Who were the Arameans according to the Bible?

The Arameans were an ancient Semitic Aramaic-speaking tribal coalition that arose from the region known as Aram (present-day Syria) in 11th to 8th centuries BC.

Location and language

The Arameans lived on high lands and the word Aram comes from a root meaning “heights.” The Aram territory occupied the north east region of Israel and spreads from the Euphrates River and including Mesopotamia. From an early date, there were many Arameans in Assyria and Babylonia, so the Aramaic tongue overcame the old Assyrian and was later lost by the Arab conquest.

Cities

Their oldest city was Aram-naharaim – meaning the land within the bend of the Euphrates River ( Genesis 24:10). In the OT era, there is mention of the cities of Damascus (Genesis 14:15) and Hamath (Numbers 13:21). And in the NT era, the most prominent city was Syrian Antioch (Acts 11:19; 13:1).

Israel and the Arameans

Based on Genesis 10:22, Aram was son of Shem, but in Gen. 22:21 he is called son of Kemuel and grandson of Nahor. Abraham sent his servant to get a wife for Isaac from land of Aram (Genesis 24:10; 25:20). Also, Jacob’s father-in-law, (Laban) was called an Aramean (Genesis 31:10). And the Bible called Jacob “a wandering Aramean” (Deuteronomy 26:5). In the King James translation, the Arameans are generally called Syrians ( 2 Kings 7:6).

The kings of Israel defeat the Arameans

During the reign of King David, the Arameans took the place of the dwellers of the Orontes valley and settled as far south as Damascus and Beth-Rehob on the southern skirts of Hermon (2 Sam. 8:3–8; 10:6–19). David overcome them and they were forced to pay tribute to him (2 Samuel 8:5–6). Although the Arameans made a coalition with the Ammonites to attack Israel (2 Samuel 10), the Israelites overcame them again.

During the golden rule of Solomon, his kingdom ruled all the neighboring kingdoms and the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. And they all brought tribute to him (1 Kings 4:21).

The Arameans defeat Israel

Later, during the time of the wicked King Ahab, the Lord allowed the Arameans to afflict Israel. And Ahab lost a war against the Syrians and he died according to the prophet Micaiah’s prediction whom he imprisoned (2 Chronicles 18:34).

And because of the continued apostasy of Israel, the Lord withdrew His protective hand so their enemies afflicted the nation. The Arameans invaded Israel (2 Kings 6:8) and laid a siege on its main city – Samaria (verse 24).

The prophet Elisha prophesied of the slaughters that the Arameans would do to God’s people (2 Kings 8:12). Then, the Arameans attacked King Joram of Israel (2 Kings 8:28) and King Joash of Judah (2 Chronicles 24:23–25) and wounded both kings. Finally, the Arameans joined, the Chaldeans, the Moabites and the Ammonites to bring about the collapse of Jerusalem (2 Kings 24:2).

An aramean that accepted God

Although the Arameans were heathen people that worshiped idols, there was among them a man that sought the blessing of Jehovah. This was Naaman the Assyrian army commander (2 Kings 5). He came in humility seeking healing for his leprosy from God’s prophet Elisha. And the Lord granted him his request. The result was that he not only gained a physical healing but a spiritual blessing as well. He went home to Assyria believing in the true God of Israel (v. 15). And the Lord showed that He blesses anyone that comes to him regardless of his background (Romans 2:11-16).

In His service,

BibleAsk Team

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