(ar uh mee' an) consisted of the loose confederation of towns and settlements spread over what is now called Syria as well as in some parts of Babylon from which Jacob and Abraham came (Deuteronomy 26:5). The Arameans were rarely gathered into a cohesive political group; rather they lived as independent towns and tribes settled by nomads prior to 1000 B.C. Although the Arameans were quick to form alliances with each other or with other countries if threatened, once the crisis was ended they disbanded and often fought among themselves and against their former allies.
The Old Testament records interactions between Israel and the Arameans on a number of occasions.
Deuteronomy 26:5 contains what has become an important confession for Jews—”A wandering Aramean was my fatherů” (RSV)—which claims Aramean lineage for Jacob and by extension for Abraham. The first mention of Arameans outside of the Bible dates from the reign of Tiglath-pileser I of Assyria (1116-1076 B.C.). Thus roughly at the start of Israel's monarchy, the Arameans became a potent political force. They were able to seize large portions of Assyrian lands, defeating Tiglath-pileser I and II and Ashur-rabi II. At the same time they suffered losses to David on the western front (2 Samuel 8:9-10). He demanded tribute from Hadadezer, king of Zobah, and married Maacah the daughter of Talmui, king of Geshur. It was Maacah who bore Absalom (2 Samuel 3:3). Both Zobah and Geshur were Aramean states.
The most important city of the Arameans was Damascus. Although the political influence of the Arameans was relatively unimportant, they made a lasting contribution with their language. See Assyria; Damascus; Aramaic.