By Philip K. Hitti
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Additional info for SYRIA: A SHORT HISTORY
During and after the collapse of Israel and Judah, this literature culled, edited and commented scholars, surviving to rival the alphabet as was preserved, upon by devoted human progress. The Chaldaean dominion over Syria's gift to Syria, though cata- and strophic, was not enduring. Babylon fell to the Persians Medes under Cyrus in 538 and any Jews who wished to The first return to Palestine were permitted to do so. group to return rebuilt the Temple at state expense by 51 Syria about 515, and was followed in the groups under Ezra and Nehemiah, fifth century by other who effected religious reforms and strove for ethnic purity.
The Armenians, Persians and Indians acquired their alphabets likewise from Aramaean sources. In the course of time the Aramaic language split into two groups, a western which included biblical Aramaic, Palmyrene, Nabataean and other dialects, and an eastern comprising Mandaic and Syriac. Syriac became, with local variations, the language of the churches of Syria, Lebanon, Palestine and Mesopotamia and was used from the third to the thirteenth centuries, when it was displaced by Arabic. It is still spoken in three villages of Anti-Lebanon, and is still used in the Maronite and other liturgies of the Syrian Christians.
In Amorite days the centre of gravity of Syrian was in the north, in the Syrian saddle in Canaanite under the Aramaeans it lay shifted to the littoral in the interior with the Hebrews it moved to the south, to Palestine. Hebrew entrance into Canaan, as the southern part of Syria was then called, supposedly came in three illThe first migration had its start in defined movements. was and roughly contemporaneous with the Mesopotamia eighteenth-century movement which spread the Hyksos and affairs times ; it ; ; Hurrians over the eastern shore of the Mediterranean.