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The Arameans were the people of Syria. The name for Syria, Aram (“highlands”), is prominent in the Bible, but in the description of it, no part of the land was in Mesopotamia. When Abraham’s family left the Ur of the Chaldeans to go to Canaan, they stopped in Haran, Genesis 11:31, 12:5, Acts 7:2, 4. Traditionally this is considered in the northwest area of Mesopotamia. But this is not spelled the same (Charan) and would have been out of the way. However, fourteen miles east of Damascus, is a village called Harran al-`Awamid (of the Pillars), which could be the Haran of the Bible. One proof of this is Abram’s connection to Damascus, Genesis 15:2, which literally reads, “the heir of my house is this Damesek (of) Eliezer.” Historians noted that Abraham reigned as king at Damascus, and nearby a village is called, “The Habitation of Abraham.” Abraham called this “my country,” Genesis 24:4. According to Genesis 24:10, Abraham’s servant was instructed to get a bride (Rebekah) for his son Isaac. He went to “Mesopotamia.” It is literally “Aram Naharaim” meaning “Aram of two rivers.” It is assumed that because of the mention of two rivers, it is Mesopotamia between the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers. But this place is in Syria. But there is in the area of Damascus a land between two rivers, the Abanah and Pharpar (now the Barada and the Awaj), the same rivers mentioned by Naaman the Syrian in II Kings 5:12. It just so happens this is where Harran al-`Awamid, the likely Haran, is located. The Syrian connection is clear. Rebekah’s father Bethuel was an Aramean of Padan Aram, Genesis 25:20. Padan Aram means “the fields or plain of Aram.” When Jacob fled from Esau, he went to Laban “the Syrian,” Genesis 28:5, who lived in Haran, Genesis 27:43, the same place as Padan Aram, Genesis 28:2. Syria may have included Lebanon, derived from the name Laban. Considering Abraham traveling to Canaan, there was a more direct route from Mesopotamia. In Ezra 8:15, Ezra mentioned the people, traveling from Babylon to Jerusalem, gathered “by the river that flows to Ahava,” and from there to Jerusalem, Ezra 8:31. Ahava (Ivah in II Kings 18:34, and Ava in II Kings 17:24) is a city on the Euphrates, now known as ‘Hit.’ Maps show it is due east of Damascus. A modern highway, likely following the ancient route, connects Ahava and Damascus. Throughout the rest of the Old Testament, Aram is always Syria, the whole region up to the Euphrates River. The territory included the areas of Aram Naharaim (wrongly named Mesopotamia) Aram-maacah, and Zobah, I Chronicles 19:6, Psalm 60:1, Beth-Rehob and Ish-Tob, II Samuel 10:6, 8. When David defeated the king of Zobah, he established his rule to the Euphrates, which was the northern boundary of Syria, I Chronicles 18:3. In the Bible record, Arameans were always Syrians, always separate from Mesopotamia or Assyria. Deuteronomy 26:5 mentions this Aramean/Syrian heritage of the Jewish people.
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