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Who are the historical Arabs and who are the Aramaeans?

Reader comment on item: Jerusalem, Jordan, and the Jews
in response to reader comment: Biblical References.

Submitted by dhimmi no more (United States), Jul 1, 2020 at 07:15

Reynald you wrote:

>The Arameans certainly were in contact with the Old Testament Israelite kingdoms, but are they really Arabs?

Very good question indeed. I suspect (I'm not on solid grounds here) that the etymology of the word Arab is from the Semitic root R-B-ع (compare it to ܥܒܪܐ in Syriac) as in crossing (deserts) and these deserts must have been those located in Trans-Jordan and Mesopotamia and those crossing these deserts were nomads. Some became Jewish as in عبري or عبراني. And some became Arabs and the word underwent metathesis which is very common in Arabic and now we have عرب and اعراب. Now, in the 9th century BC when we start to find extant sources about the Arabs, those Arabs must have been able to speak Aramaic which was the dominant language of the time. We start to see Arabic/Aramaic inscriptions as early as the 3rd century BC (yes very few but you can see the Arabic language emerging). And yes Petra is very important. The spoken language al-Lugha al-Nabatiyya was a mix of Arabic and Aramaic and documents were written in Aramaic and later on in what was to be called the Hijazi script of Arabic. Now the Qur'an is a very interesting document. There is so many Syriac (middle Aramaic) words, grammar and syntax in the Quranic text. How did this happen? The Qur'an must have been composed in an Aramaic milieu. It is not unlike an Arab today trying to write about let us say today's London or New York and using loan words, grammar and syntax from the English language.

So in short, yes the Arabs of 9th century BC must have been able to speak Aramaic. Would they have regarded themselves as Aramaeans? Well this not unlike the question posed by an Egyptian writer in late antiquity who was making fun of the Greeks and I suspect also Hellenized Egyptians. Nonetheless, he was Egyptian who was writing in Greek.

Now we move forward, Aramaic then Syriac were really the lingua franca of the Middle East until the Arab invasions of the 7th century AD. Muhammad was a Tajir (merchant) and how could he trade without speaking Syriac? It would have been impossible. BTW, some of the Quanic material must have been written in the first century AD (eg: The Ahl al-Ayka tradition)

So the question that you should be asking: Why does the Bible say very little about the Arabs? Well, the Arabs lacked political power and had no independent armies or a leader and when this fell in place the Arabs took over and we know what happened.

Submitting....

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