A member of any people belonging to a confederacy of tribes that migrated from the Arabian Peninsula to the Fertile Crescentc. 1500–1200 BC. Among them were the biblical matriarchs Leah and Rachel, wives of Jacob. The Aramaic language and culture spread through international trade. They reached a cultural peak during the 9th–8th centuries BC. By 500 BC, Aramaic had become the universal language of commerce, culture, and government throughout the Fertile Crescent and remained so through the time of Jesus and into the 7th century in some areas.