🔼The name Aram in the Bible
There are one country and several men named Aram in the Bible. The country named Aram in the Bible is now called Syria, which lies to the north of Israel and east of present day Lebanon, and which capital was and still is Damascus. Aram-slash-Syria is not to be confused with Assyria, which was a country and later an empire to the far north-east of Israel; present day Iraq. Assyria's capital was Nineveh, of which today only ruins remain.
The Greeks decided to call Aram Syria (Συρια; Acts 15:41, Galatians 1:21), and rendered the same name to Assyria, which caused considerable confusion. But confusion already abounded since the Semitic speaking peoples referred to regions in Assyria with names that contained Aram; see for instance Paddan-aram and Aram-naharaim. Today it's generally accepted that the names Syria and Assyria come from the same Semitic root (see below).
In Roman times, Syria became a Roman district just north of Israel. That's why Matthew could write that news about Jesus went out into all Syria (Matthew 4:24). All together, the name Aram or Syria occurs 12 times in the New Testament; see full concordance.
Other Biblical Arams are:
- A son of Shem, who was the first-born son of Noah (Genesis 10:22). His progeny became the Arameans who peopled the country of Aram.
- A son of Kemuel, who was a son of Nahor with Milcah, the brother and niece of Abraham (Genesis 22:21).
- A son of Shemer, son of Heber, son of Beriah, son of Asher, the eighth son of Jacob and the second of Zilpah (1 Chronicles 7:34).
- A district in Gilead (1 Chronicles 2:23).
- A region in Mesopotamia (see Paddan-aram).
- Finally, the King James and the Darby translations list an Aram (Αραμ) in the genealogy of Christ, but this Greek Aram is due to an odd transliteration of the Hebrew name Ram (רם). Modern English versions of the Bible speak of Ram (Matthew 1:3, Luke 3:33).
🔼Etymology of the name Aram
The name Aram comes probably from the common Hebrew verb רום (rum) meaning to be high, rise up:
Note the assumed Hebrew root ארם ('rm) that, according to BDB Theological Dictionary, may indeed have something to do with the Hebrew word רום (rum) and which is identical to our name Aram.
The name Aram is possibly derived from the root that also gave us the word for citadel. It probably also means Elevated. For a meaning of the name Aram, Jones' Dictionary of Old Testament Proper Names reads High, Elevated. NOBSE Study Bible Name List reads Elevated.