Beth ʿArbaye

Ecclesiastical province extending from Beth Zabdai northward, Balad southward, and Nisibis westward, the latter being its capital city. The trade route linking southern Mesopotamia with Syria and Egypt passed through this region from at least the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC, with Nisibis (Akkadian Naṣībīna) serving as a caravan center. The region corresponds more or less to the Jazīra (lit. ‘island’) of the Arabic sources, enclosed by the Tigris and Euphrates. Arabs are attested in this region from Assyrian times, and it was the home of the Tanukhites during the Christian era, hence its Syriac name ‘Land of the Arabs’. The Synod of 410 established Beth ʿArbaye as an E.-Syr. metropolitan province, the second after the province of Elam. The province included such cities and regions as Beth Zabdai, Qardu, and Balad, and by the 13th cent. it also included Armenia. The long list of E.-Syr. metropolitans in Nisibis gives evidence of uninterrupted succession, beginning probably with Yaʿqub of Nisibis and ending with another Yaʿqub in the year 1616. Beth ʿArbaye was also the home of a large Syr. Orth. community as early as the mid 6th cent., the time of Aḥudemmeh ‘Bishop of Beth ʿArbaye’ who became Metropolitan of the East in 559. When Metropolitan Marutha settled in Tagrit in 629, the titles ‘of Beth ʿArbaye’ and ‘of Tagrit’ became interchangeable.


  • J.-M. Fiey, ‘Balad et Beth ‘Arabaye irakien’, OS 9 (1964), 189–232.
  • J.-M. Fiey, Assyrie chrétienne, vol. 3, 17–49.
  • J.-M. Fiey, Nisibe métropole syriaque orientale, 1–15.
  • J.-M. Fiey, Pour un Oriens christianus novus, 63–4, 177–8.
  • Wilmshurst, Ecclesiastical organisation, 40–9.

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