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Aram-Naharaim

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Aram-Naharaim or "Aram of Two Rivers," is a region that is mentioned five times in the Hebrew Bible. It is commonly identified with Nahrima mentioned in three tablets of the Amarna correspondence as a geographical description of the kingdom of Mitanni. It was the land in which the city of Haran lay. According to one rabbinical Jewish tradition, the birthplace of Abraham was also situated in Aram-Naharaim.[1]

Identification of the two rivers

The actual rivers referred to are not explicitly named in the Bible, although it is generally agreed that the first was the Upper Euphrates (called N-h-r-n by the Egyptians). The name Nahrima in the Amarna letters denoted the region of the Upper Euphrates and its tributaries - the Balikh and Khabur.

Both Josephus and the Septuagint translate the name as Mesopotamia. Ancient writers elsewhere used the name "Mesopotamia" for all the land between the Tigris and Euphrates. However the usage of the Hebrew name "Aram-Naharaim" does not match this general usage of "Mesopotamia", the former being used exclusively for a northern region. The Book of Jubilees places Aram's portion between the Tigris and Euphrates, but lying north of the Chaldeans (Jubilees 9:5):

And for Aram there came forth the fourth portion, all the land of Mesopotamia [Naharaim] between the Tigris and the Euphrates to the north of the Chaldees to the border of the mountains of Asshur and the land of 'Arara.

The translation of the name as "Mesopotamia" was not consistent - the Septuagint also uses a more precise translation "Mesopotamia of Syria" as well as "Rivers of Syria". Josephus refers to the subjects of Chushan, king of Aram Naharaim,[2] as "Assyrians".[3]

In Hebrew Ashur denotes the region of Assyria containing the Tigris and is listed as distinct from Aram Naharaim in Jubilees. Aram Naharaim lay west of Ashur as it contained Haran. Haran itself lies on the west bank of the Balikh, east of the Upper Euphrates. The traditional Jewish location of Ur Kasdim (at Edessa) and the Balikh itself lie west of the Khabur implying that the second river was understood to be the latter by those maintaining this tradition. Jubilees however associates the city of Ur Kesed (Ur Kasdim) not with the descendants of Aram who received Aram Naharaim as an inheritance, but rather with those of Arpachshad, his brother, who was Abram's ancestor and ancestor of the Chaldeans.

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References

Some or all of this article is forked from Wikipedia. The original article was at Aram-Naharaim. The list of authors can be seen in the page history.

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