(Μεσοποταμία, Ac 2:9; Ac 7:2; so called as lying between the rivers; see Tzchucke, Mela, 3:335 sq.; the ARAM, אֲרִם, of the Hebrews, usually rendered " Aram," or "Syria," in the Auth. Vers.), the Greek and Roman name for the entire region lying between the rivers Euphrates and Tigris, and bounded on the north by Matthew Taurus, and by Matthew Masius on the north-east (Ptol. v. 18; Pliny, v. 13; 6:9; Philostr. Apol. 1:20). It never formed a distinct state, and the Greek name, which does not appear to extend back beyond the time of Alexander (comp. Arrian, Alex. 7:7; Tacit. Annal. 6:37), applies rather to its natural than political geography, but was generally employed by the Romans, who (under the emperors) joined it with Syria (Mela, 1:11, 1; Pliny, 6:13); and hence it appears in Ac 2:9. In the Old-Test. geography it is designated as a part of Aramaea, under the names PADANARAM (פִּדִּן אֲרִם, the plain of Aram, Ge 25:20; Ge 21:18; Ge 33:18; comp. the field of Aram, שׂדֵּה אֲרִם),Z Ho 12:12; and so campi Mesopotamice, Curt. 3:2, 3; 4:9, 6) and ARAM-NAHARAIM (אֲרִם נִהֲרִיַם, Aram of the two rivers, Ge 24:10; De 23:5), for which the Sept. has Mesopotamia, or Mesopotamia of Syria; the Syriac renders house of the rivers (Peshito at Ac 2:9; Ac 7:2; see Assemani, Biblioth. Orient. 1:462), and the Arabs call it the island (i.e. peninsula; see Abulfedas Tab. Mesopot. ed. Paulus; and Tuch, Abulfed. descriptionis Mesopot. spec. [Hal. 1830]). In this early-inhabited land, the northern portion of which was an uncommonly fertile plateau, rich in fat cattle (Strabo, 16:747), and not destitute of forests (Dio Cass. lxviii. 26; lxxv. 9), dwelt the nomade ancestors of the Hebrews (Genesis 11; comp. Ac 7:2). From hence Isaac obtained his wife Rebecca (Ge 24:10,19; Ge 25:20); here Jacob served as a herdsman for Rachel (Genesis 28 sq.), and here most of his sons were born (Ge 35:26; Ge 46:15). The principal cities, situated not only on the two main rivers, but also along their tributaries, the Chaboras (Habor) and Mygdonius, were Nisibis, Edessa, Canse (Haran), and Circesium (Carchemesh); in the interior were only villages (Philostr. Apoll. 1:20). The inhabitants were of Syrian origin (Strabo, xvi. 737), and spoke a dialect of the Arammean (Strabo, 2:84; comp. Ge 31:47). Southern Mesopotamia, on the contrary, is a flat, uncultivated, and poorly-irrigated steppe, a resort of lions (Ammin. Marc. 18:7), ostriches, and (formerly) wild asses, and roamed over by predatory hordes of Arabs (see Strabo, 16:747, 748; comp. Xenoph. Anab. 1:5, 1). Only on the banks of the two principal rivers is it susceptible of much tillage. Yet through this barren tract from the earliest ages passed the great caravan route for commerce from the shore of the Euphrates to Seleucia and Babylon (Strabo,xvi. 748), as it still does to Bagdad. See generally Cellar. Notit. 2:602 sq.; Olivier, Voyage, iv, ch. xiv, p. 372 sq.; Ainsworth, Researches;. Heeren, Ideen, I, 1:183 sq.; Ritter, Erdk. xi, pl. 36 [1844] ; Forbiger, Handb. 2:625 sq.; Southgate's Tour; Buckingham's Travels; Layard's Nineveh and Bab. ch. xi-xv.

Of the history of this whole country we have but little information till the time of the Persian rule. "According to the Assyrian inscriptions, Mesopotamia was inhabited in the early times of the empire (BC. 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 (BC. 880) had fully established their dominion over them. The tribes were all called 'tribes of the Nai'ri, a term which some compare with the Naharaim of the Jews, and translate 'tribes of the stream lands.' 'But this identification is very uncertain. It appears, however, in close accordance with Scripture, first, that Mesopotamia was independent of Assyria till after the time of David; secondly, that the Mesopotamians were warlike, and used chariots in battle; and; thirdly, that not long after the time of David they lost their independence, their country being absorbed by Assyria, of which it was thenceforth commonly reckoned a part." The Mesopotamian king Chushan Rishathaim, who for eight years (BC. 1575-1567) held the (trans-Jordanic) tribes of Israel in subjection (Jg 3:8,10), was probably only the petty chieftain of one of the principalities nearest the Euphrates. In the time of David (BC. 1040) the kings of Syria-Zoba appear to have had dominion over the Mesopotamiain clans (2Sa 10:16). SEE ZOBAH. In the beginning of the 8th century BC., Shalmaneser of Assyria had brought the different states of Mesopotamia under his sway (2Ki 19:13); and in after-times the Mesopotamians shared the conquest of the other Asiatic nations under the successive empires of the Babylonians, Persians, and Macedonians. After Alexander's death, this country fell under the Syrian rule of the Seleucidm (comp. Josephus, Ant. 12:3, 4); and after the fall of this dynasty it became the arena for the Parthian, Armenian, and finally the Roman arms. In New-Test. times many Jews had settled in Mesopotamia (Josephus, Ant. 12:3,'4; comp. Ac 2:9). The Romans under Lucullus and Pompey began to disturb Mesopotamia; and, somewhat later, Crassus was there defeated and slain. Trajan wrested the whole province, with several adjacent territories, from the Parthians; and although Hadrian had to relinquish these con. quests, Lucius Verus and Severus again subdued Mesopotamia, and it remained a Roman province until the end of the 4th century. On the death of Julian, Jovian found himself obliged to abandon the greater part of the country to the Persians, the Romans only retaining so much of Western Mesopotamia as was enclosed by the Chaboras and Euphrates, and on the north by the Mons Masius (see Smith's Dict. of Class. Geog. s.v.). When the Sassanian dynasty in Persia was overthrown by the Arabs, towards the middle of the 7th century, Mesopotamia came under the dominion of the caliphs. Since the year 1516 it has formed an integral part of the Ottoman empire. SEE SYRIA.

Bible concordance for MESOPOTAMIA.

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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