The Rise and Fall of the Aramaeans in the Ancient Near East, from Their First Appearance until 732 BCE

New Studies on Aram and Israel

by Gotthard G. G. Reinhold (Author)
©2016 Monographs 176 Pages


In the early nineties, after Reinholds first publication »Die Beziehungen Altisraels zu den aramäischen Staaten in der israelitisch-judäischen Königszeit« an archaeological find came to light with the broken pieces of the early Aramaic written Têl Dan Stela, which has greatly illuminated the portrait of Aram and ancient history of Israel. The author offers a renewed overview to the Aramaean history on the foundation of the forced researches in the last 50 years. This begins with the early testifying of Aram in cuneiform sources of the 3rd/2nd Mill. B.C. from the Mesopotamian and Syrian area and ends with the decline of Aram-Damascus. The Volume incorporates a revised edition of the researches history and two excurses about the newest palaeographic results to the second line of the Bar-Hadad Stela of Aleppo in Syria on the base of precision photographs and computer-enhancements and presents a new transcription and translation of the Têl Dan Stela fragments. These are a certain basis to build on the royal line of sucession in Aram-Damascus and to illuminate their historical background in the Ancient Near East. Reinhold emphasizes, that the results of archaeology could always be adapted or replaced by recent discoveries; but he hopes that the «New Studies on Aram and Israel» will be served as a base for the future research of the Near Eastern Archaeology and History.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the Author
  • About the Book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Preface
  • Foreword
  • 1 The Attestation of Aram in the Oldest Written Materials from Syria and Mesopotamia during the 3rd and 2nd Millennia
  • 2 The Development of Aramaean Tribes during the Second Half of the Second until the Beginning of the First Millennium BCE in the Ancient Near East
  • 3 Toward the Origin of the Aramaeans in the Hebrew Bible
  • 4 Aram’s Ascent to Power at the End of the 2nd and Beginning of the 1st Millennium BCE until the End of its Rule
  • 4.1 Aram’s Development in Northern Syria and Upper Mesopotamian from the 11th to 8th Centuries BCE
  • 4.2 Aram’s Development in Central and Southern Syria and Its Adversary Israel: Confrontation and Alliance in the First Millennium BCE until the End of Aram-Damascus’ Dominance in 732, According to Biblical and Extrabiblical Sources
  • 4.2.1 The Aramaean States in Central and Southern Syria during the Davidic and Solomonic Dynasty
  • 4.2.2 Aram and Israel before and after Qarqar in the Ninth Century BCE
  • Before Discovery of the Zakkur Stela from Tell Afis (Hazrak)
  • After Discovery of the Zakkur Stele from Tell Afis (Hazrak)
  • Subsequent to Discovery of the Melqart /Bar-Hadad Stela
  • The Bar-Hadad of the Melqart or Bir-/Bar-Hadad Stela: King of Aram-Damascus or King of Arpad?
  • The Books of Kings, Chronology and the Têl Dan Stela Fragments
  • 4.2.3 The Historical Background of the Elija and Elisha Narratives: A Short Review
  • 4.2.4 Toward Hazael’s Dominance in Syria-Palestine and the Political Events of His Son, Ben-Hadad IV
  • 4.2.5 The Rise and Fall of Damascene Hegemony under Rezin (ca. 750–732 BCE)
  • 5 Excursus I: The Melqart or Bir/Bar-Hadad Stela
  • 5.1 Epigraphy
  • 5.2 Palaeography
  • 5.3 Reconstruction, Transliteration, and Translation (Fig 11)
  • 5.4 Iconography
  • 5.5 Persons and Deities
  • 5.6 History
  • 6 Excursus II: The Fragments of the Têl Dan Stela (Title Page)
  • 6.1 The Arrangement of the Fragments
  • 6.2 The Epigraphy, Palaeography, and Dating of the Early Aramaic Text
  • 6.3 The Textual Analysis: Persons, Toponyms, and Deities
  • 6.3.1 Persons
  • 6.3.2 Toponyms
  • 6.3.3 Deities
  • 6.4 Transliteration and Translation
  • 6.5 Historical Background and Considerations
  • References
  • Abbreviations
  • Bibliography
  • Photographic Acknowledgements and Certifications


In the early nineties, after the publication of my dissertation at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe-University Frankfurt am Main Die Beziehungen Altisraels zu den aramäischen Staaten in der israelitisch-judäischen Königszeit (EHS.T Bd. 368, Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang 1989), a significant archaeological find came to light with the sensational broken pieces of the Têl Dan Stela, Israel, which greatly illuminated the portrait of Aram and ancient Israel’s history. Ever since, I have closely watched the international scholarly debate and investigated the new materials myself. Further motivation for this project came from Dr. Izaak J. de Hulster (University of Göttingen/University of Helsinki), during the archaeological excavations of our ABA team (= The German Study Group for Biblical Archaeology, Schorndorf, Germany) in Jerusalem, Israel, from 2009 through 2011.

I owe my sincere thanks to Dr. Pieter Gert van der Veen for enabling me to lecture on the subject matter at the annual conferences in Schönblick, Schwäbisch Gmünd, Baden-Württemberg, as well as at our specialized ABA conferences in Germany and to collaborate on the publication Peter van der Veen/Uwe Zerbst, VOLK OHNE AHNEN? Auf den Spuren der Erzväter und des frühen Israel, (STUDIUM INTEGRALE, Holzgerlingen: SCM Hänssler, 2013). ← 7 | 8

I am also grateful to Mr. Paul Michael Kurtz (University of Göttingen / Max Weber Center for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies), who has translated an earlier version of this text on behalf of Dr. Izaak de Hulster – for the latter’s once intended volume – and subsequently helped me improve the English after I had modified and expanded the text.

In addition, I would like to thank Prof. Dr. Manfred Oeming and, once again, Dr. de Hulster for the invitation to participate in the Heidelberg Colloquium Aram and Israel: Cultural Interaction, Political Borders and Construction of Identity during the Early Iron Age (12th – 8th Centuries BCE), September 1–4, 2014.

However, I alone bear responsibility for any errors in the volume.

Finally, I am grateful to the following persons and institutions for their helpful cooperation in my publication of colour photographs in the present volume:

Dr. Haim Gitler, Chief Curator of Archaeology and Curator of Numismatics at The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel;

Bella Gershovich, Image Recources & Copyright Management Department, The Israel Museum, Jerusalem, Israel;

Prof. Dr. ord. Stefania Mazzoni, Director Italian Archaeological Mission Tell Afis. Archaeology and Art History of the Ancient Near East, Universita degli Studi Firenze, SAGAS. Dipartimento di Storia, Archeologia, Geografia Arte e Spettacolo, Firenze, Italia;

Marianne Cotty, Le Départment des Antiquités Orientales Musée du Louvre Paris. Centre du documentation du Départment, France;

Hanna Nelson and Leila Audouy, Agence photographice Réunion des musées nationaux Grand Palais des Champs-Elysées Paris, France; and

Jan Böttger, Bildrechte und Archiv (bkp), Bildagentur für Kunst, Kultur und Geschichte, Berlin, Deutschland.

On the occasion of my 70th birthday, December 19, 2015, I would like to make the present study available to the experts. This investigation of a history of Aram and ancient Israel encompasses new archaeological sources and their evaluations as well as previously known finds, which were researched with new methods. Furthermore, a number of specific analyses should be highlighted here: a renewed evaluation of the oldest written sources from Syria and Mesopotamia and their contribution to the early ← 8 | 9 → testimony of Aram, researches on the succession of the Aramaean kings from Aram-Damascus, and Excursus I–II, which consider Melqart or Bir/Bar-Hadad Stela from Syria and the broken pieces of the Têl Dan-Stela from Israel.

The results conveyed in this volume could always be adapted or replaced by recent discoveries, of course. In this sense, I hope the present volume will serve as a basis for the future research.

Gotthard G. G. Reinhold, ABA, Sulzbach an der Murr, December 1, 2015. ← 9 | 10← 10 | 11

1       This essay builds upon research conducted over the past several decades on the Aramaeans, from their presence in Mesopotamia and Syria to their relationship with ancient Israel. For the Têl Dan inscription of discovery preceding study, see Gotthard G.G. Reinhold (1989).
For discussion of the Melqart/Bir-Hadad and Têl Dan stelae, see Excursus I and II in particular and Reinhold 1999; 2003 in publications, and 2005; 2008 [a] in lectures. Regarding the earliest attestations of Aram see Gotthard G.G. Reinhold 2006, 2008 [b], and in publication: Reinhold, Die Aramäer und Altisrael. Zur Frühbezeugung Arams in Schriftquellen des 3./2. Jahrtausends v. Chr. aus dem syrischen und mesopotamischen Raum (Exkurs), in: Peter van der Veen, Uwe Zerbst, hrsg., VOLK OHNE AHNEN? Auf den Spuren der Erzväter und des frühen Israel, STUDIUM INTEGRALE, Holzgerlingen: SCM Hänssler, 2013, 204–206.


by Izaak J. de Hulster, University of Helsinki

The relationship between the Aramaeans, especially Aram-Damascus, and the Kingdom of Israel was a dynamic one, characterized by both rivalry, military conflicts, and domination as well as alliances, military cooperation, and economic exchange. This relationship forms an integral part of the history of the Levant and left its traces in both biblical and extra-biblical sources. The Aramaeans are a topic of renewed academic interest, as can be illustrated, with the recent volumes edited by Berlejung and Streck (2013), by Niehr (2014), and the forthcoming one by Sergi, Oeming and de Hulster,2 as well as the establishment of the Max Planck Minerva Center for the Relations between Israel and Aram in Biblical Times.3

Gotthard G.G. Reinhold’s first monograph on Aram and Israel dates back to 1989.4 Since then he has continued his historical, archaeological, and epigraphical research in Israel, Syria, and Jordan.

It was in 2008 that my countryman Peter van der Veen brought us together. While working on individual research projects, yet sharing common ← 11 | 12 interest in Aram and Israel, the three of us regularly exchanged different approaches and opinions. We planned a volume together and had hoped that Gotthard Reinhold’s contribution could have signaled the dynamics of researching this topic 25 years after the publication of his monograph. For various reasons this volume could not be released.5 Meanwhile his chapter has grown into a new monograph and his 70th birthday is yet another honourable occasion for a book that celebrates decades of devoted study. His research is marked by his diligence, enthusiasm, and originality, as well as by the imperative to publish to bring science forward and the humbleness that our knowledge is preliminary and future research can lead to new insights. ← 12 | 13

2       Angelika Berlejung and Michael Steck (eds.), Arameans, Chaldeans, and Arabs in Babylonia and Palestine in the First Millennium B.C., LAOS 3 (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 2013); H. Niehr (ed.) The Arameans in Ancient Syria, Handbook of Oriental Series. Section 1 The Near Middle East 106 (Leiden: Brill, 2014); Omer Sergi, Manfred Oeming, and Izaak J. de Hulster (eds.), In Search for Aram and Israel: Politics, Culture, and Identity, Orientalische Religionen in der Antike (Tübingen: Mohr-Siebeck, forthcoming 2016). Likewise three monographs could be mentioned on the Elija-Elisha cycle and the Arameans: Hadi Ghantous, The Elisha-Hazael paradigm and the kingdom of Israel: the politics of God in ancient Syria-Palestine, Bible Word (Durham: Acumen, 2013); Hillel I.
Millgram, The Elijah Enigma: The Prophet, King Ahab and the Rebirth of Monotheism in the Book of Kings (Jefferson: McFarland, 2014); and K. Lawson Younger Jr., A Political History of the Arameans: From Their Origins to the End of Their Politics, Archaeology and Biblical Strudies (Atlanta: SBL, forthcoming 2016).

3       A collaboration of the Bar-Ilan University (Israel) and the Universitya of Leipzig (Germany): http://aramisrael.org/ (accessed 26 November 2015).


ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2016 (August)
History of Aram Aram's Development Attestation of Aram
Frankfurt am Main, Berlin, Bern, Bruxelles, New York, Oxford, Wien, 2016. 176 pp., 11 coloured ill., 17 tables

Biographical notes

Gotthard G. G. Reinhold (Author)


Title: The Rise and Fall of the Aramaeans in the Ancient Near East, from Their First Appearance until 732 BCE