II. Ancient and Classical Periods, 3500 B.C.E.–500 C.E. > B. Kingdoms of Western Asia and Africa, to 323 B.C.E. > 5. Syria-Palestine, c. 3500–323 B.C.E. > f. The Land of Aram (Syria)
  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
f. The Land of Aram (Syria)
EARLY ARAMEAN MOVEMENTS. The Akhlamu, mentioned in late 14th-century cuneiform records, may be the forerunners of the Arameans. It is certain that two major movements of Aramaic speakers, one west into Syria and another into Upper Mesopotamia and Babylonia (the Chaldeans), occurred in the course of the 12th century.  1
EARLY ARAM. By 1000, the Arameans had become dominant in the region of Damascus and Zobah (the valleys of the Anti-Lebanon, south of modern Homs). These southern Aramean states were already in conflict with Saul. Hadadezer, king of Zobah, led a coalition of Aramean kings into the Transjordan, but was defeated by David. David later counterattacked, and Zobah came under Israelite domination (See c. 1000–965). One of Hadadezer's general's, Rezon, set up a kingdom north of Zobah and continued resistance to Israel. In the course of the 10th century, the Arameans took over and replaced some of the Neo-Hittite states in Syria. Til Barsip became known as Bit Adini around 1000, Sam'al became Ya'diya around 920, and Arpad turned into Bit Argusi around 900. These, with Qarqar, Hamath, and others, became the northern Aramean states. The population of Aram was probably around 600,000 in 1000 B.C.E.  2
THE ASSYRIAN CONQUEST OF NORTHERN ARAM. Shalmeneser III engaged a coalition of northern Aramean kings, Khayan of Ya'diya (Sam'al) and Akhuni of Bit Adini, and the Hittite states of Carchemish and Khattina. At the Battle of Lutibu (858) the Aramean-Hittite forces were defeated but not broken. In a second series of campaigns (857–855) Shalmeneser III conquered Bit Adini, the strongest of the northern Aramean states and turned it into an Assyrian province (See 858–824).  3
THE RISE OF DAMASCUS. Damascus became the major Aramean state under the long reign of Ben Hadad I (also called Hadadezer, 880–842). In 878, Ben Hadad defeated Israel and annexed the territory of Bashan north of the Yarmuk. Ben Hadad again invaded Israel around 855 but was defeated by Ahab at the Battle of Aphek. When Shalmeneser, having broken the northern coalition, turned south, Ben Hadad allied himself with Ahab and King Ikhuleni of Hamath. At the Battle of Qarqar (853), the Aramean-Israelite coalition defeated Shalmeneser, who retired to Assyria. Ben Hadad subsequently absorbed all the small southern Aramean states. The Assyrians returned, however, and in a series of four campaigns Shalmeneser defeated Ben Hadad and took Damascus (842) (See 858–824). Ben Hadad was murdered and a commoner, Hazael (842–806), seized the throne. The Assyrians did not remain in the region, and Hazael was left free to pursue his imperial ambitions. He subjugated Israel and much of Philistia and laid tribute on Judah.  4
THE DECLINE OF ARAM. Hazael's son, Ben Hadad II (806–750) was unable to hold together the Aramean Empire. Early in his reign he attacked Zakir, king of Hamath, but failed to subdue him. Joash of Israel fought free of Damascene control; indeed under Jeroboam II, Damascus as well as Hamath may have been annexed by Israel. With the decline of Damascus, the northern Aramean state of Arpad (Bit Argusi) came to the fore. In 755, King Matiel of Arpad allied himself with Urartu (See 744–727) against the Assyrians, but they were defeated by Tiglath-Pileser III in 743. After a three-year siege, Arpad itself fell. Rezin, the son of Ben Hadad II, allied himself with Israel in an anti-Assyrian coalition. In 732 Tiglath-Pileser defeated the Aramean-Israelite coalition, and Aram, including Damascus, was divided into Assyrian provinces, collectively known as Aram Naharain (See 744–727). This was the effective end of Aram as a political entity, although the Aramaic language subsequently became the lingua franca of western Asia and replaced Hebrew as the spoken language in Palestine.  5
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.