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Ancient Arameans (Aramaeans)

Aram: the son of Shem in Genesis 10:22

The children of Shem; Elam and Ashur
and Arphaxad and Lud and ARAM ...

Overview: Ancient country roughly equivalent to modern Syria that stretched from the Lebanon Mountains to beyond the Euphrates River. It was named after the Aramaeans who first occupied the region between the 14th and 12th centuries BC and in the process established what were to become many illustrious city kingdoms in the 10th century BC. Of these the most famous was Damascus. Aram is frequently mentioned in the Bible and Jesus most likely spoke Aramaic ...

Although there is evidence of the Aramaic language in records of the second millennium B.C. the historic texts begin in the eighth century in the city-states of Aram or inland Syria when it displaced Phoenician as the lingua franca in Syria and nearby coastal Asia Minor. By the end of the century Aramaic had already won for itself the role of international language in official circles from at least Assyria to Judah (2 Kings 18:17-26 -- the date is 701 BC). The achievement is the more remarkable since the Arameans never forged a great empire but spread the language through relatively peaceful means -- notably tribal migrations and trade. The Achaemenians used Aramaic as their interprovincial tongue -- at least for the areas west of Iran. Indeed parts of the Bible are written in Aramaic. So great was this language that it was destined to replace the native languages of all Semitic Asia outside of Arabia and it remained unchallenged until the Islamic Conquest in the seventh century AD ...

The Ancient Near East (1965) Cyrus Gordon

The History of the Ancient Near East Electronic Compendium