Aram (Latinized Aramœa), the Hebrew name of the region lying N. and E. of Palestine and Phoenicia, and extending to the Tigris, the northern and southern boundaries never having been accurately defined. It corresponded generally to Syria and Mesopotamia of the Greeks and Romans, and included parts of Chal-dea and Assyria. In the Septuagint the name is usually rendered by Syria. It means highlands, for, although most of the region is a low plain, the part which immediately borders upon Palestine is elevated. That portion between the Tigris and Euphrates is specially designated as Aram-naharaim, "Aram of the two rivers," answering to the GreekAram 100404 Here was the original home of Abraham, whence he migrated to Canaan. From this migration dates the long separation between the Hebrews and their Aramaean kindred. - The Aramaic language remained in a rude state after the separation, while the Hebrew, which was undoubtedly at first identical with it, became greatly developed; so that in the time of Hezekiah the former was unintelligible to the mass of the Jews. When the ten tribes of Israel were carried away, their place was partly supplied by various Aramaean immigrants, who gradually formed a patois designated as Galilean or Samaritan. The exiles from Judah, during their residence in Babylonia, abandoned their own language and adopted the Aramaic, which they brought back with them to Judea. This formed the current language in Palestine until it was partially superseded, after the Macedonian conquest, by the Greek. Christ and his principal disciples probably spoke both languages; they certainly spoke Aramaic. In the 7th century the Moslem invasion of Syria introduced the Arabic language, which gradually took the place of the Aramaic; and the latter has become nearly extinct, existing now as a living tongue only among the Syrian Christians near Mosul. Properly speaking, the Aramaic has no literature of its own.

As a written language it has been used in its two branches, the Chaldee and Syriac, only by the Hebrews and eastern Christians, and by them only in treating of religious subjects. The canonical books of the Old Testament contain two extended passages in Chaldee (Ezra vii. 12-26; Dan. ii. 4 to vii. 28). Several of the apocryphal books were written in Aramaic, although they now exist only in the Greek translation. The versions of Hebrew Scriptures known as Targums are written in Aramaic. It is not unlikely that the Gospel of Matthew was originally written in it, although we have it authentically only in its Greek form. The Talmud, as a whole, is written in Aramaic, but with such variations from the main dialects that some have proposed to give the name Talmudic to the idiom in which it is composed. (See Chaldee Language and Literature, and Syriao Language and Literature.)