Definition of the word Elam--Highland, the son of Shem ( Gen. 10:22 ), and the name of the country inhabited by his descendants (14:1, 9; Isa. 11:11 ; 21:2, etc.) lying to the east of Babylonia, and extending to the shore of the Mediterranean, a distance in a direct line of about 1,000 miles. The name Elam is an Assyrian word meaning “high.”
“The inhabitants of Elam, or ‘the Highlands,’ to the east of Babylon, were called Elamites. They were divided into several branches, speaking different dialects of the same agglutinative language. The race to which they belonged was brachycephalic, or short-headed, like the pre-Semitic Sumerians of Babylonia.
“The earliest Elamite kingdom seems to have been that of Anzan, the exact site of which is uncertain; but in the time of Abraham, Shushan or Susa appears to have already become the capital of the country. Babylonia was frequently invaded by the Elamite kings, who at times asserted their supremacy over it (as in the case of Chedorlaomer, the Kudur-Lagamar, or ‘servant of the goddess Lagamar,’ of the cuneiform texts).
“The later Assyrian monarchs made several campaigns against Elam, and finally Assur-bani-pal (about B.C. 650) succeeded in conquering the country, which was ravaged with fire and sword. On the fall of the Assyrian Empire, Elam passed into the hands of the Persians” (A.H. Sayce).
This country was called by the Greeks Cissia or Susiana.
This entry incorporates text from the public domain Easton's Bible Dictionary, originally published in 1897.