Mesopotamia

From BiblePortal Wikipedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Bridgeway Bible Dictionary [1]

Originally the name ‘Mesopotamia’ was given to the fertile land around the upper reaches of the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers ( Genesis 24:10;  Deuteronomy 23:4;  Judges 3:8-10;  1 Chronicles 19:6). By New Testament times it applied to the whole of the Euphrates-Tigris valley, so that even the city of Ur, which was near the mouth of the Euphrates, was considered to be in Mesopotamia ( Acts 2:9;  Acts 7:2). (For details see Aram; Assyria; Babylon; Euphrates; Syria; Tigris )

Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary [2]

an extensive province of Asia, the Greek name of which denotes "between the rivers," and on this account Strabo says, οτι κειται μεταξυ του Ευφρατου και του Τιγρος , that "it was situated between the Euphrates and the Tigris." In Scripture this country is called Aram, and Aramea. But as Aram also signifies Syria, it is denominated Aram Naharaim, or the Syria of the rivers. This province, which inclines from the southeast to the north-west, commenced at 33 20' N. lat., and terminated near 37 30' N. lat. Toward the south it extended as far as the bend formed by the Jordan at Cunaxa, and to the wall of Semiramis which separated it from Messene. Toward the north, it comprehended part of Taurus and the Mesius, which lay between the Euphrates and the Tigris. The modern name, given by the Arabs to this part, is of the same import with the ancient appellation; they call it "isle," or, in their language, Al- Dgezera. In this northern part is found Osrhoene, which seems to have been the same place with Anthemusir. The northern part of Mesopotamia is occupied by chains of mountains passing from north-west to south-east, in the situation of the rivers. The central parts of these mountains were called Singarae Montes. The principal rivers were Chaboras, (Al Kabour,) which commenced at Charrae, (Harran,) east of the mountains, and discharged itself into the Euphrates at Circesium (Kirkisieh;) the Mygdonius, (Hanali,) the source of which was near Nisibis, and its termination in the Chaboras. The principal towns in the eastern part along the Tigris and near it, are Nisibis, (Nisibin,) Bezabde, (Zabda,) Singora, (Sindja,) Labbana on the Tigris, (Mosul,) Hatru, (Harder,) and Apamea-Mesenes. At some distance to the south, upon the Tigris and on the borders of Mesopotamia, was the town of Antiochia, near which commenced the wall that passed from the Tigris to the Euphrates, under the name of Murus Mediae, or Semiramidis. In the western part were Edessa, called also Callin-Rhae, (Orfa,) Charrae, (Harran,) Nicephorium, (Racca,) Circesium at the mouth of the Chaboras, Anatho, (Anah,) Neharda, (Hadith Unnour,) upon the right of the Euphrates. There are several other towns of less importance. According to Strabo, this country was fertile in vines, and afforded abundance of good wine. According to Ptolemy, Mesopotamia had on the north a part of Armenia, on the west the Euphrates on the side of Syria, on the east the Tigris on the borders of Assyria, and on the south the Euphrates which joined the Tigris. Mesopotamia was a satrapy under the kings of Syria.

In the earliest accounts we have of this country, subsequent to the time of Abraham, it was subject to a king, called Cushan-Rishathaim, then perhaps the most powerful potentate of the east, and the first by whom the Israelites were made captive, which happened soon after the death of Joshua, and about B.C. 1400,  Judges 3:8 . The name of this king bespeaks him a descendant of Nimrod; and it was probably of the Lower Mesopotamia only, or Babylonia, of which he was sovereign; the northern parts being in the possession of the Arameans. This is implied in the history of Abraham; who, when ordered to depart from his country, namely, Chaldea, in the southern part of Mesopotamia, removed to Charran, still in Mesopotamia, but beyond the boundary of the Chaldees, and in the territory of Aram. About four hundred years after Cushan-Rishathaim, we find the northern parts of Mesopotamia in the hands of the Syrians of Zobah; as we are told, in 2 Samuel x, that Hadarezer, king of Zobah, after his defeat by Joab, "sent and brought out the Syrians that were beyond the river" Euphrates. The whole country was afterward seized by the Assyrians; to whom it pertained till the dissolution of their empire, when it was divided between the Medes and the Babylonians. It subsequently formed a part of the Medo-Persian, second Syrian or Macedonian, and Parthian empires, as it does at the present day of the modern Persians. The southern part of Mesopotamia answers nearly to the country anciently called the land of Shinar; to which the Prophet  Daniel 1:2 , refers, and  Zechariah 5:11 .

"On the fifth or sixth day after leaving Aleppo," says Campbell in his Overland Journey to India, "we arrived at the city of Diarbeker, the capital of the province of that name; having passed over an extent of country of between three and four hundred miles, most of it blessed with the greatest fertility, and abounding with as rich pastures as I ever beheld, covered with numerous herds and flocks. The air was charmingly temperate in the day time, but, to my feeling, extremely cold at night. Yet notwithstanding the extreme fertility of this country, the bad administration of government, conspiring with the indolence of the inhabitants, leaves it unpeopled and uncultivated. Diarbeker Proper, called also Mesopotamia from its lying between two famous rivers, and by Moses called Padanaram that is, ‘the fruitful Syria,' abounds with corn, wine, oil, fruits, and all the necessaries of life. It is supposed to have been the seat of the earthly paradise; and all geographers agree that here the descendants of Noah settled immediately after the flood. To be treading that ground which Abraham trod, where Nahor the father of Rebecca lived, where holy Job breathed the pure air of piety and simplicity, and where Laban the father-in-law of Jacob resided, was to me a circumstance productive of delightful sensations. As I rode along, I have often mused upon the contemptible stratagems to which I

was reduced, in order to get through this country, for no other reason than because I was a Christian; and I could not avoid reflecting with sorrow on the melancholy effects of superstition, and regretting that this fine tract of country, which ought to be considered above all others as the universal inheritance of mankind, should now be cut off from all except a horde of senseless bigots, barbarous fanatics, and inflexible tyrants."

Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament [3]

Mesopotamia is referred to in  Acts 2:9, where it is evidently the well-known district between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris with which the name is generally associated, and also in  Acts 7:2, where it is roughly parallel with ‘the land of the Chaldaeans’ in v. 4. The name ‘Mesopotamia’ represents the Hebrew Aram-Naharaim in the OT, which is usually rendered ‘Aram of the two rivers,’ but is more correctly Aram Naharim or Naharin, i.e. ‘Aram of the river-lands’ ( Encyclopaedia Biblica i. 287). Mesopotamia reached, on the north, to the plains beneath the Masius range of hills. To the south its limits were about where Babylonia begins, at the so-called Median Wall, which runs from a little below Is (Hit), on the Euphrates, to a point just above Opis (Kadisiya), on the Tigris. It thus formed a deep triangle with the apex to the south and the base along the foot of the northern mountains. The country fell steadily from 1,100 ft. in the north to 65 ft. at its southern extremity, and consisted for the most part of a single open stretch of steppe-land.

The river Chaboras (Khabur), entering the Euphrates from the east near Circesium, marks off the three divisions of Mesopotamia-( a ) the northern tracts on its west side, ( b ) the similar tracts to east of it, and ( c ) the steppe-land stretching away south to the Median Wall. As to ( a ), the north-western tracts bore the name of Osrhœne, or Orrhœne, in Seleucid times, and the chief city of the district was Urfa, the Edessa of the Greeks and Romans. To the south of Urfa lie the ruins of Harran, and along the western bank of the Habor stretched Gauzanitis, the Hebrew Gozan, to which Israelites were deported by the king of Assyria ( 2 Kings 17:6). As to ( b ), the principal city of the north-eastern region was Nisibis, a busy trading centre and a place of frequent conflict between Roman and Persian armies. As to ( c ), the southern region of Mesopotamia contained several cities of importance. Among these may be mentioned Corsothe, Anatho, and Is (on the Euphrates), and Atrae and Caenae (on the Tigris). Along the banks of the two rivers, in this southern country, was a belt of cultivated land, outside of which the conditions were (for the most part) those of the Syrian Desert.

Mesopotamia was constantly being crossed and traversed by armies and caravans in ancient times, and was repeatedly a scene of conflict between the nations of the West and of the Farther East. In the earliest times, its history was closely bound up with that of Babylonia on the south. The Babylonians held predominance for long periods, influencing the civilization to a very considerable extent. At the same time, the land lay open to Syria and Arabia, whose tribes were constantly breaking across its borders. From the Tel-el-Amarna tablets and certain Egyptian tribute-lists, it appears that a non-Semitic people, called Mitani, occupied the district of Naharin between 1700 and 1400 b.c. Harran was probably their capital city. After the Mitani supremacy, the country fell under the rule of the Assyrian kings, and in the 10th cent. b.c. seems to have become part of Assyria proper. When the Assyrian power declined, Mesopotamia was overrun (as it had been more or less all along) by Aramaean hordes from the west and south.

Literature.- Encyclopaedia Biblica iii. 3050-3057; H. Winckler, History of Babylonia and Assyria , Eng. translation, 1907.

A. W. Cooke.

People's Dictionary of the Bible [4]

Mesopotamia ( Mĕs-O-Po-Tâ'Mi-Ah ), The Region, Between The Rivers. The name given by the Greeks and Romans to that tract of fertile country lying between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris.  Acts 2:9;  Acts 7:2. It was called by the Hebrews Aram-naharaim, or "Aram (or Syria) of the two rivers;"  Genesis 24:10;  Deuteronomy 23:4;  Judges 3:8;  Judges 3:10;  1 Chronicles 19:6; and Padan-aram or "Plain of Syria,"  Genesis 25:20;  Genesis 28:2-7;  Genesis 46:15; also Aram or "Syria,"  Numbers 23:7;  Genesis 31:20;  Genesis 31:24. The great plains of Mesopotamia possess a nearly uniform, level, good soil, but barren from want of irrigation. Mesopotamia was the country of Nahor, R. V., "city of Nahor."  Genesis 24:10. Here lived Bethuel and Laban, and hither Abraham sent his servant to fetch Isaac a wife. A century later Jacob came on the same errand, and hence he returned with his two wives after an absence of 21 years. Mesopotamia again occurs at the close of the wanderings in the wilderness.  Deuteronomy 23:4. About a half century later, Mesopotamia appears as the seat of a powerful monarchy.  Judges 3:1-31. The children of Ammon, having provoked a war with David, "sent a thousand talents of silver to hire them chariots and horsemen out of Mesopotamia, and out of Syria-maachah, and out of Zobah."  1 Chronicles 19:6. Assyrian inscriptions and the Scripture record show that Mesopotamia was inhabited in the early times of the empire, b.c. 1200-1100, by a vast number of petty tribes, each under its own prince, and all quite independent of each other,  Judges 3:8-10;  2 Kings 19:12-13;  Isaiah 37:12, until subjugated by the kings of Assyria. Mesopotamia became an Assyrian province. The conquests of Cyrus brought it wholly under the Persian yoke, and thus it continued to the time of Alexander. The whole region is studded with mounds and ruins of Assyrian and Babylonian greatness. See Assyria.

Fausset's Bible Dictionary [5]

("region between the rivers"); 700 miles long, from 20 to 250 broad; bounded N.E. by the Tigris, S.W. by the Euphrates. Its Hebrew name Aram Naharaim means "Aram between the rivers." The tribe sprung from Aram, Shem's fourth son, first colonized it. Man's first dwelling after the flood. Here was the plain of Shinar ( Genesis 11:2;  Genesis 14:1), where the Babel tower and kingdom were. Padan Aram, "plain Syria," was the N. part of the whole; the whole Syrian "highland" was Aram, in contradistinction from Canaan "the lowland." The upper Tigris valley was separated from the Mesopotamian plain by a mountain range (Masius: Strabo, 11:12, section 4).

The vast plain is intersected by the Sinjar running E. and W. Mounds mark city sites on every side. Innumerable lines of embankment indicate a network of ancient canals which diffused by irrigation fertility where now are morasses or barrenness. The N.W. part between the bend of the Euphrates and the upper Tigris is what Scripture names Mesopotamia. The Chaboras or (See Habor , flowing from the S. side of the Sinjar range, empties itself into the Euphrates. Orfa, Abram's native city, and Haran, his resting place between Chaldaea and Palestine, are in Padan Aram ( Genesis 25:20;  Genesis 28:2). Nahor settled in Mesopotamia after quitting Ur ( Genesis 24:10). Naharina occurs in Egyptian inscriptions of the 18th and 19th dynasties. Bethuel, Rebekah, and Laban lived in Padan Aram. Balaam's abode was Pethor of Mesopotamia among "the mountains of the East" ( Numbers 23:7;  Numbers 22:5).

Chushan Rishathaim of Mesopotamia oppressed Israel in the time of the Judges ( Judges 3:8). (See Chushan Rishathaim ) The Mesopotamians aided the Ammonites with chariots against David ( 1 Chronicles 19:6;  1 Chronicles 19:16). Assyrian inscriptions confirm Scripture in asserting that Mesopotamia was independent of Assyria until after David ("The Tribes Of The Nairi," Stream Lands, Were Under Their Several Independent Princes, Until In 880 B.C., Jehu'S Time, Assyria Became Completely Their Master) ; also that Mesopotamians used chariots in battle, and that after David's time Mesopotamia became absorbed in Assyria. Men of Mesopotamia were among those who heard in their own tongue the wonderful works of God ( Acts 2:9).

Smith's Bible Dictionary [6]

Mesopota'mia. (Between The Rivers). The entire country between the two rivers, the Tigris and the Euphrates. This is a tract nearly 700 miles long and from 20 to 250 miles broad, extending in a southeasterly direction from Telek to Kurnah . The Arabian geographers term it "the Island," a name which is almost literally correct, since a few miles only intervene between the source of the Tigris and the Euphrates at Telek . But the region which bears the name of Mesopotamia, par excellence , both in Scripture and in the classical writers, is the northwestern portion of this tract, or the country between the great bend of the Euphrates, latitude, 35 degrees to 37 degrees 30', and the upper Tigris.

We first hear of Mesopotamia, in Scripture, as the country where Nahor and his family settled , after quitting Ur of the Chaldees.  Genesis 24:10. Here lived Bethuel and Laban, and hither, Abraham sent his servants to fetch Isaac a wife.  Genesis 24:38. Hither too, a century later, came Jacob on the same errand, and hence, he returned with his two wives, after an absence of twenty-one years.

After this, we have no mention of Mesopotamia till the close of the wanderings in the wilderness.  Deuteronomy 23:4. About half a century later, we find, for the first and last time, Mesopotamia as the seat of a powerful monarchy.  Judges 3:1.

Finally, the children of Ammon, having provoked a war with David, "sent a thousand talents of silver to hire them chariots and horsemen out of Mesopotamia, and out of Syria-maachah, and out of Zobah."  1 Chronicles 19:6.

According to the Assyrian inscriptions, Mesopotamia was inhabited in the early times of the empire, B.C. 1200-1100, by a vast number of petty tribes, each under its own prince, and all quite independent of one another. The Assyrian monarchs contended with these chiefs at great advantage, and by the time of Jehu, B.C. 880, had fully established their dominion over them.

On the destruction of the Assyrian empire, Mesopotamia seems to have been divided between the Medes and the Babylonians. The conquests of Cyrus brought it wholly under the Persian yoke, and thus, it continued, to the time of Alexander. Since 1516, it has formed a part of the Turkish empire. It is full of ruins and mounds of ancient cities, some of which are now throwing much light on the Scripture.

American Tract Society Bible Dictionary [7]

Between the rivers, the Greek name of the country between the Euphrates and the Tigris, called in Arabic, Al Jezira, the island. See Aram 2, and Padan-Aram . In its fullest sense, Mesopotamia extended from the Persian Gulf to mount Taurus; but the name usually denotes only the tract above Babylonia, now called Dearbekr and celebrated for its exuberant fertility; while the part below, now Irak-Arabi, is sterile and without water. Mesopotamia was including the territories of the Assyrian, Babylonian, Persian, Macedonian, and Roman empires successively, and belongs now to that of the Turks.

This region is associated with the earliest history of the human race both before and after the flood. Eden was not far off; Ararat was near to it on the north, and the land of Shinar on the south. The traveler here reaches what is truly "the Old World," and is surrounded by objects compared with which the antiquities of Greece and Rome are modern novelties. This was the home of the patriarchs who proceeded Abraham-Terah, Heber, Peleg, etc. Here Abraham and Sarah were born, and the wives of Isaac, and Jacob, and most of the sons of Jacob, the heads of the twelve tribes. Mesopotamia is also mentioned in Scripture as the abode of the first oppressor of Israel in the time of the judges,  Judges 3:8-10; in the history of the wars of David,  2 Samuel 10:16; and as furnishing a delegation of Jews, and perhaps proselytes, to attend the Passover at Jerusalem,  Acts 2:9 .

Holman Bible Dictionary [8]

The Scriptures witness to a long history of contacts between the Hebrew people and the people of Mesopotamia. Mesopotamia was the homeland of the patriarchs ( Genesis 11:31-12:4;  Genesis 24:10;  Genesis 28:6 ). A Mesopotamian king subdued Israel for a time during the period of the judges ( Judges 3:8 ). Mesopotamia supplied mercenary chariots and cavalry for the Ammonites' war with David ( 1 Chronicles 19:6; superscription of  Psalm 60:1 ). Both the Northern Kingdom of Israel ( 2 Kings 15:29;  1 Chronicles 5:26 ) and the Southern Kingdom of Judah ( 2 Kings 24:14-16;  2 Chronicles 36:20;  Ezra 2:1 ) went into Exile in Mesopotamia.

Morrish Bible Dictionary [9]

This name signifies 'midst of the rivers.' It is the district lying between the rivers Euphrates and the Upper Tigris, especially in the N.W. It is first mentioned as the abode of Nahor and his family. Isaac's wife came from thence, and Jacob served Laban there. Mention is made of but one king of Mesopotamia, Chushanrishathaim, who ruled over Israel — no doubt a part of them — for eight years.  Judges 3:8-10 . Mesopotamia became absorbed in the great nations, belonging successively to the Assyrians, Medes and Persians, Greeks, and Romans, and then the Turks, it is now Iraq.  Genesis 24:10;  Deuteronomy 23:4;  1 Chronicles 19:6;  Acts 2:9;  Acts 7:2 . See ARAM-NAHARAIM.

Easton's Bible Dictionary [10]

 Genesis 24:10 Deuteronomy 23:4 Judges 3:8,10 Genesis 25:20 Genesis 11 Acts 7:2 Genesis 24:10,15 2 Kings 19:13

Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary [11]

A province rendered remarkable for the first peopling of the earth after the deluge. The meaning of the word is, between two rivers—perhaps from Potamos, river.

Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible [12]

MESOPOTAMIA = Aram-naharaim (see Aram).

The Nuttall Encyclopedia [13]

The name given after Alexander the Great's time to the territory "between the rivers" Euphrates and Tigris, stretching from Babylonia NW. to the Armenian mountains; under irrigation it was very fertile, but is now little cultivated; once the scene of high civilisation when Nineveh ruled it; it passed from Assyrian hands successively to Babylonian, Persian, Greek, Roman, and Arab; now, after many vicissitudes, it is in the deathly grasp of Turkish rule.

Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature [14]

Bibliography Information McClintock, John. Strong, James. Entry for 'Mesopotamia'. Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological and Ecclesiastical Literature. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/tce/m/mesopotamia.html. Harper & Brothers. New York. 1870.

Kitto's Popular Cyclopedia of Biblial Literature [15]

Mesopota´mia [ARAM]

References