Elam (//; עֵילָם ‘Êlām) in the Hebrew Bible (Genesis 10:22, Ezra 4:9;) is said to be one of the sons of Shem, the son of Noah. It is also used (as in Akkadian), for the ancient country of Elam in what is now southern Iran, whose people the Hebrews believed to be the offspring of Elam, son of Shem (Genesis 10:22). This implies that the Elamites were considered Semites by the Hebrews, although their language was not one of the Semitic languages, but is considered a linguistic isolate. This modern categorization does not conflict with the Hebrew Bible, since it holds that the diversity of human languages originated at the tower of Babel.
Genesis also states that Elam's brother Arphaxad was born two years after the flood.
The prophecies of the Book of Isaiah (11:11, 21:2, 22:6) and the Book of Jeremiah (25:25) also mention Elam. The last part of Jeremiah 49 is an apocalyptic oracle against Elam which states that Elam will be scattered to the four winds of the earth, but "will be, in the end of days, that I will return their captivity," a prophecy self-dated to the first year of Zedekiah (597 BC).
The Book of Jubilees may reflect ancient tradition when it mentions a son (or daughter, in some versions) of 'Elam named "Susan", whose daughter Rasuaya married Arpachshad, progenitor of another branch of Shemites. Shushan (or Susa) was the ancient capital of the Elamite Empire. (Dan. 8:2)
Elam as a personal name also refers to other figures appearing in the Hebrew Bible:
- Elam is a son of Shashak of the tribe of Benjamin in 1 Chronicles 8:24 .
- Elam is the son of Meshelemiah, a Levite of the family of Kohath in 1 Chronicles 26:3.
- Elam is the ancestor of a family that returned with Zerubbabel in Ezra 2:1-2,7.
- Elam is the ancestor of a family that returned from the Captivity in Ezra 2:31. This is possibly the same man and family as in Ezra 2:1-2,7.
- Elam is the ancestor of a family that returned with Ezra in Ezra 8:7 .
- Elam is the father of Jehiel and the grandfather of Shecaniah in Ezra 10:2.
- Elam is one of the men who joins Nehemiah in sealing the new covenant in Nehemiah 10:14.
- Elam is a priest who helps in the rededication of the rebuilt walls of Jerusalem in Nehemiah 12:42.