This seems to have been originally the name of a man, the son of Shem. (Genesis 10:22; 1 Chronicles 1:17) Commonly, however, it is used as the appellation of a country. (Genesis 14:1,9; Isaiah 11:11; 21:2) The Elam of Scripture appears to be the province lying south of Assyria and east of Persia proper, to which Herodotus gives the name of Cissia (iii. 91, v. 49, etc.), and which is termed Susis or Susiana by the geographers, and you can find more about that here on st-takla.org on other commentaries and dictionary entries. Its capital was Susa. This country was originally people by descendants of Shem. By the time of Abraham a very important power had been built up in the same region. It is plain that at this early time the predominant power in lower Mesopotamia was Elam, which for a while held the place possessed earlier by Babylon, (Genesis 10:10) and later by either Babylon or Assyria.
* See other occurrences of the same term: Elam.
Main reference: Smith's Bible Dictionary (1860s)
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