mesopotamia Summary and Overview
Bible Dictionaries at a Glance
mesopotamia in Easton's Bible Dictionary
the country between the two rivers (Heb. Aram-naharaim; i.e.,
"Syria of the two rivers"), the name given by the Greeks and
Romans to the region between the Euphrates and the Tigris (Gen.
24:10; Deut. 23:4; Judg. 3:8, 10). In the Old Testament it is
mentioned also under the name "Padan-aram;" i.e., the plain of
Aram, or Syria (Gen. 25:20). The northern portion of this
fertile plateau was the original home of the ancestors of the
Hebrews (Gen. 11; Acts 7:2). From this region Isaac obtained his
wife Rebecca (Gen. 24:10, 15), and here also Jacob sojourned
(28:2-7) and obtained his wives, and here most of his sons were
born (35:26; 46:15). The petty, independent tribes of this
region, each under its own prince, were warlike, and used
chariots in battle. They maintained their independence till
after the time of David, when they fell under the dominion of
Assyria, and were absorbed into the empire (2 Kings 19:13).
mesopotamia in Smith's Bible Dictionary
(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, lat. 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. #Ge 24:10| Here lived Bethuel and Laban; and hither Abraham sent his servants to fetch Isaac a wife. Ibid. ver. 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 int he wilderness. #De 23:4| About half a century later we find, for the first and last time, Mesopotamia the seat of a powerful monarchy. #Jud 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." #1Ch 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.
mesopotamia in Schaff's Bible Dictionary
MESOPOTA'MIA (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; John 7:2. It was called by the Hebrews Aramnaharaim, or "Aram or Syria of the two rivers:" Gen 24:10; Deut 23:4; Jud 3:8, 1 Kgs 16:10; 1 Chr 19:6; and Padan-aram or "Plain of Syria," Gen 25:20; Matt 28:2-7; Gen 46:15; also Aram or "Syria." Num 23:7; Gen 31:20, Jud 6:24. On the Egyptian monuments, the upper part is called Naharina, and on the Assyrian, Nahiri. This region is now called by the Arabs el-Jezirah, or "the Peninsula" or "Island." Strabo and Pliny describe Mesopotamia as bounded on the east by the Tigris; on the south by the Euphrates and the Persian Gulf; on the west by the Euphrates; and on the north by Mount Taurus, the length being 800 miles, and the breadth, which is very irregular, 360 miles. The great plains of Mesopotamia possess a nearly uniform, level, good soil, but barren from want of irrigation. The exceptions are where the plains are intersected by hills or ranges of hills. The climate of these plains is characterized by great dryness, combined with very great variations in the temperature of the air. According to Mr. Layard, in March the pastures abound in rich and luxuriant herbage and the meadows are enamelled with flowers of every hue. See map, "Lands of Jewish Captivities." We first hear of Mesopotamia in Scripture as the country of Nahor. Gen 24:10. Here lived Bethuel and Laban, and hither Abraham sent his servant to fetch Isaac a wife. v. Acts 7:38. A century later Jacob came on the same errand, and hence he returned with his two wives after an absence of twenty-one years. No mention of Mesopotamia again occurs till the close of the wanderings in the wilderness. Deut 23:4. Though Drs. Beke and Merrill object to the view that Balaam came from the Mesopotamia beyond the Euphrates, and Dr. Beke proposed to place "Syria between the two rivers," near Damascus, his view has not been accepted. About half a century later, Mesopotamia appears as the seat of a powerful monarchy. Judg 3. The children of Amnion, 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 Chr 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, Jud 3:8-10; 2 Kgs 19:12-13; Isa 37:12, until subjugated by the kings of Assyria. Even after Mesopotamia became an Assyrian province it formed part of the great monarchies which successively arose in Upper Asia, the Babylonian, Persian, and Macedonian. 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.
mesopotamia in Fausset's Bible Dictionary
("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 Israel, 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).