PADDAN-ARAM (Heb. פַּדַּן אֲרָם), place mentioned only in Genesis and prominently associated with the lives of the Patriarchs. Paddan-Aram seems to have been either identical with, or included within, the area of Aram-Naharaim and is described by Abraham as "the land of my birth" to which he sent his servant to find a wife for Isaac (24:4, 10; 25:20). It is most frequently mentioned in connection with Jacob's flight from Esau and his residence with his uncle Laban, the brother of Rebekah his mother. All but one of the tribes of Israel originated there (28:2–7; 31:18; 33:18; 35:9, 26; 46:15; 48:7).
Paddan-Aram must have been situated in northern Mesopotamia since it included the city of Haran (28:10; 29:4). The repeated description of Laban as an Aramean (25:20; 28:5; 31:20, 24) would imply an Aramean population speaking the Aramaic language (31:47). In fact, the name is generally accepted as deriving from the Aramaic paddânâ, "a field, or plain," and meaning "the Plain of Aram," corresponding to the Hebrew sedeh Aram (Hos. 12:13).
Albright, Stone, 180; B. Maisler, in: Zion, 11 (1946), 3.
[Morris M. Schnitzer]
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.