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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

Gotthard G. G. Reinhold

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.

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3 Toward the Origin of the Aramaeans in the Hebrew Bible

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3    Toward the Origin of the Aramaeans in the Hebrew Bible

As indicated in the oldest extrabiblical sources (2), Aramaean segments of the population resided in the desert region of western Mesopotamia up until the end of Middle Bronze Age II. Based on ceramic analysis from regional surveys, Glen M. Schwartz posits an initial population growth in the middle of the Ḫabur region during the Late Bronze and Early Iron Age.61 Such information supports the proposal of Amihai Mazar, who concludes that ancient traditions underlie the patriarchal narratives—passed on from generation to generation and circulated in some written form already during the Israelite-Judahite monarchy.62 Kenneth A. Kitchen likewise dates the patriarchal narratives to the early second millennium according to the socioeconomic milieu manifoldly reflected in the oldest written evidence.63 However, other scholars of Hebrew Bible like Van Seters, argue for a much later writing of these narratives: i.e., during the late monarchy, when deported Israelites of the Ḫabur region, Aramaeans relocated to Palestine, and Aramaean settlers of the Harran region all practiced similar ways of ← 27 | 28 → life and adapted themselves ethno-nationally.64 The question then arises as to whether or not already after the fall of the southern kingdom and the subsequent deportation of the greater social strata—and even into the reign of Nabunaid (556–539)—the basic trajectory of ancient Israel’s thought would have centred on the nation itself, the return to native soil, and the restoration of land and city alike, particularly Jerusalem and...

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