Paddan Aram

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Paddan Aram or Padan-aram was an early Aramean kingdom in Mesopotamia. Paddan Aram in Aramaic means the field of Aram.[1]The name may correspond to the Hebrewsedeh Aram,” or “field of Aram.” (Rashi to Gen. 25:20; e.g., Hos. 12:13.)

The city of Harran, where Abraham and his father Terah settled after leaving Ur of the Chaldees, while en route to Canaan, according to the Genesis 11:31, was located in Paddan Aram, that part of Aram Naharaim that lay along the Euphrates. Abraham sent his head-servant back to this place to find a wife for Isaac, Abraham's son. The steward found Rebecca, who satisfied and exceeded the requirements set forth by Abraham.

In the Hebrew Bible[edit]

Padan-aram or Padan appears 11 times in 11 verses in the Hebrew Bible, all in Genesis. Adherents of the documentary hypothesis often attribute most of these verses to the priestly source (E.g., Richard Elliott Friedman. The Bible with Sources Revealed, 71, 76, 82, 109, 113. New York: HarperSanFrancisco, 2003; Genesis with sources highlighted, at Wikisource), and the remainder to a later redactor. (Friedman at 87, 89.)

Abraham’s nephew Bethuel, son of Nachor and Milcah, and father of Laban and Rebecca, lived in Padan-aram. (Gen. 25:20.) Isaac and Rebecca sent Jacob there, away from Esau, to take refuge, and to marry a niece of Rebecca, a daughter of Laban, rather than a Canaanite as Esau had done. (Gen. 28:1-2.) There Jacob worked for Laban, fathered eleven sons and daughter, Dinah, (Gen. 35:22-26; 46:15), and amassed livestock and wealth. (Gen. 31:18.) From there, Jacob went to Shechem and the Land of Israel, where his twelfth son was born to him. (Gen. 33:18.)

In Rabbinic interpretation[edit]

In the midrash, Rabbi Isaac taught that the people of Padan-aram were rogues and Rebekah was like a lily among the thorns. (Genesis Rabbah 63:4 see also Leviticus Rabbah 23:1 (deceivers); Song of Songs Rabbah 2:4 (tricksters); Zohar, Bereshit 1:136b (wicked); Rashi to Gen. 25:20 (wicked).) Rabbi Isaac thus considered Rebecca’s sojourn in Padan-aram as emblematic of Israel’s among the nations. (Zohar, Bereshit 1:137a.)

See also[edit]


  1. ^ [ PADDAN-ARAM in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE (Bible History Online)