soil is a rich alluvium and readily yields to cultivation. In ancient times it was covered with palm trees, which, being thence introduced into Greece, were from their place of origin named phoinikes.

(2) First Mountain Belt.

From the maritime plain we rise to the first mountain belt. It begins with the Amanus, a branch of the Taurus in the North. Under that name it ceases with the Orontes valley, but is continued in the Nuseiriyeh range (Mt. Cassius, 5,750 ft.), till the Eleutherus valley is reached, and thence rising again in Lebanon (average 5,000 ft.), Jebel Sunnin (8,780 ft.), it continues to the Leontes or Quasmiyeh. The range then breaks down into the rounded hills of Upper Galilee (3,500 ft.), extends through the table-land of Western Palestine (2,500 ft.), and in the South of Judea broadens out into the arid Badiet et-Tih or Wilderness of Wandering.

(3) Second Mountain Belt.

Along with this may be considered the parallel mountain range. Beginning in the neighborhood of Riblah, the chain of anti-Lebanon extends southward to Hermon (9,200 ft.), and thence stretches out into the plateau of the Jaulan and Hauran, where we meet with the truncated cones of extinct volcanoes and great sheets of basaltic lava, especially in el-Leja and Jebel ed-Druz. The same table-land continues southward, with deep ravines piercing its sides, over Gilead, Moab and Edom.

(4) Great Central Valley.

Between Lebanon and Anti-Lebanon lies the great valley of Coele-Syria. It is continued northward along the Orontes and thence stretches away eastward to the Euphrates, while southward it merges into the valleys of the Jordan and the Arabah. From the sources of the Orontes and Leontes at Baalbek (4,000 ft.) it falls away gently to the North; but to the South the descent is rapid. In Merj `Ayun it has sunk to 1,800 ft., at Lake Huleh it is over 7 ft., at the Lake of Tiberias--682 ft., and at the Dead Sea--1,292 ft., and thence it rises again to the Gulf of Akabah. This great valley was caused by a line of fault or fracture of the earth's crust, with parallel and branching faults. In ancient times the whole valley formed an arm of the sea, and till the Glacial period at the end of the Tertiary (Pleistocene) Age, a lake extended along the whole Jordan valley as far as the Huleh. We can thus understand that the great plain and adjoining valleys consist mainly of alluvial deposits with terraces of gravel and sand on the enclosing slopes.


(5) The Eastern Belt.

To the East of the Anti-Lebanon belt there is a narrow stretch of cultivated land which in some places attains a breadth of several miles, but this is always determined by the distance to which the eastern streams from Anti-Lebanon flow. Around Damascus the Abana (Barada) and neighboring streams have made the district an earthly paradise, but they soon lose themselves in the salt marshes about 10 miles East of the city. Elsewhere the fruitful strip gradually falls away into the sands and rocks of the Syrian desert, barren alike of vegetable and animal life.

(6) Rivers.

The mountain ranges determine the course of the rivers and their length. The streams flowing westward are naturally short and little more than summer torrents. Those flowing to the desert are of the same character, the only one of importance being the Abana, to which Damascus owes its existence. Only the great central valley permits the formation of larger rivers, and there we find the Orontes and Leontes rising within a few feet of each other beside Baalbek, and draining Coele-Syria to the North and South, till breaking through the mountains they reach the sea. The Jordan is the only other stream of any size. In ancient, as also in modern times, the direction of these streams determined the direction of the great trade route from Mesopotamia to Egypt through Coele-Syria and across pal, as also the position of the larger towns, but, not being themselves navigable, they did not form a means of internal communication.

(7) Nature of Soil.

The variation in altitude both above and below the sea-level is naturally conducive to a great variety of climate, while the nature of the disintegrating rocks and the alluvial soil render great productivity possible. Both of the mountain belts in their whole length consist chiefly of cretaceous limestone, mixed with friable limestone with basaltic intrusions and volcanic products. The limestone is highly porous, and during the rainy season absorbs the moisture which forms reservoirs and feeds the numerous springs on both the eastern and western slopes. The rocks too are soft and penetrable and can easily be turned into orchard land, a fact that explains how much that now appears as barren wastes was productive in ancient times as gardens and fruitful fields (Bab Talmud, Megh. 6a).

(8) Flora.

The western valleys and the maritime plain have the flora of the Mediterranean, but the eastern slopes and the valleys facing the desert are poorer. On the southern coasts and in the deeper valleys the vegetation is tropical, and there we meet with the date-palm, the sugar-cane and the sycomore. Up to 1,600 ft., the products include the carob and the pine, after which the vine, the fig and the olive are met with amid great plantations of dwarf oak, till after 3,000 ft. is reached, then cypresses and cedars till the height of 6,200 ft., after which only Alpine plants are found. The once renowned "cedars of Lebanon" now exist only in the Qadisha and Baruk valleys. The walnut and mulberry are plentiful everywhere, and wheat, corn, barley, maize and lentils are widely cultivated. Pasture lands are to be found in the valleys and plains, and even during the dry season sheep, goats and cattle can glean sufficient pasturage among the low brushwood.

(9) Fauna.

The animal world is almost as varied. The fox, jackal, hyena, bear, wolf and hog are met nearly everywhere, and small tigers are sometimes seen (compare 2 Ki 14:9). The eagle, vulture, partridge and blue pigeon are plentiful, and gay birds chirp everywhere. The fish in the Jordan and its lakes are peculiar and interesting. There are in all 22 varieties, the largest being a kind of perch, the coracinus, which is known elsewhere also in the Nile (Josephus, Ant, III, x, 8), and a peculiar old-world variety locally named `Abu-musht.

(10) Minerals.

In both the eastern and the western mountain belts there are abundant supplies of mineral wealth. They consist chiefly of coal, iron, bitumen, asphalt and mineral oil, but they are mostly unworked. In the Jordan valley all the springs below the level of the Mediterranean are brackish, and many of them are also hot and sulfurous, the best known being those Tiberias.

(11) Central Position.

The country, being in virtue of its geographical configuration separated into small isolated districts, naturally tended to break up into a series of petty independent states. Still the central position between the Mesopotamian empires on the one hand and Egypt and Arabia on the other made it the highway through which the trade of the ancient world passed, gave it an importance far in excess of its size or productivity, and made it a subject of contention whenever East and West were ruled by different powers.

4. History:

(1) Canaanitic Semites.

When history begins for us in the 3rd millennium BC, Syria was already occupied by a Semitic population belonging to the Canaanitic wave of immigration, i.e. such as spoke dialects akin to Hebrew or Phoenician. The Semites had been already settled for a considerable time, for a millennium earlier in Egypt we find Semitic names for Syrian articles of commerce as well as Semites depicted on the Egyptian monuments.

(2) Sargon of Agade.

Omitting as doubtful references to earlier relations between Babylonia and Syria, we may consider ourselves on solid ground in accepting the statements of the Omen Tablets which tell us that Sargon of Agade (2750 BC) four times visited the land of Martu and made the peoples of one accord. His son Naram-sin, while extending the empire in other directions maintained his authority here also. Commercial relations were continued, and Babylonia claimed at least a supremacy over Martu, and at times made it effective.

(3) Babylonian Supremacy.

Hammurabi and also his great-grandson Ammisatana designate themselves in inscriptions as kings of Martu, and it is very likely that other kings maintained the traditional limits of the empire. The long-continued supremacy of Babylon not only made itself felt in imposing place-names, but it made Assyrian the language of diplomacy, even between Syria and Egypt, as we see in the Tell el-Amarna Letters.

(4) Hittite and Aramean.

By the middle of the 2nd millennium BC we find considerable change in the population. The Mitanni, a Hittite people, the remains of whose language are to be found in the still undeciphered inscriptions at Carchemish, Marash, Aleppo and Hamath, are now masters of North Syria.


The great discoveries of Dr. H. Winckler at Boghazkeui have furnished a most important contribution to our knowledge. The preliminary account may be found in OLZ, December 15, 1906, and the Mitteilungen der deutschen orient. Gesellschaft, number 35, December, 1907.

Elsewhere the Aramean wave has become the predominant Semitic element of population, the Canaanitic now occupying the coast towns (Phoenicians) and the Canaan of the Old Testament.

(5) Hittites and Egyptians.

At this time Babylonia was subject to the Kassites, an alien race of kings, and when they fell, about 1100 BC, they gave place to a number of dynasties of short duration. This gave the Egyptians, freed from the Hyksos rule, the opportunity to lay claim to Syria, and accordingly we find the struggle to be between the Hittites and the Egyptians. Thothmes I, about 1600 BCa overran Syria as far as the Euphrates and brought the country into subjection. Thothmes III did the same, and he has left us on the walls of Karnak an account of his campaigns and a list of the towns he conquered.

(6) Amarna Period.

In the reign of Thothmes IV the Hittites began to leave their mountains more and more and to press forward into Central Syria. The Tell el-Amarna Letters show them to be the most serious opponents to the Egyptian authority in Syria and Palestine during the reign of Amenhotep IV (circa 1380 BC), and before Seti I came to the throne the power of the Pharaohs had greatly diminished in Syria. Then the Egyptian sphere only reached to Carmel, while a neutral zone extended thence to Kadesh, northward of which all belonged to the Hitites.

(7) Rameses II.

Rameses II entered energetically into the war against Hatesar, king of the Hittites, and fought a battle near Kadesh. He claims a great victory, but the only result seems to have been that his authority was further extended into the neutral territory, and the sphere of Egyptian influence extended across Syria from the Lycus (Dog River) to the South of Damascus. The arrangement was confirmed by a treaty in which North Syria was formally recognized as the Hittite sphere of influence, and, on the part of the Assyrians who were soon to become the heirs of the Hittite pretensions, this treaty formed the basis of a claim against Egypt. About the year 1200 BC the Hittites, weakened by this war, were further encroached upon by the movements of northern races, and the empire broke up into a number of small separate independent states.

(8) Philistines.

Among the moving races that helped to weaken and break up the Hittite influence in Syria were the Pulusati (or Purusati), a people whose origin is not yet definitely settled. They entered Syria from the North and overcame all who met them, after which they encamped within the Egyptian sphere of influence. Rameses III marched against them, and he claims a great victory. Later, however, we find them settled in Southeastern Palestine under the name of Philistines. Their settlement at that time is in harmony with the Tell el-Amarna Letters in which we find no trace of them, while in the 11th century BC they are there as the inveterate foes of Israel.

(9) Tiglath-pileser I.

Assyria was now slowly rising into power, but it had to settle with Babylon before it could do much in the West. Tiglath-pieser I, however, crossed the Euphrates, defeated the Hittite king of Carchemish, advanced to the coast of Arvad, hunted wild bulls in Lebanon and received gifts from the Pharaoh, who thus recognized him as the successor of the Hittites in North Syria.

(10) Aramean States.

When the Hittite empire broke up, the Arameans in Central Syria, now liberated, set up a number of separate Aramean states, which engaged in war with one another, except when they had to combine against a common enemy. Such states were established in Hamath, Hadrach, Zobah and Rehob. The exact position of Hadrach is still unknown, but Hamath was evidently met on its southern border by Rehob and Zobah, the former extending along the Biqa'a to the foot of Hermon, while the latter stretched ~along the eastern slopes of Anti-Lebanon and included Damascus, till Rezon broke away and there set up an independent kingdom, which soon rose to be the leading state; Southeast of Hermon were the two smaller Aramean states of Geshur and Maacah.

(11) Peaceful Development.

For nearly three centuries now, Syria and Palestine were, except on rare occasions, left in peace by both Mesopotamia and Egypt. In the 12th century BC Babylonia was wasted by the Elamite invasion, and thereafter a prolonged war was carried on between Assyria and Babylonia, and although a lengthened period of peace succeeded, it was wisely used by the peaceful rulers of Assyria for the strengthening of their kingdom internally. In Egypt the successors of Rameses III were engaged against the aggressive Theban hierarchy. During the XXIst Dynasty the throne was usurped by the high priests of Amen, while the XXIId were Lybian usurpers, and the three following dynasties Ethiopian conquerors.

(12) Shalmaneser II.

In the 9th century Asshur-nazirpal crossed the Euphrates and overran the recently established state of Patin in the Plain of Antioch. He besieged its capital and planted a colony in its territory, but the arrangement was not final, for his successor, Shalmaneser II, had again to invade the territory and break up the kingdom into a number of small principalities. Then in 854 BC he advanced into Central Syria, but was met at Karkar by a strong confederacy consisting of Ben-hadad of Damascus and his Syrian allies including Ahab of Israel. He claims a victory, but made no advance for 5 years. He then made three unsuccessful expeditions against Damascus, but in 842 received tribute from Tyre, Sidon and Jehu of Israel, as recorded and depicted on the Black Obelisk. It was not till the year 797 that Ramman-nirari, after subduing the coast of Phoenicia, was able to reduce Mari'a of Damascus to obedience at which time also he seems to have carried his conquests through Eastern Palestine as far as Edom. The Assyrian power now suffered a period of decline, during which risings took place at Hadrach and Damascus, and Jeroboam II of Israel was able (2 Ki 14:25) to extend his boundaries northward to the old limits.

(13) Tiglath-pileser III.

It thus happened that Tiglath-pileser III (745-728) had to reconquer the whole of Syria. He captured Arpad after two years' warfare (742-740). Then he divided the territory of Hamath among his generals. At this juncture Ahaz of Judah implored his aid against Rezin of Damascus and Remaliah of Israel. Ahaz was relieved, but was made subject to Assyria. Damascus fell in 732 BC and a Great Court was held there, which the tributary princes of Syria, including Ahaz (2 Ki 16:10), attended. The Assyrian empire now possessed the whole of Syria as far as the River of Egypt. Sibahe, however, encouraged revolt in what had been the Egyptian sphere of infiuence and insurrections took place in Phoenicia and Samaria.

(14) Shalmaneser IV and Sargon.

After some difficulty Shalmaneser IV compelled Tyre and Sidon to submit and to pay tribute. Samaria, too, was besieged, but was not taken till Sargon came to the throne in 722. Hamath and Carchemish again rose, but were finally reduced in 720 and 717 respectively. Again in 711 Sargon overran Palestine and broke up a fresh confederacy consisting of Egypt, Moab, Edom, Judah and the Philistines. In 705 the Egyptians under Sibahe and their allies the Philistines under Hanun of Gaza were defeated at Raphia.

The last three rulers of Assyria were in constant difficulties with Babylonia and a great part of the empire was also overrun by the Scythians (circa 626 BC), and so nothing further was done in the West save the annexation of the mainland possessions of Phoenicia.

(15) Pharaoh-necoh and Nebuchadnezzar.

In 609 when Assyria was in the death grapple with Babylonia, Pharaoh-necoh took advantage of the situation, invaded Syria, and, defeating Josiah en route, marched to Carchemish. In 605, however, he was there completely defeated by Nebuchadnezzar, and the whole of Syria became tributary to Babylonia. the former Syrian states now appear as Babylonian provinces, and revolts in Judah reduced it also to that position in 586 BC.

Under Persian rule these provinces remained as they were for a time, but ultimately "Ebir nari" or Syria was formed into a satrapy. The Greek conquest with the Ptolemies in Egypt and the Seleucids in Babylon brought back some of the old rivalry between East and West, and the same unsettled conditions. On the advent of Rome, Syria was separated from Babylonia and made into a province with Antioch as its capital, and then the Semitic civilization which had continued practically untouched till the beginning of the Christian era was brought more and more into contact with the West. With the advent of Islam, Syria fell into Arab hands and Damascus became for a short time (661-750 AD) the capital of the new empire, but the central authority was soon removed to Babylonia. Thenceforward Syria sank to the level of a province of the caliphate, first Abbasside (750-1258), then Fatimite (1258-1517), and finally Ottoman.

W. M. Christie


SYRIA (2) - sir'-i-ak: In Dan 2:4, for the King James Version "Syriack" the Revised Version (British and American) has "Syrian," and in the margin "Or, `in Aramaic.'"



SYRIAN; LANGUAGE - sir'-i-an (the King James Version SYRIAC).



SYRIANS - sir'-i-anz ('aram; Suroi; Assyrian Aramu, Arumu, Arimu):

1. Division of Aram

2. A Semitic Race

3. Syria and Israel

4. Under Nabateans and Palmyrenes

5. A Mixed Race, Semitic Type

6. Religion

The terms "Syria" and "Syrians" are used in two senses in the Bible. In the Old Testament they are uniformly "Aram," "Aramaean," while in the New Testament they are used in a wider and more indefinite sense (Mt 4:24; Acts 15:23; 18:18; Gal 1:21), and include all the dwellers of the land whether Arameans or not.

1. Division of Aram:

Aram was divided into several districts, comprising, in general, the region to the East of the Jordan, but extending in the North over most of Northern Syria, or from the Orontes eastward, and Northern Mesopotamia. This latter division was called Aram-naharaim--Aram of the two rivers, i.e. Tigris and Euphrates--and is the Nahrina of the Egyptian inscriptions. It is also called Paddan-aram in the Old Testament (Gen 25:20) or field of Aram (Hos 12:12). The most important of the divisions of Aram in Old Testament times was Aram-dammesek, the Syria of Damascus, which sometimes dominated all of the other divisions lying to the South, such as Rehob, Tob, Zobah, and Mancab (2 Sam 10:8). Geshur was in this region and should be reckoned as an Aramean dis-trict (2 Sam 15:8).

2. A Semitic Race:

The Arameans were of Semitic stock and closely akin to the Hebrews. Aram is called a son of Shem (Gen 10:22), which means a descendant, for we find him afterward called a grandson of Nahor, the brother of Abraham (Gen 22:21). The Israelites were taught to say "A Syrian (Ara-maean) ready to perish was my father" (Dt 26:5), and the kinship of the Hebrews and Arameans was further cemented by the marriage of Isaac with Rebekah, the sister of Laban the Syrian, and of Jacob with his daughters (Gen 24; 29). The period when the Arameans first appeared in Syria is uncertain, but was probably later than 2000 BC. When Abraham came from Haran, Damascus was already occupied (Gen 15:2), and this may have been the oldest settlement of the Arameans in Syria proper, although it is not mentioned on the monuments until long after, in the time of Thothmes III of Egypt, about 1479 BC. The Syrians were generally hostile to the Hebrews and had wars with them from the time of David onward. David subdued them, although they were aided by the tribes from beyond the Euphrates (2 Sam 10), but after the division of the kingdom they often proved too strong for the northern Israelites.

3. Syria and Israel:

In the days of Omri the Syrians of Damascus brought them into subjection, but Ahab recovered all the lost territory and Damascus seems to have been subordinate for a time (1 Ki 20:34). The king of Damascus afterward regained the supremacy, as appears from the Assyrian records, for in the war of Shalmaneser II with the peoples of Syria we find them led by Ben-hadad of Damascus and, among his subject allies, Ahab, who furnished 2,000 chariots and 10,000 men. Ben-hadad succeeded in uniting most of the petty kingdoms of Syria together in opposition to Assyria, but could not hold them, and they fell, one after another, as well as Damascus itself, into the hands of the great world-power. Jeroboam II recovered the districts that had been taken from Israel by the Syrians (2 Ki 14:25), but this was only a temporary success, for Rezin extended his authority over all the East-Jordanic region as far as Elath on the Red Sea (2 Ki 16:6), and he and Pekah joined in an attack upon Judah, but failed on account of the Assyrian advance (2 Ki 16:5-9). Damascus fell into the hands of Tiglath-pileser in 732 BC, and the power of the Syrians was completely broken.

4. Under Nabatheans and Palmyrenes:

The Aramaic peoples became prominent again under the Nabateans and Palmyrenes, both of whom were of this stock, as their language is clearly Aramaic. The former established a kingdom extending from the Euphrates to the Red Sea, their capital being Petra, and Damascus was under their control in the reign of their king Aretas (el-Harith) (2 Cor 11:32). This kingdom was absorbed by Rome in the reign of Trajan. The Palmyrenes did not come into prominence until the 3rd century AD, but became, for a short time, the leading power in Western Asia. In the weakness of Rome, under Gallienus, Odenathus and his still more distinguished wife, Zenobia, dominated all Syria, and the latter dared to dispute with Aurelian the empire of the East. With her fall in 272 AD the power of the Arameans was extinguished and never revived.

5. A Mixed Race, Semitic Type:

The Syrians in the broader sense have always been a mixed people, though of a prevailing Semitic type. The earliest layer of Semitic population was the Amorite which was found in Syria when the first Babylonian empire extended its authority over the land. Later appear the Canaanites, Phoenicians, Jebusites, Hivites and other tribes, all of which are classed together as descendants of Canaan in Gen 10, but their Semitic character in historic times is undoubted. The Hyksos who were driven from Egypt to Palestine and Syria were of the same race, as would appear from the Egyptian records. The Arameans formed the next wave of Semitic stock, but there were others, like the Hittites, who were not Semitic, and the Philistines, whose race affinity is doubtful. The Egyptians occupied the country for a long period, but did not contribute much to the population. Some of the tribes brought in by the Assyrians may have been non-Semitic, but most of them were evidently of cognate race (2 Ki 17:24), and the racial characteristics of the Syrians were not changed. When Alexander and his successors brought in the Greek and Macedoninn elements there was a decided change in the city population, but little in the country districts, and although the Greeks had a powerful influence upon the civilization of the country the Semitic type overcame the admixture of Greek blood and prevailed in the country as a whole. The Romans ruled the country for centuries and established a number of military colonies, but they did not affect the population even as much as the Greeks. When, in the 7th century AD, the Mohammedan conquest swept over Syria, it brought in another great wave of pure Semitic stock with the numerous Arab settlers, who tended to obliterate any non-Semitic elements that might have existed. The effects of the influx of Europeans in the time of the Crusades were not sufficient to produce any marked change, and the same may be said of all later invasions of Turks and Kurds.

The Syrians, while thus a mixed people to a large extent, have maintained the Semitic type, but they have never, in all their history, been able to unite politically, and have always been divided, when independent. They have been, during the greater part of their history, under foreign domination, as they still are, under Turkish rule.

6. Religion:

The religion of the Syrians in ancient times was undoubtedly similar to that of the Babylonians, as is shown by the names of their gods. The Arameans worshipped Hadad and Rimmon (2 Ki 5:18), sometimes joined as Hadadrimmon (Zec 12:11). Baal, or Bel, Ashtoreth, or Ishtar, were almost universally worshipped, and Nebu, Agli-bol, Melakh-bol, Ati and other deities are found in the Palmyrene inscriptions, showing the Babylonian influence in their cult. This was to be expected from the known prevalence of Babylonian culture throughout Western Asia for centuries.

H. Porter

Also see definition of "Mesopotamia" in Word Study

TIP #01: Welcome to the NEXT Bible Web Interface and Study System!! [ALL]
created in 0.37 seconds
powered by