Sunday, August 2, 2015

Land of Abraham's Father: Aram-Naharaim --Land of Constant War

Nadene Goldfoot                                                                        

Terah was Abraham's father.  Terah and his family had come from the East to the city of Ur, which today lies in Iraq.  It was a land with lots of water.  Water is needed for a civilization to exist.  It was from Abraham that the father of the Arabs, Ishmael, and the father of the Jews, Isaac, came from as they were Abraham's sons and play a very important role in our history.
The NE area of Mesopotamia where 2 rivers lie, the Tigris and the Euphrates, was called ARAM-NAHARAIM.  Aram in the Bible meant Syria..  This meant, Aram of the 2 Rivers.  It is the biblical name of this region.
                   Descendants of Serug

1   Serug
.. +Milcah
. 2   Nahor I
..... +Iyoska
..... 3   Terah b: in Ur of Chaldees, Sumeria, Mesopotamia Iraq d: in Haran
......... 4   [1] Abram-Abraham b: d: in Hebron
............. +Sarai-Sarah b: d: in Hebron
......... *Friend of [1] Abram-Abraham:
............. +Hagar
......... *2nd Wife of [1] Abram-Abraham:
............. +Keturah
......... 4   Haran b:
......... 4   [2] NAHOR II b in Ur of Chaldees d: in Haran
............. +Milcah b: in Ur of Chaldees d: in Haran
......... *Friend of [2] NAHOR II:
............. +Reumah

Nearly all the names of the ancestors of Abraham, such as Serug, Nahor, Terah, correspond to place-names in this region.  According to the picture above, Ur rested on the Euphrates River almost at the mouth from the Persian Gulf where the 2 rivers emptied.  

The kings of Aram never succeeded in creating a homogeneous state.
When?  2279 BCE Sargon's Empire  of Akkad (King from 2334-2279 BCE)  showing Ur.  
Sargon II was King of Assyria from 721-712 BCE.

 He took the throne when Shalmaneser III died during the siege of Samaria.  At that time he exiled many of the people.  In 720 BCE he defeated soldiers including the remnants of thee Israelites of Samaria.  He was assassinated and succeeded by Sennacherib.  Evidently the map hadn't changed for many years.

Sargon had annexed the country in 721 BCE, deported 27,290 Israelites to Assyria and Media, and replaced them with Syrian and Babylonian prisoners.  

Sargon's empire became a memory. But Sargon remained as a legend.


 It was said that Sargon's mother had abandoned him in a cradle of reeds, that she had placed the cradle on one of Mesopotamia's great rivers and that Sargon had been found and adopted by Sumerians – a story similar to one which would emerge centuries later about a man called Moses, the Prophet of the Jewish people.  

Who were the people living in Ur?  They were Arameans of Aram.  They were a group of Semitic tribes who had invaded the Fertile Crescent in the 2nd half of the 2nd millennium BCE- about 4,000 BCE.  They roamed between the Persian Gulf and the Amanus Mountains.
In Genesis 10:22, Aram and Israel had common ancestors and the Israelite patriarchs were of Aramaic origin and kept their ties of marriage with the tribes of Aram.  From other sources, the Akkadian findings of the 12th century BCE sheds light on the connection.  The Arameans were politically important not long after when independent Aramean states and princedoms, such as Aram-Dammesek, Aram-Naharaim, and Aram-Zobah came into being in Syria and Mesopotamia.

At the end of the 11th century BCE,  Assyria (in Western Asia with Semitic people who were most aggressive in 20th century BCE and expanded in 13th  and 10th centuries BCE)  was threatened with invasion by Aramean tribes, and only at the end of the 10th century did she finally succeed in stopping the danger.  On and off wars with these powers was a constant danger of the 9th and 8th centuries BCE.

The successes of Kings David and Solomon against the Aramean states in Mesopotamia and Syria contributed to Assyria's recovery.

In 743-742 BCE, the Aramean states in Syria were overthrown and turned into Assyrian dependencies.  When the people rebelled, they were punished by deportation of the people to distant countries.

The Aramaic language was spread among the peoples in whose midst the Arameans lived beside or with and became the current language throughout Western Asia.  Aramaic is closer to Hebrew than any other Semitic language.  It became an international language for commerce from the late Assyrian and Persian kingdoms of 6th century BCE.  The proof are the many inscriptions found in Asia Minor, Egypt, India and other places where it was never the native language.  It was for  many centuries the Palestinian vernacular.  Biblical readings were translated into Aramaic in the synagogues for people who did not understand Hebrew.
Hadad, stone idol of main god found in Palace at Tell Halaf, Syria
   The main god in Syria was Hadad, god of wind, rain, thunder and lightening.Their gods made up a pantheon, like the Greeks and Romans had.  It was often regarded as the god of justice and augury (omens,  chance events as the fall of lots).  He is sometimes identified with Baal, but Baal was a title denoting lordship of the world.  Several kings of Edom took on the name of Hadad.    Ancient Semites believed in this pantheon.  This is where Abraham came from, but then concluded that there was only ONE G-d.   We know that Terah, his father,  was an idol maker.
Aram-Dammesek was the most important Aramean kingdom in Syria in the 10th to 8th centuries BCE.  It was named after its capital, DAMASCUS (in Hebrew-Dammesek).  When Solomon's kingdom was divided into Israel and Judah at the time of his death in 920 BCE, Aram-Dammesek was a constant danger to Israel which it often exploited in its disagreements with Judah.
 It joined the kings of Israel, Judah and Syria in opposing the Assyrians in 853, 848 and 845 BCE.  In 805, the Asssyrians took Damascus and forced the king to pay a heavy tribute.  The kings of Israel now took the opportunity to win back areas conquered by Aram-Dammesek and even to annex Aram-Dammesek itself for a time as told in Jeroboam II.

In 738 BCE, Aram-Dammesek became allies with Israel against Assyria.  During the next campaign led by Tiglath-Pileser in 733 to 732 BCE, the country of Aram-Dammesek was plundered and its population was exiled and its existence as an independent state ended.

Aram-Zobah was an Aramean kingdom in southern Syria.  In the 10th century BCE, Hadadezer, king of Aram-Zobah,  created a political and military alliance with other Aramean kingdoms to check on Israel's expansion.  Doesn't it sound a little like today's history?

King David inflicted 3 severe defeats on Aram-Zobah after which it disappeared from the biblical record.

During the Middle Ages, the name, Aram-Zobah, was applied in Hebrew to Aleppo, Syria, which wound up with the largest Jewish population in Syria with Damascus as 2nd largest.  Almost all Jews have left Syria today.

Resource: The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia
Tanakh on Sargon  Sargon and Moses

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